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Sensor problem? (Need input on image attachments)

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by LYNND, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. LYNND

    LYNND New to Mu-43

    5
    Oct 6, 2015
    I am new to the forum and to MFT, although I was an early adopter of the long-discontinued 4/3 format years ago.

    I began my MFT experience with an impossible-to-resist deal on an open-box Olympus E-PL5, complete with manufacturer warranty. As a former store display model there was enough dust on the sensor and in the rear element of the 14-42mm R II lens, which was included, that I was forced to learn very quickly how to differentiate sensor from lens dust among other issues. Needless to say, I have learned my lesson about "open box" (demo) merchandise. But for now I have a new (to me) E-PL5 that I'm enjoying otherwise. Now, however, I have a bit of a mystery on my hands, one that I need to solve before my return window (end of this month) runs out.

    The first incident occurred when photographing a flower one evening with my separately purchased (and otherwise excellent) 40-150mm Olympus telephoto lens. (I had just purchased the lens and wanted to test it even though the light was far from ideal at the time.) Unknown to me, a brownish circular haze appeared in the background, and in successive shots this "blob" moves closer until it is smack in front of a yellow petal (1/249, F6.3, focal length 111). In the next image there's no trace of it. I chalked the blob up to a slow moving dust particle, but it was a bit spooky nonetheless to look at the progression of whatever this was as it moves closer to the camera and begins to come into focus before completely disappearing again.

    Fast forward roughly two weeks and while testing a brand new 14-42mm pancake lens, which was the retailer's replacement for the aforementioned 14-42mm R II kit lens, I snap two 1/800th second images at F5, 14mm focal length only to capture a thin, green trail heading down from the top of the image towards a dark brown patch in which there are no details, just a solid brown color. I have no explanation for the two back-to-back photos that display the same anomaly only tenths of a second apart (11:14:17 and 11:14:19). Photos of the same scene either before or after those don't exhibit a problem.

    I am aware of the phenomena where a sensor can overheat, which can cause the look of fog, haze or smoke but not sure if that is the case here.

    Does this look like something other-worldly or a sensor that's going haywire?

    Thanks for taking a look at these!

    Edit:

    I've probably added about 1,000 shutter activations to what was about ~400 on the camera to begin with (that's an estimate because I forgot to check shutter activations right away). So I guess the question is, would a sensor begin to go out in a very erratic way — behaving normally for hundreds of photos — only to exhibit an intermittent problem? Conversely, once a sensor has begun to fail would it be expected to mar the photos in each and every successive case?
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  2. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Veteran

    269
    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Rich
    It is either something other-worldly or you succeeded in taking a very good picture of a large turd hanging from a tree! ;)

    I think there is something wrong with the sensor, mostly because: what else could it be?!? I think that something inside the lens wouldn't be that sharp and well-defined (although the blob with the flower is pretty blurry). Anyway, I'd return it while you can!
     
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  3. LYNND

    LYNND New to Mu-43

    5
    Oct 6, 2015
    LOL, that's a pretty good description! The green streak almost looks to me like that artificial grass typically found in Easter baskets. But there was nothing of the sort to be seen at the time. Whatever the camera picked up it froze at 1/800th. Hmm…

    I was actually hopeful that it was not the sensor, as bizarre as all alternative explanations may be. Intermittent problems are hard to identify; I had always assumed that once a sensor goes out it would act up consistently until it completely bites the dust. But having had no prior experience with sensor failure I can only guess.

    A year ago this month I was in the mountains with my dSLR (different camera!) photographing birds and I have two images out of a series there that are just weird. In one image you can see this white foggy patch in front of the tree branches (could be sensor overheating) but the second is not so easy to explain because it appears as a dark column of what looks to be smoke rising behind the limbs and branches of the tree (whereas in the photos before and after the blue sky is visible there). In the next photo, all is well again, but those two left me really puzzled. I was sure from the white haze in the first that it was a classic case of sensor overheating but it never added up to me that the second anomaly would appear to be in the background. Something sensor related, presumably, would act like an overlay. When something odd crops up behind a subject, with the subject obscuring it in any way, you really have to wonder how the camera might produce such an effect at all.

