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Photography/sudden splotch on Canon digital camera


QUESTION: My Canon EPH100HS pocket digital camera has served me well for years. Today I took a few dozen pictures and during the upload to my Windows 7 desktop computer, it got stuck so I ended the process on the computer. The photos got uploaded normally, but the next time I turned on the camera I noticed a small gray/black splotch on the right corner. I took a picture and it showed in the photo. I have never had to clean the lens before as it retracts when it powers off but I figured it might be a speck of dust or something. I cleaned it and no change. Any clue what could have happened?

ANSWER: Hi Theo,

I've been thinking about your question for a couple days now, and probably need to know a bit more. When you said that you "noticed a small gray/black splotch on the right corner," did you mean the corner of the camera body itself, on the viewing screen, or in images taken by the camera? My assumption is the latter... in which case there's probably something on the lens itself. If you look at the front of the lens with a bright light shining into it, do you see any grease or lint on the surface? Or do you see any haze that looks like spider webs (indicating a possible fungus infection)?

If you see anything on the lens front, first try to blow it off. If that doesn't work, then gently try to nudge it off with a soft Q-Tip. But if there is something on the lens that won't budge, then try to clean it (gently) with a soft lint-free cloth and some camera-quality lens cleaner.

And if you see nothing on the front of the lens, then it may be that something somehow got onto one of its internal elements. And that would require a professional dis-assembly and cleaning. Sadly, that process would probably cost more than buying a new camera!

If my initial assumptions are incorrect, though, please let me know more about where exactly you are seeing that gray/black splotch.

Thanks Theo!



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


The splotch is on the view screen and the images.

I had already bought a new and better Canon camera but this one is a pocket, less expensive camera that I felt more comfortable taking out of the house. It's still usable for that purpose but the splotch is annoying.

I tried cleaning it with a Q-Tip and nothing changed. What's strange about the splotch is it gets lighter (almost invisible sometimes) or darker depending on the angle and the brightness.

Do you have any suggestion on a specific lens cleaner?


Hi Again Theo,

Many thanks for your positive ratings!

I'd suggest going to any camera store and using whatever brand they recommend. But definitely stay way from Windex, Glass Plus, or any form of "rubbing alcohol"!

The change in brightness sounds like it might be internal grease somewhere inside the camera. If the camera got excessively warm at some point, internal lubricants may have run onto glass surfaces. And if that's the case, it would probably be an expensive repair.

How big is the offending area in your photos? I once had a beloved camera that experienced something similar before it died, and I was able to Photoshop its dark dot out of my images pretty easily. But your problem may be more difficult to remove digitally.

I'll keep thinking... see if any other ideas come up!




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Dave Powell


My specialty is highly atmospheric digital-infrared photography, and I'd love to answer questions about digital-IR equipment and procedures. I can also help people understand classic "old-photog" techniques (like "Sunny 16 Exposure" and "Hyperfocal Focusing")... which are still useful today. I can answer questions about processing, improving, manipulating, and printing digital photos with programs like Photoshop. I'm an inveterate tinkerer, and may be able to answer questions about making one's own photo equipment (such as DIY special-effect filters, close-up adapters, and pin-hole cameras); about doing super-closeup macro photography (film or digital); and about using older lenses on cameras made by different manufacturers (such as Nikon lenses on Canon bodies and Pentax lenses on Olympus bodies. I can answer general purchasing questions, such as "Can any of the digital SLRs use my old Minolta film lenses?" But as others have noted, nobody can identify the "best" camera for another person. That calls for extensive web research plus hands-on time in a good camera store. (But I can point to great web resources for doing this research!)


Over the past 40 years, I've used a huge variety of film cameras (SLR, rangefinder, point-and-shoot, high-end, fantastique-plastique, fully manual, highly automated, 35mm, 110, medium format, Polaroid, folding, even homemade pinhole). I've used digital cameras since the late 1990s (began when I was writing user manuals for Polaroidís digital cameras). I've also won juried photo competitions in the Boston area, and have exhibited and sold original prints. (Amazingly, my best-selling print was taken with a lowly 0.8-megapixel camera, and very carefully processed to print at 12x18 inches!) Iíve taught local adult-ed classes about digital cameras, Photoshop image processing, and better photography through self-understanding. Iíve contributed to Popular Photographyís tips and tricks column, and am currently writing a book about taking better photos through self-understanding.

Popular Photography (tips and tricks column), plus dozens of magazines and blog sites that have carried my bylined articles about computers, networking, information security, and eLearning.

Masters in Science Communications, Boston University, 1980. Bachelors in Mathematics, Denison University, 1970.

Awards and Honors
I've won several juried photo competitions in the Boston area, and have exhibited and sold original prints... especially digital-infrared landscapes, architectural abstracts, and cityscapes. I've also won multiple international awards in the technical-writing field... including a business press equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. And I've even written for Sesame Street!

Past/Present Clients
Winchester Recreation Department (taught photography classes) Jenks Senior Center (taught photography and Photoshop classes) Polaroid (wrote their digital-camera user manuals until they entered Chapter 11)

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