DUST: Does this rule out buying DSLR's?

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

  1. But that *is* a pumping action. Where does the air go to or come from
    if it isn't the external atmosphere through either the lens at the front
    of that cylinder or the camera body connected to the back of it?
    Kind of makes the unsealed nature of the non-1 series cameras a bit more
    of an issue than it was with plain old film. :-(
    Kennedy McEwen, Feb 19, 2006
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  2. Jim F B

    Rich Guest

    I don't blame them. It would be easy to fix simply by sealing the
    body with a glass window near the front of the lens mount.
    Tilt it sightly to eliminate any reflections and coat it properly.
    But, the camera makers haven't adopted this, at least none that I know
    Rich, Feb 19, 2006
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  3. Jim F B

    Alfred Molon Guest

    For what concerns the photographer the problem is indeed gone. No need
    to send in the camera for servicing. And in any case the service
    departments simply update the broken pixel map.
    Alfred Molon, Feb 19, 2006
  4. Jim F B

    Jim F B Guest

    It seems, however, that dust on the sensor of a fixed lense camera is so
    RARE that the occurrence rate would probably be as low as 1 in 100,000
    digital cameras. But the more you look back on newsgroup postings on this
    issue, the more you see how MOST DSLR owners find it an extremely irritating
    thing, because dust problems arise with ALL DSLRs. Here's a posting I found
    on the sci.astro.amateur newsgroup. This poster considers that, depending on
    the shots you take, dust on the sensor of a DSLR can be a "HUGE" issue. Wade
    raises an interesting issue about voiding the warranty with regard to
    attempts to clean the sensor. I think all DSLR users need to be very clear
    on how their manufacturer's warranty deals with this issue before they
    attempt to remove dust from the sensor.

    From: Wade A. Hilmo - view profile
    Date: Tues, Jan 25 2005 5:46 am
    Email: "Wade A. Hilmo" <>
    Groups: sci.astro.amateur
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    Depending on the shots you take, dust on the sensor of a DSLR can be a huge

    It's not actually on the sensor, though. The sensor is actually sealed
    behind a number of optical layers (like the IR filter and byers mask.) The
    dust actually collects on a plate of glass a small distance away from the

    Because the dust is not directly on the sensor, the focal ratio at which you
    are shooting will affect whether the dust will be in focus or not. At fast
    focal ratios, say F10 or faster, you generally don't see the dust, unless
    there is a really huge chunk of something on the sensor. If you shoot at
    much higher focal lengths, then it is very apparent.

    Here is an experiment you can try (warning - don't do this if knowing about
    dust in your images will bother you.) Put a terrestrial lens on the camera
    and set it up for aperture priority. Set the highest focal ratio you can -
    at least F20, but F30 or more would demonstrate better. Now lock the focus
    on a distant object and then take a picture of an evenly lit part of the
    sky. You are almost guaranteed to see dust spots in the image. If you have
    not cleaned the sensor in a few months, you will probably see a whole lot of

    If you usually use faster focal ratios in your shots, then you don't really
    need to worry about this. If you are doing astrophotography, then flat
    frames will take care of any dust spots.

    If you have dust spots that are big enough to show up in terrestrial
    photography using a fast focal ratio, then using a blower should work.

    If you want to make the rest of the dust go away, then the only way to do so
    without voiding the warranty on the camera is to have it cleaned by an
    authorized dealer. If you want to clean the sensor yourself, there is a
    cottage industry springing up around doing this. A quick search on
    something like 'clean dslr sensor dust' will give you plenty of reading.
    Note that if you scratch or otherwise damage the sensor while doing this
    yourself, it will definitely not be covered under warranty.

    Jim F B, Feb 20, 2006
  5. Agreed. I've never heard of dust on the sensor of a P&S dcam.
    My impression is quite the contrary; dSLR owners find it to be something you
    figure out how to deal with and get over. DSLRs are about the image quality,
    speed, flexibility. One puts up with the cost, weight, and inconvenience for
    the advantages.

    It looks to me that most of the people (largely non-dSLR owners) squawking
    about the dust (or the lack of live preview<g>) are people who want an
    excuse to not spend the money.

