Out! Get Out, Black Spot!

The Cats KnackersBack here at TCK Headquarters, we have two cameras. One is the posh Canon 700D ‘Sunday Best’ (which were still learning how to properly use), while the other, for day-to-day use, is a little Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 we picked up a few years ago. This Lumix is the a great camera -a real ‘point and shoot’ that neatly fits in a little soft case and is perfectly small enough to carry around in a jacket pocket. The Canon, however, isn’t. The Canon is for more ‘professional’ and ‘studied’ shots that take some time to set up.

We were using the Lumix the other day, taking shots of our Plot when we noticed a grey/black ‘spot’ down towards the bottom left of the picture.

Ah, the lens must need cleaning, so we carefully cleaned it with isopropanol and a cotton bud, and behold!

…The spot was still there.

Try as we might, we couldn’t see the blemish on the outer lens, so we gave Mr Ward Senior a call to see if he could help us. Being a ‘veteran’ cameraman, he would sort it, and told us so.

So, last Wednesday afternoon, we happily trit-trotted up to his gaff, taking the errant camera with us. It would be fun to repair, and also good ‘bonding time’ for father and son.

Well, it was certainly good bonding time as we sat in his study and he tried to see where the spot was on the lens. The Cats Knackers

Of course, he didn’t much appreciate the fact that when you touch the view screen, it will on occasion, take a shot for you. The results are here, and you can quite clearly see the spot down towards the bottom left of the picture.

Infuriatingly ever-present, and infuriatingly out of focus.

Well, Mr Ward Senior, armed with both cotton buds and a lens wiping cloth, along with a The Cats Knackersbottle of isopropanol lens-cleaner couldn’t find the spot no matter how he peered at it then cleaned it.

This photo to the left isn’t an intentional selfie. This is Mr Ward looking intently at the Panasonic’s lens, but momentarily forgetting that one of his fingers had errantly touched the screen at the back.

And yes. The spot was still there, much to our disappointment.

(Oh, and before you ask, that’s notBorg implant sprouting from the side of Mr Ward’s head. That’s the light fitting on the ceiling. Check out the previous photo for proof.)

So this morning, on our way to Bardwells, we stopped off at Sheffield’s premier camera shop to get a quote for fixing it.

The salesman looked down his nose.

“No, we don’t do Panasonic,” he sneered, implying it was only a toy. Yes squire, it may look like a mere ‘toy’, but when new, this was a £300.00 toy, with many more features than the overage ‘point and pray’ and with a Leica lens, to boot.

Undeterred by the salesman’s haughtiness, while the tea was brewing when we got back to TCK Towers, we checked YouTube, and sure enough, there was a clip of a chap taking one of these apart and cleaning the CMOS sensor.

The video was only just over 5 minutes long, and when we played it back a few times, we saw just how ridiculously easy it would be to take apart and check if it was indeed the sensor that was dirty.

If you’re interested, then the YouTube video we watched is here.

So, after a few deep and calming breaths, we very carefully took the camera apart, all the time checking what we were doing, checking the screws and generally treating it with kid gloves.

And It Was Fun.

Okay, for 99.99999% of the population, this would be about as far away from ‘fun’ as you could possibly get, but for us, it was tremendously exciting.

For once, we had all the right tools, we had a video to show us what to do, and more importantly, it would save us a small fortune if we could fix it ourself and not have to send it to Panasonic’s HQ down in Southampton.

Fun.

The Cats KnackersAs we got into the back of the camera, which was exactly the same as the one in the video, despite it being a different model, we carefully removed the CMOS sensor, and behold…

You can enlarge this photo, and as you do, check out the middle left of the sensor.

Can you see that little black dot?

We very carefully cleaned it with a fresh, clean cotton bud with absolutely no isopropanol on it. This was important, because we didn’t know if the CMOS had a coating on it, and we certainly wouldn’t want to slosh it with alcohol if it did, and anyway, it was just a large speck of dust, so there was no need to ‘wash’ it.

The Cats KnackersA few minutes later, and the camera was gently and safely back together, so we took a shot of our knees (!?), and if you look closely, you see the black spot has disappeared. (Yes, we’re aware that this photo is ‘cropped’, but this cropping was only across the top. You don’t really need to see all the crud that’s on the bench at this time. Trust us.)

Of course, we could pop into the bedroom and take a sneaky shot of The Chairman who is currently working out the cash-flow projections for next year versus the likely rise in price of Bitcoin while appearing to be fast asleep, but as he’s black, this would kind-of defeat the objective here.

Suffice to say, the camera is now completely fixed, and boy did it feel good doing it.

We’ll be down at our Plot this weekend (…despite what the forecasters may say…), so we’ll take the Lumix and properly try it out and show you the results.

Oh, and talking of The Plot, there will hopefully be big news in the coming weeks re: Plot Power. We’ve ordered a solar panel power controller, so if we can get some kind of security sorted, we’ll be taking this, a few of the solar panels and the marine battery down there.

We’ll also take a power unit that we take the battery’s 13.5 volts and convert it to about 18 volts to make it suitable for powering a laptop.

Then, ladies and gentlemen, as the weather gets warmer, we can do the regular Grow Sheffield work from our shed on a Monday and Friday.

And won’t that be exciting?

 

 

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