I have landed

May 11, 2011 • 3:12 pm

Banff is, as expected, absolutely gorgeous, and today is a warm sunny day. Here’s the view from my window at the Banff Centre:

And. . . this promises to be a classy meeting.  I got a FRUIT BASKET.  That’s a first for a science confab, at least for me.

As you can see from the top photo, annoying black smudges are appearing on the viewfinder and in the pictures.  It’s not a glob of anything on the lens.  Can any photo experts diagnose this?

22 thoughts on “I have landed

  1. What camera do you have? dSLR or Point and Shoot?

    dSLR- might be dust in the mirror or lens. Should be cleaned with “Air” or very delicate microfiber cloths that come precisely for that. If it’s on the interior of the lens… send it to a certified dealer.

    Point and Shoot, try compressed air around the lens and view finder and lens cleaner… if that does not work it’s probably on the interior of the lens or viewfinder… again, dealer.
    (I know, i’m a dentist not a pro-photographer but i’m an enthusiast… I had that similar problem on my D-80 and it was to be sent to a dealer… before it got stolen.)

    1. It’s not a DSLR; it’s a Panasonic DMC – ZS7.

      The smudge looks nothing like dust, but there are a quite few other splotches that sure do look like dust.

      I’m thinking it’s time to call Panasonic. My guess? the seal’s messed up and it’s a bit of fungus growing on the sensor.

      Sorry, Jerry….


      1. Apparently you can clean these without special tools:


        If you’ve never cleaned a DSLR sensor before, be sure to read up on what you need to do. Basically, you want to use a squeeze-bulb blower and nothing else if at all possible. If that won’t get the dirt off, a special electrostatically-charged brush is the next tool to go to, with a certain type of swab with a special cleaning fluid as the last resort. And the gentlest of pressure at all times, of course.

        Or…call Panasonic.

        If it’s out of warranty, your local pro camera shop is your best bet. And if it’s deader’n Jesus’s cecum, be sure to ask us for advice before getting a new one.



  2. Clearly those globs are pan-dimensional quasi-psychic alien intelligences that are following you to the scientific conference.

    As to their purpose? We can only speculate.

    Possibly they are intergalactic anthropologists researching our culture.

    Perhaps they are looking to control scientific discourse to further their own nefarious ends.

    Or perhaps they’re the equivalent of rich privileged tourists slumming it in our neck of the woods to see how much better they have it back in their own hive-mind-built-into-the-fabric-of-space-and-time.

  3. I had the same problem with a dSLR. There was dust on the sensor itself, not the lens.

    I was able to clear it by removing the lens and blowing air onto the sensor, while taking a photo (you have to take a photo in order to open the shutter and expose the sensor).

  4. For a view like that, you have to take blotches. They’ll disappear once you get back to Gustyville. (& BTW, Ray Comfort packed that banana specially for you.)

    How was the food en route?

  5. This would be easy to fix with a dSLR, as you can open that up to clean it out.

    A little point and shoot like your panasonic is sealed and you’ll have to send it in to be “fixed”, although labor costs are such that camera companies often just send a new one if you’re under warranty.

    If you like this camera, I’d try that.

  6. The big dark smudge appears to be near the top right on one image and top left in the other, suggesting that it’s something loose and moving around. Shoot a couple of images against a blank wall, shake the camera, and shoot the wall again to see what happens. You say it’s visible in the viewfinder as well? Is that through the optical viewfinder or live LCD? If that doesn’t help I’d be glad to take a look at it, since I’m a pro photographer and just happen to live in Banff.

  7. Okay, okay, let a photographer in here… 😉

    Looks most like dirt on the sensor, though potentially on the rear surface area of the lens array as well.

    Since this is not an SLR, accessing either of these is impossible without special tools, voiding the warranty, and tackling something you probably really do not want to do. There’s actually no reason it should have gotten in there in the first place except for bad seals.

    If it’s on the sensor, it is probably behind the shutter curtain, which means nothing you do will count until you are actually taking a picture. These are things that might work, but more by chance and luck than technique:

    1. Shut off the flash, and either go into Manual mode and set the longest shutter speed you can, or aim at a dark surface to force the camera to do this on its own. Open the shutter (take a picture) and while aimed downwards at 45-60 degrees, gently shake and tap the camera – this has to be done while the shutter is open. You may dislodge the dust from the sensor or lens, and drop it down into the lower recesses out of the way;

    2. While aiming downwards, trip the shutter and blow some canned air into the edges of the zoom lens, where the moving barrels meet. Be sure to blast a shot of canned air into open air first to clear any liquid, and always hold the can upright without shaking
    [There are those that say canned air is dangerous because it can expel fluids, but this is only if the fluids are allowed into the nozzle in the first place. This is done by shaking or tipping the can more than 15 degrees or so. If fluid gets into the nozzle, it can be cleared by firing off a blast with the can upright – only a second is needed at most. You should do this every time you use the stuff.]

