Camera cleaning for cave men

I took a picture of a pretty sunrise last week with our Samsung point‐and‐shoot, and when I pulled it into Lightroom off the camera, it had a big nasty black glob just to the left of the sun. It was easy enough to fix in Photoshop, but I needed to fix the cause of the glob. 

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No problem, I thought, I’ll just clean the lens. Well, the lens was clean. The glob was on the interior of the lens assembly. Getting foreign objects into a lens is always a possibility with lenses that extend and retract, since air gets sucked into the assembly when the lens moves. Without cleaning the lens assembly, this glob was going to be on every picture the camera would take until the end of time. 

I could have taken it in to a local camera repair shop to get professionally cleaned, but I have to guess that I wouldn’t get it back for less than $50, which is nearly what I paid for it three months ago. We got this camera for a steal, but I still wanted it to work well. I checked the warranty information, but I’d have to send it to Skokie to a place I’ve never heard of before, and the warranty says it doesn’t cover routine cleaning. I’m pretty sure foreign objects inside the lens assembly does not count as routine, but would I have to pay postage both directions and then fight that fight? Not worth it. It’s sad when you have to assume a valid warranty won’t be worth the hassle.

I like fixing things and taking things apart, but I’ve acknowledged that there are limits to what I can re-assemble. I could go in with a miniature screwdriver, dismantle the camera, and then clean it myself, but there’s a good chance I’d make it worse. Cameras are assembled in very clean environments for the exact reason I am trying to get rid of.

On a whim, I thought that maybe I could jostle the particle out of the way. So I banged the camera on a desk a couple times, but no success. I turned the camera on an angle and then banged quite a bit harder once or twice, and voila, clean images again! There’s still a mystery dingleberry inside the lens somewhere, but it’s not in front of the sensor anymore!

Moral of the story: to clean a delicate optical instrument assembled in a clean room, bang it on a table hard enough to make you nervous.

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