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Old Mar 12, 2006, 10:40 PM   #1
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I like to keep a camera with me at all times. That means it needs to be in my pocket... except when I find something to shoot.

Unfortunately, pockets inevitably contain a certain amount of detritus, some of it in the form of small particles or dust. And that dust will, sooner or later, find its way to the sensor of a camera that resides in the same pocket with it.

So far, I've resigned myself to the idea that a pocket camera will have to be replaced annually, but are there any other options? Are there any compact cameras that protect the sensor from dust? Or any that allow the user to clean the sensor?

FWIW, I am aware that dSLR sensors can be cleaned, and some Olympus models have essentially self-cleaning sensors. But at present, I'm only interested in compact, pocketable cameras. My present pocket camera is a Fuji F10, and I wouldn't be happy with anything significantly larger.

So far, I've been reluctant to put my pocket camera in a case, because a case adds to the camera's bulk and inhibits access to the camera. But if there are any cases worth considering, I'd like to hear about them.
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 6:58 AM   #2
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Robb-

The CCD's presently on point and shoot cameras cannot be cleaned, such as you would do with a dSLR camera. I have had my Fuji F-10 for about 15 months now and never had a problem with it or and other P&S camera that I have owned.

The only P&S camera that I know of that has been reported to have dust intrusion problems in certain environments is the Sony P-200. Perhaps there are others, but this is the only P&S camera, that I am aware of with specific reported problems.

Certainly when a camera is engineered/designed so that the lens does not extend, such as the Fuji 5200 or the Pentax WPI, dust intrusion is even further minimized.

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Old Mar 13, 2006, 9:45 AM   #3
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Most digicams seem to be well protected against sensor dust. The Sony P200 and some Fuji models seem to be the exceptions. That doesn't mean that the other cameras are not sensitive to dust as well. Dust much more frequently penetrates the lense mechanism, probably through extension and retraction of the lense. Canons seem to suffer the most from this problem and it is called the "E18 error" there. Nikon calls it "system error" and Casio calls it "lense error", but most other manufacturers have this problem too. The repair usually doesn't make sense because it is too expensive. Thus you should never put your camera unprotected into a dirty pocket, if you don't want to replace it annually. It is also a good idea to clean the pipes around the lense glasses quickly with your hand before they retract.
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 3:18 PM   #4
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Something like the Sony T9 with both a folded lens design that doesn't extend from the camera and a sliding cover might be a little better than most. I've carried first an Oly C50 for 3 years and for the last year a Z750 everywhere with me without any problems. I usually carry them in a small belt pouch though. They are easier to get to and less likely to be damaged that way.

Another option might be one of the waterproof or weatherproof models.

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Old Mar 14, 2006, 8:29 PM   #5
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Thanks for all responses.

Sarah, I'm sure that the F10 and most other p&s cameras are fine with normal use. But they weren't designed to withstand constant exposure to pocket fluff. After less than a year, my F10 is showing signs of foreign matter on the sensor (or perhaps elsewhere in the optical path). I didn't expect to turn up any fixed-lens cameras that allow the sensor to be cleaned, but thought it better to ask than assume. Your suggestion about non-extending lenses is something I'll investigate further, although the 5200 is a bit large for my pocket!

Kassandro, I think you are quite correct that the problem has to do with cameras that power on while in the pocket, extending the lens and sucking contaminants into the lens assembly. Unfortunately, most manufacturers choose to use "cool" power buttons, which can be depressed accidentally, instead of more reliable slide switches. And, unlike manufacturers of other portable electronic devices, they do not bother to include a "hold" switch that would disable the power button.

Slipe, thanks for your suggestions, too. Unfortunately, I'm not ready to use a belt pouch, so the camera needs to fit within my pocket.

The consensus appears to be that, since most people know better than to carry a camera around in a pocket, I'm probably out of luck! But ultra-compact and weatherproof cameras may be a reasonable compromise. Or maybe I'll just continue to "upgrade" every year.

I'm still open to suggestions about cases that work well in the pocket. They need to be thin, so as not to add to the bulk, and allow quick access. But that question really belongs in another forum, anyway.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 8:57 PM   #6
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This might be a lame suggestion, but how about putting the camera in a suitably sized ziplock plastic bag and putting the whole thing in your pocket? Now, if the camera was so big that it would take one of those gallon-sized ones, that would be unwieldy, but the smaller bags are not that cumbersome.

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Old Mar 15, 2006, 9:01 PM   #7
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Thanks for your suggestion, Grant. Sometimes the simplest solutions are best. I find that my Fuji F10 fits nicely into a "snack" size bag. It's too late for the F10, but I may try this with its replacement.
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Old Mar 15, 2006, 9:16 PM   #8
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mtclimber wrote:
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The only P&S camera that I know of that has been reported to have dust intrusion problems in certain environments is the Sony P-200. Perhaps there are others, but this is the only P&S camera, that I am aware of with specific reported problems.
I've seen multiple reports of dust problems with the Sony DSC-W1, too. I even know of one user that had dust in a new one, got a replacement from the vendor and had dust on the sensor of the brand new replacement, too. lol

But, he checked for it, and most people just don't notice it.

A quick way to check is to shoot some scenes with lots of sky. It will tend to be more visible at smaller apertures (higher f/stop numbers) against brighter backgrounds.

You see reports of dust with non-Sony brands from time to time, too.

BTW, I've carried a Konica KD-510z with me in my pants pocket since July 2003. I've never used any kind of case or holster with it and mine doesn't have any dust problem.


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Old Mar 16, 2006, 9:46 PM   #9
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JimC wrote:
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BTW, I've carried a Konica KD-510z with me in my pants pocket since July 2003.** I've never used any kind of case or holster with it and mine doesn't have any dust problem.
Jim, this is where it gets interesting. My previous pocket camera was the nearly identical Minolta G-500. Like my Fuji F10, it developed dust problems after about a year of use.

Maybe I've just had bad luck, but it's more likely that I've subjected my cameras to more abuse. Maybe my pockets are a more hostile environment than most. Too dusty, too sweaty, something like that.
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Old Mar 16, 2006, 10:04 PM   #10
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They're identical (KD-510z and G500).

I've got one borderline pixel now (sometimes hot, sometimes not). But, other than that, the camera still functions just fine with no dust problems. For that matter, I just finished starting a battery charging for it (as I never leave home without it). ;-)

I'd be more suspicious of your environment versus your pocket. Dust may be getting sucked in as the lens retracts and extracts. In your pocket, the cover should help to protect it.

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