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Thread: In camera sensor clean a waste of time?

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    Member occifer nick's Avatar
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    In camera sensor clean a waste of time?

    Hello everyone,
    I have just realised that there is some artifacts in my pics. I have only just noticed them and they didnt appear in my last set of pics from the same lens, i just checked. So obviously it it sitting on the sensor. I am very careful when changing a lens and dont do it very often and when i do i point the camera housing down and quickly change the lens. I have tried using the in camera sensor clean on my Nikon D7000 but it doesnt seem to do anything to remove the dust. I have set it to automatically do it after every shutdown of the camera. Is the in camera sensor clean different to what you would get when you take it to a shop to get this done by someone. And while im here where is a good place in the Eastern Suburbs to get this cleaned?
    Here is the pic I just took of the sky to show up the little "£$%^*%!!!!

    dust on sensor.jpg
    Regards
    Occifer Nick

    Nikon D7000 | Tokina 11-16/2.8 | Cokin P Series 121M Grad | Nikon 60mm 2.8D | Nauticam NA-D7000V underwater housing |


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    Yip, needs a wet clean, you can get it done professionally or DIY with the right gear
    Darren
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    Constructive Critique of my images always appreciated

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    In camera sensor cleaning is effective at reducing the cleaning needed, it isn't the answer to all sensor dust issues. So sometimes you will still need to get the sensor cleaned manually (as Kiwi suggests).
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Thanks guys,
    Kiwi you say it needs a wet clean but what differentiates the need to wet or dry clean the sensor? I noticed in my research on the subject that you haven't ventured into cleaning your own sensor yet but were thinking that you will have to one day. Have you done it yourself yet?
    Rick, I've set the camera to clean the sensor every time on shutdown but hasn't seemed to change the dust position or amount at all. Is it cleaning the sensor or the top filter? Just never had a camera that had that ability before so trying to understand it a little better
    Also, has anyone taken their camera for a sensor clean and had it done over the counter, specifically in the Eastern Suburbs and was it a good experience, who did it? Just trying to tap into the knowledge base on here from people's personal experience.
    Thanks for the replies though it's much appreciated as usual.
    Regards
    Nick

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    In camera sensor cleaning work by shaking the sensor using an ultra-sonic method, it removes debris. However, once some of that debris (dust) gets stuck to the sensor well (referred to as welded), ultra sonic in camera dust reduction systems (not the use of the word reduction, not elimination) does not remove it. This is when a wet sensor clean is the way to go

    You are always cleaning the low pass filter that sits on the sensor, you never really touch the actual sensor. I clean the sensor on my D3 all the time, it is a dust hog. As you are in Sydney, take it along to Canon and they will do it, or find someone with experience doing it and learn from them. It isn't hard to do, once you know how.

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    Personally I've never attempted contact methods of cleaning my sensors.

    Nick, I suggest you buy a Giottos Rocket-Air blower. This is a very useful and inexpensive air blower which will blow the more stubbon dust off your sensor.

    I use this in conjunction with the camera's in-built dust reduction mechanism.

    It's generally quite effective, but not a 100% effective solution. In my case it works well. I'd imagine, though, that if I stopped down to f/22 and shot a plain sky I'd see plenty of dust. However, I don't shoot at f/22 (diffraction will be an issue even if dust isn't) and I avoid plain skies.

    If your camera is still under warranty or you otherwise have concerns about contact cleaning methods, Canon in North Ryde provides a sensor cleaning service for $50. (It's free if you're a CPS member.)

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    Loves The Wildlife. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    Do you have one of those camera rubber air blowers.
    I often tip up my camera and blow the dust out on to a sheet of white A4 paper it amazing what does drop out.
    Make sure you have the camera on the right settings though.. Sometime there could be dust on the end of your lens also..
    And thats what photoshop is for getting rid of dust bunnies

    I shoot with Canon And Olympus Cameras



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    Loves The Wildlife. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    That will teach me to for typing slow

    I had my two cameras cleaned at Canon in Brisbane just before we went overseas last year.
    I was shocked at the dust bunnies that were still on them when I put the images on the laptop in London.
    Being gone for over two months I could not do much when I came back, $50 you get what you pay for.
    Next time I am looking elsewhere in Brisbane..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Anne View Post
    And thats what photoshop is for getting rid of dust bunnies
    IMO, it's better to get rid of dust 'in-camera' than afterwards in post-processing.

    But yes, you can still get the odd spot of dust, in which case the clone stamp tool should be used.

