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Cleaning Your Camera Sensor

BillN

Hall of Famer
Aug 25, 2010
123
S W France
A bit long winded but informative :) I still don't think I want to do it on my Leica, I have several dust spots on it already.
I have done it on my M8 quite a few times - it really is easy and sensors are quite robust

£40 at the photo shop for a 15 min max job

Remember to test it first - f22 pointed at a white wall - have a look at the image in LR and you will see the spots


I also find one of these useful, although I had a problem once at Southampton Airport - they took it off me, (hand luggage), as they said that it could be mistaken for a small bomb or grenade, (but I'm a grumpy old man and told them what I thought of them, so that didn't help!)

 

Ripleysbaby

supernatural anesthetist
Sep 9, 2011
123
Cumbria UK
I have owned a nikon V1 longer than I have owned any other camera. I have changed lenses more often on the V1 than I have with any of my previous cameras.
I've also used the V1 in harsher conditions than any of my previous cameras.
I have never had any dust on the V1 sensor.

This is not an ad for the Nikon V1
The only other camera as good in this respect were my Olympus E1's
I know it might happen sometime though.
 

nippa

Top Veteran
Aug 7, 2010
104
Cheshire UK
All this mystique to sensor cleaning led me to approach the task with trepidation.

As Luke said, most sensors are glass coated and seem surprisingly robust.
Provided you follow the instructions using approved tools and fluids it's a painless process.

BTW , The last time I used my Rocket Blower it coated the sensor with debris - not sure how it got into the blower.
I've also had fun explaining what the blower is to TSA staff at Chicago.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
This is something that I've never had any problem with with any of my mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras or fixed lens cameras before. But in the few weeks I've been shooting with the Df, I'm definitely seeing a few very noticeable spots on the sensor that don't come off with the self-cleaning method or air-blower method. So, as I'm well down the road toward Df ownership, it seems this is something I'm gonna have to get proficient at. I'm not sure why a DSLR should be more susceptible than a mirrorless camera with an exposed sensor - maybe the mirror flapping around pulls more dust into and around the chamber, giving it a better chance of landing and sticking on the sensor - but it clearly seems to be. So I've just ordered some sensor cleaning supplies from Copper Hill. And I guess I'll see how big (or, hopefully, small) a deal this is. Thanks for this prod.

Here's another youtube with a similar tutorial perhaps more specific to Copper HIll products, for anyone interested...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiUDfbQthqU

-Ray
 

christilou

Legend
Jul 13, 2010
164
Sunny Frimley
Seen this on another forum, they reckon that this is what they use if you send your camera back to the manufacturer for a clean. Looks good though.
 

lenshoarder

Veteran
Mar 7, 2012
43
People tend to get all wound up about cleaning their "sensors". It's actually no different than cleaning their lenses. No need to get expensive fluids and swabs. You can buy an expensive little bottle of alcohol under some premium sensor cleaning label or for the same money get a bottle 20 times it's size at your local drug store.

Here's how I cleaned one of my sensors.

http://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=24812
 

Dewi Sant

Veteran
Dec 20, 2013
103
Lancashire, England
Dust has been the bane of my life for the past 12 months on and off. We had builders in here putting an extension on the house for almost 4 months last year, the whole place was covered in a layer of brick and plaster dust all the time they were here. Then then I started the wooden floor laying & painting etc of the new rooms - more dust. After Xmas I started ripping out the old bathroom upstairs and replacing everything, which created even more dust! I bought the Olympus at around the time that the bathroom was started but it's lived in a sealed polythene bag in my office since. The Canon and it's lenses were put into poly bags as soon as the builders started last year and only came out when I wanted to used them.

Looking at the amount of dust there was on the bags and the lack of it on the cameras I think I'll carry on on keeping them in their in the sealed poly bags in future. But, sensor cleaning. I see no problems doing it and would be willing to give it a go if the need ever arose, I think the thing is to go gently and it'll be fine. I prefer the aerosl air canisters though to the puffer blowers, I used them in my darkroom years ago to blow off any any negs and they worked just fine.
 

nippa

Top Veteran
Aug 7, 2010
104
Cheshire UK
A few threads up there is a video of the Eyelead Sensor cleaner at work.
This quite impressed me and , as I needed to get a stubborn mark from my G3 sensor , I ordered one through Ebay.

