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Thread: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

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    Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Ok, so I find that I have several significant dust/pollen spots on the sensor of my Leica M240. I have tried several times to use a syringe type of blower to blow the dust off. I have done this in the past with some success but now the air blowing method does not work at all.
    I've read a good bit on sensor cleaning procedures for DSLR cameras and a few threads on the subject on Leica cameras. It's confusing research as some say that "X" brand of cleaning sticks/fluid is best and others are vehement in their warnings against "X" and pro "Y". Of course, the opposite is true as well. I have read the thread about cleaning the MM sensor in this forum, but I understand that since those CCD sensors are different, the cleaning procedure is quite different as well.

    Anyway, there seems to be a general feeling of dread among Leica owners about cleaning the Leica sensors. Given that the Leica service is quite expensive and time consuming, I would like to try a DIY option. Frankly, I am more reluctant to send off the expensive body off to get service and possibly get lost of damaged in transit. Also, I don't like to do without my camera for days and possibly weeks... I would welcome advise and suggestions from those who have actually done this deed. Please share on the best tools for the job and any warnings or advise on the procedure itself. I'll wait to hear from you before I buy the cleaning sticks, fluids, etc. Thanks in advance for your input.

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    Senior Member Ario Arioldi's Avatar
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    What I do and I have done for years, in brief, for cleaning all my cameras, including Leica M8, M9, MM and M 240 is the following:
    1st step: blower (mandatory)
    2nd step: sensor brush (if needed/optional)
    3rd step: wet cleaning with sensor pads and a few drops of isopropanol (if needed)
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    Senior Member segedi's Avatar
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Look up the Pentax Lollipop. I hear it's what Leica techs use. I think you'll find it the best option and if it weren't so darn expensive here in Canada, I'd have bought one already.
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Quote Originally Posted by Ario Arioldi View Post
    What I do and I have done for years, in brief, for cleaning all my cameras, including Leica M8, M9, MM and M 240 is the following:
    1st step: blower (mandatory)
    2nd step: sensor brush (if needed/optional)
    3rd step: wet cleaning with sensor pads and a few drops of isopropanol (if needed)
    Thanks, is the isopropanol available as a generic item? Or should I look for particular branded products that will work.. Also, are there any particular brands from some of those items that I should avoid because they are not suitable for the Leica.

    Quote Originally Posted by segedi View Post
    Look up the Pentax Lollipop. I hear it's what Leica techs use. I think you'll find it the best option and if it weren't so darn expensive here in Canada, I'd have bought one already.
    I see also that there is a product by Eyelead which a lot of people are promoting in you tube. Of course, there are also cheaper versions available but I don't know if they would be dangerous to use. I guess it would be silly to save a few bucks on the initial cost and then end up with a larger bill to redo the job...

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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Update:

    I have found this website that seems to have some very good information on the subject: Introduction - Cleaning Digital Cameras - D-SLR Sensor Cleaning.

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    Senior Member Ario Arioldi's Avatar
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Quote Originally Posted by silver92b View Post
    Thanks, is the isopropanol available as a generic item? Or should I look for particular branded products that will work.. Also, are there any particular brands from some of those items that I should avoid because they are not suitable for the Leica.



    I see also that there is a product by Eyelead which a lot of people are promoting in you tube. Of course, there are also cheaper versions available but I don't know if they would be dangerous to use. I guess it would be silly to save a few bucks on the initial cost and then end up with a larger bill to redo the job...
    No particular brand: search for Isopropyl Alcohol 99.9%, is widely available. MOS Puranal (semiconductor grade) is the brand I am currently using but any other with similar specification can do.
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." - Ansel Adams
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Quote Originally Posted by ReeRay View Post
    Thank you Ray, not "old hat" at all. Very much helpful and timely information. I'll definitely try the isopropanol. I've ordered some cleaning swabs for the full frame sensor and will try my hand at it as soon as the bits arrive from Amazon

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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    OK, Amazon shipped and delivered the sensor swabs and cleaning liquid in record time!
    I just opened the package and took the M240 and began the cleaning process. Firstly I used the blower method and checked it for dust or spots.

