Sony finds CCD problem with some digital cameras

Problems with the image pick-up in eight camera models reported by users in warm climates

Problems with the image pick-up in eight models of Sony digital still camera could mean the inability to take clear pictures or any photos at all, according to the company.

Sony has found the charge coupled device (CCD) in eight of its cameras sold worldwide between September 2003 and January 2005 could become faulty. The models are the DSC-F88, DSC-M1, DSC-T1, DSC-T11, DSC-T3, DSC-T33, DSC-U40 and the DSC-U50.

Problems had generally been reported by users in countries where the weather was hot, a Sony spokesperson, Tomio Takizawa, said. Sony would repair the camera at no charge if it showed the problem, he said.

The announcement broadens a problem first reported by Sony in October 2005. At that time the company listed 20 models of digital still camera with the same potential fault and offered.

Sony is one of the world's largest producers of CCD image sensors, which are the chips that sit behind the lens of the camera and convert light into electronic pulses. Because its sensors are used by other companies the October 2005 problems reached beyond Sony and potentially touched more than 100 models of digital still camera.

At that time several other digital camera makers including Canon, Konica Minolta Holdings, Nikon, and Fuji Photo Film (Fujifilm) announced plans to replace faulty CCDs for problems similar to those described by Sony.

It's the latest in a string of quality control problems to hit the Japanese consumer electronics giant. Earlier this year problematic metallic particles inside Sony-made batteries caused several fires and led to laptop computer makers recalling or offering to replace around 9.6 million laptop batteries. Sony expects the battery problems will cost it around $US440 million ($564 million).

In the wake of the battery problems Sony assigned Makoto Kogure, who was the head of its TV division, to oversee product quality and safety. It was the first time that such a high-level member of staff had taken that position at Sony.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

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