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Thread: Sensor cleaning question

  1. #1
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    Sensor cleaning question

    I had a few specks of dust starting to appear on my images at f/11, so I thought it might be time to get a sensor clean done. On pickup, I was shown before and after images and told there were a couple of spots that couldn't be removed. When I got home I took the attached image at f/22. At f/11, I can no longer see any dust particles, which is better than before, but my expectation was to come home with a truly clean sensor.

    A question for those who have had sensor cleans done:

    Was it unrealistic of me to expect a 100% clean sensor for $160? (ie, is it normal to be told some particles could not be removed?)

    IMG_9729s.jpg
    Last edited by Darvidanoar; 15-04-2012 at 7:15am.

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    Administrator (Site Owner) ricktas's Avatar
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    I would have thought they could have provided a better service. Getting 100% of the dust off is nearly impossible, as dust enters the chamber whilst the clean is in progress, but I personally can get better results than what you have shown, doing it at home with a copperhill kit.
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    Thanks Rick, it may well be particles new during the cleaning process...

    Hare's my 'before' image. The two spots in the top left were the ones giving me grief at f/11.

    (note: I took my 'after' image as soon as I got home without changing the lens)
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Darvidanoar; 15-04-2012 at 7:44am.

  4. #4
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Sometimes you may need to do many passes of the sensor swiping kit to get all dust off.
    Sometimes you simply push dust across from one side of the sensor to the other.

    If this clean was a paid for service, then you should be disappointed by it.

    For a professional level of service such as this, you'd expect a 100% clean sensor at f/22.
    I do this to my gear, even if it take 10 or more cleaning attempts.

    Rick is technically correct when he says you can't get a 100% clean sensor(I've tried), but you can get a 100% 'visually acceptable' clean sensor, where you can shoot at f/32 all day long if you like.

    But to get the sensor(or more accurately.. the filter pack) clean is nigh on impossible I reckon.
    Even a sensor that shows no dust specks at 100% view, can have dust on it, but you need to push process the image massively to reveal it.
    That is, it's visually clean on a normal exposure .... but give it 200% brightness and 400% contrast and you'll see many strange artefacts .. dust being one of them.

    To remove those particles that can't be removed, is a simple(but tedious) process .... more wipes of the sensor are needed.

    I reckon it's time for you to get your own cleaning kit and do it yourself.
    The kit is a lot cheaper than a paid for yearly cleanout .. which should comprise of a clean every thousand or so exposures.
    You have access to it at a moments notice, and you control the quality of it .. and don't get some lame A$$ excuse saying that some dust spots can't be removed!

    If you fear damaging the sensor .. don't! It's as easy as ..... ummm ...... as brushing your toddler's teeth!

    It's harder to do damage than it is to actually do damage. There are many tutes around the net, and I think I did one on AP some years back.
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    Loves All The Wildlife.. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    You are lucky if thats all you had on your sensor, mine have lots more at f/16 that I use often..
    I must have a go myself before the dust gets stuck on, it will be a first for me.
    Though never again by a Camera service as my two camera sensors came back even worse than your one.

    I have read your tutorial often Arthur and have it bookmarked
    Last edited by Mary Anne; 15-04-2012 at 9:38am.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Anne View Post
    .....
    I must have a go myself before the dust gets stuck on, it will be a first for me.
    ......
    And this is an important point!
    The longer you leave it, the harder it is to finally get '100%' clean.

    The sensor in your camera produces an amount of static electricity as it is enabled.
    This static apparently bakes the dust onto the sensor's filter pack.
    More static means that it's going to bake on even more as time goes by.

    I once read an article on how you can convert a peizo static lighter to operate as a static discharge device, that when pointed in the direction of the sensor, help to weaken the dust off the sensor prior to a proper wet clean.
    Haven't found any peizo lighters of the right type to try it out for myself .. yet.

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    I cleaned my sensor last weekend. I cut a small piece of micro fibre lens cloth and blew all the edge lint off with a can of compressed *dust off*. Then I locked the mirror up, and carefully applied a drop of pure ethanol to the middle of the sensor; placed the piece of lens cloth on the sensor face and used a water colour paint brush, washed in ethanol, to wipe the cloth gently over the sensor. I kept working it around until the ethanol was dried; turned the camera face downward to tip out the cloth, then released the mirror. Results are almost perfect. There's one tiny spot wandering around but it's loose.

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jupiter618 View Post
    Then I locked the mirror up, and carefully applied a drop of pure ethanol to the middle of the sensor; placed the piece of lens cloth on the sensor face and used a water colour paint brush, washed in ethanol, to wipe the cloth gently over the sensor. I kept working it around until the ethanol was dried; turned the camera face downward to tip out the cloth, then released the mirror. Results are almost perfect.
    Did the ethanol take all the special coating off your AA filter or did it leave some in place?

    Quote Originally Posted by jupiter618 View Post
    There's one tiny spot wandering around but it's loose.
    Might be a bit of that pesky filter coating that the ethanol didn't dissolve.
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    Sunrise Chaser William's Avatar
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    I was going to make a comment on the above method , But Andrew beat me to it , Use a special cleaning kit , It's easy , But I'd really stay away from the Paint brush ethanol method mentioned
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    Ausphotography Regular agb's Avatar
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    I heard a talk from Gavin Brown of Sensor Clean, who used to do it for Canon before they moved their work to Sydney ( or was is Melbourne?), so I would have thought that he would have done a very good job. Hope it was not him, and if it was not done by him then perhaps you could email him the result and see if he can get you a better result.
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    And after hearing him talk there was no way I would ever do anything more to mine than use a blower.And a new one too as old blowers can apparently deteriorate to the point that they blow bits of rubber off the bulb onto the sensor.
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  12. #12
    Loves All The Wildlife.. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    Graham.. Oh yes it was Gavin there at Canon Hill I got to know him well over the years since I bought my first the 20D.
    And to make it worse I had them both cleaned the 20D and the 40D the day before we went overseas for 10 weeks in 2010
    I did not have time to check them, Ok it was a silly thing not to do but I would not have had the time to take them back even if I did check them
    Plus it was too far and a terrible trip over the bridge as the second one was getting built at the time.. Too late now though.

