Point & Shoot Problems – #1LinerWeds

Four years ago, I wrote about replacing my camera because of a curved smudge appearing on almost all my photos. I had it cleaned, the smudge returned, and I replaced the camera. Less than a year later, I replaced the replacement camera because I mistakenly thought that buying the same make and model camera would yield the same camera. Little did I know (mainly because I didn’t read) the new camera was driven by a mind of its own (smart focusing, metering and lighting) and offered no manual mode to defeat the micro-brain that wanted everything to be bright and perky. I worked long and hard to select the replacement, and I was very happy with it…

Until I started seeing a curved smudge on my pictures.

Is it me?

The company who cleaned the first camera offered no reason for the smudge beyond “these things happen” and could not explain why “these things” happened again in less than a month. Since it seemed they did a poor job of cleaning it, there was no way I was taking my current camera for them to clean. In fact, I was close to replacing the camera, but that seemed like an expensive way to clean a camera.

I wanted to find a way to clean it, because I liked the camera and buying a new camera, even after four years, seemed like a giant waste of money. It’s not like we’re back in the day when 1 megapixel became 2 – 2 became 4 – 4 became 6 and 6 became 9.6 Megapixels. Like computer processor speed, cameras have reached a point where incremental increases no longer get my attention. My camera was a 20 mp model with a 30x optical zoom and it was fine for me, except for the smudge.

The day I went into Hartford for the baseball game, I walked down a street I hadn’t been on in years. I noticed that The Camera Bar was still in business. I told my wife, and she was surprised. She had purchased several items at The Camera Bar in the 1980s. In fact, she introduced me to the store when we worked together. I decided to take my camera there for repairs. Note: if you’re wondering if I forgot that this was One-Liner Wednesday, hang on.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to walk into an honest-to-lens-cap camera store. The staff was knowledgeable, polite and happy to see me. And, happy to help. I showed the owner (still there from the 80s) one of the smudgy images and he sighed. I told him how this wasn’t the first time this had happened, and I told him how the smudge returned after I had the other camera cleaned. He wasn’t surprised.

He explained that the smudge is the result of fine dust clinging to the exterior of the telescoping zoom lens. As I zoom the lens in and out, eventually, some of the dust works its way past the seals and barriers designed to keep it out. It lands on the sensor and, due the curvature of the lens, it blocks the light in a curved area.

Encouraged by his helpfulness and knowledge, I asked if he could clean it. He said no. He said he could send it out (to a different facility than I had used) but that the cost of cleaning would almost be as much as the cost of a replacement camera. He explained what all had to be done, as justification of the cost and his rationale for not attempting the work himself. Then he asked:

Do you really want to invest about 75% of what you paid for this camera to clean it?

I said no.

He suggested that I find a way to work with it and replace the camera if it gets worse.

I had already gotten pretty good at putting the smudge in a tree, on a building or in between some naturally smudgy clouds. I also was good at removing it in Lightroom and Photoshop. But it bothered me. I bought a point & shoot so I could point – and – shoot.

To keep this one-liner from getting even longer, let’s jump to the ending you are all already prepared for – I bought a new camera. I’ll explain more about the new camera at some point. For now, I’m including a few of the first smudge-free photos.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner, I’d encourage you to join in on the fun. You can follow this link to participate and to see the one-liners from the other participants.


  1. I’ve never noticed a smudge on your pictures, so you must be doing something right. The problem I have with my camera is the size. I went with a smaller one, so now I have trouble keeping it steady to take a clear picture. I have never been a good photographer, but now I’m downright bad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks GP. Size is also an issue for me. I wanted something that I could slip into my pocket, but the small size comes with a host of “built in” problems. Not the least of which is the difficulty in cleaning the sensor (which is smaller than your thumbnail.

      Still, given the thousands of pictures I took with the old camera over the course of four years, I can’t complain.