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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    Everybody with a DSLR gets this problem sooner or later. When dust bunnies were first pointed out to me I was told to use a blower to clear them out but that didn't seem to work as what nearly every article I read on the subject at the time neglected to mention the mirror must be in the lock up position to do this. The first method I use is mount the vacuum cleaner nozzle to the top of a bench at mid lens height, place the camera on the bench (lens removed and mirror locked up) just in front and on an angle to the nozzle, using the puffer blow around inside the camera to loosen the dust and let the vacuum remove it, this works 90% of the time. For the occasional more stubborn bits I use a Copper Hill wet and dry kit. I have only had to use the wet once in 5 years of using 2 cameras in dusty conditions (Desert areas and dirt motor sports).
    Keith.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    To remove the bunnies on that part of the sensor, you need a wet clean.

    Look up CopperHill cleaning kit. Instructions are well laid out and easy to follow.
    Thousands of people have been doing this for years, and it's safe and the most effective manner to remove dust bunnies.

    Xenedis mentions using a rocket blower to remove dust, but the type of dust this method removes are really only the larger non spot types of particles.
    The main issue with using a blower of any sort is that it sprays far more spot dust(bunnies) onto your sensor than it actually removes.

    If you are adamant that you want to use a non contact type of cleaning solution, then the only way to do this 'effectively' is to use a filtered air product.
    I know of none in the form of a blower bulb product, and only the canned air products available from various sources.

    I've been using canned air for a few years now, and have never(ever) seen or had any of the issues widely reported to be a danger ion doing this.
    You may read of reports of the propellant being expelled onto the sensor if you use canned air, and if you have you may have read it from the world's worst idiot blog page??
    The only way you can ever get propellant spray out of the can of air is if you go against the recommendations from the manufacturer in either holding the can upside down or shaking well before use.. even tho it clearly says don not shake before use, and to let the can sit and settle for a while if you have.

    Using a blower bulb is (obviously) counter productive, or less efficient, due to one simple inescapable fact! The air used in the blower bulb(unless filtered) is the same as the air around you.. which is what got the dust onto your sensor in the first place!
    This is fine for removing a large hairline, of other such obvious particle, but it literally sprays a lot more of the spot type dust in a nice uneven manner all over your camera's insides.
    While this is not going to make world news headlines or cause financial instability around the globe, there is one insidious aspect to consider as well.
    Your sensor works on an electrical charge process, where the sensor is statically charged at some point during the exposure. This charge is what's attracting the dust, and more importantly, what makes it cling like baby's stuff!
    The longer you leave the dust lingering on the sensor, the more baked in it becomes.

    Xenedis is correct tho in that you need to shoot quite stopped down to see the small dust particles, but I beg to differ on the actual aperture setting, and I've seen it at f/8.
    Basically, I think to myself, the wet clean is as easy as cleaning the window in your car/house/PC screen/sunnies, and the risk to any possible damage is only there is you subscribe to and follow the idiots way to do things blog spot!

    ie. it's very hard to stuff it up, and it cost basically very little per clean.
    Only drawback in using the wet clean system is that you can't take the fluid on board an aeroplane flight, and so on.. combustible fluids and so on...
    Other think that it's tedious and messy, and it may be, but that's the price you pay for proper cleaning!

    I think I've done a few threads on sensor cleaning, if you want to do a search of sensor cleaning methods..... and I do vividly remember doing the blower test, where I deliberately used the blower, even tho I knew of the 'damage it does' by blowing more dust onto the sensor than it supposed to remove.
    The blower test was done a long time ago, and may no longer be on the site due to a system crash many years ago .. but I should still have all the relevant images of it all.

    A basic and quick rundown on effective methods of dust removalprocesses I've used/tried)

    *Blower and camera tapping - can remove large obvious particles, most likely to introduce a larger number of smaller spots(such as yours).
    *In built camera sensor cleaning .. very good if used at both start up and shut down. Helps to minimise spots such as yours. I've never noticed if it ever removes the larger obvious particles where the blower is traditionally used.
    *CopperHill sensor swipe(basically a very fine brush, dunno what else to call it)- removes the larger particles you wanted to remove with the blower bulb, but doesn't add to the spots already present, in fact helps to remove a few.
    *canned air- best non contact method. cleans a lot more of the spots that camera electronics can't dislodge, and must be used according to manufacturer instructions.
    *wet clean(aka CopperHill type) cleaning- 100% effective. If you are 'fastidious' and have a zero tolerance for dust(spots) then this is the closest you can get(that I know of).

    Strangely tho, and in my curiosity, I wondered how much of the dust could be removed off the sensor, and while I found that in 99.9% of instances in the 'visible world' it's basically 100% effective(blowing out the mirror box before wet cleaning), with a small caveat(that I saw). If you clean the sensor to 100% clean, and then use the clean image and process it to radical PP levels(200-300% contrast levels and major brightness adjustments) you can still see traces of the dust particles on the sensor.

