Brian's Photo Blog — Article 253
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Canon S100: Postmortem Dissection
Thursday 20 June 2013   —   Category: Equipment
Because my Canon S100 is a failed experiment and I no longer have any use for it, I thought about putting it up for auction on eBay. But then I thought, with all that dust on the sensor, who would even want to buy such a camera? Then I was struck by the idea of taking the camera apart and seeing if I could clean the sensor myself. Why not? Because it was useless to me, I had nothing to lose.

So with tiny screwdrivers in hand, I set to work on a Canon S100 postmortem dissection! In the first photo to the right you can see the camera in a fairly-disassembled state.

There is a quarter in the upper-left portion of the photo for size reference. You can see the sensor unit in the lower-right corner. And in the lower-left corner you can see all the screws I had to remove in order to get this thing apart! Modern cameras truly are technological wonders!

The next two photos look like a view from the porthole of a space ship out in deep space — like something from a Star Wars movie. Unfortunately, this is the dust-encrusted sensor of my now-dead Canon S100! I took these uncropped photos with my Olympus 60mm macro lens at full magnification. The 1/1.7-​inch sensor, which looks so huge here, is actually only 9mm across and 7.5mm high (0.35 x 0.30 inches).

And as you can see, it’s THICK with dust. It’s astonishing that I could even take any useable photos with it at all! After the second photo, I took a can of compressed air and blasted the sensor quite a bit. The third photo shows that the sensor is less, but still horribly, dusty.

I’m very, VERY disappointed that Canon — and other manufacturers as well — would build their cameras in such a slipshod way, that the sensor could get SO dusty SO easily. And the sensor is so difficult to reach, you would have to send the camera back to a factory repair center in order to have it cleaned — and pay a lot of money if you’re past the one-year warranty.

All I ever did was carry this camera around in my pants pocket for half an hour each day. Otherwise, it was always in its case. And now, because of their shoddy and thoughtless design, I've wasted over $500 (including spare batteries) on a useless hunk of metal and plastic! It really burns me up!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 253
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Reader Comments
On January 28, 2014, Oscar wrote:
Hi, interesting post! I'm having the same problem as you had (although not as many spots!) Just wanted to ask why your S100 broke - were you unable to reassemble it or did it simply not power on after assembling it?
On January 29, 2014, Brian wrote:
In reply to Oscar's question above: By the time I had disassembled the camera enough to get to the dusty sensor, it was obvious that I was never going to be able to put it all back together again. Plus, I had no idea how to get the dust off the sensor, since compressed air did not do the trick. Such a disassembly and cleaning needed to be done by a professional with the proper knowledge, equipment and techniques. And after all that, dust would just get on the sensor again, and I would have to start all over. Therefore, it made much more sense for me just to junk the camera and find a replacement. Also, I came to the conclusion that I should not carry a camera around in my pocket, but always carry it in its case ... that will for sure help keep the dust out of the camera.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 253
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