I did it. I finally sent my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 to The Panasonic Factory Service Center just down the road in McAllen, TX for a good sensor cleaning.
Over the past year or so I’d noticed a few little – and not so little – specs showing up in images that I’d made while using smaller apertures.
I didn’t mind too much, as they could be cloned out or I could do a content-aware fill to remove them. Shooting macros at ƒ/1.7 wasn’t an issue, either. I do a lot of that.
The dust doesn’t show when shooting wide open. But recently I was trying to get some good star flare in a sunset shot, at ƒ/16, and when I looked at the image in Photoshop there were so many specs that cloning or a fill just wasn’t feasible.
… a dusty sensor is kind of a thing with the LX100.
I started doing a little research online and found that a dusty sensor is kind of a thing with the LX100. Plenty of threads on the various forums had complaints. And a few whacky solutions.
One person came up with a device made from a plastic soda bottle that slipped over the lens barrel, with a vacuum hose attached to the other end, and after turning the camera on he’d zoom in-and-out while the vacuum did its thing. Some folks claimed success.
I was hoping the repair department of our local camera store, Austin’s Precision Camera, could do a proper cleaning. I called. It was worth a shot, but no, they suggested sending it to Panasonic.
A little research turned up examples of folks who’d sent their LX100 in to Panasonic. Some under warranty, some not. I couldn’t find what Panasonic charged for out-of-warranty sensor cleaning on any forum.
And finding the page on the Panasonic web site for actually initiating the cleaning was not easy. It’s Service and Repairs on the shop part of their site.
After a few back-and-forth emails, I learned that they’ll do a complete inspection of the camera for free. The sensor cleaning is $100 US. And coincidentally, that amount was kinda’ the threshold for me. Any other issues cost extra. It works fine, so I hope it just needs the sensor cleaned.
… my questions were answered by Agent 5 and Agent 4.
A funny side note… the folks who communicated with me via email didn’t use their given names. Instead, my questions were answered by Agent 5 and Agent 4. A bit quirky, and something I have not previously experienced with any customer help.
The forums all had stories about folks getting back their LX100 and, after use, the dust returning. And there were many questions about the latest version having the same issue.
All I know is the LX100 is probably the best digital camera I’ve owned and after 4 years of use, the $100 is worth making the camera usable again. Hope fully I’ll get another 4 years out of it.
Now, if Panasonic decides to add a flip-up rear display to the LX100III, whenever that might happen, I’d definitely upgrade.
I’ll do a follow-up post when my LX100 is back in my hands.