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General Photography DiscussionSensor Cleaning

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Wind
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Sensor Cleaning

Postby Wind » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:33 pm

Just wandering how many of you attempt to clean your own sensors. Have just ordered some swabs and brushes to go at it myself. Without a local go to guy and taking my camera where I do it's time I learn.
I have a 5dmkiii and a 50D and both have major amounts of dirt.
Any tips or experiences to share.

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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby TomCofer » Tue Sep 22, 2015 2:26 pm

Wind wrote:Just wandering how many of you attempt to clean your own sensors. Have just ordered some swabs and brushes to go at it myself. Without a local go to guy and taking my camera where I do it's time I learn.
I have a 5dmkiii and a 50D and both have major amounts of dirt.
Any tips or experiences to share.


I clean mine fairly often. I used to do it a lot more when I was taking sports photos at softball games.
Just make sure you use the proper size swabs for each camera. They come in different sizes to match your sensor size. Since your 5D has a full-sized sensor and the 50D is a cropped sensor, it would make a difference. You might want to do a google or youtube search on sensor cleaning. It's pretty simple.
- Make sure you have a fresh battery in the camera.
- Lock your mirror up.
- With the front of the camera pointed downward, use a hand blower to clean out loose dust. DO NOT use canned air and DO NOT touch the sensor with the end of your blower.
- Follow the instructions that came with the swabs. Usually they say add a drop or two of solution the swab, swipe it across the sensor using firm even pressure, turn the swab 180 degrees, and swipe in the opposite direction.
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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby WesternGuy » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:32 pm

I am like Tom, I clean mine as needed, although the 5D III probably doesn't need it that often as it has the "sensor cleaning" when it is turned off and on - don't know about the 50D. Tom's instructions are "right on". My only addition would be to only use a swab twice - once in one direction and then in the other direction, turning the swab 180° after the first run as Tom has noted. That way both sides of the swab get used. If you use it more than that, then you risk putting dust back on the sensor, or, at worst, scratching the sensor - don't let that scare you, I have been doing my cameras' sensors for years now and have never scratched a sensor - just don't rush the operation. Also, when you put the "couple of drops" on the swab, let it stand for a few seconds to give the liquid time to "soak" through the entire swab as you don't want to be cleaning part of the sensor with a dry swab.

Remember to turn the camera off when you are finished and put the "body cap" or a lens back on right away. The only thing I would add would be to take a picture at a large f-stop (small opening) of a piece of white paper, or a white wall, after you finish and check it with your processing software to make sure that you cleaned all the "dirt" off the sensor.

Also, as Tom has indicated, Google "sensor cleaning" and you will find a lot of reading material. :thumbup:

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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby TomCofer » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:40 pm

WesternGuy wrote:... although the 5D III probably doesn't need it that often as it has the "sensor cleaning" when it is turned off and on - don't know about the 50D.


The 50D, like all Canon DSLR's, also has the "sensor cleaning" feature which is activated when the camera is turned on or off.

It greatly reduces the amount of dust that will collect and stay on the sensor. Still, frequent lens changes and operating in dusty conditions can cause the sensor to accumulate dust that the self-cleaning feature may not be able to remove.
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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby cyclohexane » Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:57 pm

The glass filter array covering the sensors of digital cameras is actually very tough and durable*. While you don't want to be dragging steel wool across the the thing, it's actually very difficult to scratch and damage the cover of the sensor.

The bigger issue is running into dirt or dust on your sensor that is combined with lubricant or some other form of moisture, forming a goopy bit of contaminant; these will smear when you try to remove them and usually take several swabs to remove.

*As with all things, there are usually exceptions, but if you own one of these exceptions, you already know it.
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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby Wind » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:56 am

Cheers guys,
Good to hear you have been all doing it for a while. Don't worry you tube has been my friend and a great source of confidence building information. The only issue now is to patiently wait for my internet purchases arrive. It really sucks to be unable to purchase anything local.
Seems like my camera has had a good dose of dirt go through it had to see what would happen if I wasn't as careful as I am. It has heaps of dirt on the mirror and view finder also.

