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Thread: How do you clean your S sensor

  1. #1
    Senior Member GMB's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Heart of Europe
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    How do you clean your S sensor

    Despite my best efforts (switching the camera off before lens change, holding it down while changing lenses, keeping the back lens of the lenses clean, avoiding changing lenses in the dust etc.), the sensor becomes dirty and requires cleaning. I just wonder what is the best procedure.

    My current procedure is as follows:

    1. shoot a blue screen on the computer at f16 moving camera
    2. load frame to computer and check for dirt (increasing contrast)
    3. put camera on tripod so that both hands are free
    4. use blower or artic butterfly
    5. repeat steps 1 and 2
    6. if further cleaning required, repeat steps 3 and 4 or use swaps if wet cleaning required
    7. repeat as needed

    A few comments:

    • I find that shooting a blue (I guess it could also be another uniform color but blue works well) screen works better than a blue sky. Increasing contrast and adjusting exposure shows any dirt/dust you may have on your sensor
    • I have used the artic butterfly for a while but, unfortunately, a battery leaked recently and mine does not work any more.
    • So far I have used swaps for a full frame sensor. Just swapped them twice. While the adrenaline goes up during that operation, so far so good.
    • My general approach is not to go for perfection but be contempt with an acceptable level of dirt.


    • Do you think a blower does as good a job. The price for the artic butterlfy is a good 130 EUR, and while that is not much in Leica land, if it can be avoided i would prefer this.
    • What swaps, if any, are you guys using. And what liquid? Visible dust?
    • Any other tips for cleaning and keeping the sensor clean?


    My new website (under construction) at Zenfolio
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  2. #2
    Subscriber and Workshop Member
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    Dec 2007
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    Re: How do you clean your S sensor


    I recently found a defect on the sensor cover of my S 006 ... two round trips to my dealer before he could see it ... told
    me he had cleaned it and returned it with the same defect.

    While I was trying to initially figure it out I spent a couple of hours cleaning the S ... after I found the flaw in some images.

    Sensor Swabs Eclipse fluid for wet cleaning or the Visible Dust equivalents.

    I highly recommend the Visible Dust sensor loupe that has excellent glass elements and 6 very bright LEDS ... you can
    see the surface of the sensor in great detail ....

    Their Zeeion blower is excellent ... does not impart a charge nor allow condensate to spit when in humid conditions.

    I have had poor luck with the butterfly ... if the blower does not get it then I go to wet cleaning.

    Keep in mind that a sensor replacement for the S is upwards of $6K USD.

    The S had to be one of the most difficult to clean as the sensor is do deep in the camera ... hard to get at.

    No great solution as it seems to take about 8 full size swabs to clean the sensor.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2009
    Czech Republic and Austria
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    Re: How do you clean your S sensor

    For wet cleaning, I use the Eclipse solution with full-frame sized (Type 3) Sensor Swabs. First take a test shot at fully closed aperture, against a white wall, defocused. If there is any dust, then I first try to blow it away with a Giottos rocket blower; after that I wet clean. My method for wet cleaning is to apply two drops of Eclipse to the edge of the spatula, then push with it from the centre of the sensor toward one edge. Next, I use the other side of the spatula, and push from the centre toward the other edge. Then I re-test. Usually have to repeat 1-2 times before I succeed in cleaning the sensor properly. Having said this, I haven't had many dust/gunk problems with the S007 so far (the shutter doesn't seem to spray the sensor with lube drops as much as it did with the M9, or even the S2).
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Re: How do you clean your S sensor

    What I do is not specific to S but apply to sensor cleaning in general:

    I open a maximized blank page (more or less white) on a browser, take a shot a few inches away from it for one or two seconds. Aperture is smallest, focus is infinity, and I make a circular motion during exposure. Then I check for dust/dirt. This is repeated after each cleaning attempt to check for results.

    For me I find the Arctic Butterfly not as efficient as what the manufacturer made it out to be. You can try this: shine a light on your computer screen while it is turned off so it's dark. You should easily see the dust particles on the screen. Mine has quite a few. Spin the AB as instructed and brush it on the screen. You can see how effective the AB picks up/remove dust particles. I usually don't see much difference between AB and any ordinary lens brush. A very crude test but does demonstrate AB effectiveness somehow.

    For wet cleaning I use Pec-pad and Eclipse. I only wipe it from one side to the other, never go back in the opposite direction. By going one way only I hope to lessen the chance of bringing whatever is wiped to one side going back to the middle again, smudging along the way. I would do an extra wipe just at the "end-zone" to get rid of the garbage collected there.

    I must admit I never got a 100% clean sensor, but a few small and light specks are easy to fix in post, especially when they fall in darker areas of the image.
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