    Also note: that even tho the wet clean method is always 100% effective, it may be necessary to use more than 1 attempt to clean the sensor fully. I think on one occasion, I may have had to do something like 10 swabs (you always use a new pad after each two swipes, where each swab is used twice, once on either side of the swab and in opposite directions).
    So 1 swab = 2 swipes in oppose directions and on opposite sides of the actual swab. So after 20 swipes, I finally got the sensor in a clean state .. where there was not a single solitary spot to bother any part of any image.... in the visible world . Sometimes what can happen is that you dislodge the dust spot, but that it floats on the micron thin layer of wet solution on the sensor's surface.... strictly speaking not the sensor's surface but the topmost sensor filter pack layer.

    I just think that if you are going to take the time to clean up, then clean up(do it properly).
    What I do with the wet clean method(when I use it) is to blow out the mirror box with canned air, (camera pointed down) and then do the same on the sensor, before doing the wet clean. Take a test shot.. and so on.. and on.
    Blue sky is the ideal test target, defocused to MFD, and the widest lens you have is best(more inherent DOF). A well lit white wall is also good to use, but it's always best to make sure that the solid surface used as a test target is always defocused, and no detail is obvious. It makes it easier to see the actual dust spots this way.

    I don't regularly shoot beyond about f/8-11, but a spot is a spot and more annoying than diffraction that doesn't really affect an image is a black UFO that does.

    I don't think the issue is simply about clear skies either! That is, dust bunnies don't simply stick to the lower part of the sensor(the image is inverted remember!!). There are other solid single colour and obvious places that dust can affect in an image. I think if you are fastidious enough to care about diffraction non events at f/49, then having a single solitary dust spot somewhere in the image counts as a similar bug to bear!

    Sometimes I simply get lazy, and subsequently have two alternative options:
    Dump the image or post it with said dust bunnies, or clone them out.. and I reckon I can do either of these two 50% of the time.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Xenedis is correct tho in that you need to shoot quite stopped down to see the small dust particles, but I beg to differ on the actual aperture setting, and I've seen it at f/8.
    Just to clarify my comment: You will see it at wider apertures than f/22 (I've certainly seen it at f/8), but narrower apertures will show a lot more dust than wider apertures.

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    My D7000 has dust bunnies and I`m pretty careful when changing lenses. I can see them at f8 images too. To date I have found the in camera dust `shaker` ineffective and don`t bother using it anymore. I`ve tried the rocket blower and not much success either. I guess I`ll have to get the copperhill wet clean kit. Has anyone got and used effectively the Arctic butterfly. A friend of mine told me a couple of years ago that he had one and it worked really well in eliminating the dreaded bunnies.
    Graeme
    "May the good Lord look down and smile upon your face"......Norman Gunston___________________________________________________
    Nikon: D7000, D80, 12-24 f4, 17-55 f2.8, 18-135, 70-300VR, 35f2, SB 400, SB 600, TC-201 2x converter. Tamron: 90 macro 2.8 Kenko ext. tubes. Photoshop CS2.


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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    To remove the bunnies on that part of the sensor, you need a wet clean.
    I have used the puffer and vacuum method sucessfully many times, also the sensor brush (dry) has been sucessful a number of times and only once have I had to resort to the wet clean.
    I have also seen them at F8.
    Last edited by Speedway; 31-07-2011 at 11:44am.

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    I use the Eclipse wet cleaner with the suitable Swab for the sensor size
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    If you look at the top right corner of the picture and the second spot down it appears to be a liquid based spot (ring around it) I was googling sensor cleaning etc and came across a heap of posts by disgruntled Nikon D7000 owners and problems they were having with oil droplets on their sensors from brand new cameras and there seems to be a lot of them complaining and getting no joy from Nikon. Im wondering if the other Nikon D7000 owners out there are having a problem with oil droplets on their sensors? My Nikon D7000 was only purchased a month ago and it was a gift from someone so i dont actually have the receipt they do. Shall I try to get them to send it to Nikon? I dont know what to do!!!!! grrrrrrrr not happy Jan.

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    The oil issue is not just a D7000 issue, but can occur in any camera with built in sensor cleaning, it apparently is a lubricant related to the sensor cleaning system, and is silicon based. It can be easily removed using the wet clean methods mentioned above.

    As you live in Sydney, take it into Nikon, tell them it was a present. They should be able to see on their databases that it was Aus stock and when it was shipped to the store for sale. In the end, if it costs you, it will not be a huge outlay to get it cleaned by Nikon.