      For about the last three months, I’ve been spending time in Lightroom or Photoshop, removing, or trying to blend away the smudge. The fog pictures were the last straw. Fog is already kind of pixilated, so it’s very hard to blend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on the new camera, Dan! I’m sorry the cleaning option was off the table. I had to have it done with my old Nikon. I had spots which occurred when I changed lenses, sometimes out in the ‘wilds’ of beach and jungle in CR. It wasn’t too expensive at the vamera shop we chose in Florida. I had also had a fall in CR which jammed my zoom lens and we had ‘repaired’ there for really cheap. A year later when it began jamming again on its on, I realized I could jiggle it and get it unlocked. Cheap didn’t seem as cheap then. 😏 The spots came back and with both problems we headed back to the camera shop. The dame noce fellow there happened to have a slightly used same vetsion that worked beautifully and we got a really good deal on it. Since my lenses were in great shape it worked out fine. Good luck getting to know the knew piece. That is always fun. Turkeys! I love turkeys. Hi to all in your little menagerie and Happy Wednesday! Hope the sun comes out soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cheryl. The Camera Bar could clean a DSLR sensor, in -house, for not too much money. The time and effort to get to the sensor in a point and shoot is so costly. The guy said “it’s all labor, and it’s not cheap.” I guess this is the final cost of choosing Point & shoot over “real” camera, but I still want something I can slip into a jacket or pants pocket.

      The turkeys are amazing.

      Getting to know the new camera will take some time, but the guy showed me a lot of the features, so I think I got a head start.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The wild turkeys crossing the road were a nice surprise, Dan. I love those shots. As for the camera issues, it’s a sad reality of digital cameras, it seems, that the quality of images degrades over time. Sometimes the issue can be corrected-with DSLRs you can clean the sensor–but most often it can’t. Of course, we get a bit spoiled with the higher resolution of our cameras and our ability to magnify the images on our screen and retouch them with our software. We expect a kind of perfection our of our images and printed words, which was not the case in the days of film cameras and manual typewriters. Sometimes, I think, it is better to embrace the imperfection. I think it is a little ironic that here are filters in photo processing software that allow you to add noise to an image to simulate the look of photos taken with older technology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mike. I think you’re right about our expectations. I worked with the camera (and the smudge) as best as I could, but it was becoming an issue for me. I could see it on the screen when shooting, and “working with it” sometimes caused me to miss a shot. I should be able to just point, shoot and accept the result, but you’d be surprised how many times that smudge would be in exactly the worst possible spot.

      When I consider the thousands of pictures I’ve taken, and the fact that with all these cameras, I still haven’t spent as much as I would have replacing the DSLR I abandoned 11 years ago, I don’t feel too bad.

      It’s funny you mention those filters. This camera has “modes” that will add noise or make fuzzy. The picture of MiMi on her blue blanket was taken in “toy camera” mode, as I was experimenting.


  4. Applause to you for working with the smudge because we sure didn’t see it. But, I had to smile at it costing 75% of the price to clean it. Another example of our throw away society with it comes to technology. No, I’m not on a rant, but just saying things aren’t built to be fixed, they’re built to be tossed. :-) You captures some lovely shots here, Mother Nature should be proud. :-) I went through several point and shoots and loved them all, but must admit usually I just use my cell phone these days. If I’m going somewhere special I carry a Cannon point and shoot that I have because it has a great zoom lens. It’s not that small but will fit in a bag of some sort. Anyway, happy Wednesday and we’ll look forward to more great shots with the new camera – smile Maddie. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. The new camera is a Canon. It is sad. You would think they could easily make the sensor easy to access and clean. But then people would keep the old cameras forever and, oh that wouldn’t work for profits.

      I take a lot of pictures with my phone, but I like the ability to zoom and control the image (as much as I understand).


  5. It’s always a good thing when you find someone knowledgeable to help with technical camera issues. Even better when it’s an “old acquaintance” at a place you haven’t been to in a while. Glad they could help with your smudge.

    Nice photos, I think you’re going to like this camera much better!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks – it has a very similar feature set (I guess they all do) but I like the way the features are organized. I think the organization suits me better than the previous one. I was very happy to see that the store is still there.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Congrats on the new camera, Dan. Have fun!
    It made me smile to see lovely MuMu. She looks so happy. Funny that MiMi likes her blue blanket. I had a cat who chose a blue scarf over anything else to lay on. Something about blue… Happy hump day. Hopefully the second half of the week is less challenging. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Teagan. It’s been a while since I had a good picture of MuMu to share. She is a cutie. MiMi adopted that blanket years ago. It was there for a little while, and now it’s a permanent feature of that couch.

      This week is heading in the wrong direction, but at least I’ll be on the downside of the hump today. And, they are bringing in pizza for lunch, so that should get me over the top.

