Cleaning the Sensor

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by WNK, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. WNK

    WNK TPF Noob!

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    I've been noticing for some time some pesky, stubborn dust spots on my pictures (generally around the top, which makes it easy to just crop them off, but annoying nonetheless).
    I stopped in at a camera shop & the nice camera people there confirmed that it was dust on the sensor itself, and STRONGLY recommended that I send it in to get cleaned (a whopping $60). When I checked the owners' manual, they do, however, have specific instructions on how to clean the sensor yourself. I've been reading up on it and getting both sides online, but wanted to hear some unbiased opinions from people who were trying to sell me anything (whether it be services or products!)

    So, here's my question...

    What do you do when your sensor needs cleaned?
    Do you cough up the $60?
    Or do you do it yourself -- and if so, what products/methods do you use?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The only sensor cleaning I've done is to use a blower bulb. I put the camera into sensor cleaning mode, hold in upside down and give it a few puffs. This will usually dislodge most dust.

    I have read a lot about the different cleaning methods. I wouldn't bother to send it in. Sensors have a protective filter on them...so they are not really as delicate as people seem to think. I would be more worried about the shutter snapping closed and getting damaged...so make sure the battery is charged up before you clean.

    They sell those sensor cleaning pads...they are not cheap. You may need something like that, if you have some stuck spots.

    The product that that I've seen...that people seem to like...looks like a small feather duster. I think it spins...and builds up a small electrostatic charge...and then 'sucks up' the dust from the sensor. I can't think of the name...but you should be able to Google it.
    *edit* Check this out
     
  3. dsp921

    dsp921 TPF Noob!

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    I clean mine when it needs cleaning....
    I use the Copper Hill Images kit. It was around $30 and I'll be able to clean my sensor for years with one kit.
    Don't be afraid to do it yourself, it's not a big deal, and if you shoot digital it's a fact of life, learn to clean the sensor get the proper materials and don't worry about it. It's just basic maintenance.
    Check out this site for a good description of the process and materials.
    http://www.copperhillimages.com/index.php?pr=tutorials
     
  4. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I use both a blower bulb and cleaning kit also the Copper Hill kit. And stay way for canned air it’s to strong, you can damage the shutter and drive the dust deeper in to the cracks
     
  5. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    i use a lens cleaning tissue wrapped round a cotton bud (I believe they're called q-tips in the US) with cleaning alcohol and gently wipe in one direction across the sensor.

    I've used this method on my Digital Rebel and 20D several times without any problem. I've not had to clean my 5D yet but I'd use the same method again when the time comes.

    For cleaning, I wouldn't use a shop or store.
     
  6. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    Another vote for the Copper Hill kit. :thumbup:
    I use this. Tutorial.
     
  7. jacull

    jacull TPF Noob!

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    WNK - I used to manage the largest studio in Austin. I've bought and tested everything out there to figure out what is best for cleaning the sensors. I've used Copper Hill's kit, but I'm not comfortable with it because of the direct contact with the sensor. The best thing I found is available on www.visibledust.com

    Expensive, but well worth it. I don't leave home without it. You can read all about it on the site, but it is basically a charged brush that pulls everything off of your sensor and it works like magic.

    JC
     
  8. WNK

    WNK TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all so much -- the guy at the camera shop had me REALLY paranoid -- I've only had my SLR about 6 months, so it's nice to know I won't have to spend $120 a year to keep up my hobby.

    Should I even bother checking at local camera shops for these kits, or can you only get them online? I'd like to clean it off ASAP... its been driving me NUTS.
     
  9. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    Yes. Check the link above.
     
  10. Illah

    Illah TPF Noob!

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    Before you buy any expensive stuff, try getting a blower bulb first. They're $3 at wallgreens, look for 'ear cleaning syringe' products and it's basically a blower bulb.

    Advantages:

    1. You're never actually touching the sensor.
    2. Cheap, simple, no fluids involved, i.e. less potential to screw up, no stress when using it.
    3. Besides blowing, you can 'suck' up dust particles as well (i.e. use it in reverse). That's the ideal scenario actually as sometimes blowing just moves things around and doesn't totally remove them.

    I've had my cam for roughly 7 months and have had to use the blower twice in that entire time. Two dust pieces so far, easily blown out.

    If I had any serious grime on there I'd seriously consider sending it in. To even get serious grime on there would take some effort if you think about it, it might be worth having a pro cleaning in that situation. If you screw up, you're screwed. If they screw up, I'm sure they have some type of replacement policy or guarantee.

    --Illah
     
  11. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    I have had my canon 30D for 7 months now, and just attempted to do my first sensor cleaning with a blower (Giotto). Im glad I did because it actually did a pretty decent job. Just hold the camera upside down while doing it and keep blowing for a while. Its not perfect, but the test shots I took afterward showed that most of those big noticeable dust bunnies were gone, and the only ones left are so few and so small that I hardly notice them. And they are only slightly visible in tests with very small aperture, not any other normal shots. In short, it made a significant improvement. I may try the visibledust or copperhill products down the road if it really starts to build up, but for right now, I'm happy with the results of the blower, and I hardly change the lens now that I have a nice new walkaround lens (canon 28-135 mm IS). Dont let the guys at the shop talk you into spending $60. My local shop also said they would do it for $60, but I didnt let them. There may be some anxiety when you try it the first time, but you can get the hang of it quickly.
     
  12. Also, as a piece of advice contrary to what the others are saying: I've used blower bulbs but there is one spot that won't come off. I believe it's condensation. It's in a corner, and if it is ever visible in the background
    (against the sky, for instance) I just use the Patch tool in Photoshop to get rid of it.


    Good enough for me.
     

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