Please help! Speck of dirt inside my Z1 lens. Remote location at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old July 28th, 2008, 12:49 AM   #1
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Please help! Speck of dirt inside my Z1 lens. Remote location

I'm a couple of weeks into a 2-month stint on a boat in Tonga shooting humpback whales.

Somehow a speck of pale dirt has got inside the lens of my Sony Z1 and is showing up as a black spot in the lower right corner on all my wide-angle shots of the whales and, in my view, ruining them.

It looks to me like the dirt is in the front of the lens system, on the front of the front-most curved element. When I zoom and the internal components move backwards the speck stays in place. The speck moves toward the centre of the field of view as I zoom in and then totally blurs/vanishes at 70% zoom. The sharpness of the speck varies with the iris and it moves around a bit, possibly because I have steadyshot on.

Is it possible to disassemble the lens system enough in the field to remove this speck of dirt?
How does that front flat glass element remove and how difficult is it?
Would one access it from the front or from the rear?
Are specialist tools required?
How big is the risk of trashing the whole lens/camera?
Are lens exploded drawings or service manuals available online?
Are any photos of a disassembled FX1/Z1 lens available online?

There are no Sony places or techs in Tonga and time is too limited to send the camera overseas for cleaning, so a DIY job is the only option. We have lots of tools/engineers/patience/time on the boat and could even make tools for the job if required.

The small white speck can be seen on the attached photo.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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Please help! Speck of dirt inside my Z1 lens. Remote location-lens-speck-small.jpg  
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Old July 28th, 2008, 12:26 PM   #2
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I understand the Z1 lens is a sealed-for-life unit and is generally replaced as a module, not discreet parts.

As you likely need the thing to be working right now, one long shot you might try will be to turn on a CRT television set and place the camcorder side-on to the television screen and hope that the piece of dust will flick away to the edge or back inside the guts somewhere. I have used this trick to shift specks out of the mirror enclosures of 35mm groundglass adaptors.

Best position to achieve this will be to have the front of the lens just outside of the edge of the CRT screen and slide the camera back across onto the screen to engage the speck of dust then forward again off the edge of the screen to move the dust mote backwards.

If you don't have a CRT television, a bluelight mozzy zapper might do the same job but there is risk of shocking yourself or damaging the camera.

If you have no CRT television aboard, the CRT screen of an operating radar display may do the job if you can get the glare hood off the display. Check the operating manual of the radar to see if it is placarded for X'ray hazard to operators if the hood is removed.

Talking about hoods, you will need to take the lenshood off the camera to get the lens as close to the static electricity source as you can.

If you were in a low-humidity environment you might also try dragging the camera forward along a nylon carpet.

If that speck is a piece of metal swarf with lube on it, it won't move. If it is a piece of plastic swarf then static electricity or a high-voltage field might shift it.

If you don't have any of these hi-tech appliances aboard, one last desperate thing you might try will be a piezo-igniter for lighting gas burners. There likely will be a hand-held one aboard somewhere in the galley. A piezo ignited cigarette lighter might also be in someone's kit. The galley stove may have a built-in piezo igniter system. That could be a bit trickier to patch out to an improvised spark gap closer to camera and shock hazard is a distinct possibility.

In the old days of vinyl records, the same base unit for a grey plastic piezo gas igniter was also used with a different tip for lifting dust off vinyl records which would become charged and attract dust, which is where the gas igniter suggestion comes from.

There they are, all my imagined desperate measures in one basket. Good luck if you decide to take this risky course.

You have to weigh the potential of the camera becoming damaged against the benefit of getting it clear.

To assist in removing the blemish in post, you might consider selecting OIS off.

There is a link to an album of breakdown photos of the Z1/FX1 published well back in this Z1/FX1 thread section. I have forgotten the thread title. I think it was something funny like "would you be brave enough to do this to your camera".

Last edited by Bob Hart; July 28th, 2008 at 12:52 PM. Reason: error
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Old July 29th, 2008, 09:19 PM   #3
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Thanks for the suggestions Bob. I tried the TV trick last night to no avail. There was no static feel at all on the front of the TV, possibly because of the humid atmosphere (boat in Tonga). I will look at the other tricks and then probably live with the problem until I get back to somewhere that Sony can look at it.

