I’ve only had my Fuji X10 for a couple of months and it’s an excellent bit of kit but it’s not without its flaws. Aside from the known issue with white discs (blooming) in highlight areas and slow boot times if you don’t format the card in the camera I’ve now got a bigger and much more annoying problem dust inside my lens.
I checked the camera thoroughly when I received it and there were definitely no dust traces inside the lens when it was new. The other day I was cleaning it with my trusty Lens Pen 2 and noticed there were some stubborn spots of dirt I couldn’t shift. On closer inspection I was shocked to find there is what I consider to be a large number of dust particles clinging to the inside of the front lens element and also to one of the inner lens elements.
It seems that this is quite a common problem with many other Fuji X10 users reporting the same. It is, however, reassuring to know that Fuji have been cleaning dust from inside the lens for other users free of charge under warranty. I will be getting this done but since Fuji have announced there is a new sensor replacement program on the horizon this month (May 2012) to combat the white orb sensor issue, I think I’ll wait until I send it off for the sensor swap and ask them to clean inside the lens at the same time.
Having always been a Canon shooter, my main workhorse is my 5D Mark II with a variety of L-series lenses and have never had any issues with dust inside them, but I guess they are nicely weather sealed against moisture and dust ingress. The Fuji X10 has replaced my Canon S90 and G10 as my main out-and-about carry everywhere camera though, but having just taken a long look my my G10, after nearly 3 years use it has absolutely no dust inside the lens. It probably helps that I always keep my 5D MkII in a clean DSLR camera bag and keep all my L-series lenses in a proper lens case, if I go to a dusty environment with them they get a thorough hoovering or even a wash afterwards.
It looks like the X10’s greatest feature, the manual lens zoom, might also be it’s achilles heel. Since you are able to manually zoom the lens so quickly it causes the lens to suck in or expel large volumes of air when you zoom in and out. If the lens is weather sealed too tightly, rapidly changing the internal lens volume (by zooming and extending the lens) would create a lower pressure inside the lens and cause it to be rebound back to it’s original position. Not exactly ideal. This issue doesn’t really affect the G10 or S90 or any other compact with a motorised zoom lens since the zooming action is motorised it is inherantly slow, meaning they can get away with some very tight air and weather seals. It seems Fuji have had to compromise with the X10 and reduce the sealing around the lens barrel to allow the lens to “breathe” easily as you zoom in and out.
There’s not much Fuji can do about this other than offer to keep cleaning dust from inside lenses under warranty and perhaps offer an extended lens cleaning program outside of warranty?
It is important to note that so far I have not noticed the dust particles inside the lens affecting any of my photos and lets face it, at the end of the day the quality of the photos is what matters most as a photographer. I’ve even used L-series lenses before which what I’d class as severe and deep scratches on the front element and not been able to notice it in the photos. My main concern is whether dust that is getting sucked into the lens barrel will eventually find its way onto the sensor, that’s when it becomes a real problem because that will be noticeable on photos.
There is a way to reduce the amount of dust that your Fuji X10 sucks into the lens and that is to quite simply zoom slowly. By zooming slowly you give the lens more time to expand it’s internal volume which in turn means air is sucked into the lens more slowly and dust is less likely to be ingested.
I’d also suggest giving your camera bags and camera cases a quick wash and hoover out if they are particularly dusty. Putting the X10 in and out of a dusty camera bag is more likely to get dust on the lens exterior which will increase the liklihood of dust getting sucked into the lens when zooming.
UPDATE: I called Fuji UK earlier today and was told they will clean the inside of the lens when they replace my sensor and since they are sending out pre-paid postage parcels to send the cameras in for the sensor replacement I wouldn’t even have to pay to ship it to them. Normally they would clean it FOC under warranty but I’d be liable for the cost of postage to the repair center.
I didn’t have my camera to hand at the time to give him the serial number, but they are taking details from those who want the replacement sensor now in preparation for the new sensor at the end of the month but they will want you to install the latest firmware first to see if that has reduced your “blooming” issues.
[Click images to see full size]