    You don't need an excuse to not spend the money; if a P&S dcam provides
    adequate quality, speed, and flexibility for your needs, you don't need a
    dSLR. If you don't find the price/performance tradeoff with dSLRs worth it,
    you don't need a dSLR. And if you aren't willing to do the work (use a
    tripod, maybe prime lenses, clean the sensor) to get the best from a dSLR,
    you may not need a dSLR. There isn't anything wrong with not needing a dSLR.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Feb 20, 2006
  6. Jim F B

    Skip M Guest

    Not really, since if the lens is pumping dust into the mirror box, no amount
    of sealing of the body is going to help. It sort of makes the sealing of
    the 1 series moot, in at least one way. All the gasket on the lens does is
    keep dust from escaping at the mount, making sure that the full dose of dust
    is deposited in the mirror box, and not able to escape through any unsealed
    seams in the body, too. :-/
    Skip M, Feb 20, 2006
  7. Jim F B

    Jim F B Guest

    Thanks David for these comments. There will come a time, I'm sure, when the
    cleaning of dust on the sensors of DSLRs will be a thing of the past.
    Manufacturers will have finally recognized this as a problem that had to be
    eliminated if they wanted to increase sales of DSLRs. I know of quite a few
    people who owned SLR film cameras who have reluctantly decided they will
    settle for P & S digital cameras until the DSLR dust problem is solved (or
    settle for an Olympus DSLR where the problem has been addressed pretty well
    it seems).

    DSLRs have considerable advantages over P & S cameras because of the
    different lenses that you can use. It's great to be able to have a dedicated
    fisheye lense, or a huge telephoto lense. But, if every time you change
    lenses, you take the risk of getting dust spots on your next lot of
    pictures, then what on earth has gone wrong with the design engineers! You
    can't for ever be cleaning the sensor when you are out in the field taking
    photographs, no matter how simple some people find it to be. There are not
    that many dust free zones indoors, let alone when you are changing lenses
    and working outdoors. And apparently, you have to be sure that you are not
    voiding the warranty when you start certain cleaning operations inside your
    DSLR. Can anyone tell me whether you can actually void a warranty when you
    are cleaning a DSLR sensor?

    So a temporary solution is to buy a fixed lense camera that has a reasonable
    zoom, and a decent-sized sensor, such as the Sony DSC R1. Not only is the
    lense with this camera as good, if not better, than some of the DSLR lenses
    available, it also covers a wider range than the kit lense you are likely to
    get with your DSLR. In this regard, I found these articles on DSLR lenses to
    be useful:



    If I was to buy a DSLR, I would be looking for (in 35mm equivalent) a 24mm
    to 192mm high quality lense that you wouldn't need to change that often. But
    such lenses seem hard to get and I think would be extremely pricey! That's
    why I was very surprised to find that the Sony R1 had managed to incorporate
    a high quality 24mm - 120mm lense at a reasonable price. So if I were to
    purchase the R1, I would be stuck with an upper limit of 120mm, something
    that I'm not all that pleased with. But if the image quality is as good as
    the reviewers say, I'm sure you could digitally enlarge in a good imaging
    program up to the 35mm equivalent of at least 200- 300mm and still get a
    pretty good A3 sized enlargement.

    Regards, Jim
    Jim F B, Feb 20, 2006
  8. Jim F B

    Charles Guest

    They must have anxiety disorders. I have two Canon DSLR's. It has been
    a miniscule problem. I think Dave is on to something when he says most
    of the people squawking about the dust are looking for an excuse not to
    spend money.

    P&S have their place. I have a couple of them. But to settle for them
    is just dumb. More likely most people who stick with P&S not dumb, they
    have reached their appropriate level.
    Charles, Feb 20, 2006
  9. Jim F B

