Because wet cleaning is so yesterday!
Some weeks ago, I purchased a new device.
I originally read a short article on a site I can't recall now, about Mansurov's website where you can purchase them.
The short story is that apparently Leica use these gel sticks for cleaning the sensor surface of their cameras, so it has to be, if not the best, then at least a good method for cleaning dust off the sensor.
From day 1, the D800 has caused me no end of grief in trying to keep the sensor clean(enough).
it could be partly due to two reasons.
1. larger sensor attract more dust than an APS-C sensor, or
2. the fact that I'm more likely to use it stopped down more for landscapes than I used to with my Dx setups.
When using Dx gear, I rarely stop down to even f/11 .. there's just no need and f/8 was my most commonly used aperture setting. Now with longer focal lengths and or a need to see greater depth of focus, f/11 is the norm, and in many instances f/16(especially f/16 with the Sigma 12-24) as it works well at that setting.
So I'm seeing more dust spots.
That's the premise for my reason to find a new way to clean the D800, but only part of the problem I've had.
The other part pf the problem is that the D800E is so hard to clean with my old and still very capable Copperhill/Eclipse cleaning method.
While I've had no problem cleaning the D300 or D70s, the D800E is a much more temperamental beast to clean.
With the wet clean method, cleaning the Dx cameras was usually a one shot effort, or stubborn dust spots in two .. maybe three.
With the D800E, it's more like 10 for the easy stuff, and usually 20 or so shots at the wet clean method.
I made up new spatulas from various stuff like paint/plaster spatulas, and kitchen spatulas.. I even have a wooden pain stirrer I've been meaning to cut down to use a an alternative too.
It isn't that I can't get the 800E clean, I can eventually .. just that it takes so much more effort, and wastage of pecpads.
Enter the gel stick.
At the price that Mansurov wants it for, I'm sure he's making 10000% profit on it.
US$50 for what must surely cost about 50c to make or buy seemed ludicrous to me.
Well .. that's just my perceived point of view .. it may well be worth $50 to someone.
A 0.0005c piece of plastic handle, with a 1c piece of rubber on the end of it just doesn't seem like good value at $50 anyhow.
So of course as usual Ebay is the next step in my search.
I tried various searches for gel sensor clean and got many hits for more $30ish variations of what appears to be the same thing.
Somewhere in this long lit of hits tho was a $13 jelly version of a similar thing.
I'm not sure if I want jelly on my sensor, but if it turned out to be raspberry flavour I wouldn't be too disappointed
what it looks like.
So I've had it now for I think a bit over a month. Used it a few times and it works 99.9% perfectly(with an 0.1% word of caution .. which freaked me out a bit to begin with).
As the D800 was at hand when I got the stick, it obviously came up as the most obvious choice to test this stick with .. and my hair stood on end for a few seconds.
My first poke with this stick created a square shaped smeary mush on the sensor!
Awesome! my initial thought was I killed the D800 until I can get it fixed.
my next thought was to order a full spectrum sensor cover for it and convert it to a wider range of possible light sources.
My bank account was looking pretty sick, so I had to turn to thought three, which was clean the smeary stuff off with the wet clean method.
Idea #3 worked and I'm back to square one .. AND the sensor is clean with only one wet clean attempt for the first time in two years of trying(and well over 2 packs of pecpads!!)
I tentatively tried the gel stick on the D70s next, being totally unsure of what was going to happen, and none of the smeary stuff appeared on the sensor(well you can't see anything on it)
Same with the D300 too .. easiest sensor cleans I've ever had to do.
No mess no drops, no wrapping stuff around kitchen utensils .. easy as peasy.
But back onto the D800E again, which I immediately decided must have some strange coating, or surface, that is both harder to clean(wet) or just shows up the smears more obviously.
Even tho it was already clean, I tried it again on the 800 producing the same smeary marks, but this time instead of cleaning them off with the wet clean, I persevered with the gel stick.
And what I worked out was that I was pressing(if you could call it that) too hard(or harder) on the 800 than I may have been on the other two cameras.
In short, I barely even place it on the 800 now, where before I'd place the most feather light force before .. and the smearing in gone. That is, if I get the smears on the 800, I go over it again with less pressure on the stick. This repeated application with reduced force cleans these smears off the sensor filter.
What you then do is:
1: The manufacturer proposed method is that with each application on the sensor, you stamp the rubber gel thing onto their supplied sticky paper to remove the dust you just picked up off the sensor.
You can see the supplied sticky papers in the middle of the silver tin.
I'm estimating that each strip of sticky paper will allow about 8 to 10 cleaning dabs of the gel stick.
2: My method(coz I'm lazy) is that I just stamp the sensor with the gel stick and then onto the sticky paper to finally clean the gel stick before I pack it away(or use it on something else).
Ive used it on filters, lenses glasses, tablet screen just about every thing with a super shiny glass surface on it.
I'm assuming that you're supposed to keep the rubbery gel thing perpendicular to the sensor so that they touch in a flat manner. Sometimes I can do that, other times i miss.
It seems to make no difference. And the application really requires no pressure at all. Just placing the gel onto the sensor produces a sticky tactile feel, almost like a suction cup action.
you can feel the thing stick as you take it off. That sticking action is what pulls up the dust spots as you remove the gel stick.
So, if you're interested in an easier way to clean your sensor, but not in cheapo, untrustworthy ebay products .. I'm sure the Mansurov version of the gel stick will do as good if not better job of it.
I used to wax lyrically about wet cleaning as the best way to clean dust off the sensor, and in the past 8 years of doing so, have never damaged scratched or marked any of my or others cameras.
And while it's not hard to do a wet clean, compared to this gel stick method .. wet cleaning is more cumbersome. In the time it takes to wrap the pecpad onto the paddle, I'm already done cleaning with the gel stick.
The other advantage(s) I can think of with the sticky clean method are cost(it now should cost closer to nothing to clean(no pecpads, no fluids), but still the cost of the sticky papers.
And another advantage is that it's all dry, and hence no flammable fluids to use .. which could be important if you want to travel by plane.
And the next step is to find alternatives to the recommended sticky papers they want you to use. They're supposedly non residual sticky type(which is important) .. but I'm sure alternative non residual sticky stuff must be available from somewhere else.
The kit I got does come with a small stash of about 10 papers in the supplied tin, and the instructions can only be described as useless!
(the alternative adjective I wanted to use for the instructions would be bleeped out anyhow) .. you'll need an MPE-65 and 54Mp camera to read these instructions(ie. at 100% pixel view).
Links to these gel(jelly) sticks:
From Mansurov(aka Photographylife)
From a random ebay seller
I can't confirm the reputation of this particular ebayer .. I used one named buykissonline or something like that. Took about 4 weeks for delivery, but at free postage the time it took was not a concern. The product from this ebayer is the exact same thing as I have(going by the images).