    In doing some reading it seems like sensor failure is more often associated with lines running through images or de-saturated images with strong color casts. So far I haven't seen those effects with the E-PL5. I'm not sure if I could have captured something that was physically there at 1/249 or 1/800th. I'm thinking the flower, maybe so. But it's harder to explain the streak and the brown "turd" in front of the tree. :0)
     
  4. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    633
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    The flower I dont know. But the trees one just looks like something hanging down right in front of you. Just OOF. Where is the same pic without the problem?
     
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  5. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Top Veteran

    507
    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    The yellow flower looks almost like an oil spot.
    The Nikon D3 famously suffered oil contamination on launch, due to excess lubricant on the shutter track. They left what appeared to be donuts on the image, which was the drops of oil
     
  6. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    You've got a bug probably. A real, live moving around in your camera bug. If you're getting weird things in your images from two different lenses, then it's something in your camera. Could be a dust mite. Bits of dust don't cast big shadows like that and move around quickly. (Spots caused by dust, or small particulates, cast small dark shadows.
     
  7. LYNND

    LYNND New to Mu-43

    5
    Oct 6, 2015
    I appreciate the helpful suggestions. The flower photo was shot with the 40-150mm lens, which was just a few days old at that point. I haven't seen that particular spot since. So the bug possibility makes sense. There are a lot of bugs outdoors and if I changed the lens while sitting on my patio swing — I don't recall if I did but I had the 14-42mm with me at the time, too — that could account, quite literally, for a bug. :rolleyes-38:

    The other one could be something out of focus. I took it at my in-law's house (not my own) and forgot that there's a second wind chime hanging right above (just barely visible in the first image). However, that wind chime doesn't have anything green on it.

    I think it could be that at 1/800th I am not accustomed to identifying anything that is out of focus (because usually at that speed everything is tack sharp). It's hard to tell because the dark brown patch is difficult to distinguish from the background. I'm searching for the before/after photo at the moment. Will post it as soon as I locate it. (I had these oddball photos filed separately from the rest on my computer so it will take a moment.)

    Thanks for the input. Very helpful!
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  8. LYNND

    LYNND New to Mu-43

    5
    Oct 6, 2015
    Oh boy, now I feel really sheepish (but relieved to find a logical explanation). That WAS an out-of-focus wind chime. The OOF clapper has a very irregular shape. Because it was out of focus and the next shot was taken at a slightly different angle I didn't ID it correctly. I really botched that one. The flower is a bit more of a mystery though.

    The first photo attached was taken immediately after the one I initially posted. The other two photos were taken immediately before the blob appears in front of the petal. In the last two attachments you can just barely make out that gray-brown blob moving forward (on the upper right). I'm not sure dust would move that slow but the bug theory just might explain it.:doh:
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
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  9. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    633
    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    siftu
    To me this clears the sensor of any fault. Maybe it was a bug flying by. For it to be just one photo clears it from sensor dust/oil or fault.
     
  10. LYNND

    LYNND New to Mu-43

    5
    Oct 6, 2015
    I had initially encountered many small dark gray spots at small apertures when photographing a bird against a blue-sky background and shortly thereafter also identified dust in the rear of the kit lens element as the source of two much larger round shadows that upon changing from the kit 14-42mm to my new telephoto disappeared. The gray dust spots were comparatively easy to isolate — for which Olympus' advice was to either return the camera or send it in for sensor cleaning — but when I saw the brown blobs I had no theory on what they could be. My photos that have contained bugs in the past have consisted of a bit of a streak to suggest the motion of something flying by, whereas the brown blob against the flower is rather large, like something hovering or floating as opposed to flying past the lens. But if a very tiny bug were IN the camera (lens or body) that could account for an entirely different look.

    In any event, I've been a lurker on the forum long enough. It was time I registered. And I very much appreciate the help! :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  11. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    The moving and disappearing flower spot could depend on how the light hits a dust grain on the lens (that maybe fell after the shots). Or the spot could be the bright tip of a blade of grass completely out of focus. Just a couple of hypothesis.