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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby pop511 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:25 am

Not much to add to comments already made. but no one has mentioned storage. Yes, we all baby our equipment and place it back carefully in the camera bag.
Had a look inside your bag lately? No good cleaning the camera if the bag has detritus collected over the past 5 years! I use a large clear plastic bags to wrap the camera/batteries in. Any dust collected is clearly seen and time to throw it away.
Kind regards;
ed
ed davis

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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby Ed Shapiro » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:10 pm

When I was a little guy, I was deemed by my family, to be mechanically inclined. That's because I was always interested in how things worked. Much to my parent's chagrin, however, I managed to take many things apart and only put a small percentage of theses items back together again. It started with simple things like toys, flashlights, alarm clocks and advanced to radios, musical instruments and appliances. It's a wonder I was not electrocuted by the age of 10. When I became interested in biology, when I received my first “microscope set” and advanced beyond the dead bee and the dead fly that was included with the kit, my parents began to observe me with a more watchful eye when I had my deserting instruments in hand. They tended to keep me away form my younger siblings and discouraged me in getting too close to the cat! OK- that part is a joke!- or is it? :devil:

Well in my early days in the hobby of photography, I certainly would not hesitate in taking a screwdriver or a pair of pliers to a camera in order to “fix it” which never turned out well. Lubricating a slow shutter with (3-in-1) sewing machine oil and cleaning the lens with “Glass Wax (if anyone here remembers that pink stuff) or even Windex were not a good ideas. Who knew that once you removed the cover of a shutter, all sort of tiny parts would sprint out of the housing with the speed of light, never again to be found- perhaps 10 yeas later when the carpeting was being changed.

Good thing my dad was an electronics technician and tough me enough to stay out of the innards of electronic flash gear, at least until he taught me how to safely repair them. One thing I advise all of my photographer friends and students about is to never pop the hood of any strobe gear unless you like the smell of burning flesh or the likelihood of sudden death or disablement- your own in all cases.

You know that label that says something about “authorized repair personnel only”- it's there for a good reason. Of you do not know what you are doing, if you don't hurt yourself you will at least damage the equipment beyond reasonable repair costs.

Now as far a sensors, front surface mirrors and other delicate camera innards are concerned, my policy is HANDS OFF UNLESS YOU KOW EXACTLY WHAT YOUR ARE DOING ACCORDING TO THE MANUFACTURERS RECOMMENDATIONS!!!

There is not doubt that “cleanliness is next to Godliness when it comes to sensors and lenses but knowing exactly what and how to preform theses maintenance procedures is of the utmost importance in prevention of accidental damage to theses vital components of your camera's system. Some of us, tend to overkill a bit when cleaning theses things and will cause problems.

I am growing a bit weaker with age but my nickname in gym class as a kid was “vice-grip hands”. Folks say that I don't realize the strength in my own hands. I know, on my death bed, even reduced to a near skeleton, just before I draw my last breath, I will be able to crack single walnuts in one hand. My assistants try to keep me away for the set screws and and adjustment knobs on light stands and tripods because things get to the point where nobody can undue them and some of my gear spend more time at the machine shop than on the studio floor. So- I know that I am kind of a klutz with delicate stuff so I delegate some of my more precise cleaning jobs to others. I am good with things like truck tires and heavy plumbing.

All joking aside- always check out the proper and recommended cleaning methods with your camera's manufacture, distributor or their authorized repair facility. You manual may have this information. Regardless of the case, my local repair guy tells me that a great deal of extensive and expensive repairs to camera bodies and lenses are due to overzealous or improper cleaning attempts. He told me that he had to disassemble a major part of the sensor system, only to find and remove little fibers from Q-tip swabs or hairs form dusting a dusting brush. Another photographer, did major damage to his camera with a blast from a compressed air cylinder. It's also good to know that compressed air in cans contain a wax-like propellants that can shoot out and ruin a front surface mirror or a sensor beyond simple cleaning. Then there was the guy that sucked the guts out of his camera body with one of these Dyson jet-propelled vacuum cleaners. This is not an urban myth- my repair guy pronounced it DOA at his shop and the client was so upset he ran off and never returned to “claim the body”- a D300 as I recall! I saw it- ugh!

I realize that most of us around here know what we are doing but one never knows what a more inexperienced newcomer can mistakenly do and thus, this post. Y'all know that prevention is better than cure- or something like that! Speaking of which- when I work in dusty, sandy or hazardous industrial environments, I use two or more camera bodies, each equipped with a different lens focal length range that I might need to use. This way, I don't have to dismount and remount any of the lenses and thereby allowing harmful particles to enter the body. In theses environment your skylight filters and a supply of polyethylene bags can be your most useful and preventative accessories.

Y'all be careful out there!

Ed :D

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Re: Sensor Cleaning

Postby pop511 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:52 am

Ed said;
""Then there was the guy that sucked the guts out of his camera body with one of these Dyson jet-propelled vacuum cleaners."" I fully agree with you Ed.
But staying on the same. I have used a vacuum on my camera, and before you call me a twit. I will point out that the plastic end of the tube was some inches away from the camera body. The vacuum hose draws air in from all directions and not just in it's facing direction. Therefore, at some point it has very gentle pull when the hand is in front of the hose.
Not a job for a nut breaker like you. :lol:
ed davis


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