• Welcome to TalkEmount.com, the best Sony E-mount camera and photography community on the web.
    Click here to join for free and enjoy unlimited photo uploads in our forums.

Wet cleaning a dirty sensor — Power on or off?

Thad E Ginathom

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
576
Location
India
Some wall, f/22, defocussed...

DSC07904a.JPG
ILCE-6500    E 17-70mm F2.8 B070    20mm    f/22.0    1/3s    ISO 1600


Shortly followed by my first ever sensor wet-cleaning experience.

I'm not posting an after picture, because it's just wall. Boring... Pleasingly so!
 

Brownie

TalkEmount Veteran
Joined
Jun 22, 2021
Messages
236
Location
SE Michigan
Real Name
Tim
Some wall, f/22, defocussed...

View attachment 117368

Shortly followed by my first ever sensor wet-cleaning experience.

I'm not posting an after picture, because it's just wall. Boring... Pleasingly so!
I did mine for the first time last fall. It was not as difficult or scary as expected. The worst part was getting used to the sensor moving. The more IBIS, the more it moves.
 

Thad E Ginathom

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
576
Location
India
The worst part was getting used to the sensor moving. The more IBIS, the more it moves.
That freaked me out. I'd read that if you take the battery out, the sensor is locked. So I did not expect it to move, and I was surprised it moves so much!

I guess I must have seen info for some other camera, and will check this out before doing it again.

Almost none of the stuff in my wall pick was visible to the naked eye on the sensor, but I was beginning to get spots on stopped down pics, and the blower was not enough.
 

Brownie

TalkEmount Veteran
Joined
Jun 22, 2021
Messages
236
Location
SE Michigan
Real Name
Tim
That freaked me out. I'd read that if you take the battery out, the sensor is locked. So I did not expect it to move, and I was surprised it moves so much!

I guess I must have seen info for some other camera, and will check this out before doing it again.

Almost none of the stuff in my wall pick was visible to the naked eye on the sensor, but I was beginning to get spots on stopped down pics, and the blower was not enough.
You're supposed to remove the battery before you clean a mirrorless camera! It eliminates the possibility of a shutter activation when cleaning. With a DSLR, you have to have it turned on and in 'clean' mode to lock the mirror up out of the way.
 

bdbits

Super Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
2,838
Real Name
Bob
Sony cameras have a cleaning mode. It's been a long time since I did one, but I believe that will lock the sensor in place until the next power up.

* putting on moderator hat *
But this probably belongs in another thread if there is further discussion.
* removing moderator hat *
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
Messages
4,134
Location
The Netherlands
You're supposed to remove the battery before you clean a mirrorless camera! It eliminates the possibility of a shutter activation when cleaning. With a DSLR, you have to have it turned on and in 'clean' mode to lock the mirror up out of the way.
That is not true for every mirrorless camera. For instance, my Sony A7R4 has a cleaning mode; when that is activated, the shutter button is disabled and the sensor is locked in place by the IBIS system. To be sure I just checked, and the shutter button does not operate when in cleaning mode!
Sony cameras have a cleaning mode. It's been a long time since I did one, but I believe that will lock the sensor in place until the next power up.
To be more precise: activating the cleaning mode locks the sensor and it is unlocked when you power off the camera. While in cleaning mode, the camera doesn't react to any button (including the shutter button) except setting it to power off.
 

Thad E Ginathom

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
576
Location
India
You're supposed to remove the battery before you clean a mirrorless camera! It eliminates the possibility of a shutter activation when cleaning.
Point taken. And yes, I heard that before. Shutter chomping on cleaning swab doesn't bear thinking about
But this probably belongs in another thread if there is further discussion.
Sorry. I think we're all done after this. But it might be useful to future others if the conversation is moved to its own thread.
While in cleaning mode, the camera doesn't react to any button (including the shutter button) except setting it to power off.
Yes! Or rather no, it doesn't. The manual (a6500) is not clear on this. Thank you very much!
 

bdbits

Super Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
2,838
Real Name
Bob
I've been using only Sony cameras for so long, I cannot compare to others and what their cleaning/removing modes do. Ad explained the Sony side very well.