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    Hi Rick, I read that they are using a new oil which is lighter or less viscus and is prone to being splattered on the sensor, people are reporting getting it cleaned from Nikon and having to send it back the next day due to it happening again and again after returning it to Nikon. One person (apparently a pro photographer) reported that he sent it back to Nikon 3 times and finally the repair report stated that they replaced the shutter assembly i think it said. Other people are reporting that Nikon replaced their body after they kept at them on the issue. I know that cleaning it would be a simple solution but after reading that Nikon have flat out blamed people for trying to clean a sensor and blaming them, I think the couple reported a 22 picture count without ever changing the lens. I was just curious to see if other Nikon D7000 owners on this forum had any problems and if so have they contacted Nikon and what was the outcome. After a little guidance and information from our forum users if there is any. Should I repost a new topic requesting "D7000 owners with oil on sensor problems" or should i leave it in here?
    Thanks for the replies everyone but this may be a slightly bigger issue than just needing a sensor clean. I dont want to clean it myself and have to do it after every shoot!!!!!
    Regards
    Nick

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Seriously, Nick!

    Get yourself a copperhill cleaning set and clean it up yourself.
    Simple attention to procedure is al that's required, there is no science to it. If you can operate a PC, then I think you have the necessary dexterity to wet clean your sensor properly.
    Forget Nikon and their services and warranties.
    It seems to take them all day to do a 5 - 10 min job!(of course the bulk of the 8 hour work day are all about waiting in line).

    You don't normally have to clean it after every shoot(unless the shoot involves a big zoom lens, a dust environment and a lot of zooming of the lens).

    I used to shoot close to thousands of landscape images per week, and really only cleaned my sensor I reckon once a month ... maybe fortnight.
    Once I'd found LiveView as the added bonus to framing/focusing it really is, this is actually a remarkably low cleaning requirement.

    A lot of people will try to offer advice along the lines of be careful in how you change your lens, and to be swift with the process so as to not get dust onto the sensor.. etc, etc.
    (actually I just noticed you said this in your OP!.. oops! )
    It's the wrong way to think about how dust gets onto your sensor to begin with!
    If you think about it, the most unlikely manner for dust to get onto your sensor is when you change lenses, unless you're a bit of a goose and have either Lv mode, or mirror up mode when changing lenses!

    When you change lenses, usually the camera is turned off(but this is not an essential step for the camera!), or at the leas t it's not exposing for the image. ie. the shutter is fully closed.... you'd hope at least)
    With the shutter closed, the sensor is fully protected from the ingress of one of the most permeating substances known to mankind. If light can't get through the shutter, there is no hope for even the most minute particle of dust to get through the shutter curtains and onto the sensor(or more accurately filter pack!)
    In general dust will settle inside the mirror box and sit there until it's time to travel up the dust particle corporate ladder(from airborne status->mirror box holding station-> sensor!).
    Usually it's the zooming action of the lens. A lens with in 99% of instances is NOT environmentally sealed! Zooming the lens in/out makes it act a bit like an oversized blower bulb.
    Physics would dictate that as you zoom in(longer focal length) the lens acts a bit like a vacuum and sucks in a bit of air. Remember air is how dust travels.
    If you want to stay on top of the dust problem, good practice would be to blow out the mirror box in regular intervals, that's where most of the dust will sit(idle).
    The vacuum/pressure variation within the mirror box as you zoom in/out is sure to swirl the dust around manically within the mirror box.
    Blower bulb, canned air .. whatever. Just a quick squirt of air in there on the odd occasion to get the dust out as best as you can.
    IF you end up using canned air(which is my first choice) just be careful not to delve in too deep up and into the viewfinder prism area(I always use the straw that comes with the canned air for a more direct and concentrated spray).
    If you concentrate too hard in the vf area, which is deep within the mirror box and under the flash dome housing, you can get dust to settle into the prism area and onto the matte screen, making for a very annoying dust particle in the vf(but not on the image). Easy to get out when you know the steps.. just an annoyance you don't want to deal with.
    I still reckon forget Nikon, and any 'oil drop' problem. Get a copperhill kit and deal with it yourself.
    At a guess, and depending on a lot of factors(main lens type used, roads travelled, the way you handle your gear whilst on the move.. etc. I reckon you should easily get spot free images for about 500-1000 exposures.
    Forget about being careful when changing lenses .... makes absolutely not one iota of difference as to whether dust settles into the mirror box.
    Of course this is not advice to be careless when changing lenses, just don't be pedantic about stuff that doesn't respond to pedantism(is that a word?)
    If the hardware is handily to hand, take the time to blow out the dust in the camera instead! Hold the camera up, facing down and force air in, and hopefully swirly dust laden air falls out. This is when you want to be quick in replacing the next lens onto the camera again!

    Over the coming years(if you stick with the hobby of photography and start to delve deeper into the chasm(financially, that is!! ) of more and more lenses and more and more other necessary gear.. you'll end up finding that a quick clean of the sensor with the wet clean kit the night before a planned shoot is quick easy and painless .. once or twice a month.

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