I took this image with a Sony phone. The lens is clean on the outside. The owner of the phone says those black dots started appearing and supposedly are multiplying. Is it some dust in the insides of that camera or might it be the sensor somehow getting bad?

The bad image


It's highly unlikely that this many pixels on the sensor would become "dead" in quick succession, or in this pattern (groups of pixels, rather than individual pixels).

This is clearly dust directly on the sensor.

I also see indicators of dust on the inside of the lens (larger, out-of-focus areas that are lighter than their surrounding pixels). For example, on the wall to the left of the top storage bin.


Looks really bad. Normally, dust gets on top of the stack of optical filter which sits above the sensor. It then shows as small blurry disks which get smaller and darker at narrow apertures because they are close to the sensor but not directly on.

From your example, I would guess that you have dust that entered below the filters and is directly on the sensor. There is no way to clean this yourself and you should therefore have it serviced.

  • I doubt dust. Looks like damage to the sensor caused by Lasers, as seen in this image from ILDA: Laser show damage to cameras. – xiota Aug 14 '19 at 22:11
  • Mobile phone lenses tend to be comparatively fast, and not have an adjustable aperture. Dust visible that sharply will usually only happen with a very slow or very stopped down lens. – rackandboneman Aug 15 '19 at 21:04

I suspect small clusters of sensels are dying off. This could happen if the sensor were damaged by lasers. Or perhaps the phone was dropped too many times and some internal connection was damaged.

The following image from ILDA: Laser show damage to cameras shows laser damage that has essentially the same appearance as those in your sample image:

Laser damage

The black spots are likely not dust.

  • They have unusual pixelated shapes.
  • There are no specks with the usual appearance of dust – blurry blobs of varying size that also vary with aperture.
  • They are increasing in number. How would more dust be getting inside the phone?
  • Interesting idea, I will forward it to the owner. Thanks for the response. – jkavalik Aug 15 '19 at 9:09

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