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Thread: If you're as afraid as I am...

  1. #1

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    If you're as afraid as I am...

    If you're as afraid as I am of messing up the sensor and if you're just half as much of a klutz as I am, you also might have understandably been as hesitant as I have been to clean the sensor on your own. After paying USD $75 each time to have my sensor cleaned when using a dust blower didn't complete the job, I finally became unwarrantedly brave and purchased the SensorKlear Loupe kit by LensPen. Much to my surprise, everything worked both effectively and extremely easily.

    The primary advantage of the loupe is that it very brightly lights the entire sensor, making it very easy to see foreign materials. It also has a large opening in the side that allows you to insert a LensPen to either remove the dust from the sensor or at least loosen it sufficiently to remove it afterward with a blower. The kit comes with the loupe, the LensPen, a blower, batteries and a soft pouch.

    I especially like that I can now clean my sensor when I'm hiking in a remote area every day and don't have the luxury of turning my camera over to a shop for a few days to get the sensor cleaned.

    I'll be sure to check for dust on a regular basis, hoping to remove it before it becomes stuck to the sensor. Despite my uncharacteristic, recently acquired bravery, I'm not about to go near the sensor with a wet-cleaning process.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 5th August 2012 at 09:50 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I am still where you were but have never spent anything on sensor cleaning.

    A friend did it for me once. It does need another clean now.

  3. #3
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I just plunked down the money for a Visible Dust cleaning kit as I have a bunch of spots that show up when I do my macro work. They bug the heck out of me, and I'm just tired of cloning them out. But, like you, I'm still a little apprehensive. Luckily, I have my old Rebel XT to practice on before I tackle my 7D.

    - Bill

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    PhotomanJohn's Avatar
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I believe that the coating on the sensor is close to as tough as lens coatings. Just go at it carefully and don't go off the edge of the sensor and get into the grease in the mechanism and then get it on the sensor. I find that the dry cleaning has worked for me most of the time so give that method a couple of tries before you attempt wet cleaning which should really be called "damp" cleaning.

    John

  5. #5
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I found this site contains a lot of very useful info. http://www.copperhillimages.com/index.php?pr=tutorials

    I used their products and followed their instructions and all went well.

  6. #6

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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotomanJohn View Post
    I believe that the coating on the sensor is close to as tough as lens coatings.
    I sure hope so and it makes sense that that would have to be the case. Even so, I'm skeptical enough that I have to think the engineers who design that coating are unfamiliar with the extremities of my particular klutz factor. That explains why I'm so happy that the loupe kit made by LensPen worked so well for me...at least the first time.

  7. #7
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Mike,

    I'll bet I'm at least as much of a klutz as you, and the thought of wet-cleaning the sensor had me very nervous. After 4 or 5 times, I am still a bit nervous, but I have not done any damage yet. I use the copper hill method. I start with a rocket blower. if that doesn't work, I use a static brush (copper hill sells them as well). If both fail, I do a wet cleaning.

    Dan

  8. #8
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Well - I did my first sensor cleanings last night, and to be honest.... it really wasn't as scary as I thought... until I smeared the lubricant on the sensor with the Arctic Butterfly brush!

    I wrote up a quick blog post - http://www.ktuli.com/photography/node/353 - where I show the sensor test images from before, after dry cleaning, and after wet cleaning. I wish I had done an extra test image after just using the blower bulb to show how much it helped before having to resort to actually touching the sensor.

    I need to pay more attention to how I ended up smearing the lubricant on the sensor - I know it is obviously from using the brush, but need to figure out exactly how so I can avoid in the future. But I am quite impressed with the results achieved from the wet cleaning, and it really was very easy - and a lot less stressful than I thought it would be.

    So at this point, I've cleaned my old Rebel XT, a friend's Rebel XT (which are the two cameras that I used for the sensor test images in the blog post), and will be cleaning my 7D this weekend. Even if you consider a cheap cleaning probably runs $100 (most places I checked around here were higher), I've already paid for the kit - even if it was a bit more expensive than I would have liked.

    - Bill

  9. #9
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I hate cleaning the sensor on my D700. The rocket blower never gets the dust specks. The Arctic Butterfly brush adds more dust onto the sensor, and smears grease from the camera's body well onto the sensor. The grease remover leaves streaks. The regular cleaning fluid that removes those leaves particles from the swabs along the edges. The corner swabs get those, but by this time more dust has settled on the sensor and I have to start it all over. By the time I am done, I have a small pile of swabs in front of me (but a very clean sensor).

    So, I don't switch lenses very often.

    I hate cleaning my camera's sensor ;-)

  10. #10
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I have just purchased an arctic butterfly. Several passes had to made as I introduced some dust after putting the brush down and not spinning it again......

    Yes they are highly charged and attract the dust, care is needed but they work well.

    Regards

    David

  11. #11

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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I usually wet-clean first. It dislodges the sticky stuff, but doesn't always remove everything and sometimes even leaves fibres on the sensor. To tackle those I use a bit of suction and a rocket blower. the rocket blows the dust out of the camera housing where it's picked up by a piece of rubber tubing attached to an old vacuum-pump. The pump is just strong enough to suck up sand from about two to three centimetres (about an inch) away from the nozzle, but I take a lot of care to not never let it enter the lens-mount because I'm afraid that it's capable enough to do harm in there. It's a five minute job that has up until now always been 100% successful *knocks on wood*

  12. #12
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I have often wet cleaned my D300 after first using a rocket blower to get any loose off. First time around was a bit scary but this is usually now done with 1 or 2 swabs. It really is just a routine job as long as you have the correct tools and follow the correct procedure. Steady hand required

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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I too was hesitant, but as an earlier poster pointed out, the glass coating on the sensor is pretty tough, so I had a go and it worked wonders.

