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.