DUST: Does this rule out buying DSLR's?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jim F B, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. Jim F B

    Jim F B Guest

    I have been reading the review of the Sony DSC-R1 on Ken Rockwell's site

    and I see that the conclusion is that you are better off with a real DSLR
    like the Canons or the Nikon D50. But it has always been the potential DUST
    problem that has put me off DSLRs.

    The advantage of the Sony DSC-R1 is that it has DSLR quality 10MP photos and
    a fixed lense, so I guess this pretty well eliminates the dust problem? One
    site that discusses the dust problem is here:


    I know of only one DSLR that advertises that it has "solved" the dust
    problem. This is the Olympus E-300 DSLR, which has an innovative way of
    preventing dust entering an SLR when swapping lenses, etc. Apparently, a
    supersonic wave filter generates very high speed vibrations to remove the
    dust from the CCD. The dust is captured on a special adhesive panel inside
    the body. This function operates fully automatically at start-up, but it is
    also possible to activate it manually.

    I wondered if any users of DSLRs could comment on whether the dust problem
    is significant enough to rule out buying a DSLR and thus go for a fixed
    lense 10MP quality camera like the Sony DSC-R1 instead? Also, does the dust
    system employed on the Olympus E-300 work well? If it does, would the E-300
    be the best bet in DSLRs if you are concerned about the dust problem?

    Thanks for your advice

    Jim F B
    Jim F B, Feb 16, 2006
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  2. Jim F B

    Charles Guest

    Lots of people have bought DSLRs and seem to use them. The old film
    kind also had dust problems, I've scratched a few rolls of film.
    Nothing's perfect, if you wait until it is, then you'll wait a long
    Charles, Feb 16, 2006
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  3. Jim F B

    Alfred Molon Guest

    It's actually all Olympus DSLRs (E300, E330, E500, E1) which have this
    dust shake off mechanism. How good is it ? Well, you never hear an
    Olympus DSLR owner complain about dust, but you do hear owners of other
    DLSR brands.
    Alfred Molon, Feb 16, 2006
  4. : I wondered if any users of DSLRs could comment on whether the dust
    : problem is significant enough to rule out buying a DSLR and thus go for
    : a fixed lense 10MP quality camera like the Sony DSC-R1 instead? Also,
    : does the dust system employed on the Olympus E-300 work well? If it
    : does, would the E-300 be the best bet in DSLRs if you are concerned
    : about the dust problem?

    If you are regularly using your camera in dust laden conditions and will
    be frequently changing lenses in those conditions, yes this could be a
    problem. But the same problem existed with SLR film cameras. But if you
    are like the majority of "hobbyist" photographers you will rarely (if
    ever) have to change lenses in a dust laden atmosphere. Most of the time
    dust will be a non issue. If you are concerned that your camera may have
    come in contact with dust to the point that some may be lurking in
    crevices on the exterior, you may want to carry a can of compressed air to
    clear the exterior seams and then place the camera in a closed environment
    (like a large ziplock bag) where the lens change can be performed without
    any "windborn" particles being propelled into the open camera body.

    On the other hand I have never gone this far and have yet to have any dust
    particles on the sensor. I have had a few settle on the mirror, but that
    is much easier to clean. I just try to get out of the direct wind (in some
    cases just turning my back to the breeze and sheltering the lens change
    with my body). Unless you are changing lenses in a sand storm, a drafty
    haunted house (with loads of dust swirling in the air), or a wood shop
    next to the belt sander, you probably will do fine.

    True, a P&S camera is much more resistant to exterior contaminants but the
    reason many of us gravitate towards SLRs is the flexability that is
    afforded with replaceable lenses. Where are you going to find a P&S camera
    with 100+x optical zoom which I have with my array of lenses. Also since
    the SLR tends to attract the higher end user the range of manual and
    semi-manual functions available on an SLR camera body tends to be more
    extensive than any single P&S camera. So if that flexability (lens and
    settings) is important, SLR is the way to go. If not, you may be perfectly
    happy with a P&S. The decision is up to you.

    BTW, I used "SLR" in the above to refer to both film SLRs and Digital SLRs
    equally (when practical) as most issues effect both formats equally.


    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
    Randy Berbaum, Feb 16, 2006
  5. Jim F B

    Matt Ion Guest

    I think the dust "issue" is way over-hyped. I've noticed it maybe twice
    in the almost-two-years I've had my 300D, and only as off-color blotches
    on otherwise solid blue sky (quite easily fixable with most better
    photo-retouching tools) when shooting airplanes. A quick once-over with
    a lens brush does the trick every time. Yes, it can happen... but I
    wouldn't consider the possibility a major influence for your buying
    decision unless you plan to shoot a lot in sand storms and dust devils.

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    Matt Ion, Feb 16, 2006
  6. Jim F B

    Tony Guest

    I hope you never wasted money on a film SLR as they get dust in them
    too. Or if you did, I hope you never used any film which is a dust magnet -
    quite literally. It has to do with water impurities, negative ions and
    gravity plus some other things you obviously never thought about until you
    read something written by a hack writer who has obviously given the matter
    no more thought than you have.

    home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
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    Tony, Feb 16, 2006
  7. But the same problem existed with SLR film cameras.

