Out, damn’d spot!

lumix-back-offTina, my wife and partner in crime, has come to rely rather heavily on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS9 for all of her photographic needs. It is a point-and-shoot camera, but with it’s Leica lens Tina managed to take some wonderful photos with it. She used it all of the time for this website until it broke out in spots!

Dust spots, that is.

sensor-spotsThis will give you an idea of how bad it was. I took a picture of something light, zoomed all the way in and out of focus. FILTHY! It looks like a slide of some bacteria under a microscope. It’s dust on the camera’s sensor. The act of zooming in and out with the lens draws air into the camera and all of the dust along with it. It gets on the sensor and the polarizing filter within, and the result is crap photos.

I figured it was a write-off, and I was going to avoid the brand in the future, but Tina was really happy with the camera. The used point-and-shoot I picked up cheaply as a replacement wasn’t going to cut it. I didn’t want to throw good money after bad so I figured I’d see if there was something I could do myself. I tore apart Macs and PCs bringing them back to life. I could possibly do the same with this camera. What did I have to lose?

lumix-sensorI was going to present this as a how-to-do-it, but Graham Houghton’s video does a much better job of presenting the literal nuts and bolts of the operation in moving images than I could have done with stills. Although it wasn’t the same exact model, it was close enough where the instructions covered what I wanted to do. It gave me the confidence to forge ahead.

Ultimately, I followed the instructions; took the camera apart: lightly swabbed the sensor with a cotton swab, and reassembled the camera. Putting it back together was a little tricky, but it all worked out in the end.

Sadly, my Nikon Coolpix P50 has developed a dust spot of it’s own, and this is really annoying.


Not a UFO or a spectral image, but a dust spot.

Instructions and videos are somewhat scarce on this particular model. It is probably similar to the Lumix, but I’m afraid of breaking the camera due to lacking the proper instructions. I’ll limp along and rubber stamp the spot out in an image editing program until it gets worse or I find a service manual.

If you lack the skills or are nervous about doing this, don’t do it! If you do it, you’re on your own and will probably void any warranty that may still apply to your camera. I was a little worried about opening it up, but I thought I had nothing to lose. The camera was shot, and I was going to be out $150-$200 if I didn’t take a chance. I did, and now Tina has her camera back, and my only expense was a travel pack of cotton swabs.

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