Project 12: Fuji 6900Z CCD Dust Removal

Dust on the CCD is bad news for any digital camera owner and shows up as grey circles in pictures with clear blue skies / plain white surfaces, such as the two pictures below:

Dust on the CCD is bad news for any digital camera owner and shows up as grey circles in pictures with clear blue skies / plain white surfaces, such as the two pictures below:

There are a few ways dust can get inside the camera, via battery / media loading compartments, seal between the lens and the body etc. Using the FX-AR9 lens adapter tube (or similar) and a UV filter as per Project 1 can help reduce, but not completely eliminate at least one entry point of dust into the camera.

This project involves opening up your camera to clean the CCD, which invalidates any warranty you may have. If your camera is in warranty, and you're experiencing this issue, you should get the Fuji Repair Department to clean the CCD for you as an "under warranty" repair. Otherwise, you can open up the camera and clean the dust off yourself. It's not a simple task and I've given it a 5 star rating as you'll need a steady hand and nerves of steel and have to keep an observant eye on how things fit together when you take them apart and put them back together again. Remember - that's a few hundred pounds worth of kit you're about to get inside. If you've any doubt about opening the camera up, then back out now - it's not too late.

If you're still reading this, then I take it you're wishing to go ahead with the project - anything you break is of your own doing. Treat the camera with the gentleness and respect it deserves, it's a fine piece of delicate electronics, not a rubgy ball .

Read these instructions at least 3 times before even picking up the screwdriver. You should be fully conversant with the procedure before commencing.

1. First clear a good sized worksurface and gather together all your parts.

Make a loop with the sticky tape (sticky side outside) and stick it to your worksurface. This is your small screw "holder" that'll help to stop those pesky small screws slipping off the worksurface. Whenever you remove a screw, place it onto the sticky tape and it'll not be lost during your time inside the camera.

IMPORTANT: Remove the battery and any SmartMedia card inside the camera.

2. Next, remove the three screws on the lens barrel closest to the main body. These are located within the yellow circles on the next three diagrams (remember to put the screws onto your tape holder).

3. Remove the lens barrel cover gently and place to one side.

4. Next, remove the 6 screws holding the camera back on. These are located within the yellow circles on the next three diagrams (remember to put the screws onto your tape holder).

Note: The lens barrel cover is present in these screenshots only because I'm reusing the images from Projects 10 & 11.

5. Now GENTLY remove the back of the camera. There is a small (approx 6cm long) white ribbon cable that connects the back buttons to the main electronics circuit board - do NOT break this, otherwise it's "camera in the bin" time. Do NOT try and unplug the ribbon cable from the circuit boards, you'll more than likely break the tabs and it's not necessary.

Once the back is opened up, you can see the LCD viewfinder unit above the main LCD monitor.

6. Once step 5 is complete, gently unclip the black plastic circuit board protector shown in the diagram. It's held in place with 4 clips labelled in the diagram. The LCD monitor is also clipped to this plastic section, but doesn't need to be separated from it. Remember that the LCD monitor has a couple of wires and a ribbon cable connecting it to the main circuit board - don't disconnect these!

7. Once the black plastic / LCD monitor unit is unclipped from the circuit board, you will see a small rectangular circuit board connected to the main board (shown in the red rectangle opposite). This connects the CCD circuitry in the lens barrel to the main circuit board - gently unplug this from the main board.

There are two main circuit boards sandwiched together. There is no need to remove these boards individually, they can come away as a single unit by unscrewing the two screws indicated in the yellow circles in the diagram opposite. Note: These screws have a small amount of solder around them, so may require a BIT of force to unscrew them, don't apply too much or you may slip and break the circuitry!

Note: The side Tele / Wide panel of the camera is held onto the main circuit board with a single, flimsy bit of ribbon cable. MAKE SURE THIS DOESN'T GET TORN / BROKEN!

QUESTION: Does anyone know what the 'E' written on the metal RF shield stands for?

8. Using all your dexterity, gently lift off the main board sandwich a little (it won't move very far so don't expect it to). You should only move it enough to reveal two screws (longer than the other screws, so keep these separate on your sticky tape) that attach the front barrel to the main casing. Remove these two screws - it's fiddly and you want to make sure you don't lose them inside the other bits of the camera - easily done and difficult to rectify.

Note: There is a reasonably large size capacitor under the second board which may hold a potentially hazardous charge even with the battery removed. If touched this may cause either your camera or yourself to receive an electric shock. Be very careful not to touch the leads of this capacitor. Keeping the boards away from the main camera case by only the small amount shown in the picture, you can avoid the accidental touching of these leads.

Gently separate the lens barrel from the main casing. The small circuit board connector you disconnected from the main board slips through a gap in the plastic at the bottom of the casing to allow a total separation of main case and barrel.

9. The lens barrel contains the CCD chip you're trying to clean. However, there's one more hurdle before you can see the CCD...

A small metal plate holds the chip in place. Remove the two screws indicated in the diagram opposite.

10. Then peel back the ribon cable to see the CCD attached.

This is the 3M pixel chip that's the heart of the image capture capability of your camera. There appears to be a small sliver of glass (an IR filter perhaps) covering the CCD chip itself DO NOT TRY AND REMOVE THIS - there's no chance dust can get underneath this as it's completely sealed and you'll just end up probably damaging the CCD chip itself if you even try and pull it off.

If you came here to clean the dust off, now's the time to do it. I saw 3 tiny specs of white dust on the CCD which I promptly removed.

Note: Make sure when you clean the CCD chip you don't accidently knock off the rubber gasket surrounding it.

11. Reassemble the camera following these steps in reverse. Hopefully there will be no parts left over, or any parts missing (eg screws - you did put them all onto the sticky tape and put the right screws back in the right holes (there are different type / length screws remember)).

Tips - remember to ensure you don't trap any wires between screws / circuit boards. If you have to force a part back together, chances are something's not quite right (misaligned screw holes / clips / trapped wires etc). Remember the left hand tele / wide section - it's a fiddle to get back correctly lined up, take your time on this and remember to include the strap attachment as this will inevitably fall out during the project.

Hopefully all will be well and you'll put the battery / SmartMedia back into the camera and it'll switch on, zoom around and test all the buttons are working as they should. Take a few photos and see how they come out.

Take a photograph on A or M mode with f11 selected and photograph a white sheet / clear blue sky. You should not see any more grey blobs in your images again - YAY!

NOTE: If the camera doesn't appear to switch on again, check the usual (flat battery / you did put the battery back in afterwards didn't you?) and open up the back again to check you've not dislodged something you shouldn't have. If the camera still doesn't switch on, you may have broken something inside the camera, in which case a professional repair is most likely necessary.

If you wish to do this project, yet don't trust yourself to not break the camera, phone a friend who you know is able to carry out the task, invite them over for a beer or two in return for them completing this project for you.