Sensor cleaning

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by steveash, May 7, 2019.

  1. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    My usual light brushing and a puff or two from a blower isn't cutting it. Anyone have advice on sensor cleaning tools and techniques? I'm a bit of a coward but equally not keen on handing it over to a 'professional' who usually asks you to sign a disclaimer in case they trash your camera.
     
  2. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #2
    Every business has customers sign releases. I don't worry about them because they are not enforceable if there is negligence. There might be a very small chance that a mistake will be made by the professional. There is definitely a high likelihood of a mistake being made by an amateur. If you care about your camera you should let the pro do it.
     
  3. tizeye, May 8, 2019
    Last edited: May 8, 2019

    tizeye macrumors 6502

    tizeye

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2013
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #3
    I can't say I have had to do heavy sensor cleaning and I still have the cheap Delkin kit (swab/liquid/pen) that I bought local ($24.95) but currently not listed at B&H. Quite dated as the swab size is crop rather than full frame Used it occasionally with various Nikons and early Sony's as usually, that 'rocket' blower is sufficient. As a maintenance issue, I give it a good blow about once a month - or when reminded in post with an obnoxious dust spot on each photo. Occasionally, for stubborn dust spot that won't respond to the blower, I use this https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/851383-REG/Carson_SM_44_SM_44_5x_SensorMag_Magnifier.html to actually see the dust, gently dry brush the area and blow. It is at it's outer limits to focus with Sony's closer sensor distance and have to raise it a little. NOTE: dust is essentially mirrored on the sensor so if on the left side of photo, it will be on the right. Just have to be careful and GENTLE plus I avoid using liquid and why the kit has lasted so long. Now, if it requires heavy duty cleaning where the above self-maintenance isn't effective, as a member of Sony Pro Support (high eligibility requirements +$100/year), I send it in where I get one free body per year thoroughly cleaned/refurbished to factory standard and latest firmware free with pre-paid shipping. (There are other benefits such as priority handling/turn around and discounts if repairs needed). After my trip next week will send in my A7RII which is my backup camera and second shooter for B-roll video.
     
  4. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #4
    I've swabbed my sensors a couple of times. It is pretty easy - don't be overly heavy handed and drag the swab all the way across and only once in one direction. I flip it over to get a second pass.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K8MTQGY/

    You are cleaning a piece of glass, not the sensor itself. Just take your time and don't use a Brillo pad.

    FYI: I have been known to get a camera or two dusty from time to time.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. tcphoto1 macrumors 6502

    tcphoto1

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Location:
    Madison, GA
    #5
    Cleaning a sensor can be a stressful task but it can be done at home with practice. I've been cleaning mine since owning the original 1D and I'd suggest looking at YouTube videos for tips. I've always used Eclipse fluid and Pec Pads without an issue. There are times when it only takes a few pads and then there are times when a dozen is necessary. Perhaps I've gotten better at avoiding contaminates but both my 5DIV's haven't needed cleaning yet but surely they will eventually.

    My procedure is to run a fresh battery, connect via Capture One so I can shoot an image and inspect for debris and spots. Then, I will clean the sensor and repeat until I'm satisfied. Do your research, put together your supplies and don't be careless. Afterward, you will take pride in doing it yourself and think about how much you saved both in time and money. Hell, I only recently purchased my second pack of pads after about fifteen years and I still have about 1/4 of the original pack left and 1/3 of the liquid.

    IMG_0473.JPG
     
  6. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    #6
    This fellow has some great wet cleaning products. He's come out to our club on several occasions and taught cleaning as well as cleaning all of our sensors. http://www.thedustpatrol.com/products/

    The stuff is also sold at https://www.micro-tools.com/collections/sensor-cleaning-supplies, another good source for supplies.

    He showed us some cheapo pads, BTW, that could scratch. So beware. They all kind of look the same, so I'd go with something the pros recommend. It's not too tough to do, but it can take several tries. And having an illuminated loupe to check the sensor really helps.
     
  7. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #7
    Doing this to a Canon is one thing, and not a bad thing. Doing it to a Nikon is a crime. :D
     
  8. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #8
    The Nikon's shrugged it off. Here's the same cameras about an hour later.

    [​IMG]

    Neither of the sensors needed to be cleaned after that. The weather sealing worked wonderfully. The camera with the smaller Rokinon lens (caps are reversed) even had the lens decoupled for several hours. I was doing a sunset time lapse and didn't want aperture flicker.
     
  9. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #9
    Be brave. A bottle of Eclipse fluid and a sensor swab and you are fine. Just remember dont reuse the swabs (some people say you can but personally I am scared to risk it). Couple drops of fluid on the swab, don't drown it. Don't tickle the sensor, don't scrub it. Nice positive motion once in one direction, flip the swab, once in the other direction. Bin the swab. Repeat as necessary. Use the right swab for the sensor size (just makes it easier)i.e. full frame on a full frame sensor, cropped on a cropped sensor and try not to pick up any gunk off the shutter mech. Sounds harder than it actually is. If you have a light tent - from product photography, do it in that to minimise airborne dust settling. It is daunting at first but you get confident after a few times.

    Don't use:

    1. One of those gel sticks -they can cause the sensor stack to de-laminate
    2. A cheap butterfly brush - dust magnets in a bad way
    3. A can of compressed air as the propellant leaves residue and the pressure of the air can cause damage

    Let us know... :)

    Oh yeah, I forgot what camera you have.... if it is a DSLR, DO NOT swab the focus screen. The focus screen is incredibly delicate and you will damage it if you fart near it never mind cleaning it.
     
  10. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #10
    I thought you just bought a new camera instead of cleaning it! ;)

    I’m nowhere near brave enough. I pay about £20-30 once a year and that’s fine by me.
     
  11. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #11
    Is that what I've been doing wrong?!

    The way I treat my cameras I would have to buy a new one every quarter. ;)
     
  12. mollyc macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2016
    #12
    I've done each of my cameras once or twice. I really need to do them again. I was afraid of killing them, and I don't think I got either of them really clean, just "better." I really see it in my macro shooting, though when I am stopped down. Then ALL the spots are visible.
     
  13. steveash thread starter macrumors 6502

    steveash

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    Thanks everyone for your advice and encouragement. I still haven't made a decision. I have a voucher for a free clean at my local WEX camera shop so will probably give this a go. I just hope it isn't passed to the work experience kid...

    On the other hand, although I've never had call for it in the past (I've always been very careful to change lenses quickly and in a clean environment even if that has to be under a jacket), it is a skill that I should probably learn should I ever get caught out in the middle of an important project.
     

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12 May 7, 2019