    Here is the picture of the sensor inspection:


    So I opened the first swab and following instructions I swabbed the sensor twice, once with each side of the swab in opposite directions, blew the sensor with the bulb blower and checked it again. Here is the result:



    The biggest piece of dust/spot was removed along with other bits, but still some remained, so I opened a new swab, added 2 drops of cleaning fluid as per instructions and swabbed it again following with the bulb blower. Here is a picture of the results:



    Better but still not perfect. So I used a new swab and cleaned again following with the blower. It's much better, but still the little bits of dust/spots remain but move around. I used the blower again and got it as clean as I think i can get it until the little gummy stick arrives. I will try it and see if I can get all the spots out.

    In conclusion, cleaning the sensor was very effective for removing the objectionable spots. Although I was afraid of screwing up, I think I did a good job without damaging the sensor. I inspected it with my jewelers loupe before and after and could not detect any scratches or visible damage. OTOH, I could not see any dust or spots on the surface of the sensor either before benign the cleaning process.... I'll go out and take a few shots and see what if any effect all this had.

    Here is the stuff I bought and used:



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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Thanks for the pics. It is a very neat feature on the M240!

    I am at a loss to understand why there is so much gunk!

    Are you a pro user that changes lenses very often?

    Here is what I would pay attention to:

    1. Every time there is a lens change, use to dust blower to clear any dust (without opening the shutter) in the camera.

    2. Keep the lenses dust free.

    3. Keep the lens caps immaculately clean.

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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Thanks for the pics. It is a very neat feature on the M240!

    I am at a loss to understand why there is so much gunk!

    Are you a pro user that changes lenses very often?

    Here is what I would pay attention to:

    1. Every time there is a lens change, use to dust blower to clear any dust (without opening the shutter) in the camera.

    2. Keep the lenses dust free.

    3. Keep the lens caps immaculately clean.
    Thanks for the input. I'm not a Pro, but I do change lenses a lot. When I go shooting I take a wide angle and the 50mm Lux. Sometimes I take a couple of more lenses. Since I often shoot outdoors, it's not possible to keep immaculate conditions and blowing out the sensor each time is a bit of a chore while my hands are full of lenses
    Anyway, I think going outside during the bad pollen days makes it very difficult to change lenses without contaminating the inside of the camera and the lenses as well. I had pretty good luck through the winter months, but now it's a nightmare. You can actually see the pollen accumulate on every surface outside. And worms and spiders weave their webs everywhere in very short time. Each time one goes for a walk in the neighborhood, one has to check for bugs and inch worms on one's clothes and hair.

    I will add that after repeated swabbing with and without the liquid cleaner, I still had stubborn spots that would not be removed. Fortunately I found a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol in the medicine cabinet. I got a bit much of it in the swab so I ended up with excessive wetness on the sensor. It took several more swabs with a couple of fresh dry swabs, but the sticking spot did get cleaned off
    However, several small dust motes or spots do remain. They seem to move around after swabbing but remain on the sensor. Blowing them with the syringe does not dislodge them. When the gummy stick thingie from Eyelead arrives, I'll try picking up the last dust (or whatever they are) particles and see if I can get a very clean sensor. At least it seems to be a fairly straightforward procedure although a bit tedious. I have managed to do it without apparent damage to the sensor. I'll try to keep on lens on for a while or take extreme care to prevent dust intrusion while changing lenses.

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    Senior Member Ario Arioldi's Avatar
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    My suggestion is to clean the sensor only when the dust spots are visible in the pictures.

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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Quote Originally Posted by Ario Arioldi View Post
    My suggestion is to clean the sensor only when the dust spots are visible in the pictures.
    Yes, I became aware of the problem because the blobs were visible in some images. In many cases they can be removed with software, but sometimes that becomes a time consuming chore.

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    Member Rafael Macia's Avatar
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    Re: Help! How to clean the M240 CMOS sensor

    Sensor cleaning, by and large, is a nightmare for some, (most?), Leica users. I for one hate it. The 99% Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent. The reason photographers use it is it evaporates very fast, and does not leave a residue like the 70% rubbing isopropyl alcohol.
    Just make sure you only use a couple of drops to wet the the of the swab. Too much could seep past the sides/corners of the sensor, slip underneath ... remember it is a solvent.
    The Eyelead gummy stamp might work. I bought some Chinese knockoffs and they left gummy residue. they went right in the garbage. The Rocket blower, (for me), does not work, as the Arctic Butterfly also is a waste. both always seem to add dust from I don't know where.
    Wet careful swab once a week is about the only remedy, (for me).
    I shoot video with the 240, so dust MUST not be in the frame. A pan shot with dust, is a nightmare and a half to remedy. For stills, dust is not the end of the world. For video it almost is. ...... (for me ...........)
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