Fuji X10 problem with dust inside lens units

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]

2 Replies to “Fuji X10 problem with dust inside lens units”

  1. I have the same problem with my x10–but what started as just one big speck of dust is now a colony of dust particles. Does it affect IQ? Have you confirmed the apprehension that it may cause some damage to your sensor?

    1. Mrs Sparks I’ve never noticed any dust in my images even if I pixel peep looking for it. My X10 was sent back to Fuji for a 2nd time so I once again asked them to clean out the lens, which they did perfectly. Now after a 10 day trip to Florida and lots of X10 use (beach, boats, etc) it’s got a few small specks in it again but nothing that concerns me too much. I have recently bought an Olympus TG-1 fully sealed submersible camera and that arrived from the factory with a large dust speck on the back of the front element, I tapped the glass to see if it was loose and the dust fell and then landed on the sensor and that caused a massive dust spot on all images from that so it was returned for another. I don’t see the same happening with the X10, I think there’s little chance of the dust inside the lens falling onto the sensor because the lens appears to be somewhat of a sealed unit (ie has rear element infront of sensor?.
      Scoopz (Admin)

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