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Sony DSC-P72 and P73 spots in picture

Help, please, from anyone knowledgeable about cameras and camera lenses. I've a problem that has me deeply perplexed.

In June, 2003, I bought a Sony DSC-P72. I have used it a lot in both the digital still and mpeg modes. It took great pictures and video for its class until about last February or March. Then I started noting spots, specks, stains, and blotches in images taken in bright scenes, especially against a bright sky or over the water on a sunny day. What is most curious is that the spots appear suddenly, as I pan in mpeg mode from shade to bright light, and the camera adjusts (making a click) from low to bright light. Odder still, the spots in the latest pictures are not in the same places as those in pictures taken months ago.

Efforts to clean the lens surface with water, vinager, or window cleaner do not seem to solve the problem. The camera fell out of my pocket several times. Could this be a cause? Another (naive?) theory is that the imaging surface degrades over time or with heavy use. However, if damage or age were the cause, I don't understand why the problem would occur especially or exclusively in bright light or when using zoom.

Do you know of similar problems with Sony or other digital cameras? Is the problem most likely related to the lens itself or the underlying electronics? Might there be debris inside that causes the problem? Is the lens sealed permanently or, without wrecking the camera, is it possible to clean the inside?

Any advice, tips, or references will be most welcome.

John Koch
Sun Jul 18 04:00:12 PDT 2004

I attach a VGA sized picture taken with zoom yesterday. You can see a spot to the left of the boat in the picture, and there are discolorations in the sky.

Attached File: DSC06529.JPG

John Koch
Sun, 18 Jul 2004 04:13:31 -0700 (PDT)

Hello again. Here is a brief, small image, mpeg pan that shows exactly how the "spots" suddenly appear in bright light. Today the sky is cloudy, but the spots appear when the background is light, then intensify after a "click" the camera makes when it adjusts to brightness. The discolorations wreck any stills or videos taken against a bright sky or over the water.

Any clue whether the problem might be purely electronic (damage or decay) or be something in the lens? This morning, I tried to clean the outside surface, but with no effect.

Thanks for any tips or advice. If you don't have an answer yourself, I'd be grateful for your referral to a someone who might.

Attached File: dsc-p72_spots.MPG

John Koch
Sun, 18 Jul 2004 05:06:52 -0700 (PDT)

Seeing the picture and video that you have provides, it looks like a common dust problem of digital SLR's. On digital SLS's the sensor is not sealed off as tightly to the environment, due to interchangeable lenses, as digital point-n-shoot (P&S) cameras. Thus, the dusts gathered on the sensor surface show up when the aperture is closed-down to its smallest opening.

You can see that easily when you paned the camera in your video. In dark areas, the aperture is opened wide and no spots. But when the camera moves into a brighter scene, the aperture closes, increasing depth-of-field, and the spots showed up.

I'm actually quite surprised that dusts got on the sensor in a tightly sealed P&S camera. Have you opened it before? If you have, and you are comfortable with opening it again, you can try cleaning the dust off the sensor yourself. If you have never opened it before or dare to try, your other option is to send it back to manufacturer for service.

Chieh Cheng
Tue Jul 27 17:01:17 PDT 2004


Capt. Obvious
Thu May 5 11:53:43 PDT 2005

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