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Archive 2012 · How clean is a clean sensor?
  
 
coranda
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · How clean is a clean sensor?


Just had my first attempt at sensor cleaning and I'm trying to work out how thorough/paranoid I need to be.

I've got about 4 or 5 specs that just won't budge. I've used an Arctic Butterfly, tried a lens pen and one swipe with Eclipse but these spots won't move. Should I persist or will I just be spending ages trying to remove a few spots when new ones will probably appear next time I change a lens anyway?



Jan 04, 2012 at 08:06 AM
John_T
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · How clean is a clean sensor?


You haven't said which camera body, some are more prone than others. For example, I can't remember ever wet cleaning my 5D2 and 7D, just puffs with the blower and flicks with the butterfly not very often, whereas with the 5D1, regular wet cleaning is necessary.

If you are careful about spit, dandruff, other skin flakes, etc. when changing lenses, you shouldn't be needing much wet cleaning. Dust should blow or brush off, however oil, grease and spit can be stubborn. On the 5D I've used Sensor Clean and Smear Away with complete success.

Unless you always have bad conditions fro changing lenses, how much and how often you have to clean is up to you.




Edited on Jan 04, 2012 at 08:42 AM · View previous versions



Jan 04, 2012 at 08:34 AM
marko1953
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · How clean is a clean sensor?


Also depends on what apertures you use as to whether the dust actually becomes visible or not. If you normally use large apertures you won't see the dust. When I want to see my sensor dust I shoot a blank blue sky at F/16 and all the little bunnies show up, shoot a portrait at F/2.8 and won't see any at all. It would nice to know your sensor is clean though.


Jan 04, 2012 at 08:40 AM
coranda
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · How clean is a clean sensor?


Cameras are 5D II and 1D IV. I'm viewing blue sky at f/22 to check for spots.


Jan 04, 2012 at 10:45 AM
John_T
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · How clean is a clean sensor?


Both of those bodies have "self-cleaning" sensors, which I have found are very good at shedding dust, fibers, etc.

The only internal source of dirt in the mirror box would be oil or grease flapped there by the mirror, which might be likely on older bodies, but unlikely with newer bodies.

From outside, however, talking, stuff falling in if the body mount is facing up during lens changes may drop something that gets flapped on the sensor by the mirror.

If the spots are water soluble, oily or whatever, key is the appropriate cleaning fluid on the appropriate swab and using it by the book, rather than brute force. I have never had anything on the sensor I couldn't remove (except a scratch Canon put on the original sensor which they replaced for free).

If you are using reasonable awareness while changing lenses, and using body and lens caps when appropriate, I can't see why you would have chronic problems with the bodies you have.



Jan 04, 2012 at 11:48 AM
coranda
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · How clean is a clean sensor?


So, it sounds like it's worth putting the effort into removing the remaining spots with another wet clean or two and then regular brushing to keep it clean.

Does that sound reasonable?



Jan 04, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Ernie Aubert
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · How clean is a clean sensor?


That sounds exactly reasonable to me.


Jan 04, 2012 at 03:16 PM
John_T
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · How clean is a clean sensor?


Besides for your images, the advantage of a squeaky clean sensor with no film, no spots, is that any dust or fibers that do get wafted on it slide off in the self-clean cycle, bulb blower or last resort, sensor brush. Unlike the mirror, the sensor is closed in the mirror box and only exposed to debris when the mirror flaps, so yes, reasonably that should be all that is necessary with those bodies.

I had to wet clean the sensor on the 20D and 5D often, but don't remember ever wet cleaning the 7D or 5D2, and that is since they both came on sale, whenever that was.




Jan 04, 2012 at 03:20 PM
jj_glos
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · How clean is a clean sensor?


I never had any issues with the 7D, just used a blower every now and then. The 1Ds2 I have to wet clean every month or so when using it a lot outside, not so often during the winter when I'm inside more. Eclipse fluid and a couple of pec pads and a swab, 5 minute job if that.


Jan 04, 2012 at 03:31 PM
reno.peterson
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · How clean is a clean sensor?


I just got a Delkin Sensor Scope 3 cleaning kit, and have to say, that being able to magnify and light inspect the sensors was great! My 1DII was filthy, and took a couple passes to get it clean, a spec or two were stubborn, and there may be a peice of free floating dust, but it's 98% better than it was. My 7D was clean but I gave it a swipe also, you know, for good measure, and now it's rocket blower for the most part...


Jan 04, 2012 at 03:38 PM
 

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John_T
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · How clean is a clean sensor?


Yeah, I use an 8X Sensor Loupe with LED lights. Don't see nothin, don't do nothin.