One thing I think worth noting... there are things to try before resorting to a wet cleaning. Get a good rocket-style blower, hold the camera mount down, and blow all around the inside of the mount opening. If that doesn't do it, I take a brush on a lens pen and brush the surface, again holding mount-side down. If you are still having problems, get a good light and perhaps a loupe or magnifying glass and inspect the sensor surface. If you can see the dirt you may be able to dislodge it with a brush. After all that, then do the wet clean. Since adopting this approach with a good blower and brush, I think I have wet cleaned once over the last few years.

Obviously this will vary with your shooting environments, and good habits in changing your lenses helps also. I live in a somewhat dusty area and the above works well for me.
 

Thad E Ginathom

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
576
Location
India
is this a separate cleaning mode from the dust removal mode in most digitals?
Same. So, after the vibra stuff, you can go on to clean. I think the manual says this, but it is not clear. (a6500)
Get a good rocket-style blower, hold the camera mount down, and blow all around the inside of the mount opening.
I have been doing a regular rocket-blow, every few weeks. I do change lenses on-the-job every job.

Hadn't previously realised how much crud was there apart from the couple of big marks I could see on wider-aperture pics. I happened to take a magnifying glass to the sensor, and saw that these were caused by soft-edge round spots. I was immediately gripped with the fear of fungus! Ordered the cleaning kit right away. OK, I guess fungus would be feathery growth... but my place is not only hot and dusty, it is very humid.
 

MWhite

TalkEmount Veteran
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Messages
349
Location
Indiana
Real Name
Mike
I have had good success with some products from: https://visibledust.com/

Being extra fussy with my stuff (my wife and daughter would not argue with that characterization), I blow out the sensor chamber every time I change a lens, holding the camera face down, and then blow off the rear lens objective for good measure. All of that helps, but eventually sensors do get dirty. (My rocket blower is an essential part of my equipment.)

When it does get dirty, I first run the auto clean function within the camera (A7III). I'm not sure if that does much. Then, I use the Arctic Butterfly brush to lightly brush the sensor - while in cleaning mode, following the company's directions. The brush is on the end of an electric motor. After you spin it with the motor, it builds up a temporary static charge, causing dust to stick to it. That alone usually works - no wet cleaning needed.

Then, if there is still crud in there, they have three different kinds of wet cleaning solvents. One works for water-based problems, one works for oil and water based, and one is terrifyingly labeled for grease and oil. (How can that happen? Change the lens while photographing a car getting an oil and lube job?) I have only had to use this once, but it cleaned the stuff off. Pollen is especially sticky. I think I used the water solvent, but I'm not sure. That is the one to start with, I would think.

None of their stuff is cheap and if you lived near a good camera store, I would probably let them clean the sensor. But I don't, and when I start seeing spots on my images I want them off now, not later. Sensor cleaning is the biggest negative that I've encountered when comparing digital to film. You always got a brand new "sensor" with film.
 

Thad E Ginathom

TalkEmount Top Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
576
Location
India
I have had good success with some products from: https://visibledust.com/
Absolutely opposite end of the market to my really-cheap kit! Their full kit is probably worth as much as my camera is. I have seen their stuff once before, some time back. I don't know if it is available in this country, but it is likely to cost double if it is, and personally importing it would almost certainly cost the same again in duty and taxes.

So I'm going to have to file it under "aspirational" (there's a pun there, somewhere).

The cost, of course, is understood to be in the context of one scratch destroying the sensor, and probably resulting in writing off the camera.
I blow out the sensor chamber every time I change a lens, holding the camera face down
Initial reaction is that, while photographing Indian classical music is not exactly action photography, I'm unsure about fitting that into the "workflow." One also has to be as undistracting as possible. I will give it thought though.

Mind you, this is the first time that I have had visible spots and/or visible dust which has not been shifted by the occasional vibe and blow session at home.

Don't have a really great camera shop nearby, although there is a Sony service centre, which I have not yet experienced, but would have gone to if I'd decided against the DIY.
 

Latest threads

Top Bottom