/ Cleaning a camera sensor

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Pursued by a bear 20 Mar 2020

I've tired of removing the dust spots on images and a thorough clean of lenses and filters hasn't stopped them appearing so, inevitably, it's time to clean the sensor.

I've never done this before so am after hints, tips, recommendations of things to do or avoid, stuff I should use, might use, must avoid under all circumstances, that kind of thing.  It'll be a positive use of social downtime in the prevailing circumstances too.  So, care to share any thoughts before I delve into the apparently dusty innards of my camera?

Thanks in advance,

T. 

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The Lemming 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

My own personal experiences of cleaning camera sensors are that they are more robust than you think.

However using compressed-air cannisters is a bad idea. I did destroy a sensor with one after the propellant froze/condensed on the sensor.

The best method I have found which has been successful is to create a swab out of a cereal box. I cut a strip of card about 1mm smaller than the width of the sensor.

I then folded tissue paper used to clean lenses around the small swab.

Then I put a couple of drops of Isopropyl alcohol onto the tissue paper, and swiped the sensor several times in the same direction.

Another method for removing dust from the internals of the camera is to create a dust-free room. A simple way would be to run a hot shower in a bathroom to create a warm humid climate. That way dust particles would hopefully be removed from the room air. I would the go into the room with my camera and use a hand-held air-blower to blast any possible dust particles from inside the camera body.

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Eric9Points 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

My company used to make them.

If we got dust on the array we would take it off with the finest artist's paint brush you can buy. 

However I imagine your sensor sits in some sort of package, probably ceramic, with a glass lid. If so a brush is still a good idea, use it in conjunction with a magnifying glass.

As already mentioned using compressed air us a bad idea. The stream of air just blasts more dust from the surroundings onto the surface you're trying to clean.

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Pursued by a bear 20 Mar 2020
In reply to all:

Helpful tips there gentlemen, thank you.

T.

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jezb1 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

Get the proper swab things and cleaner off Amazon or wherever. 

Good how to here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MufEqSA0PJI

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Cloughy 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

I've used a lens cleaning kit off amazon that came with individual one time use lens swabs and cleaning fluid. Despite being initially terrified that I'd destroy the sensor in the process of cleaning it, it all worked out brilliantly!

I'd defintely reccomend grabbing a cleaning kit and having a go.

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wintertree 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

Do not use any liquids, ever.

Try and find the specific pieces of dust using oblique light from a phone torch and a magnifying glass; perhaps guided by a test image (remembering of the lens flips an image onto the sensor on both dimensions).  Then try and remove them; a squirrel hair paint brush paired down to a single hair for example.

Practice your method on a piece of paper to get used to handling the tools first.

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Run_Ross_Run 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

I was wondering the same recently and found a really useful tutorial vid on you tube. It's In a foreign language but I think it's pretty Informative and fairly comprehensive

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrdkFXsr5Us

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terragait 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

If its and expensive camera, i highly recommend H Lehmann based in Stoke, very professional, i had my Canon cleaned by them.

https://www.hlehmann.co.uk/contents/en-uk/d207166_Sensor-Cleaning.html

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Tringa 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

Agree with the advice to check online for guides. There are loads which are useful.

I use an air blower first(the one you squeeze not the one in a can with propellant).

It is sometime said that all a blower does is move the dust around in the camera. That might be true but if a speck of dust lodges somewhere else in the camera it is unlikely to do any damage(we are talking about VERY small specks not great chunks of visible muck) and it cannot show up on the image.

If that does not work then I used a wet cleaning kit. Get one the right size for the size of your sensor. 

Before you do a clean with a solution make sure the camera battery is fully charged. It is unlikely to happen but if the the battery loses charge during the cleaning process the mirror can, perhaps will, flip back down, which you don't want to happen.

The instructions with cleaning kit are good. Just follow them and online video guidance and you'll be OK. It is easier and much less scary than it first seems.

You might find you need to clean the sensor a second time to remove all the spots.

Dave

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timparkin 21 Mar 2020
In reply to Tringa:

I did a review of loads of systems and finally realised that for all but oily smears, this system works best and is least likely to make a mess.

https://www.ukhp.co/collections/eyelead-products

The problem with wet cleaning and brushes is that some cameras have grease around the sensor that you  can accidentally drag onto the sensor (I think Canon 5D3's were bad but I know one Nikon user who said the same). 

What is also really useful is a sensor loupe of some sort.. here's a cheap one but there are many others that might be better

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carson-SensorMag-Lighted-Cleaning-Camera/dp/B0091SS310

You can use a strong light source but it's hard if you've got a DSLR rather than a  mirrorless. 

If you want to check your sensor, take a photo of a blank sky or distant wall at f/22 (or the smallest aperture you can get) with the lens focussed as close as you. Remember the view is flipped left to right and top to bottom. So if the dust is in the bottom left of the picture, it's in the top right as you look through the viewfinder and hence in the top left as you look at the sensor (I think this is right - it's still early for me! check yourself)

Tim
 

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