Just a word of warning. There appears to be a number of Chinese sellers selling fakes.
What alarmed me was the spelling on the package and the URL www.eyelead.cn which doesn't exist.
The product itself looks genuine but I thought that I'd better Google for fakes before I used it. Sure enough someone had smeared their sensor with one of these.
Safer to buy direct from Germany.
 

Itchybiscuit

Regular
Dec 26, 2014
33
Glasgow, Scotland
For our UK members, I went to my local chemist and ordered a 500ml (smallest size they had) bottle of IPA. That was yesterday. Picked it up today for the princely sum of £10.99. :thumbup:
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
123
Brisbane, Australia
Been quite a while since I've had to worry about sensor cleaning. So much for the idea of the "exposed sensor" in a mirrorless camera attracting dust and being more prone to damage.
 

Gubrz

O.* Gonzo's & Bentley's Dad
Jun 5, 2012
103
Austin, TX
I have done it on my M8 quite a few times - it really is easy and sensors are quite robust

£40 at the photo shop for a 15 min max job

Remember to test it first - f22 pointed at a white wall - have a look at the image in LR and you will see the spots


I also find one of these useful, although I had a problem once at Southampton Airport - they took it off me, (hand luggage), as they said that it could be mistaken for a small bomb or grenade, (but I'm a grumpy old man and told them what I thought of them, so that didn't help!)

"thats my reusable enema.. i dont wash it... "

bet he woulda put it back.. lol


my a7s is the only caera ive gotten dust on.. it was crazy noticeable when trying to get pretty sunbursts at the beach lol...
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
When this thread started, i was in the early days of shooting with a DSLR and dealing with dust on the sensor. It seemed pretty traumatic at the time... Now I feel I'm something of a hardened vet and, having incorporated it into the process, it's not a big deal. Although it is a small deal, but one I'm willing to cope with for the other advantages of shooting with the camera that feels like the best overall solution for me.

I have one of those little sticky ended post things and that works brilliantly the vast majority of the time, particularly for quick little spot cleans. I also have a wet cleaning kit (no doubt paid too much, but a price that's worth it to me for the handy nature of it). I just spent about a week and a half traveling, spending time in a sandy, dusty beach environment, and changed lenses in the wild quite a bit. At one point I processed a shot in a way that exposed EVERY dust spot on the sensor and there were a lot of them. I had the little sticky ended bit along with me, and about two minutes with that and the sensor was effectively clean - there were still a couple of minor spots that showed up only in the perfect storm of circumstances, but nothing difficult to deal with. Then when I got home, I gave the sensor a good wet-clean. Probably a 5-10 minute process by the time I'd let it dry, reassemble, do a couple of test shots, and repeat a couple of times to get it really immaculate. What I've found is that if I do that ten minute wet cleaning routine every few months (or after a particularly heavy spell of shooting - I think I've done it three times, maybe four, in the past year), then using the quick little sticky ended thing for spot cleanups in the interim works just fine.

It's one of those things I'd never had to do before with my years of shooting Olympus gear (which is really well known for it's self-cleaning capabilities) and Fuji (which isn't particularly), so initially it seemed like a big deal and a major hassle. But I love shooting the Df and I've found that now that I've done it a few times, it's really not a big deal to keep the sensor reasonably clean and to clone out the occasional spot that makes it through to a visible part of a file. With mirrorless I spent a lot more time charging and swapping batteries (I think with the Df I charged ONE time during that week and a half of travel and heavy shooting over the holidays and I'm not sure I NEEDED to do that, but did it to be safe) - with the Df I spend a few minutes cleaning every now and then. A small price to pay - just another tradeoff...

