Asia Tour 2010 Day X: Camera Maintenance

I'm a real camera novice, and I don't care much for cameras. I started off with this camera (some 2.5 years ago) because it had some decent reviews and I didn't want to splurge on a first camera. Good thing too, because I learned a lot of lessons with it. But before I meander off, this is a story about how I cleaned the dust out of the inside of my point and shoot camera.

This is my trusty pink Panasonic DMC-FS5, which I thought was crimson when I bought it off Amazon ... first lesson learned: always buy the black camera when shopping the internets. Anyways, I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked in Korea due to a lack of confidence in the resulting pictures. I knew my camera lens was deteriorating due to dust build up, but couldn't do much about it; until desperation and convenience collided in Hong Kong, since I didn't want to go to Japan with just my cell phone camera.

First off, carrying a camera around in your pocket should be a carefully tested use case for any camera manufacturer. I barely had this camera for 2 months during my last trip to Japan and it already had dust on the interior lens ruining some of my pictures. I didn't know how it got there, but talking with a camera guy I knew, I was told to give up and get a new camera. 2 years later, it only got worse and worse, and I was already shopping for a new camera, but never got around to it when I went on this trip. Another lesson: always buy a camera case to store your camera during flights, because I think the altitude/pressure had something to do with it.

I was about to give up because those stupidly tiny screws looked impossible to remove, but thanks to the numerous electronic and camera places in Hong Kong, I managed to research and secure a #0 micro screwdriver, which I used to open up my camera. [But before that, please note I'm simply recounting my experience with my own camera and not putting up a guide of any sort. My site disclaimer states that I'm not responsible for any damages if you try to imitate what I did, and also note that this procedure probably voids your warranty]

Step 0: I removed the SD card and battery as a precaution.

Step 1: I laid the camera down, LCD screen face up. There were 8 screws on the outside of the camera; and I unscrewed the 4 screws on the top half of the camera equator.

Step 2: I carefully pulled the camera case apart. There is a ribbon connecting the interiors, so I was careful not to shear/tear anything.

Step 3: There was a silver plate with 3 screws, using the same #0 screwdriver, I removed them and set them aside. At each step, all the screws were different sizes, so I had to keep track of what went where.

Step 4: With the silver plate removed, there were 4 more screws and another silver plate to remove, as seen in the picture above (I removed one already).

Step 5: I used tweezers to gently lift up a metallic flap. Attached to the flap was the camera sensor (the mirror looking plate that collects the image), and it had a lot of dust on it. I used a can of compressed air to blow the dust off. I didn't risk touching it with anything else. Underneath the flap, is the camera lens (the glassy part) and I used the canned air + a microfiber cloth to gently wipe it.

Step 6: I reversed the camera tear down and reassembled it. Profit. Here's a before and after shot on full zoom (where the dust particles come into focus).



Sweet, I'm pretty awesome with this kind of stuff.

For the record though, I did end up finding a really awesome camera in Japan but waited until I got back stateside to buy it (Canon Powershot S95). I was really debating between that and the Panasonic LUMIX LX-5, but given some real hands on time between the two of them at the Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara, I decided on the Powershot, but that's a story for another day.

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