Camera maintenance - some questions

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by Vira, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Vira

    Vira New to TalkEmount

    Aug 20, 2013
    Hey guys, long time lurker, first time poster :) 

    A bit of background first.
    In early January this year I have decided to graduate from an ancient Canon A530 point&shoot, and after some digging and researching I bought the Nex F3, as it was the only camera in the NEX lineup I could afford at the time.
    Overall I'm very pleased with my shiny (still new) camera, and some issues aside (I thought I could handle the lack of a viewfinder, slow AF, expensive lens selection) I think I made the right choice.

    However, fast forward a few months and about 10k shots later, and I'm beginning to think my F3 is way to fragile for its own good.

    2 issues.
    1. After attaching the camera to the neck strap and taking shots the whole day I realized that I have scratched my screen in multiple locations due to the camera constantly touching one of my shirt's buttons as I wandered around. The screen is literally covered in scratches: none of them are deep, in fact they're all very shallow, but I can see them and they drive me nuts. Granted, I should have thought of the possibility of having my screen touch one of the buttons, but then again, most DSLRs point DOWN when hanging from the neck strap; not this one.
    2. The kit lens attracts dust like it's been design to do it. Now I have several dust spots UNDER the lens, and they show up in pictures, especially when the spot corresponds to blue skies in the shot. Again, it's driving me nuts. I know the lens "breathes" when it zooms, but still, very annoying.

    Is there any way to get rid of the dust in the lens without sending it to Sony and having no camera for the duration, as it's the only lens I have right now ?
    Any reliable "DYI" solutions to get rid of the scratches on my LCD screen ? I have found some stuff on the internet (dedicated sprays, toothpaste or vaseline methods) but all of them have comments stating it will only aggravate the issue. Has anyone attempted to fix scratches on their NEX LCD screen ?

    Thank you !
  2. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    1- I use a popup screen shade. Keeps out sun glare and protects the screen. Some choose a press on screen protector, like the ones on cell phones.

    2- I use a strap which attaches to the tripod mount on the bottom of the camera. Much more comfortable for me.

    3- The NEX seens prone to dust. A- Change a lens upside down, less chance of dust settling. B- Avoid changing if there is a lot of wind/dust in the air.
    C- There are plenty of cleaning products for cameras. The only one I have used when a blower does not work is a dust pen with a brush on one side and dust gathering material on the other. D- Scratches are a whole other problem. Unless familiar with, I would not try to fix it myself.
  3. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    First, welcome to the forum. :) 

    1) Not much help for the scratches already there, but a screen protector will prevent further damage. Some have peeled the film off the LCD and replaced it with a screen protector, but I'm not that brave.

    2) It seems doubtful that there's enough dust in the lens to cause issues with the pics. See here for an example. While this is about scratches, the principle is the same. Much more likely that the dust is on the sensor, which is usually easily dealt with using a filtered blower (giottos rocket blower for example).

    If you're convinced that the dust in the lens is the issue some have reported (I forget where) using a vacuum cleaner to suck dust from within the lens, but I've never tried it. YMMV
  4. Vira

    Vira New to TalkEmount

    Aug 20, 2013
    Thanks for the tips guys.
    I googled the vacuum cleaner tip and found a guy on another site reporting success on a SEL 18-200. Sounds like it could work, but I'm afraid that so much suction will damage the components inside the lens, or throw the lenses out of alignment.
    I've read the Kurt Munger article, and also everyone keeps telling me (including the guys from my local Sony Center dealership) that spots showing up on pictures are from sensor dust, not lens dust, but still, I've studied the sensor from every possible angle under broad daylight, and it's spotless, not a single speck of dust on it.
    Before I take any radical action with the vacuum cleaner, I'll do some test shots at various focal lengths and various apertures (as I understand it, spots are more likely to show up from F16 and up) and decide after that.
  5. Vira

    Vira New to TalkEmount

    Aug 20, 2013
    55mm, f22.
    I'm shocked :( 

    Attached Files:

  6. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    By pure coincidence I checked my sensor yesterday on dust spots after having played around with a lot of adapters, lenses and rings. At f/11 I had more dust spots than you've shown here at f/22 although I must say I bumped up contrast a lot to spot them; I won't bother to clean up yet. If you left contrast at normal settings these specks can be annoying.