Cheers
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Old July 30th, 2008, 12:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hart View Post
There is a link to an album of breakdown photos of the Z1/FX1 published well back in this Z1/FX1 thread section. I have forgotten the thread title. I think it was something funny like "would you be brave enough to do this to your camera".
It's one of the "sticky" threads on the first page of this forum: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=60134

But there are some other threads on this same issue as well, for example: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=115470
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 10:29 AM   #5
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I never did find a way to remove that speck of dirt so I just lived with it and will "repair" footge as and when required. Finally my camera took a tumble and the whole lens unit needed replacing anyway, which killed 2 birds with one stone. The new lens and labour cost me about 21,000 baht in Bangkok.

As a side note, the camera wouldn't focus on distant objects after its repair and it ended up also needing a new main board (its third) which cost about 24,000 baht.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 02:53 AM   #6
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That's been a bit of a costly camera for you Nick. What's your next one going to be?
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 03:26 AM   #7
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Indeed it has Tom.

Not quite sure about the next one other than knowing I want to shoot progressive scan to solid state storage. A bit smaller than a Z1 would be nice. V1 sort of size. The choice may be limited by underwater housing selection. I will buy 2 cameras next time around.

On a lonnnng editing/web authoring break at the moment.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 03:31 AM   #8
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Sounds like the HMC151 might be a goer. And the Aspheron takes that *really* wide.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 01:42 PM   #9
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"I will buy 2 cameras next time around."

I learned a long time ago from a still photographer of mine. One camera on a shoot equals no camera. Two cameras equal one camera and so on. .....

Every time I go out on a shoot I always carry a back up. Right now my main camera is the EX-3 and the back up is my trusty zu1. When I use the 270 I always take the EX as a back up.

Sorry you have had such a hard time. There are times when I have made a mask in PS to get rid of something in the back ground that I did not want. This would time consuming if you have the speck in every shot.

Good luck

Ronnie
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Old July 13th, 2009, 01:46 PM   #10
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Another suggestion .... In my editor Edius 5.10 there is a layout tool that will allow you to crop the picture ever so slightly. If your editor has such a feature you could export the finished timeline as a avi and put it back on the timeline and apply the layout filter to the whole timeline with one click.... saving tons of time.

Take care
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Old July 13th, 2009, 01:56 PM   #11
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One more thing Nick: I watched some of your video from your site and it was outstanding quality. What did you shoot the video with on the first video and what final format did you upload to Youtube?

Great video!!!

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Old July 14th, 2009, 01:58 AM   #12
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I'm with you on that one Ronnie. Nick's underwater movies are so *smooth*, like a steadycam operator drifting in space. I've had a go at filming underwater and just down at two metres and holding my breath it's horrendously difficult to get steady, well lit, sharp, correctly white-balanced and interesting shots.

Oh, and why do Scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats? Is it because if they fell forwards they'd still be in the damn boat?
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Old July 14th, 2009, 02:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie Martin View Post
Another suggestion .... In my editor Edius 5.10 there is a layout tool that will allow you to crop the picture ever so slightly. If your editor has such a feature you could export the finished timeline as a avi and put it back on the timeline and apply the layout filter to the whole timeline with one click.... saving tons of time.
There are a couple of things I've done. One is to copy the track with the speck to a lower track and move it a little sideways or up/down, then cut a little hole (with a blended edge) in the upper track letting the lower track show through. Depending on the footage this can work well and I've done it completely in Vegas. For more tricky situations I've done a clone stamp frame-by-frame in Photoshop, and it can be done quite quickly once you get your process and rhythm down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie Martin View Post
One more thing Nick: I watched some of your video from your site and it was outstanding quality. What did you shoot the video with on the first video and what final format did you upload to Youtube?
Thanks very much. Not sure which video you mean but if it's 16:9 then it's HDV 1080-50i shot with the Z1P in a Light and Motion Bluefin housing. If it appears on YouTube as HD then it was uploaded in 720p H.264 compressed with the x264 codec (framerved out of Vegas into MeGUI). I think I sent it to YouTube at 5Mbps and they recompress it to 2Mbps. If you mean 4:3 stuff then it was shot with a VX2000 in a Gates housing and sent to YouTube as Xvid.

Quote:
Oh, and why do Scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats? Is it because if they fell forwards they'd still be in the damn boat?
Well, we don't always but from a small boat we normally do just because it's the easiest way. Any reason not to stand up on a small boat while wearing fins and scuba gear is a good reason.
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