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Sensor cleaning: a terrified noobs take

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by SpaceManSpiff, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    They say that it is a dry heat here in Arizona...and right they are. I have been struggling with dust getting onto my sensor and rearing its ugly head in some of my pics --mostly at smaller apertures (and when i bump up the contrast in PP).

    Like this:
    DSC02226-L.

    After :doh: I would turn the camera on and off a couple of times with a near-full to full battery to actuate the sensor clean/shake function...and hope it was all better.

    But lately I have noticed that the one spot in the upper RH corner of my shots is persistent, regardless of how many times I cycled the sensor shake function.

    Ruining this otherwise decent shot of Soda Lake
    DSC05201-1-L.

    Not wanting to miss any more opportunities I decided it was time to take the plunge and try to get the dust off the sensor. From my local camera store, I picked up a Jumbo Hurricane Blower (similar in size to Giottos Large Air Rocket blaster) to blow out any loose dust and LensPens SensorKlear II to pick up the stuck dust particles.

    I took a pic at f22 and upped the contrast to see what was on the sensor
    Eww :upset:
    DSC05896-L.

    Tilting the camera flange-side downward I tried some puffs with the blower
    Better for sure.
    DSC05898-L.

    If some puffs got most dust out, maybe more puffs from the hurricane would get them all and I wouldn't have to touch the sensor? :149: No dice
    DSC05902-L.

    A couple of deep breaths and I broke out the SensorKlear II. With the camera laying flat on a table and good light I could see some particles on the sensor. Trying to keep the touch on the sensor light, I appeared able to pick up (brush off?) the dust.

    Another test shot ...and :dance4:
    DSC05904-L.

    Next time around I am not going to be so paranoid about cleaning it off...but it is a little scary.
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    Looks like you did great!!!
    I know its easy on the mirrorless but personally I'm still too scared to do it myself - its good that I have a friend who owns a camera repair center :D
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. chrid

    chrid Super Noob

    807
    May 5, 2014
    australia
    Chris
    Honestly ive been dreading the day that ill have to do this haha
     
  4. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    Oh, I would have taken the easy way out if I had the chance. :cool:
    I should have mentioned that overall it was easy...just scary to be rubbing something across the sensor
     
  5. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Done it a few times myself, and it always makes me nervous.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    Well after enough shots that got put in the trash bin for no reason other than dust spots and 5800 shutter actuations...I figured it was time.
     
  7. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    165
    Dec 29, 2013
    I clean my sensors all the time - at least once a month, and we have about 6 cameras that need regular cleaning. I scratched the AA filter for a Canon 30D about eight years ago. Pretty bad scratch. We used that camera for several years afterward. Couldn't shoot above F14 on a plain background, but in most outdoor scenes, you couldn't tell there was any problem no matter the aperture. I kept meaning to get it fixed, but just never got around to it. We shot that camera until the shutter failed, and replacing the shutter would have cost as much as the camera was worth.

    Clean 'em and use 'em. It's more nerve wracking than the actual danger of doing it.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    Thanks, man. :tup: That is pretty much the message and words of encouragement I got from my local camera store guy as well.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    I had the same reservations with an NEX-7...had a couple persistent spots like your first example, read a couple threads like this last year...got a Large Rocket Blower and the recommended set of various sensor cleaning items.

    The blower took one off right away but the other wouldn't budge. Rolled up a new, clean lens cleaning paper into a tiny tube, used it to very gently / lightly touch the remaining spot, and it came right off.

    But I had a few photos I didn't want to trash, so I used the basic "Paint" feature that's included in Microsoft Windows, and simply copied / pasted a tiny spot of blue sky immediately adjacent to the spots, over on top of the spots, and presto...gone...with no residual indications anything had been done.

    PS: I've been led to believe that what we're cleaning is not actually the sensor at all, but a protective film in front of / on top of the sensor.
    Does anyone have any concrete knowledge to confirm / correct that understanding?
     
  10. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    165
    Dec 29, 2013
    I switched to this for cleaning my sensors this winter, and I absolutely love it. Really simple and much more thorough than using any of the swab/brush methods (and I've used them all). HIGHLY recommended (and I have no affiliation - I'm just a very happy customer).

    http://photographylife.com/product/sensor-gel-stick
     
  11. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    165
    Dec 29, 2013
    There is actually a number of pieces of glass that are on top of the sensor - called the sensor stack. They are thicker in some cameras than in others, but they contain a number of different filters. Some layers filter out various wavelengths of light (infrared, etc), and on most cameras one is the "anti-aliasing" filter, which cuts down on a digital artifact called Moire. The Sony a7R does not have the AA filter, but still has a sensor stack containing an IR filter among other things. The last layer on almost all cameras is a hardened piece of glass that is there to protect all of the stuff underneath. It is very tough to scratch, though as I mentioned earlier, I have managed to do it on a Canon 30D.
     
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  12. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    So basically, it sounds like a light gentle movement of something like a clean soft lens brush, or the tip of a clean rolled up lens cleaning tissue, or a soft cotton Q-tip, etc...should not hurt the top glass...probably the biggest worry would be that a fine piece of grit somehow got in on the surface and was pushed on so hard that it might scratch the glass.
    But assuming the onboard lens cleaning feature is used first...then followed by strong blasts of clean dry air from a Rocket Blaster or something...seems like even the 'grit' example should be extremely improbable
     
  13. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    That is an interesting product. You haven't had any problems with the gel leaving residue behind (as mentioned in that article in their don't use this with mirror less Sony disclaimer)?
     
  14. Vincepad

    Vincepad TalkEmount Regular

    165
    Dec 29, 2013
    Wow, that disclaimer was NOT on there when I bought mine. I have been lucky I guess, but I will discontinue using the product on my Sonys right now. THANK YOU FOR THE HEADS UP!

     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    You are welcome!
     
  16. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    Interesting thread. I have some dust that just wont remove and I even used my electric computer duster which is very strong and clean air and it cleaned most of it but there is still some that will show if I use a very small aperture to test. I am going to take it to a shop..cant risk to mess up my camera :D
     
  17. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    You probably shouldn't be using those electronic dusters on a camera lens, sensor, or mirror. The reason manual blowers are used is to bounce the dust of the surface and into the air. A person could blow with the same force, but your breath contains moister and will make the dust heavier. Not only do those cans contain chemicals that can sometimes come out in liquid form and ruin the sensor. Even if that does not happen, the concentrated force in those cans are just as likely to blow dust further into the camera or behind the lens.
     
  18. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    I have a Rocket Air that is my preferred tool for this but since the dust was not going anywhere this time, I used the electric duster. It is designed for electronics so no chemicals and you can fine tune how strong the air comes out with the adapters. It did remove a lot of the ones the manual air thingy couldnt do but there are still a few that just wont go away sadly. In reality I have to go into really small apertures which I rarely go to like over 11 or so to even see some of it and its very faint but I hate knowing it is there :D
     
  19. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    You might try a clean soft bristle lens brush and lightly 'sweep' and/or 'push' across that area...worked for me
     
  20. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    I am too much of a chicken for that :D
    If it was my spare camera I would but not until I can afford the next camera...whatever that turnout to be like a A6000 with A7 mix :)