    Bill Funk Guest

    I don't see anyone complaining about having to be forever cleaning the
    sensor except for those who don't have a camera that would need *any*
    sensor cleaning.
    My DRebel/300D is over 2 years old, and hasn't needed the sensor
    cleaned yet, and that's in Phoenix, a very dusty city. (I dunno why,
    maybe I just live right.)
    But I see sensor cleaning as one of the things that might need to be
    done now and then in order to enjoy the advantages of a DSLR.
    Sort of like buying more tires when you have a performance car; it's
    part of the cost of admission.
    As for voiding the warranty, personally, mine is out of warranty. For
    those still under warranty, if you're worried you're ham-fisted
    enough, pay a pro to do it. Otherwise, who's to know? The failure rate
    (resulting in actual damage) seems to be very low. I've only heard of
    one instance here (RPD) from a poster who said a liquid cleaner went
    under the AA filter, and left marks; the consensus was that too much
    liquid was used. Maybe, maybe not. But that's the only such complaint
    I've seen. It obviously isn't much of a problem, if at all.
    Bill Funk, Feb 20, 2006
  10. Jim F B

    Jim F B Guest

    I don't really think the Olympus engineers have anxiety disorders, they have
    simply made their DSLRs a great deal more dust proof than they were
    previously, what's wrong with that? Wouldn't you encourage the other
    manufacturers to follow suit, or perhaps they have reached their appropriate
    Jim F B, Feb 20, 2006
  11. Jim F B

    Jim F B Guest

    Fair comment Bill, but we all strive to get better, and in my opinion, the
    Olympus engineers are leading the field in making their DSLRs more dust
    proof than the other DSLR brands, and in doing so, acknowledging that a
    preventable dust problem exists. Therefore, I hope the other manufacturers
    follow suit in due course. I'm pleased if there are many DSLR owners who are
    not bothered about the dust issue and it doesn't affect them, but there have
    been a lot of people discussing this issue on internet who would prefer that
    they didn't have to clean a DSLR's sensor. I agree that, with any product
    you need to know and accept its limitations if you want to enjoy it. I might
    have enjoyed flying in a Tiger Moth a few decades ago before jumbo jets were
    invented, but I'm glad the aircraft engineers recognized that improvements
    were a good idea, even if a lot of people at that time couldn't see much
    wrong with the Tiger Moths!
    Jim F B, Feb 20, 2006
  12. Jim F B

    Charles Self Guest

    I have no idea if cleaning a sensor voids the warranty on my Pentax, though
    they explain--almost--the process in the manual, so I'd doubt it. You run a
    risk of getting dust on the sensor with every lens change, but, in fact, it
    does not happen most of the time. I change lenses in windy conditions
    outdoors routinely, and change lenses in woodworking shops and garages
    indoors even more routinely. I clean my sensor when it needs it, usually
    about every six weeks. Sometimes it's every other day, but that is rare. It
    is still only 10 minutes time.

    This is an overblown mild maintenance deal that people who are frightened of
    mechanical things see as a problem. Cleaning sensors requires normal
    eyesight and coordination and 5 to 10 minutes about every 4 to 8 weeks. I
    make an overall dusting of the camera part of the deal, and in more than two
    years, have yet to have a problem.
    Charles Self, Feb 20, 2006
  13. Jim F B

    Charles Self Guest

    I don't see Olympus' solution as the be-all and end-all for dust removal. I
    don't like the format they've set up for their DSLRs, which is unfortunate,
    because I used OMs for many years, and found them excellent. I've often
    wondered what happens when the sticky strip is no longer sticky. But I'd
    guess we're going to see some changes, some of which will be improvements.
    But to make a dust-no dust issue the deciding factor in whether or not to
    buy a DSLR is downright silly.

    And I think most of what you are probably reading comes from people who are
    complaining about a problem that exists, in their eyes, in other people's
    cameras. Most of the complaints I've read have been from those who do not
    own DSLRs, those pushing the case of P&S as the only cameras worthwhile, or
    those in love with the new Sony, or the Olympus. And there's nothing wrong
    with any of those, except the first, which is foolishness.
    Charles Self, Feb 20, 2006
  14. Or, just playing the devil's advocate, they recognized that their
    design (poor sealing?) was prone to have dust/skin flake/pollen
    issues. Smaller sensors show the dust as a larger artifact, especially
    with small exit pupil lenses. So they created a cure for their own
    faults, and sold it to the gullible as a benefit.

    I'm not(!) saying that to be the case, but it could simply be part of
    the marketing plan to address a perceived(!) problem. In fact it is a
    common tactic, first inflate an issue and then offer a solution.