-Ray
 

Covey22

Hall of Famer
Feb 3, 2012
124
One of the most welcome improvements to DSLRs for me is the self-cleaning capability. Granted, it will not work well (or at all) in certain situations where the sensor has been exposed to really tough environments, but for day-to-day and casual use photography, it works just fine. I tried cleaning my D200 sensor so many moons ago; one of the most nerve-wracking things I've done. Did it at least twice, never again. Intellectually I understood that it would take a lot more force than what I could apply to damage the silicon, but still...
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
123
Brisbane, Australia
The biggest problem with dust spots is that they are one of the the most time consuming things to process out of an image. Not so bad if there are only one or two against a featureless sky, but a pain if they show up over or straddling an object. Even sticking to some kind of cleaning schedule didn't work for me because dust can get back onto a sensor the very first time you use it after a cleaning. I was very nervous the first time I cleaned a sensor but it's actually a pretty easy task (I use a Lenspen sensor cleaner which is just like a normal Lenspen but with a small triangular tip). It's a reactive process though so you have to suffer dust spots first before you can remove them.

I've got years of Canon EOS images I'm still working through from cameras both with and without self cleaning mechanisms (which did make an improvement) and all I can say is, sensor dust = pain in the arse :frown:

When this thread started, i was in the early days of shooting with a DSLR and dealing with dust on the sensor. It seemed pretty traumatic at the time... Now I feel I'm something of a hardened vet and, having incorporated it into the process, it's not a big deal. Although it is a small deal, but one I'm willing to cope with for the other advantages of shooting with the camera that feels like the best overall solution for me.

I have one of those little sticky ended post things and that works brilliantly the vast majority of the time, particularly for quick little spot cleans. I also have a wet cleaning kit (no doubt paid too much, but a price that's worth it to me for the handy nature of it). I just spent about a week and a half traveling, spending time in a sandy, dusty beach environment, and changed lenses in the wild quite a bit. At one point I processed a shot in a way that exposed EVERY dust spot on the sensor and there were a lot of them. I had the little sticky ended bit along with me, and about two minutes with that and the sensor was effectively clean - there were still a couple of minor spots that showed up only in the perfect storm of circumstances, but nothing difficult to deal with. Then when I got home, I gave the sensor a good wet-clean. Probably a 5-10 minute process by the time I'd let it dry, reassemble, do a couple of test shots, and repeat a couple of times to get it really immaculate. What I've found is that if I do that ten minute wet cleaning routine every few months (or after a particularly heavy spell of shooting - I think I've done it three times, maybe four, in the past year), then using the quick little sticky ended thing for spot cleanups in the interim works just fine.

It's one of those things I'd never had to do before with my years of shooting Olympus gear (which is really well known for it's self-cleaning capabilities) and Fuji (which isn't particularly), so initially it seemed like a big deal and a major hassle. But I love shooting the Df and I've found that now that I've done it a few times, it's really not a big deal to keep the sensor reasonably clean and to clone out the occasional spot that makes it through to a visible part of a file. With mirrorless I spent a lot more time charging and swapping batteries (I think with the Df I charged ONE time during that week and a half of travel and heavy shooting over the holidays and I'm not sure I NEEDED to do that, but did it to be safe) - with the Df I spend a few minutes cleaning every now and then. A small price to pay - just another tradeoff...

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
The biggest problem with dust spots is that they are one of the the most time consuming things to process out of an image. Not so bad if there are only one or two against a featureless sky, but a pain if they show up over or straddling an object. Even sticking to some kind of cleaning schedule didn't work for me because dust can get back onto a sensor the very first time you use it after a cleaning. I was very nervous the first time I cleaned a sensor but it's actually a pretty easy task (I use a Lenspen sensor cleaner which is just like a normal Lenspen but with a small triangular tip). It's a reactive process though so you have to suffer dust spots first before you can remove them.

I've got years of Canon EOS images I'm still working through from cameras both with and without self cleaning mechanisms (which did make an improvement) and all I can say is, sensor dust = pain in the arse :frown:
I guess it's down to different tolerances - I actually find dust spots to be quite easy to remove. Although maybe that's because the only one's I tend to notice are those against a sky or other really flat part of an image. It's just a quick spot-clone in Lightroom most of the time. The only time it's a pain to me is when I let it go so far that there are a LOT of them, but that's only happened to me once in memory (albeit very recent memory!).

I agree it's a pain in the arse, but it's a small enough one that I've pretty much happily incorporated it into my photo related tasks... There's no right answer - I think we're willing to put up with little things in the service of a camera we really like but they seem like much bigger deals (and perhaps reason enough to change) when we're less pleased with the gear that requires it...

-Ray
 

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