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Thread: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

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    Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    Does anyone have any advice, pro or con, on cleaning the Leica sensor of dust and what appear to be very small moisture spots? I attempted to clean a Canon DSLR sensor (actually, the filter in front of the sensor) years ago and created quite a mess. I know I can send the Leica in to Leica service and have it cleaned, but it means giving up the camera for probably 2 or 3 weeks. I have the proper materials and supplies for cleaning a sensor, just not the confidence!

    Mark W.

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    Member StephenPatterson's Avatar
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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    It is intimidating at first, but confidence will come with success. First it is important to realize that the sensor cover glass is made of pretty strong stuff, and it isn't easy to damage IF you have the proper sensor cleaning swabs and solution. I use Visible Dust swabs and cleaning fluid, as well as their excellent magnifier, because if you can't see the dust it's much more difficult to clean. Most people seem to get into trouble by using too much fluid on the swab, leaving streaks. A single drop of solution to each corner of the swab is all you need.

    If you search Youtube there are literally dozens of videos showing how to do this. It might not make you an expert by just watching the videos, but at least you will see how others have tackled the chore.

    Good Luck!!!

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    I tried it myself and it was as big of a deal. If you're careful, the worst case is that you wasted some money and it's still not clean. I think it's good to at least try to learn it, that way you can clean it yourself in a pinch or while traveling. I wrote a brief blog post HERE.
    David Young
    My journey into Leica: LeicaLux.com

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    David, that's a really nice write up which I agree with 100%. Well done!!!

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    Thanks for all the replies, I appreciate it. I have the PSI Sensor Swabs and Eclipse solution so will give it a go!

    Mark W.

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    Senior Member GMB's Avatar
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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    Here is how I do it (combination of advice received from different sources).

    1) Spotting the dust. I find a magnifier pretty useless. Much easier is to set the camera to f16 or f22, open the computer an load a clean blue screen (such as the Windows blue), hold the lens close to the screen, and shoot a frame while moving the camera a bit (to avoid recording dust spots on the screen). Load the shot into LR, lower exposure, and crank up the contrast and saturation. You will see any dust spot, even the slightest one. Of course, in order to know where the spots are on the sensor, you have to take into account that the photo is upside down and left-right reverse. Thus a spot that appears on the upper left side or the shot is on the lower right side of the sensor. (Apologies if this was obvious.)

    I got this tip to locate spots from a professional cleaner and since then always used this methodology.

    2) Mount the camera on a tripod. For the actual cleaning. mount the camera on a tripod. This means you have to hands free. Point the sensor to a good light source, so that you see what you are doing. This tip I got from a fellow forum member.

    3) Start with the invisible dust brush. Remove the first dirt with the invisible dust brush (or something similar). Because you know where the big dirt spots are you, you can focus on these areas.

    This step is important because the worst thing that can happen when doing wet cleaning is that you still have a hard dust particle on the sensor because the swap will then push the hard particle over the sensor glass, and this may result in a scratch.

    4) Check the result and repeat steps 1)-3) so until only fairly small spots are visible and then do the wet cleaning, using each side of the sensor swap only once.

    5) Check the result and, if necessary, repeat the wet cleaning, using a new swap.

    6) Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good. A perfectly clean sensor is almost impossible to achieve, and, unless you don't change lenses, will anyway last for a shot time only. So you know when to stop .

    BTW, if cleaning an M9 sensor sounds scary, wait until you get to clean a S2 sensor, the price of which is almost that of the M9P. However, after you have done it a few times, you get used to it.
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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    I would avoid (step 3) using the Visible Dust brush before any sensor cleaning that will get rid of oily spots. With a new camera oily spots are common, and the only thing that can happen by using a brush at this stage is to contaminate the brush. But, after a while the oily residue thrown off by the shutter will calm down, and an Arctic Butterfly brush, or similar, is a top cleaning product for intermediate cleans. Then if you get some sticky dust its back to the wet clean, but dust, sticky dust, and oily spots all settle down after six months of regular shooting.

    Steve

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    Well, today I decided to attempt cleaning the sensors on both my Canon & Leica. I started with the Canon (EOS-1DS Mark III) and had it pretty darn clean, first using a Visible Dust sensor brush, then Sensor Swabs with Eclipse. There were a few stubborn spots, probably either moisture or perhaps camera lubricant. By time I had gone through almost a full box (12) of Sensor Swabs I was only making the sensor worse. So, I decided not to attempt to clean the Leica (M9-P) sensor. Both cameras will ship out to their respective service centers via FedEx on Monday. I was disappointed because I really would have liked to been able to do this myself. Anyone interested in buying a few Sensor Swabs, Eclipse, or a new Sensor Lupe, let me know!

    Mark W.

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    I too use visible dust swabs and cleaning fluid and have been doing so for some years now. I don't own a Leica but my previous Canon 5D MKI was a veritable dust magnet and required a sensor clean on a weekly basis. My current 5D MKII is a lot better but cleaning is still a regular requirement. I shoot a deep blue background at F8 and - 2 stops. Any spots are clearly visible on my computer screen. I adopt the actions in David Young's blog and have never had a problem. In all I would say 15 minutes per week. A lot more acceptable than a 500 kilomtre round trip to my nearest Canon service centre. There's a tablet solvent also available from visible dust that I use to keep the sensor brushes clean. Very worthwhile addition.

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    Thanks for the comments, ReeRay. I am very handy and was very careful, had the camera mounted on a tripod, a bright work light set up, etc., but the problem was that I kept getting dirt on the edges and corners of the sensor, and when I tried to clean those I ended up mucking up the center of the sensor. I found the Sensor Lupe worked fine for inspecting the Canon, but the focal length of it does not work with the Leica M9-P. When placed on the lens mounting flange the sensor was out-of-focus, so it was impossible to accurately see the dust.

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    Visible dust makes different solutions for cleaning dust as opposed to shutter oil spots, so it's useful to have more than one type available. Also the sensor loupe will work with the M8 and M9, but you cannot rest it against the flange. Rather you must hold it a few cm above, but I find this helps me inspect the sensor and surrounding chamber very throughly.

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    Re: Leica M9-P Sensor cleaning

    Thanks for the info Stephen. Yes, I know that Visible Dust offers other products but for now I think I will let the Canon & Leica service departments do the job. Interesting point on the Sensor Lupe and the M9; tomorrow when I am in the studio I will test your suggestion; that seems like an easy solution!
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