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06-01-2011, 05:49 PM   #1
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Are dust problems on the K20d sensor typical?

On one of the Pentax forums I found reference to a Camera store that was selling refurbished K20d's. The person posting the information said he called the store and they told him that these cameras were essentially new but came off the assembly line with some sort of problem. Such cameras are put on a shelf and either refurbished by Pentax or sold to Camera stores who refurbish them. In this case, so said the Camera store, they had Pentax do the refurbishment.

That sounded pretty good to me so I bought one for $389. It had 290 shutter clicks on it when I got it. I went out on a nearby hiking trail three days in a row, checking everything I could think of. It was only on the third day that I noticed "orbs" and squiggles in some of the photos. Not immediately positive it was the camera, I checked it with an old legacy lens and they showed up on that as well. I did all the recommended things. I used a Rocket blower on it several times, and while some of the orbs may have moved, they remained in the photos.

I contacted the seller half expecting him to give me some advice on cleaning the sensor but he told me to send the camera back.

An hour ago I got the replacement camera. This one had 43 shutter actuations on it. I went into the back yard and took several photos of the sky and to my disgust discovered one orb on the left side of two photos. However, the orbs weren't in exactly the same place on the photos; so I got out the Giotto Rocket blower, worked everything over, went out in the backyard and took some more photos and the orbs were either gone or had moved into some area where they weren't visible on the photos.

Now these cameras weren't technically new, but they seem virtually new. If I bought a new camera that had 43 clicks on it I would consider it new. Even 290 doesn't seem bad, but these two cameras are my first experience with Pentax and I wonder whether what I've encountered is typical or unusual.

I have four Olympus cameras, the most modern of which is an E-520, but Olympus seems to be losing interest in their DSLR line so I thought I'd better branch out.

I did in the past get some viewfinder dust in a 2003 vintage Olympus E-1 with 30,000 shutter clicks on it. If the K20d works out for me; then my eventual "upgrade" would probably be in the Pentax and not in the Olympus line. The Olympus cameras I bought with low-usage like these K20d's had clear glass so I wonder if I got a couple of flukes or if my problem is a common one. And if the latter, is it common to the K20d, to Pentax as a whole, or perhaps to any camera using an APS-C system?

I'm going to continue checking my present K20d, and I hope I find no more "orbs." It seems like a great camera. I never moved up beyond the E-520 in the Olympus line, but perhaps the K20d is comparable to the Olympus E3 or E30 -- or perhaps it is better. I wouldn't be surprised.

06-01-2011, 07:42 PM   #2
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I'm not sure sensor dust is a camera feature

You can get a wet sensor cleaning kit which includes a solution and you can clean it yourself, you don't have to send the camera back to the shop everytime you get a dirty sensor. Search here on the forums and you'll find instructions how to set the camera to lock the mirror and clean the sensor.

That said, the K20D is a pretty old model already, if you are still finding it in stock I wouldn't doubt it's from a defective batch that someone returned to the shop after figuring out it had a stained sensor - just like you are doing.

Last edited by hcarvalhoalves; 06-01-2011 at 07:50 PM.
06-01-2011, 10:39 PM   #3
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Get the sticky stick (Pentax O-ICK1)..

Chances are the dust is held by static charge and needs a touch the sensor cleaning of some sort. Wet clean is the last resort IMO but is an option too.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-camera-articles/121739-those-...ml#post1259109

The cameras get progressively better as the models go along. The K10d was terrible when it came to dust, the K20d is better. I've yet to encounter dust on the K5 that didn't either fall on it's own or was blown off by the rocket.

Sending the camera out or taking it to a shop every time you see dust is going to break you. That is, unless you have a shop willing to do it for free. Most estimates I had (a long time ago) were $50 a pop. YMMV.

06-01-2011, 10:43 PM   #4
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^^^ agree, just buy the Pentax lollipop sensor cleaner and deal with the dust yourself. Unfortauntely dust is a constant PITA with digital SLR's.

06-01-2011, 10:54 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
The K10d was terrible when it came to dust
?????

Dust has seldom been an issue with mine, but then again, I do live in a fairly dustless region.


Steve
06-01-2011, 11:02 PM   #6
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Just turn on startup dust removal and you should be fine. Although the DR system has been improved on the k5/7, the k10 and 20 still definitely do a good job of cleaning dust on their own.
06-02-2011, 12:10 AM   #7
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I have had minimal problems with dust on my K10D and K20D. Whether the dust reduction mechanism was working or not, dust never seemed to be attracted to the sensors in the first place. I had to rocket blow each camera probably twice each in their 4+ years of ownership.

The same couldn't be said about the *ist D and K100D I had. But my K-x is holding up OK thus far - rocket blowing seems to be effective on it...
06-02-2011, 07:57 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
?????

Dust has seldom been an issue with mine, but then again, I do live in a fairly dustless region.


Steve
All I'm doing is stating from my own experience, not everyone else's. Then again, that's all I ever give an experienced observation from. I don't mean that it always had dust but when it did, the dust wanted to hang on for dear life. The Lolipop is the only thing that worked reliably to remove it. With the K20, the situation improved and the blower would work most times. With the K7, I think I cleaned that sensor twice in the year I owned it, with the blower. Once in awhile, something will show up on the K5 and the shaker usually gets it.

Again, YMMV.



06-02-2011, 11:05 AM   #9
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On the nature of dust removal systems

I guess I was vague about what I was looking for, but after reading the responses, especially JeffJS's, one of the things was appropriate cleaning methods to use if the seller had not taken the K20d back (under his 30-day warranty).