    It is very unlikely that these specks are caused by the lens; particles in a lens would have to be big to cause a shadow on the sensor, and small spots like these in a lens are not imaged like this. I wouldn't torture the lens with a vacuum cleaner, you have a far greater chance of damage than when cleaning your sensor. I've done some stupid things while sensor cleaning and never did any damage to the sensor. And a sensor with dirt on it can look spotlessly clean when you look at it, even with a magnifier. If you can see the dirt on the sensor it'll surely show up bigtime in your pics.

    I'd get a Giottos rocket blower and try to blow the specks away. If that doesn't help, maybe someone else can give you some tips, I'm not an expert on sensor cleaning.

    You obviously can't stand dirt on a sensor, which I fully understand. I must say that I had way less issues with dirt on the sensor with my Panasonic G1 and GH2. I checked my GH2 after 2 years of use including a lot of lens changing and I couldn't detect a single spot (checking at f/11 and bumping up contrast like crazy). Never cleaned the GH2 in any manner during the 2+ years I've owned it. In your case I'd seriously consider switching to µ4/3 now that you didn't invest too much yet in a system. If you want to get your F3's display exchanged you're looking at some cost anyway. BTW, you didn't leave the plastic film on the display did you? If yes, take it off like it's meant to immediately after purchase and put a protector on. I use a GGS protector on my NEX-6 and that works fine for me.
  7. Vira

    Vira New to TalkEmount

    Aug 20, 2013
    I'm afraid the plastic film was removed :( 
    I've called my local Sony service and the cost to remove exchange the screen is not that bad: 35$ for the screen itself, and 15$ for the actual work done exchanging it, because it's not covered by my warranty.

    Regarding the spots, I've done some more tests, and the conclusion is that the higher the focal length AND the aperture, the more obvious the spots become. The attached screen above is the worst case scenario in this regard. I've tried to emulate a more "normal" scenario (who shoots at 55mm, F22 on a kit lens anyway)and the results are as follows:
    18mm F8, 28mm F8: a very very vague smudge in a corner.
    18mm F16, 28mm F16: some stuff appears, but it doesn't bother me, and that's why I have Lightroom anyway.
    Anything above F16 and the spots slowly start to show up, up to the point they become annoying.
    So I've decided not to touch it yet, for my preferred focal lengths and aperture ranges the spots are almost invisible. I suppose I'd like to get a clean picture at F16 on the rare occasions such an aperture would be necessary, but...I can live with the situation as it is right now, not to mention that F16 and above on my kit lens degrades image quality sufficiently that I avoid going over F13 anyway.

    Regarding the sensor, and the fact that smudges & specs can be present, but not visible, even in broad daylight...I'll try and clean it, and see what happens. At the moment I've only used my air blower (it's not Giottos, but it works very well) just to be sure, and there was no difference. I'm no expert in cleaning the sensor either, so I'd rather avoid cleaning it myself, but I'll do some research and see what I need. Who knows, maybe there's some dirt there I cannot see.

    Thanks again for the tips !

    later edit.
    I don't have a deep understanding of how sensors or lenses work, but it just occurred to me: if I had a dirty sensor wouldn't the spots show up regardless of aperture and focal length ? As of now, I can "manipulate" the size and intensity of the spots using these 2 commands.
    Or am I wrong ?
  8. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    Congrats on being able to! Got the impression you couldn't, hence my suggestion to go to µ4/3.
  9. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Yeah, the sensor specks will be much more evident the more you stop down. But other than when I'm trying to get motion blur, I can probably count all the times I've gone higher than f/8 on my NEX on one hand. Any higher than that, you start degrading the image, and the gains in depth of field are fairly marginal.
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