Hot Pixel Facts

Introduction:

I am writing this section because not a day goes by without someone discovering hot pixels on their camera and wanting to know if they should return it. This is usually because they have run one of the several software packages that can identify hot pixels for you. Here I am just going to present some brief information, if you want more detail on hot pixels see the hot pixel section.

Fact. If you want to test your camera by taking a dark frame, you HAVE to control the exposure and ISO. The longer the exposure and the higher the ISO and the hotter the temperature of the camera the more hot pixels you will see. It is MEANINGLESS to test or post about your hot pixels results without considering this. Taking an 8 second exposure at ISO 400 is MEANINGLESS. See the hot pixels section for how to test.

Fact. Every camera will have hot pixels showing if you test long enough exposures.

Fact. The programs that are available to test your camera will show you some hot pixels. The author of the program may have set some arbitrary levels for what is a "hot pixel". They made this up. You can change the levels. The only thing that matters is if you see hot pixels and they bother you on normal exposures. YOU MUST TEMPER THE RESULTS OF THESE PROGRAMS WITH COMMON SENSE. If you don't know what you are doing, and don't see a problem, don't run the programs, because they are going to show you something that you will have to interpret, and it is all going to boil down to opinion; yours or someone elses.

Fact. The ONLY thing that really matters is if you see the hot pixels on your pictures and they bother you on your normal exposures. You will NOT be able to get a camera that is perfect at 30 seconds, or 8 seconds at high ISO.

Fact. All cameras will develop more hot pixels over time. So don't post a smug "well my camera is perfect" message to someone that has hot pixels. Yours will come. It might take a month, it might take 2 years, but they will come. Cameras are shipped from the factory with all hot pixels mapped out. As many as 1% of the sites on a CCD will have some sort of problem over the CCD lifetime. Posting a "mine is perfect" message just makes everyone think that that is the way things should be. As your camera ages you will have more and brighter hot pixels.

Fact. Some manufacturers have dealt with the problem in their newer cameras by allowing user mapout of the hot pixels. To date, the Olumpus E-10 and E-20 offer this feature, as does the Sony 707 (press the reset button). Nikon, Minolta, Fuji have not, and some will charge you a considerable amount to map out your hot pixels at the repair center. Nikon has charged over $200. Since every camera will likely develop hot pixels if you keep it long enough, you might want to consider this when buying your next camera.