Jan 04, 2012 at 03:50 PM
DLP
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · How clean is a clean sensor?


I have yet to own a Canon that doesn't need the sensor to be wet cleaned to get it thoroughly clean. That includes the 5DII and 7D. The self clean is a nice bonus but it will not keep your sensor spotless. 4-5 spots would drive me wonkers. The thing I find is that once I get a sensor really clean it tends to stay that way for quite a while so it really is worth the effort even if it requires a marathon cleaning session. Unless I change lenses in poor conditions I rarely see any ill effects from that.The last thing I would do is use a blower unless you are starting by blowing out the body before you wet clean. I've tried blowers on several bodies over several years and every time I've tried a quick clean with a blower I've wound up with about 10x as much crud on the sensor.

Dave



Jan 04, 2012 at 03:57 PM
John_T
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · How clean is a clean sensor?


...bulb blower properly used, puffed, not blasted. First the mirror and focus screen, then sensor box, then sensor, anything that doesn't want to cooperate, arctic butterfly. That has always done it for my 7D and 5D2.

I prefer the Canon blower, short nozzle keeps you out of trouble.










Jan 04, 2012 at 05:58 PM
JimboCin
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · How clean is a clean sensor?


First - I assume when you say you are viewing blue sky that you are actually viewing images taken of blue sky, and not viewing blue sky through the camera viewfinder. I am sure this is the case - but just checking.

I second those who mentioned a sensor scope. This simple device is unbelievably helpful in removing stubborn spots. It identifies exactly where the spots are, speeds up the process immensely, and makes it easy to see when the spots are gone. It also helps identify exactly what the spots are - dry material that a brush may be able to remove, oil spots that require wet cleaning - or whatever.

I have had some spots that were dry material that seemed to be stuck on the sensor. Wiping the sensor with a sensor brush did not remove them. Instead of wiping with the sensor brush - I used the bristle edge of the sensor brush and poked at the objects and was able to dislodge the material from the sensor.



Jan 04, 2012 at 08:13 PM
John_T
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · How clean is a clean sensor?


One possible reason for water soluble dust and fibers to get stuck on the sensor is taking the camera from a cold ambient temperature into a warm humid ambiance, eventually fogging the sensor and sticking the dust. Of course if you think of that, you can try to avoid the circumstance, however when cleaning you want to use a cleaning fluid that removes water soluble spots, not just a solvent for oily spots.

Further, if you have a sensor loupe and you know you are going into such a cold/warm humid situation, you can check the sensor in advance and remove any suspects.

Edited on Jan 05, 2012 at 11:36 AM · View previous versions



Jan 04, 2012 at 08:49 PM
marko1953
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · How clean is a clean sensor?


JimboCin wrote:
First - I assume when you say you are viewing blue sky that you are actually viewing images taken of blue sky, and not viewing blue sky through the camera viewfinder. I am sure this is the case - but just checking. .


Yep, that's correct, load the photo onto the computer and view in PS or LR.



Jan 05, 2012 at 11:25 AM
AhamB
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · How clean is a clean sensor?


Tip: watch out with pollen. These little grains have microscopic drops of oil on them that make them stick to things... like camera sensors. Sticky particles like that ending up on the sensor will require a wet clean.

Btw, I recommend the sensor cleaning stuff from Copper Hill -- much more affordable than the other brands who charge ridiculous prices for their sensor swabs/brushes/loupes.



Jan 06, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Bruce n Philly
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · How clean is a clean sensor?


I agree with DLP.. I am an amateur with a 5D II and I get spots. The blowers only make things worse for me. I use Copper Hill tools and tried only the brush first.... didn't work.... gotta use the wet method. Even then I have to do it three or four passes to get all of the spots. Maybe I am not aggressive enough, but doing this terrifies me every time.

I also have visible dust up inside the focusing screen and can see it through the viewfinder.... I tried cleaning this and only made it worse so I gave up.

Good luck.... you can clean it.



Jan 06, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Mitchell Carter
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · How clean is a clean sensor?


coranda wrote:
So, it sounds like it's worth putting the effort into removing the remaining spots with another wet clean or two and then regular brushing to keep it clean.

Does that sound reasonable?


I would change "regular brushing" to "brushing only when needed."



Jan 06, 2012 at 10:07 PM
John_T
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · How clean is a clean sensor?


You can clean the shiny side of the focusing screen carefully, but if you do more than puff off the textured side, even touch it, the screen is damaged. If the focusing screen is really dirty, might as well replace it as it might affect the metering system.


Jan 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM





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