    Some recent Nikon DSLRs have a reputation for having a little too much lubricating oil on the mirror lift mechanism and as such are somewhat prone to tiny drops on the sensor. If you really want to test to see how clean it is, simply use the widest angle lens you have, and take a test shot of the sky (or any other even coloured background) at minimum aperture (f/22 for example)

    The diffraction will show up everything! Bear in mind that everything is reversed (up and down) so if you see a huge blob at the top of the picture, it's actually at the bottom of the sensor (Yes I know it's obvious, but how many times have we all been caught out by this!!)

    A not too generous squeeze of cleaning fluid on the sensor swab (purchased to fit the WIDTH of your sensor) and a firm wipe should do the trick. I generally do this once, take another test shot to confirm, then if needs be I repeat the operation using the other side of the swab.

    As a general rule I tend NOT to use apertures smaller than f/5.6 or f/8 so the problems are less obvious, unless the blob of muck is really huge (and where did that come from?) but as diffraction starts showing it's ugly head (around f/11 or f/16 depending on the lens) you'll notice the muck more.
    Last edited by darkslide; 27th September 2012 at 08:09 AM. Reason: Forgotten how to speak English...

  14. #14
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Okay - This is all about helping a poor confused soul work out what exactly it is he needs.

    I've decided the time is right to get into doing my own sensor cleaning. Based on previous advice from CiC members and upon reading, I want to go down the 'Visible Dust' route and I see some folks above have done the same.

    So .................

    The Arctic Butterfly. That's fine No confusion there. That's straightforward.

    But when it comes to swabs and fluid, it starts to get confusing.

    Looking at what my usual supplier offers, I can see that I can get EZ Cleaning Kit for my x1.6 sensor that seems to have a few swabs and little fluid. But then I can also get a pack of 12 'Dust Orange VSwabs for x1.6' without any fluid for almost twice the price of the EZ kit and then I have to but fluid. But there are also various bottles of fluid I can get - 'Plus Formula Fluid'; 'Smear Away'; 'Sensor Clean'. Which one do I need. It would seem obvious to say 'Sensor Clean', but what are the other two for?

    So, do I need the EZ kit, or do I buy the component parts (swabs and fluid) separately, at a much higher cost? And is there anything else I need that I haven't listed here.

    HELP!
    Last edited by Donald; 27th September 2012 at 08:23 AM.

  15. #15
    darkslide's Avatar
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    HELP!
    Donald you really don't need much - but I agree, there's so much on the market it gets difficult to choose.

    I would recommend;

    1: Sensor swabs - check on Amazon for 'Sensor Swabs' (I think it's a marque) - they look like little spades- These should be purchased to be the same dimension as the WIDTH of your sensor

    2: Cleaning liquid - this is just a fast evaporating alcohol (of sorts) - Eclipse seems to work for me

    There are as many names and types as there are camera models or cars - I cannot say that what I have suggested is the best, but it certainly works!

  16. #16

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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Yes Mike, some camera manufacturers tell us never to touch the sensor. As if it is very fragile and brittle.
    A friend of mine, he is a pro, told me it is easy to clean the sensor.
    I first read a couple of articles on sensor cleaning before I made my first attempt.
    An interesting article I found was written by Thom Hogan, here’s the link - http://www.bythom.com/cleaning.htm
    After reading his article I decided I was brave enough to tackle the job. Made my own swabs with material I got from an optometrist and flattened a plastic drinking straw to adhere the swab to. Even did a “wet” cleaning, that I messed up a bit, but no damage done.
    YES WE CAN ALL CLEAN OUR OWN SENSORS IF WE ARE CAREFUL.
    If you suffer from Parkinson’s it would be better to ask a friend or have the cleaning done by a professional.

  17. #17
    darkslide's Avatar
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    If you suffer from Parkinson’s it would be better to ask a friend or have the cleaning done by a professional.
    If you suffer from Parkinsons, you'll probably never be able to spot the blobs on the jerky photographs, and you'll probably never need an ultrasound system to get the dust off either...
    Last edited by darkslide; 27th September 2012 at 10:32 AM.

  18. #18

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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    Now that this thread has been revived, I'll mention that I was so happy to have my sensor cleaning stuff with me for the first time while on a trip so I could check my sensors every night...until that first night when I realized that I hadn't packed it.

  19. #19
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I know my Canon XSi (450D) has an automatic sensor cleaning cycle when I turn the camera on and again when I turn it off. I can force this cycle whenever I think it is required. I have never felt it was necessary to manually clean the sensor, and I change lenses frequently - albeit not on a dusty trail. Do all cameras have this automatic cleaning cycle, or must other people clean their sensors manually?

  20. #20
    darkslide's Avatar
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    Re: If you're as afraid as I am...

    I don't think it's down to the number of times you change your lenses, but more allied to the WAY you change the lens - it seems reasonable to me to have the throat of the camera facing downwards, which (unless you're in a sand storm) should avoid quite a lot of dust entering the mirror box.

    Regarding the ultrasonic cleaning systems, has anyone actually tested to see if this makes any difference? I'm like you Steve and my cameras go through a cycle on startup and shutdown, but I still very ocasionally see a blob of something on bare patches of blue sky - at which point I clean the sensor manually as I've already described. I probably do this twice a year - but then I'm not a pro, and I'm pretty careful how I change lenses.

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