    Well, not exactly. Every time you wound the film on, you had a fresh
    'sensor'. I do shoot in dusty environments, and I have never, I repeat
    never had a problem with dust on film *at the time of imaging* in all
    my old SLR's. Later, yes...!

    That's one reason why I am waiting patiently with my prosumer, until a
    decent no-dust design arrives with a good low-noise sensor of at least
    8, preferably 12 Mp.

    The Olympus cameras are almost there, but not quite...
    mark.thomas.7, Feb 16, 2006
  8. You could lock the new camera in a dust-free, vacuum case, with 1/2-inch
    thick glass walls, and just look at it, or you could do what the rest of us
    do, use it and clean the damn thing now and again.

    This reminds me of the many laptop owners who complain about grotty screens,
    not realising that it is their own grot!
    Dennis Pogson, Feb 16, 2006
  9. Jim F B

    cjcampbell Guest

    Dust is actually less of a problem on a DSLR than it was in film SLRs.
    Film cameras would get dust on the pressure plate which would leave
    huge scratches on the film. The DSLR does not even have a film plate.

    I and my Nikon D70 currently live in the tropics. We have weathered
    typhoons, dust storms, high humidity, and very hot weather. I change
    lenses constantly and I take few precautions to protect the interior of
    the camera from dust.

    You know what? I sometimes get dust specks on my pictures. You know
    what else? I get fewer of them than I did when the camera was new and I
    babied it constantly. I have learned that dust specks will sometimes
    show up, that they are only visible against a solid color background
    and therefore easily edited out, and that they rarely stay on the
    sensor for more than a few shots. I don't even bother to clean the
    sensor any more.
    cjcampbell, Feb 16, 2006
  10. Jim F B

    Bill Hilton Guest

    Jim F B writes ...
    If you see dust on your images you can clone it out pretty easily.
    You'll need to learn to clean the sensor but once you've learned this
    it seems no more complicated than cleaning a lens. I was just in
    Africa on a 2 week photo trip and at one place the dust was so thick
    that I'm getting a surgeon's mask before I go back (seriously, my wife
    coughed up dust for 2 weeks after we got back ... it coated
    everything). So we got dust on the sensor almost daily at this place,
    but it only took a few minutes each night to clean two cameras. On the
    other hand I've spent two weeks in Alaska and never had to clean the
    sensors a single time.

    To me, bottom line is that dust is a nuisance but definitely NOT a
    reason to pass on a dSLR. You can clone out most dust spots pretty
    easily and you can clean the sensor in a few minutes when that becomes

    Bill Hilton, Feb 16, 2006
  11. Jim F B

    U-Know-Who Guest

    I've yet to see this addressed, but can a P&S get dust on the sensor? I mean
    really, you have this lens that moves in and out, so the volume of air in
    the camera has to change, right? So, what is prevent these cameras from
    having the same problems? Of course, if they did, I don't wanna tackle the
    disassembly to clean one!
    U-Know-Who, Feb 16, 2006
  12. Jim F B

    VK Guest

    Good god no.

    Dust happens on the sensor, just as it happens on the outer element of
    your lenses. When it accumulates enough to be a problem, simply clean
    it - the Internet is full of advice on how to do this properly. If you
    are extremely cautious (or, like me, have no depth perception owing to
    a malfunctioning eye), simply take a bulb blower and blow with abandon.
    That tends to spread the dust around, I know, but it removes any
    blotches in the image.

    I shoot a lot in dusty places (wildlife parks, while offroading in the
    Himalayas, Africa, etc) and dust has never been a problem.

    Cameras are tools, meant to be used.

    VK, Feb 16, 2006
  13. Dust is a non-issue. I've cleaned my sensor twice since the end of
    2002, and spent a few minutes cloning dust spots out of a couple of
    photos -- less time than I spend cloning dust spots out of any single
    film scan I've ever made. And cleaning the sensor isn't hard, either,
    just a bit scary especially the first time.

    Oh; and I change lenses freely and without worrying about dust, it's
    not that I keep one lens on all the time or anything. I behave just
    like I did with film cameras (I was a little careful, but not really anal).
    David Dyer-Bennet, Feb 16, 2006
  14. Jim F B

    Denton Guest

    Since I have a new Rebel XT, I am thinking of making a dust free box, with a
    pressurised intake that has a media filter to filter out dust. Wonder how
    well it would work?
    Something with pexiglass sides?
    Ideas anyone?
    Denton, Feb 16, 2006
  15. If you aren't competent to clean a dSLR's sensor then you shouldn't
    buy one.


    "I have been a witness, and these pictures are
    my testimony. The events I have recorded should
    not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

    -James Nachtwey-
    John A. Stovall, Feb 16, 2006
  16. Jim F B

    Alfred Molon Guest

    There is the Sony R1, quite interesting with 10MP, only problem is that
    the camera takes 8 seconds to write a RAW to the memory card.
    What is missing ?
    Alfred Molon, Feb 16, 2006
  17. Yes. Fergeddaboudit. Way OoT.
    John McWilliams, Feb 16, 2006
  18. Jim F B

    Alfred Molon Guest

    Or buy a DSLR which does not have the problem.
    Alfred Molon, Feb 16, 2006
  19. Jim F B

    VK Guest

    That's a bit of overkill, innit?

    VK, Feb 16, 2006
  20. Jim F B

    Denton Guest

    Not in Eastern Oregon during the summer....
    Denton, Feb 16, 2006
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