Brian's Photo Blog — Article 251
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Canon S100: A Failed Experiment
Monday 17 June 2013   —   Category: Equipment

In November 2012 I wrote an article about a problem with dust spots on my Canon S100 sensor. Today’s article follows up with the rest of the story, including its unhappy ending.

Last November I had sent the camera to Canon for servicing, because it was still under warranty. They sent it back with all of the dust spots removed from the sensor, which made me a happy camper. I stayed happy for a number of months, until I recently discovered that the problem has returned, and is even worse this time!

The first image to the right shows the extent of the sensor spots problem last year. The second photo shows how bad it is now — as you can see, it’s much worse! In fact, it is so bad that for me this camera is totally unusable and completely worthless! Why would I want to take any pictures with this camera, when each photo would be full of gray spots?!

Since I had nothing to lose, I took the S100 out to the garage, fired up my air compressor, and blasted the camera, inside and out, with a stream of 100 PSI air! The third and final photo to the right shows the results — some spots were removed, some were simply moved, and some are in the exact same position. That experiment was a failure!

In fact, the whole experiment of owning the Canon S100 has ended in disgraceful failure. What a waste of $420! It was a decent camera while it lasted, but it was built in such a substandard way that it was doomed to failure. My daughter’s Sony DSC-WX9, which she has had for a couple of years, has the exact same problem. It is really irritating and frustrating!

If it was an interchangeable-lens camera I could at least take the lens off and clean the sensor myself. But because the lens is permanently attached, there’s nothing I can do. And I for sure am not going to keep sending it back to Canon for cleaning, and paying a huge fee because it is now out of warranty. Nope — this camera is trash!

There are two possible types of cameras which could take its place as a small, pocket camera. One is a weather-sealed point-and-shoot camera which will keep water AND dust off the sensor, like the Olympus Tough series or the Pentax WG series. The other option is a very small interchangeable-lens camera, like the Nikon 1 series or the Pentax Q series.

I can pretty well grasp what the weatherproof point-and-shoot cameras are like without seeing one in person. But the small-sensored Nikon 1 and Pentax Q are a whole different breed, and it’s hard to get an accurate feel for how small and light they are (or not) without holding one in my hands. So tomorrow I’m heading to my favorite camera store in Oregon — Portland’s Pro Photo Supply — to see if they have floor models of either or both of these cameras.

One way or another, I want to find a small camera with good features, which I can put in my pocket and use when I don’t want to carry around my bulkier Olympus OM-D E-M5. I’ll be sure to let you know how things develop!
UPDATE: In my quest for the ideal pocket camera, I tried an Olympus “Tough” TG-2 iHS, which ended up disappointing me because of its lack of RAW image support and wimpy 4x zoom. Finally, I settled on a Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 251
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Reader Comments
On April 13, 2014, Caspar wrote:
I have just discovered the same problem with an S-100 I bought (fortunately used) last year. Mighty disappointing.

I have been looking at the Fuji X series, and also their waterproof cameras. Any thoughts about those?
On April 25, 2014, Brian wrote:
In response to Caspar's questions, see my article Size DOES Matter!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 251
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