The Hazards of Being a Pocket Camera

I carry the Canon SX230HS in my pocket, so as to have a decent camera ready when it’s needed; yes, it’s in a cloth case. Unfortunately, in recent weeks a tiny hair made its way into the lens stack, where it shows up as a slight blurring just left of center in high f/stop images:

Cheap cartridge heater insulation
Cheap cartridge heater insulation

With the camera attached to the stereo zoom microscope, the hair becomes painfully obvious:

Hair on SX230HX Sensor
Hair on SX230HX Sensor

Of course it’s in the middle of the image. [sigh]

A bit of searching turns up a bootleg technique to remove the front lens from the turret (basically, just twist and pull), but neither of the internal lens surfaces thus revealed lie near a focal plane and, in any event, were surprisingly clean. The hair is probably lodged just in front of the image sensor, most likely stuck to the back of the final lens where it casts a shadow on the sensor. If it wandered around you’d call it a floater.

Dismantling the entire camera and opening the lens stack seems fraught with peril, particularly as the camera pretty much still works fine for normal picture-taking. More pondering is in order…

10 thoughts on “The Hazards of Being a Pocket Camera

  1. “Dismantling the entire camera and opening the lens stack seems fraught with peril”

    Maybe a few puffs of dust off in the right place beforehand? Best of luck, those little things are often the most frustrating to resolve.

    1. a few puffs of dust off in the right place

      Just seeing the right place requires removing the back of the camera and the LCD; unleashing canned wind into the front of the lens turret did nothing. [mutter]

  2. Hmmm… percusive maintenance opportunity? No, I’m serious. Some fancy cameras have ultrasonic sensor cleaners that shake the sensor to dislodge dust. Maybe you could just bang the bottom edge of the camera on a table a few dozen times and dislodge the hair? If nothing else, pull it down far enough to just get in the habit of cropping it out.

    1. percussive maintenance

      I gave it a few thwacks that didn’t bother the hair in the least; I’m reluctant to beat the crap out of the camera on the off chance things will improve. At some point I’ll probably drop the poor thing and, if it survives, maybe that will move the hair.


  3. There might be an opening in the battery compartment to unleash the canned air into. The hair had to get in somehow…

    What I fear with canned air is cleaning the remaining lint into the camera body – or blowing it up like a balloon.

    1. an opening in the battery compartment

      The side toward the lens consists of a solid slab of plastic, plus a metal seal around the hinge, with nary an opening; even the SD card slot seems surprisingly enclosed. Of course, the hair wriggled in through an opening somewhere

  4. A thought starter:
    As lens zooms to longer focal length, the volume somewhere inside is increased. Either air (and hair?) flows in, or a pressure differential occurs, encouraging stuff on the outside to become stuff on the inside.

    I would cycle the zoom with camera face down while tapping on various parts of camera.

    1. the volume somewhere inside is increased

      I am astonished at how they tuck all that lens into the body and still have room for the LCD and sensor: that must require some serious 3D modeling!

      Alas, tapping and blowing while the lens telescopes inward and outward have no effect…

      For all I know, that hair (or fiber or whatever-it-is) has been inside the body since the day it left the assembly line and only recently fell into view.

  5. Two thoughts but no empirical evidence for either one.

    A brief trip thru an ultrasonic cleaner( without solvent ).

    A ride on an audio speaker cone attached to an amplifier driven by an audio sweep generator.

    1. A brief trip thru an ultrasonic cleaner

      That’ll surely work better than with the solvent. [wince]

      We use an ultrasonic cleaner on our glasses; the next time I change the juice (and remember before refilling it) I’ll scare the daylights out of the camera.

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