24 hours to break and fix your digital camera

[shared via Google Reader from Songs, Snaps and Science]

Hairs and little specks of dust had somehow broken into my compact camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6). It’s three and a half years old and I use it a lot, and I mean a lot, that and an even older Canon 20D digital SLR. So, it’s probably to be expected. Anyway, I didn’t imagine it would be easy to open it up and clean off the detritus from the sensor and the inside of the lens, so I tracked down a Youtube clip showing users how to get in and fix the problem without wrecking their camera:

Needless to say it didn’t go smoothly. Two of the casing screws were well and truly welded to the case (probably a combination of sweat deposits from all the handling over the years). Anyway, I tried all kinds of tools once my tiniest screwdriver had stripped off the cross-notch so that they really wouldn’t undo. I was almost about to buy the latest model and to ditch this old one under WEEE regulations. The TZ40 looks mighty fine, 18 Mpx, 20x optical zoom, GPS, Wi-fi connectivity, the works…


But, I hate waste and I hate going to the shops and spending 330 quid on a new camera, when the old one had been working perfectly well aside from a few hairs and specks of dust on the sensor, like I say. So, I headed for the workshop, clamped the camera as gently as I could in a vice (Black & Decker Workmate actually) and loaded up my Bosch power drill with a metal-cutting bit and took out those mofo screws with serious weaponry.

With the case well and truly split open it was a simple matter of unscrewing the sensor and blowtorching off the grit using an air-puffer and a microfibre cloth to remove the particles. Gave it a quick test before re-assembling and all looks fine. Clipped and screed the casing back together (sans two screws) and (this is the most important bit) put the camera in the low-dust, windless environment of my LowePro compact camera pouch until I am ready to use the camera again.


Next…unsticking the backspace key on my laptop…I’m thinking wrench, sledgehammer and chainsaw…


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