    Besides, who knows what the (longer term) implications of Olympus'
    chosen approach are? The sticky strip will at some point in time need
    to be replaced. Will the adhesive out-gass and contaminate the
    coatings? The vibration may cause wear and tear, the additional
    optical layer may influence image quality, etc. Time will tell.

    To me the dust issue is inflated beyond its deserved proportions. It's
    a nuisance at best, I wouldn't object to a real cure, but it's not a
    show stopper for me because the other benefits of a DSLR far outway
    the nuisance.
    I assume Olypus' solution to be patented, so nothing much to be
    expected from that type of fix.

    Bart van der Wolf, Feb 20, 2006
  15. Jim F B

    Charles Guest

    Olympus needs all the help it can get to market their niche 4/3 system.
    I am sure it helps steer a couple of extra customers their way. The
    other manufacturers would have or will make their DSLR's more dust
    proof if there is customer demand for it. Canon and Nikon seem to be
    doing quite well selling DSLR's without any special dust removal
    feature. When you rise to the level where a DSLR is appropriate you
    might not get a DSLR because you can't afford one. That is a valid
    reason. Dust is not a valid reason. But hey, it is your money and your
    life. A point and shoot is appropriate for most people, not a DSLR. A
    DSLR takes money for the system, and time. Not time to clean dust, but
    time to do photography, not just snapshots. In addition to DSLR's I
    have point and shoots, because there are times I just want to be lazy
    and do snapshots.
    Charles, Feb 20, 2006
  16. Jim F B

    Skip M Guest

    But which would you rather have, a camera designed by a company that leads
    in dust removal technology (the cameras aren't dust proof, they just remove
    the dust) or one designed by a company that leads in sensor design?
    Skip M, Feb 20, 2006
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Feb 20, 2006
  18. Jim F B

    Bill Funk Guest

    Reading here and on Dpreview's fora, I don't see very many first-hand
    complaints. What I do see is fears expressed, with the usual claims of
    seeing the problem described very often. But, while it's described, I
    seldom see a complaint. Only fears.
    Bill Funk, Feb 20, 2006
  19. Jim F B

    Jim F B Guest

    I am not at all sure that a "real" photographer HAS to own a DSLR before
    they have actually RISEN to the so-called level of actually making it as a
    photographer! Don't you think this is a slightly snobby approach? In my
    experience, to get great photographs, it's more about being in the right
    place at the right time and having the ARTISTIC talent to take a photograph
    that a lot of other people will also love. If the picture is taken on a good
    P & S camera such as the R1, this is not a lazy approach nor is the
    photograph going to be inferior to one taken by a DSLR, nor should it be
    regarded as "snapshot" if great care went into its composition! In fact, if
    you use the kit lense supplied with many DSLRs, this will often be inferior
    to the lense supplied with the R1.

    Honestly, I didn't realize that there is a DSLR "club" whose members think
    they have "made it" as photographers! But this view has come through in a
    few posts! A great photographer is a true artist, not necessarily a DSLR
    user! I can afford to buy 6 top line DSLRs, so I guess I have "made it" as
    far as DSLR owners go! But to me, trouble free photographs are more
    important, and if a P & S presently does this better then a DSLR, then I
    will have to wait a bit longer before I rise to the heights of being a DSLR
    Jim F B, Feb 20, 2006
  20. Jim F B

    Scott W Guest

    When I first heard about the R1 it sounded like it would be a good
    alternative to a DSLR, but just a bit of reading and it turns out to
    fall far short in a number of areas. It is it crappy in RAW mode
    making large files and writing them to memory slowly, this effectively
    makes it not have raw mode. It does very poor at continues shooting.
    The lens zoom range is too small for most people. I don't believe
    you would be able to manually focus the camera at all well. Given the
    size of its sensor it should do better at ISO 1600 then it does.

    Now none of this says the R1 can't make a good photo but you will have
    to work at it more then with a DSLR.

    As for the dust problem, I have not found this is be at all a large
    problem with the 20D. Mainly it shows up if I am shooting at something
    like f/22 or higher. But it does not take all that long to clean so
    even here it is no big deal. I probably spent less then an hour total
    over the last year cleaning the sensor.

    Scott W, Feb 20, 2006
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