At least I didn't drop it in the gravy boat
December 4, 2006 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Cranberrysauceinthedigitalcamerafilter: I'm an idiot, and over Thanksgiving last weekend I brought a bowl of cranberry sauce to my sister-in-law's. (That's not why I'm an idiot. Read on.) I put the bowl of sauce in a plastic grocery bag along with my digital camera, and the sauce leaked, and some sauce got in the camera. Not a ton, but enough to make things kind of sticky.

The main problem is the zoom function--it will either zoom all the way out or all the way in, but doesn't stop in between because of some stickiness that got into the zoom lever thingie. It still takes pictures, but has been kind of testy lately by giving us occasional "corrupted data" messages (this happened in the weeks leading up to the cranberry sauce incident). Pictures have also randomly disappeared from the camera, but we've been able to retrieve those with a file retrieval program.

I guess my big issue at this point is--what can I do to clean out the cranberry stickiness? Is it worth it or even advisable to take an alcohol-soaked q-tip to it or something? I will be forever thankful for a solution, and I won't even wait 'till next thanksgiving to feel that way.
posted by printchick to Technology (8 answers total)
It would help if we knew how expensive the camera is/was. I wouldn't even think of messing with my Nikon D80, but would throw the coolpix in the shower if I thought it would help.

I guess I'm saying we need a bit more info to be useful to you.
posted by HuronBob at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It's a Canon SRsomething-or-other. I don't have it with me, so I'll have to check. About $200, got it about three years ago. In digital camera years, it's ancient, but it's a good little camera and I'd rather not buy a new one.

What, nobody wants to know about the cranberry sauce?
posted by printchick at 2:47 PM on December 4, 2006

Response by poster: This just in from the husband: it's a Canon PowershotS400. He said the toggle isn't even moving now.
posted by printchick at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2006

I'd treat it the same way I treat coke in the keyboard.

1) Remove battery.
2) Bathe in *distilled* water. Since you've let it dry, you might want to let it sit there a bit.
3) Let it sit for a few days, until you are *absolutely* sure it is dry.

No, I haven't cleaned cranberry sauce off a digital camera, but this is how they clean silicon chips and such.
posted by QIbHom at 3:13 PM on December 4, 2006

Don't immerse the camera. Keyboards don't have optical sensors and sealed chambers, but cameras do.

I have no idea what will work, and I bet it depends in part on how runny the cranberry sauce is. Take it to a camera shop and ask what they would do and what they would charge. If you don't want to pay that much, remove the battery and memory card, wet a paper towel in warm water, wringing it as thoroughly as possible, and carefully swab all the externals. Use fresh paper towels frequently.

It won't get any sauce that's seeped into the camera (assuming any has), but it'll be less sticky to the touch.
posted by ardgedee at 3:40 PM on December 4, 2006

If you do immerse it in water or other cleaning solution, I would wait 24 hours after removing the battery before I dipped it. Cameras often contain capacitors to power the flash or the clock and will retain charge for quite a while after the battery is removed.

I think this question has been asked before in various flavors of sauce. The general conclusion is that you need to buy a new camera but if it appears dead then desperate cleaning efforts are worth a shot.
posted by chairface at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2006

That corrupted data problem before the cranberry sauce incident - did that happen with all your memory cards (if you have more than one)? It could just be a bad card. The good news is if the camera's going you don't have a lot to lose by getting aggressive - just be sure you've offloaded all your pictures first!

As for the gumminess - what adgedee said. If you got it on any optical surfaces use pure cotton (the expensive cosmetic puffs/pads) dipped in distilled water to "mop" the gunk off those. Let the pads do the work - don't press down - and change them frequently (seriously, like every wipe or two.)

And if it makes you feel any better, I would like to hear more about the cranberry sauce. :)
posted by Opposite George at 6:36 PM on December 4, 2006

For a unit that was $200 a few years ago, the local camera shop's bench fee far outvalues the hardware. Try this:

Get a small brush, a paintbrush should work, with bristles an inch or two long. You'll want a shallow bowl with a few tablespoons of unscented, untinted rubbing alcohol in it. (90% purity is fine, some water in the mix will actually help.) Hold the camera so that the sauced button is pointing down, so as you daub alcohol at it, it won't drip into the body.

As you keep the sauced area wet with alcohol, nudge the toggle back and forth until it moves freely. Use the bristles to coax as much gunk out of the grooves as possible. Keep holding it with the affected area down, and your good friend Gravity will keep the solvent where it belongs.

After a few moments, you'll reach a point of diminishing returns, where further daubing fails to elicit any more gunk. Now it's time for the rinse: You want to remove as much of the alcohol from deep within the grooves as possible, but you don't want to blow it deeper inside, and you don't want to inhale it with a straw. Time to call Gravity's bastard cousin Inertia. Thump the camera down against the heel of your other hand a few times, whacking most of the alcohol out. Daub some more in with the brush, and repeat.

When you get tired of that, set the thing, still in its damp-side-down orientation, atop a monitor or someplace else warm and let it dry for a day or two.

As for the corrupted data, it's possible that your card slot is just dirty. Clean the card's contacts with a pencil eraser and microfiber dipped in alcohol, and consider picking up a memory slot cleaner. CompUSA had them on clearance for $1.99 last time I was pawing through the bin. It's a card-shaped bit of plastic with blotter paper where the contacts would be, and you moisten the paper with solvent before giving it a few thrusts in the slot. With any luck, oxidation and gunk on the slot contacts are vanquished. Clean both the camera and the card reader you use on your PC, since the reader spends more time open to the air without a card plugged in, it's more likely to be the culprit.
posted by Myself at 7:55 PM on December 5, 2006

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