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Thread: Sensor Cleaning

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    Sensor Cleaning

    I haven't had to clean a sensor in a good long while. Any do's and don'ts on the A900. I have one pesky spot that doesn't want to go away.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    My experience with sensor cleaning is that you will never get your sensor as clean as it was before your first attempt I have all my digital photo history to prove it. Usually I see 3-4 spots that I don't like (on a new camera), I clean the sensor and get 30 spots instead, after several hysteric cleanings, the number may go down to 20 or 15. My trick now is never to clean the sensor on a new camera (except the air blower) and now after 6 months of use the A900 only shows 2-3 spots that:

    1. are not always visible.
    2. keep on moving, which is a good sign.
    3. easy to clone out.

    Never touching those sensors again.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    Get the Arctic Butterfly.

    Irakly put me on to it and it's worth its weight in gold.

    Basically, you turn it on, let it run a few seconds, turn it off ... it builds up a static charge in it's soft brush and you just do a couple of swipes across the sensor and it picks up everything like a magnet ... then you run it again to shake off all the stuff it picked up.

    My A900 sensors are spotless.

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    Everyone will have a differing opinion, but:

    Dry cleaning
    -----------
    I use the VD Arctic Butterfly and Sensor Loupe (RECOMMENDED), but use a trimmed-back crop-sensor version on my 1Ds2 and the loupe to remove any simple dust. Just cherry-pick off any nasty samples vs wiping the whole sensor -- if circumstances allow. The smaller size reduces risk of getting gunk on brush form edges of sensor/mirror box.

    I also clean (aka de-grease) the brush regularly using either 99%+ Iso Alcohol or the VD tablets and distilled water (see VD website for video - takes just minutes and an over-night dry). The ISO method works fine and is much cheaper, but tablets would be better when traveling by air.

    Wet
    -----
    - Be in a good mood
    - Have more swabs on hand than you think you'd EVER need - specially if first clean on a camera.
    - Best swabs found so far: VD units
    - The VD corner/edge swabs are handy
    - Best fluids I've found so far for removing gunk - Eclipse (aka Methanol).
    - Best for removing streaks left by some gunk-killing fluids after removing said gunk - VD Sensor Clean (water-based IIRC)
    - Use VD Sensor Loupe to check results -- worth it's weight in gold. Saves LOTS of 'F22 checks'
    - Good strong light
    - Only 2 drops on edge of pad (too much fluid leaves streaks)
    - On pass per side of swab
    - I usually do edges first with corner pad, then main part of sensor
    - I use one pass with dry pad right after last wet pass to remove any remaining fluid.

    'Pristine' lasts about as long as it takes to mount your next lens or take your next shot, so go for 'good enough' at the smallest aperture you'd normally ever use. An F22-32 test will show EVERYTHING, but is it worth the extra #!%, $$ in pads and time to chase that fleeting ideal you normally only shoot up to maybe F11 or 16?

    The biggest PITA is not removing the gunk - is getting rid of any residual streaks left by getting rid of oil spots, etc. Have found the more streak-prone fluids are also the best at removing junk, so have settled on a two-fluid approach. Saves swabs.
    Last edited by robmac; 15th June 2009 at 06:07.

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    how does the aperture affect seeing the sensor spots??

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    NB Sony recommend Eclipse E2 fluid on the A900 not regular Eclipse.

    I use the Copperhill method and it has worked well.
    David Anderson

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    Sensor specks show up more at smaller apertures because the light rays are more parallel and the shadows from the dust specks on the filter above the sensor more pronounced.
    David Anderson

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    I have to say that the A900 is so resistant to dust (as I'm sure all latest models from all manufacturers are), that I only had to use the air blower twice in 6 months. The dust shaking and the AA filter anti-dust treatment must be working well. I had to clean my older Canon cameras at least once a month (used swabs and eclipse).
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    I would agree Edward, I had a couple of spots that showed up on the A900 that wouldn't move with my blower, so used PEC pads and Eclipse E2. But after that only needed the blower once so far.
    David Anderson

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    Aperture affects the appearance of spots.
    Specks are three dimensional compared to the very flat sensor. Sensor cover glasses are rather thin, and sit close to the sensor surface. Since the sensor sees the light coming through the lens through the diaphragm opening, rays strike the point of focus from the entire opening. so like a point source of light, a small opening will cast a sharper shadow on the sensor surface then a large opening just as a bare bulb casts a sharper shadow than a softbox.
    A very small and annowing spec at f/22 appears like a vague fusy spot (mabe) at f/1.4.
    -bob

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    I've only found one spot so far but it has been at the same place over several shoots, so I'm assuming it isn't simple dust.

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    Especially with new cameras, there seems to be a few spots of gunk, possibly excess oil, that shakes loose.
    I notice that after a cleaning or two, things settle down to only require an occasional use of a blower.
    The best blower so far, which I recommend over the arctic butterfly, since it is really no-contact, is the filtered blower made by visual dust[1]. Keep it in a zip lock bag between uses for best results.
    -bob

    [1] http://www.visibledust.com/products3.php?pid=444

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    Agree with Bob. Once you do the 1st or 2nd wet cleaning, especially on a new body, a brush or good blower usually does the trick. I am not as big a fan of a blower myself as just think it shifts dust, especially lighter particles around. I would imagine it would do a more thorough job with a MFDB where the sensor is not sitting inside the well of a mirror box.

    That said, the filtered VD blower does look interesting - especially if you are working in a dusty/silty environment. Would be interesting to see what the filter would look like after X uses. Might be a bit of a wake-up call as to just what airborne crap gets sucked into and thus back out of a normal blower.

    VD's customer service could use some work (long story), but they do offer some nice (and nicely marked-up) products.

    As mentioned earlier, different sensors (tin-XXX coated, etc) would require Mod 2 Eclipse vs normal version which is primarily methanol (vs. a methanol mix in mod 2). My 1Ds2, being a last-generation sensor, can use Mod 1.

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    Re: Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Get the Arctic Butterfly.

    Irakly put me on to it and it's worth its weight in gold.

    Basically, you turn it on, let it run a few seconds, turn it off ... it builds up a static charge in it's soft brush and you just do a couple of swipes across the sensor and it picks up everything like a magnet ... then you run it again to shake off all the stuff it picked up.

    My A900 sensors are spotless.

    Mine too - I use the Butterfly on the Sony and the P45+ and never leave home without it!
    Bill

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