    3. While not tripping the shutter, try holding the camera above your head, aimed downwards, and operating the zoom back and forth while blowing canned air at the edges. Occasionally, the combination of compressed air and zooming causes enough air movement inside to shift the dust, but this is unlikely.

    In order for the zoom to extend, it needs to allow air in behind it or it would be working against a vacuum. This is likely how the crud got in there in the first place. You can occasionally exploit this to move dust, but in general, if it’s in there, it means taking it apart for repair – often not worth the expense.

    I’m not inclined to say mold – that requires a lot of moisture to get in there, plus the spores in the first place. It happens on older lenses most (like 30+ years.) If you’ve gotten that much moisture in there, I’d be looking at another camera.

    For those of you with DSLRs: Dust on the sensor can be cleaned, and on your own too. It usually is not half as involved as many would have you believe, because they make their money doing it. But yes, if you screw up, you can damage the sensor. It’s not half as fragile as indicated, though.

    See http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com/index.html for details.

    Essentially, the camera has a cleaning mode, which will open the shutter and expose the sensor. Follow the directions to activate this.

    1. Try a squeeze bulb blower, then perhaps indirect canned air, as long as you’re sure it doesn’t have antistatic additives or anything. This should be done while the camera is held above your head aiming down, so anything dislodged drops out of the camera and not elsewhere within the mirror box or sensor area;

    2. If that didn’t work, use a very soft, very clean brush – an artist’s broader brush is good(I use a #10). The bristles should be thoroughly cleaned to be free of oils and dust. Just gently swipe, don’t scrub, but don’t be afraid of using a little pressure – the sensor isn’t cobwebs or anything;

    3. If that doesn’t work (you are doing image tests between each of these, mind you), use a shaped spatula with a Pec-Pad or microfiber cloth, and a little very pure alcohol. Since this is nearly impossible to obtain outside of a scientific lab, you can buy Eclipse in various locations – it’s just very low impurity ethyl alcohol, much lower than required even for medical use.

    I have done this three times now, by the way, and never had to resort to the Pec-Pads. If you’re careful about handling your cameras, you should virtually never get serious dust in there.

    Also, if you’re seeing crud in the optical viewfinder, be sure that it’s actually showing up in the images before you do cleaning (see image testing at the linked site). Dust can also be on the mirror or focusing screen, and neither of these has the faintest affect on the image, they’re simply annoying to you. They’re also easier to clean.

    Good luck!

    1. Don’t you just love experts? 😉 I am sure I will never use any of this but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

  8. Me darlin’, that is not a fruit basket, and it most certainly is not a FRUIT BASKET. It might be a fruit plate. Maybe. Probably needs a pineapple. Or a basket.

    That said, there is something wonderfully handmade about it, and in that regard, it is really dear. They must be lovely people.

  9. The “smudge” is almost certainly not a smudge at all, but a small dark object that appears larger because it’s out of focus. It may still be something on the outside, that you didn’t notice because it’s much smaller than the effect it has on the image.

    Given that it moves, however, the odds of it being behind the lens are not small. I can’t improve on any of the advice given for dealing with that.

  10. Here is a great product for those who want to clean their DSLR sensors – the SensorKlear Pen by the Lens Pen folks. I’ve been using one for years on my Canon 5D with no problems whatsoever.

    Easier to use than a brush, because the tiny pad on the tip of the device is cleaned with a twist of pen’s cap, so meticulous care of a brush is not needed. It also has the ability to clean stuck dirt of the sensor glass, so it avoids the necessity of breaking out fluid-based cleaners.

    Best of all, it is only about $15.00. They make a larger version for lenses which works brilliantly.

    See: http://www.lenspen.com/403/377/

  11. You should feel proud that because of your conference there is now just a bit more plastic in the world.

    Honestly, we as scientists, especially biologists, and even more so those that call themselves conservation biologists, need to start thinking about the huge impact these conferences have on the environment.

    The same thing goes for posters. I mean just think of all the ink, and paper that’s used to print up someones study, that in all honesty isn’t all that important any way.

  12. Every time I have had dark blotches like this it has been dust on either the front or the back of the lens.

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