      I hope you have a great rest of the week. I’ll be at your place when I have some quality time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your photos look find, but then I never noticed a smudge before, so what do I know? I also didn’t know about the way the smudge occurred. Depressing to think that cleaning is a huge portion of the not-inconsiderable cost of a new camera. The more things get techie, the more they cost. :-) My one-liner for today.

    Happy, smudge-free Wednesday!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet. I did buy an extended warranty for this camera that includes two sensor cleanings during the 3 years of coverage. Of course, I had the previous camera more than three years when the smudge appeared. It does seem like every bit of technology is something we only rent.


      • I had a similar problem when taking my camera on a bike ride. I took a very small fall and the camera, although in a padded case, was injured. The man at the camera shop said there was one small plastic piece and that’s what broke. Based on what the repair of that little piece would have cost, my husband decided I should just have a new camera. Lovely of him, but still…

        Liked by 1 person

        • It is sad. I had an extended warranty, and they did fix the lens cover mechanism when I broke that by banging it into a piece of equipment. That warranty didn’t cover cleaning (and is expired anyway) but it’s sad to decide to replace something that should be able to be cleaned of repaired.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. My eyes are not the greatest, but I never noticed any smudges. I am glad you received a good, honest answer from someone who really knows cameras. MuMu–it is so good to see you! Speed hump (we have speed bump signs down here), wild turkeys….oh my–great photos, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lois. I knew folks would like seeing MuMu, so I gave her a prominent spot in the gallery. We changed from bumps to humps about a dozen years ago. I’m not sure why.

      The turkeys are always fun to see, even when you’re in a hurry (and they never are).

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a happy Hump Day because we actually got to see the elusive MuMu! Never saw any of those flaws in your photos. Today’s gallery is great. Your keyboard is quite photogenic!

    Those turkeys!!! At first glance I thought they were kangaroos!! Lol. Maybe I need another cup of tea.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ginger. I was telling MuMu (while I scratched her and tried to get pictures with my phone) that people want to see her. I told her MiMi was hogging the limelight. She wasn’t impressed, but I managed to get a couple nice ones. She really is a sweetheart.

      Whenever I come up on the turkeys, I always have to stop and think about what they are. They are always bigger than I think they should be.


  10. I love how you’d try camouflaging the smudges in photos you took with your former camera — very clever and resourceful! I can understand why you hesitated buying a new camera but these beautiful pictures prove it was worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I recently had to get a new smartphone for similar reasons that I felt should be able to be fixed, too. I reluctantly upgraded and like the phone but wish I didn’t have to be forced into getting it this way. I know what you mean…

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Regarding the No Parking – No Smoking signs in the photo gallery: given the proliferation of No This and No That signs, perhaps the municipalities could switch over to posting a list of things that are allowed. It would be cheaper.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. How fun a new camera to learn and shoot with! I always take my first shot of the keyboard too to test the focus point.

    Your yellow looks wonderful! My Nikon’s have always had trouble with reds, and yellows. I have to fiddle with the picture control to tone down those channels before shooting those colors if I don’t want them blown out.

    The macro/close up feature seems to be working good in your hands already too. Looks like you found a good fit.

    That kind of traffic jam I wouldn’t mind! Gobble, gobble! 🦃😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah. I feel better about the keyboard shot now.

      My previous Nikon P&S did a terrible job with concentrated yellow and red (although I didn’t often notice the red). That bothered me, because it’s very difficult for me to adjust reds.

      The macro feature is much easier to use than the one on the Nikon (this is a Canon). I also think a few other features are more intuitive. It was so cool actually having a person explain the features to me. You get a lice person at B&H, but you need to know what to ask.

      We get stopped by the turkeys every now and then. No complaints.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That first shot of the keyboard lets me know if I have a front or back focusing issue with my lens or camera. There’s a kit to test for it, but it’s a set up, and I just haven’t been motivated to go that far with the testing.

        I’m glad you’re finding this camera easier to use and get the results you want, and that you like the ergonomics of it. That’s so important!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m taking a bunch of test pictures these days.

