Pocket P&S models and sensor dust
Pocket P&S models and sensor dust
Jun 26, 2012
Any pocket camera that spends LOTS of time in a pocket and gets LOTS of use is at risk of getting dust on the sensor. Or the dust may be of internal origin and agravate with heavy use. Models may be more vulnerable if collapsible lenses, acting as a billows, cause the camera to inhale grit every time it turns on or the zoom is used. Occasionally the trouble appears quite soon, but more often the symptoms arise AFTER the retail return period has expired.
But worry not! Think positive. That pesky dust can add to the adventure and sheer joy of camera ownership! Every hobby has its drills. They instill discipline. Car transmissions fail. Gardens fester with weeds. Apinists fall into crevasses. Surfers tumble upon rocks. Ball players ruin joints or break bones. Boxers lose their minds. Firemen inhale smoke. BASE jumpers smash skulls. Digital cameras get dust.
Send the camera to the maker's service shop, paying either $120 or buy an extended warranty plan, sold by some company without any ratings, and write letters and threats to make sure the firm honors the policy.
Prepare for DIY dust removal, which requires more deft surgical skills than the relatively simple routine performed by DSLR owners. You must unscrew and pry apart different panels and joints, pull the LCD out of the way, unscrew the back of the sensor chamber, and not lose or displace a membrane between the sensor and the glass at the back of the lens chamber. To flush the sensor with a blast of compressed air might do just that. Do not attempt if you have bad eyesight or if you might sneeze, send the tiny screws flying, and shower the camera with yuck. Surgical gloves can help avoid leaving finger smudges. Unscrewing a dusty camera in a dusty environment may result in introduction of more dust in the camera, so you may have to repeat the exercise every few months. Of course, to open the camera voids any extended warranty.
Don't use the camera often, or carry it around sealed in a plastic sandwich bag, especially in areas where pollen and dust abound. Replace the bag often before it gets pierced or the seals wear. Learn to walk around with a puffy plastic bag bulging in your pocket.
Adopt a regular routine of removing the dust in post-processing, or avoid photos where light areas and the dust coincide. Soon you will enjoy the routine the way you enjoy mopping the floor, flossing teeth, and ironing the laundry. Unfortunately, it does not work for video, unless you simply put a logo or icon over the area where the dust appears.
Tell observers that the markings are not dust, but a special effects patina to make the photo resemble an antique. Polish the story well enough, learn to explain it in a silky way, and you may fool lots of people, even yourself: "Yes, this is the auteur's signature, allowing collectors to confirm the authenticity of the treasured work."
Denial. If anyone asks about dust spots, simply reply indignantly, "What dust spots? How could there be any dust spots? This is camera is wonderful. Gee, you really ought to see an eye doctor." Denial requires a certain art, but it comes naturally to people well practised in buyer self-validation.
Be prepared to slap down $$$ for a new camera every 9 months. $$$ is what everyone has in abundance, right? What are credit cards for? Anyone tired of spending is tired of life. Plus, if you run up big debts, maybe you can earn a plane ticket--and flee before the collection bureau goon shows up with a club.
So, as all should be able to agree, sensor dust is one of the finer things in life.