By the way, I took the replacement camera he sent me on a 2 hour hike this morning. The camera seems fine. A couple of photos of the sky showed what might have been a small spec of dust but photos later on showing a similar sky didn't have it.

Some of the methods JeffJS described are methods I used on my Olympus cameras; however, aside from one camera the dust affected the viewfinder glass and not the sensor covering.

A second thing I was looking for was whether the APS-C system, being larger than the Olympus 4/3 system, would be more susceptible to dust. I live in a dusty region of Southern California and do a lot of hiking on a dry river bed; so dust is a problem for me; however I normally only use one lens on a hike, so I don't change them down there. Also, I routinely blow dust of the lens before I install it on the camera before going on a hike.

Does anyone know of a comparison between the Pentax and Olympus dust removal systems?
06-02-2011, 08:11 PM   #10
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A couple years back there was a more or less official test done with Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Oly. I'm pretty sure Pentax and Oly were marginally better, but bottom line was - you still need a blower.

I can not provide a link because I forget where it was.
06-09-2011, 04:18 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
Get the sticky stick (Pentax O-ICK1)..

Chances are the dust is held by static charge and needs a touch the sensor cleaning of some sort. Wet clean is the last resort IMO but is an option too.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-camera-articles/121739-those-...ml#post1259109

The cameras get progressively better as the models go along. The K10d was terrible when it came to dust, the K20d is better. I've yet to encounter dust on the K5 that didn't either fall on it's own or was blown off by the rocket.

Sending the camera out or taking it to a shop every time you see dust is going to break you. That is, unless you have a shop willing to do it for free. Most estimates I had (a long time ago) were $50 a pop. YMMV.


+1 on this method. I haven't had to resort to anything but a blower on any of my bodies but if I did this is the only way I would go. Even the Leicaphiles use this Pentax O-ICK1.
06-09-2011, 11:09 PM   #12
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Second K20d is dust free

Blue,

The idea that I might want to send my K20d out each time it got dust on it was a misunderstanding. I bought a refurbished K20d that had dust on it that I couldn't remove with a rocket blower. I worked at it with a Zeikos brush and then used the Rocket blower some more. I used the built-in dust removal system but dots and circles still showed up against a blue sky in my photos.

Here is where the confusion entered the picture: The seller was a camera store in Texas. He had a 30-day guaranty; so I contacted him after I tried to remove the dust as described above, and he asked me to send the camera back. As soon as he got it, he sent me a replacement which as it happens is dust free. I have taken it on a few hikes and it works flawlessly.

It had under 50 shutter actuations when I checked it on PhotoMe.

In the past I have used Olympus cameras, but interestingly the K20d has been an easy transition. The Olympus E1 is considered to have a superb viewfinder, but the viewfinder on the K20d is better. Also, I get better stabilization from the K20d Anti-Shake than I have from my Olympus E-520 Image Stabilization. This is of course anecdotal and not scientific, but I am impressed with these two features on the K20d.

I had planned to start a lot of hikes during the hot months before the sun was completely up. From the reviews I thought that the K20d would have better low-light capability than any of my Olympus cameras. It may, but I had bad luck at 1600 and even some at 800 were grainy. I wouldn't even try 800 with any of my Olympus cameras and wonder whether I should give up with the K20d. Again, this is anecdotal -- photos taken in the lee of a mountain and what I think of them later when I view them on my computer.

The day I tried 1600 and 800 I did have several using ISO 800 that turned out interesting. I got some compliments, but my blog only exhibits something like 6x8 inches. Graininess didn't show up on those posted photos -- and I suspect it would have had I taken equivalent photos with one of my Olympus cameras.

I used ISO 400 the last time I was in that situation and the results were okay. Maybe I won't need ISO 800 this years.

I hike in an extremely dusty region; so I don't do any lens changing when I am out.

While I don't have any immediate use for the Pentax O-ICK1, I do appreciate learning about it & plan to order it to have it on hand the next time I do have a dust problem the Rocket can't solve.

Thanks to everyone who offered advice.
06-09-2011, 11:53 PM   #13
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I recently bought a K-5, I had the viewfinder cleaned by the Pentax repair meister here in Switzerland, it was dust on the focusing screen which was just annoying me. This was just days after having had the camera, and all I'd done was attach the lens bought with it.

Now weeks later there's dust on the sensor, so I'll be having it cleaned again, I'm reluctant to do it myself in case it affects the warranty.

Incidentally, my other cameras, in all the years I've had them, have never had a problem, both Olympus. . .
06-10-2011, 03:53 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Toobz Quote
I recently bought a K-5, I had the viewfinder cleaned by the Pentax repair meister here in Switzerland, it was dust on the focusing screen which was just annoying me. This was just days after having had the camera, and all I'd done was attach the lens bought with it.

Now weeks later there's dust on the sensor, so I'll be having it cleaned again, I'm reluctant to do it myself in case it affects the warranty.

Incidentally, my other cameras, in all the years I've had them, have never had a problem, both Olympus. . .
Well, the focusing screen is removable so you can clean that yourself without any issues or having to pay anyone.

If you clean the sensor in accordance with the guidance in the handbook there is no way it can affect the warrenty. I've never had anything that the onboard dust removal (set to activate on startup), blower, or arctic butterfly couldn't cope with on the K10, K20, or K5, even in some very dusty conditions. The latter two options have also coped with my wife's istD in the same conditions...
06-10-2011, 06:33 AM   #15
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Historocity, I understand your situation and taking it back for an exchange was the way to go. We were referring to the Pentax kit as an alternative to the wet cleaning method of sensors.
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