          It’s amazing how small differences can make a difference in how it feels to use a camera. I had the other one for just over four years, but I was still getting settings mixed up.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It is indeed! I totally get it. I never got the settings of my SLR Minolta in a place where it was second nature, so that I could photograph all I wanted to without having the bloody manual with me. It is why when I moved from SLR to Digital SLR I didn’t look at or want a Sony/Minolta kit. I went to the store thinking I was going to purchase the Canon 60 D. I had my mind made up, but something said try the Nikon so you can say you tried all the equivalents and have no regrets when you purchase the Canon and build a system. OMG! The fit, the ergonomics, the lenses…I walked out with a Nikon DSLR. I’ve loved every camera but my current one, but I do like a lot. I admit the last couple of years some of the mirrorless lines are getting my attention they aren’t quite where I need them to be to sell my gear and move to a completely different system. Believe me I get it. I hope this camera is all you hope it to be. Already you’re rockin’ it in every genre you’ve used it to photograph in.
            I think you’re going to love the extra reach, and already the controls are proving to be right up your street. I’m thinking this might be a good match. I hope it is!

            However, if you find it’s not within a year or two my best advice…sell then! While you can still get a good price for the camera, and find something else. Don’t wait four years. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! Move at the first inklings of it not being a good fit.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you so much for this comment. I know the feel makes a difference. I’ve watched our daughter go from the Nikon DSLR to a (I think Panasonic) mirrorless setup. She still has, and probably always will have the Nikon. She also has a medium format camera that she brings out every now and then. She really like the feel of the Panasonic.

              I didn’t think it mattered much. I figured the feature set was all that mattered. I should have realized, because I’ve spend a big part of my career worried about the “User Interface” of information systems, so the UI of a camera should be just as important.

              Liked by 1 person

  13. I love to visit actual-for-real camera stores… the ones that employ actual-for-real people who know what they are talking about. I’m sorry they couldn’t fix your problem for a reasonable sum but at least you know what the problem was. I love that picture of MuMu trying her best not appear to be enjoying her morning ear scratches.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I miss honest-to-lens-cap camera stores. I got some of the best photography advice in them, and they made me feel like I could be a good photographer. That kind of encouragement is missing when you order a camera on Amazon.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m loving your smudge free pics. Although I have to admit my heart dropped a wee bit — I’ve had my camera for a while and it sounds like your expert really knows what he’s talking about, which means eventually I’LL have to replace MY camera. And just the thought of that makes me swirly…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Laura. It is scary. I had to do the math with years of ownership and thousands of pictures taken to get comfy with the fact that there’s no inexpensive way to clean these things.


  16. One, I can’t believe cameras cannot just be disassembled and cleaned, like, at home, on your kitchen table…
    Two, clearly, I know nothing about cameras.
    Three, I’m pleased the camera shop is still there!
    Four, it may be my joy in looking at cute things after a long day of looking at not cute things, but I do believe your new camera is better than your old camera, regardless of smudge-no-smudge.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. How exciting for you! A new camera!!! Horray!!! Your pictures are wonderful, Dan!! You must be walking on air not to be contending with a smudge anymore. SO happy for you!!! On a side note … this was a LONG one-liner. Just saying …. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sorry you had to go through all of this, to get a smudge off, grr.
    Guess I didn’t how how fortunate I was! All I had to deal with, was a little handle that clicked the camera on and off. When that quit, it was a no-brainer what to do – and the price of the same camera was greatly reduced after a few years.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great pictures. By the way, which model you bought now? I think I will ask the same question again. Have you tried the DSLR camera? I think you can do pretty good with it. Although, on a second thought, I think point and shoot is good for you. This is because it is lightweight, compact and fewer features. These days bridge camera like the one I use can be helpful to you. Bridge cameras are basically a combo of Point and Shoot and DSLR.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bought a Canon SX 730. It’s small enough to slip into a pocket (if your pants are as big as mine) but fairly capable. I have used both a DSLR and the in-between format. I like something I can carry easily.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm. Looks efficient and powerful and compact. Good choice. Yes, my trouser pockets are big. Not sure if you ever noticed but I don’t have a pair of jeans. I don’t like buying these super slim trousers available these days. So, almost all my trousers are tailored using the best quality fabric. I prefer double-pleat trousers (with deep pockets) which are practically out of fashion here in India.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. This is a problem I’ve never had and I hope I don’t. I suspect it’s because my point-and-shoots tend to die an unnatural death long before any dust can accumulate to a noticeable stage.

    On the bright side, you now have a new toy to play with 😎

    Liked by 1 person

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