    I am going to have a go at cleaning my 5D Mk11 and 40D as everyone here seems to think its easy enough.

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    Ethanol is the right solvent for this job. Commercial cleaning fluids are alcohol. Propanol would work too. I work in a laboratory so have these solvents ready at hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by agb View Post
    ...
    Located in Brisbane.
    gavin@gavinbrownimages.com
    ....
    Thanks Graham, I'll see Gavin next time (would be more convenient too, as he's in the city)

  15. #15
    The Commander mikew09's Avatar
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    I have only had one sensor clean about 2 yrs after I bought my canon 400D. It was pretty bad but got a 100% clean result, well at least for a couple of days :-). I was told by the guy that did the clean that canon tend to over lubricate new camera's (which is a good thing) which can lead to difficult to clean sensors if the lubricant gets on the sensor which it had in my case.
    Once the sensor was cleaned the Canon sensor cleaning design seemed to do its job pretty well. I am pretty #### about how I change my lens but dust is un-avoidable and sometimes I think we get a bit to carried away about it (my opinion only).

    My 50D is about as bad as your sensor after the clean and to be honest, I would be pretty un happy with that result. Will take it into Gavin for a clean soon. I think the first clean is important as it removes any production line impurities that may have found there way to the sensor but I also must say (and not sure if you have a canon) that I find the built in sensor cleaner seems to do a pretty good job at keeping the sensor relatively clean.

    The other thing I do is ensure my lens element covers are as dust free as possible as with the end elements also to avoid dust build up on the element end of the lens finding it way into the camera and I do clean them on a regular basis. Works for me anyhow.

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  16. #16
    Member ashey's Avatar
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    I think it was unrealistic to charge you $160, buy the gear and do it yourself it's not hard.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Ethanol is probably ok for the cleaning aspect of the sensor clean, as it would do a good job, but the point that the other replies were trying to make, is that it may not be safe(especially over the long term) for the coatings on the sensor's filter pack.
    Eclipse fluid is Ethanol, but I'm pretty sure it is diluted too. That is, if left unshaken for too long it will leave streaks across your sensor. I shake my Eclipse fluid vigorously before use now.
    The point is, that there is something else in the Ethanol that comes in an Eclipse fluid bottle, otherwise it wouldn't leave the streaks. (I suspect distilled water, maybe)
    So from this, it may be safe to say that pure ethanol may be too strong, and could clean off not only the dust specks, but also strip the coatings off the filter too.

    Dunno what camera you have there jupiter, but the method of application sounds highly suspect more than anything else!

    Dropping a drop of fluid onto the sensor is (from what I remember of sensor cleaning) quite a lot of fluid to have flooding the sensor surface.
    I suppose that if you work in a lab, you'd have access to very finely honed pipettes and other tools to ensure that this drop was close to insignificant.
    That is, you didn't use a drop from a domestic dropper tube, where the size of the droplet could be too large.
    One thing you really won't want to do regularly is wipe off excess fluid over the sides of the filter surface, and down the sides of the sensor area!!
    While the filter to sensor perimeter is sealed to stop dust settling on the sensor surface itself, I'm pretty sure that the sides of the sensor chip, where the effective electronic channels run, are not sealed .. Sealed from dust that is. If fluid gets down the sides and onto these communications lines, you could do long terms damage to the sensor.

    Each to their own, but this is not something that I would do either.

    Always wet the applicator(not too wet tho .. two drops is about as much as you need and the applicator soaks up the excess) ... and then swipe the sensor clean.

  18. #18
    Loves All The Wildlife.. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    And this is an important point!
    The longer you leave it, the harder it is to finally get '100%' clean.

    The sensor in your camera produces an amount of static electricity as it is enabled.
    This static apparently bakes the dust onto the sensor's filter pack.
    More static means that it's going to bake on even more as time goes by.

    I once read an article on how you can convert a peizo static lighter to operate as a static discharge device, that when pointed in the direction of the sensor, help to weaken the dust off the sensor prior to a proper wet clean.
    Haven't found any peizo lighters of the right type to try it out for myself .. yet.
    I think I used to have one of those lighters years ago when I lived in Melbourne to light the BBQ or was it the Cook Top are they the ones you mean

    I ordered the Copperhills for the two cameras last night Arthur and hubby is going to help me clean both sensors
    I will see how we go..

  19. #19
    Ausphotography Veteran Dwarak's Avatar
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    I sent my 5d mark 2 for a sensor clean to a reputed store in south Brisbane and they said the same thing they could get out most of the dust but was not happy with the results then I sent it to Gavin at teds in the city. I was happy with the results not 100% clean but a better job then the other place and heaps cheaper.


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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    It would have been relatively easy to check the sensor before leaving the shop by taking a photo of a light coloured blank wall or the clear sky and checking it at high magnification on the LCD screen, if that was my sensor I would be demanding my money back as it is worse than before. The copper hill kit is relatively cheap and easy to use, I have used mine about a dozen times over the last couple of years and have always been happy with the results.

    Quote Originally Posted by jupiter618 View Post
    carefully applied a drop of pure ethanol to the middle of the sensor;
    This would be a very dangerous method in my opinion as if too much ethalol was used some could get into the mirror and shutter mechanism and remove the small but vital lubricant for those moving parts.
    Keith.

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