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I've bought a used Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3, but the images show a dark spot near the center. It's more visible when zoomed in (first picture below), but it's also visible otherwise. It seems to be clearer on rather dark images, while on very bright images it's not visible at all.

Where could this defect come from, and is there anything I can do? Cleaning the outside of the lens didn't help. I'm comfortable with repairing electronics, so if taking the camera apart and cleaning the inner side of the lens, I could do that too. Any advice?

Zoomed in:

zoomed in

Zoomed out:

zoomed out

marked as duplicate by mattdm, Hugo, MikeW, NickM, inkista Aug 24 '15 at 20:16

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I've had this happen several times. The best advice is to take it to a professional camera store and have it cleaned. Trying to clean your sensor yourself is a really bad idea you can permanently damage the lens and the camera. That spot is not something you're going to be able to clean it off I pay about $50 once every 6 months or so to have my cameras cleaned otherwise I get those spots everywhere and it's frustrating because I don't take the lenses off in damp or dusty environments but somehow those spots get on my sensor and the back of my lenses.

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    I'm a big fan of taking the gear in for professional cleaning at times, but I also believe you need to learn how to do it yourself. One way is to have that pro show you how if they will -- ask. some good web sites teach this as well. If you're in the field and you get a spot on the sensor 200 miles from anyone else, knowing how to deal with it is a project saver. It can be scary to start, but a bit of care and it isn't difficult. – chuqui Jan 18 '15 at 2:35
  • I do know how to do it myself that's how I learned the hard way just not to go there anymore. it cost a lot of money for me to learn that lesson so I just didn't do it anymore I think a lot of it has to do with the camera and the lens as well because I shoot Nikon. I also shoot a lot of photos at one time so I think mine gets dirtier faster. – user37129 Jan 18 '15 at 2:37
  • Disassembled the camera and blew a visible spec of dust off the sensor with an air compressor. Thereafter the spot was gone in my images. Thank you. – Christian Aichinger Jan 18 '15 at 14:37
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    @ChristianAichinger Wow. Most of the "clean the dust off the sensor" advice here seem to have assumed an interchangeable lens camera, not a fixed-lens compact. Good job! – inkista Jan 18 '15 at 19:32
  • Thanks, it's pretty straight forward! If you can handle a screwdriver, you can do it. Lots of videos online. – Christian Aichinger Jan 18 '15 at 21:53
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It's probably dust on the sensor and the first step would be to clean it. Take a look at What is the best way to clean the sensor on a digital SLR? for hints on how to do that.

If you clean the sensor and you still see the spot, it's possible you have a flaw in the sensor itself and that would require repair, but 99% of the time what you have is simply a spot of dirt in the wrong place.

  • I doubt that it's actually dust on the sensor, since the spot is more focused when I'm zooming in, and defocused when zoomed out. Wouldn't that rule out dust directly on the sensor, or am I mistaken? – Christian Aichinger Jan 17 '15 at 23:01
  • no, it wouldn't. but also check for dirt on the glass on the inside of the lens where it connects to the camera. – chuqui Jan 18 '15 at 0:27
  • The "focus" or "blur" of the spot depends on aperture. Since the zoom lens on your camera is a variable aperture that is smaller when zoomed in and larger when zoomed out if you are shooting at widest aperture the dust spot will be more focused when using the longer focal length. – Michael C Jan 18 '15 at 20:14
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This is definitely due to dust on the CCD sensor and for some reason it appears that Panasonic compacts are particularly prone to this problem. I have/had the same model and you will find that if you take it apart, it's not worth taking it to a pro as internally it's a cheap and nasty plastic design. After you have taken it to bits once, the tiny screws that hold it together that all screw into plastic will have stripped most of the threads that they screw into. Also, you can't easily get to the CCD sensor without slightly forcing the plastic cover above it upwards and I found that after putting it all back together again, although most of the dust specks had gone (not all of them by any means) my pictures were no longer in focus at the edges. Whoever sold you camera probably knew about this or were just lucky with their timing. My solution was to ditch the Lumix and go for a different camera and I'm now going to see how that goes.

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