D3 Sensor

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mike_doyle|2, May 8, 2012.

  1. I have a Nikon D3 and have some dust spots evidently on the sensor, as I have taken test shots with two different lenses and the spots show in both images, having looked at some answers as to sensor cleaning I am confused by much of the advice given, and before I commit to having a store deal with my issue would like any views of people who have undertaken sensor cleaning on a D3, such as the best cleaning aides to use, and technique. I also noted that one reply said that the D3 sensor was in fact protected behind a screen and it was in fact the protective screen that had the dust spots on, I would be interested to know if that is correct, I look forward to any answers to my problem, thanks all. Mike
  2. I take a three-step approach to cleaning.
    First I get my rocket blower, take it out of its plastic bag and give it a few puffs just to clean out any dust that might have gotten into it. I then sit down in front of my computer with the camera and rocket blower, take the lens off and blow out the mirror box.
    I then put the lens back on and bring up a blank page on the word processor. That gives me a uniform white screen. I turn off autofocus and set the lens to a small aperture and put the lens in front of the monitor and take a picture. That shows me the dust.
    Set the camera to "mirror up for cleaning". Never use the bulb setting. That's too risky. Also, the mirror up setting turns off the sensor, so you don't have to worry about static charges on the sensor. Then blow off the sensor and do the dust check again. This works for me about 90% of the time, although sometimes it takes three tries with the blower.
    If it doesn't work, I go to the second step, which is an Arctic Butterfly. That's a brush which you can spin to charge it up, then wipe it over the sensor. I find this works 90% of the time on the 10% of the time the blower doesn't work.
    If that doesn't work, the third step is a wet cleaning. This is scary the first time you do it, but it's really simple and isn't as hazardous as it might look. I get pre-moistened swabs so they have the right amount of cleaning solution. There are several different sizes, for different sized sensors. The swabs are a one-use cleaner. You throw them away after wiping the sensor, first one way, then the other.
    The sensor is covered by the AA filter so you never touch the actual sensor. The AA filter can be replaced much cheaper than the sensor, but it still has to be done by an authorized repair center. I have been cleaning my sensors for several years and have never scratched anything. I think they're fairly tough.
    Check out Thom Hogan's article at http://bythom.com/cleaning.htm
  3. It's not really a protective screen, but an AA filter (anti-aliasing) filter. You're still cleaning part of the "sensor" so care needs to be taken.
  4. Dwight does it very nicely and explains it very well.
    My cleaning routine has only two small differences:
    If my blower doesn't work I skip the arctic butterfly step and go directly to a wet cleaning.
    Rather than buying pre-moistened SensorSwabs, I have a 100 pack of PEC*PADs, a small bottle of Eclipse, and a flat wooden stick. You can use a tounge depressor, but I just cut out a thin piece of bass wood (or balsa wood) from an art store for a dollar. Buying the PEC*PADs, cleaning solution and a stick separately is much cheaper. Pre-moistened SensorSwabs are great to take with you while traveling, however.
    The bottom line is that cleaning your sensor shouldn't be scary, especially now that there are videos on the internet so you can see how someone else does it.
  5. Just a couple of additional suggestions -
    1 - I turn the camera upside down when blowing out the mirror box and the sensor.
    2 - Be sure to have a nearly fully charged battery. At about 50% or below the 'Mirror up for cleaning' will be grayed out. Not sure what will happen if the charge level falls below 50% while cleaning. But it might not be a good thing.
  6. take the lens off and blow out the mirror box.​
    Before blowing out the mirror box, i first set the camera to "mirror up "., preventing from blowing Dust present in the mirror box onto a clean mirror , while doing ths I keep the camera with the mount pointing downwards, so that debris that might be present in the mirrorbox falls out straight away or during the "blowing Action"..
  7. Also... when changing lenses, point the camera DOWN.
    Less dust comes in that way.
  8. Hi Everybody, and many thanks for all the extremely helpful comments, and taking Dwight's advice I read the article by Thom Hogan that was really first class and simply put, I now feel I have the confidence to undertake the sensor cleaning that I previously thought was beyond me, and would have to be undertaken by a professional dealership, fingers crossed once I have bought the necessary items my images will be dust and spot free, again many thanks to you all for taking the time to respond with such informative comments, regards, Mike
  9. Sorry I left out the part about pointing the camera down when blowing it out.
    However, when changing lenses I generally keep the camera horizontal. I don't want dust falling into my lenses either, so they're horizontal also.
    I avoided cleaning my first DSLR beyond the rocket blower. When I got a FX DSLR I kept the old DX body, which by that time had a lot of dust spots on the sensor. So I decided to try a wet cleaning on the old body. When I did it, I found that it was much easier than I had anticipated, so now I clean both cameras whenever needed. That's generally about 3-4 times per year.
  10. By the way, some people use things like dust-off instead of a blower. You have to understand the risks if you do that. Dust-off and similar products are not just a can of compressed air. That wouldn't last too long. So they take a can and fill it with a liquid with a high vapor pressure at room temperature. Carbon dioxide has been used, and various hydrocarbons. Since the can has a liquid which provides a gas through a phase change, the pressure stays fairly constant with use. There are a couple of problems with that approach. First, if you don't hold the can at the correct angle, you can get liquid coming out of the nozzle. That means that liquid droplets could hit your sensor assembly. Since the vapor pressure is high at room temperature, a liquid drop will undergo a rapid phase change from liquid to gas. This process absorbs the heat of vaporization, which cools the droplet, and probably the sensor in a small spot, producing thermal stress. If your dust-off uses hydrocarbons, make sure they are not flammable or otherwise hazardous (I suspect this is probably unlikely).
    The dust-off can probably costs about the same as the rocket blower, but it is a consumable. The rocket blower is significantly more cost-effective. Make sure you keep it in a container to keep dust away from it and keep it out of light which could degrade the rubber (producing rubber dust). The rocket blower does have a finite lifetime, so it's also a consumable, but the lifetime is many years. Mine is about 8 years old now.
  11. Thanks for the further information Dwight, I have an older D200 and I am going to try that first, once I have mastered it I will then move on to the D3, I have ordered a Giotto Blower, but am slightly confused with the range of Arctic Butterfly's on the market and am unsure which model will be suitable for the D3 and hopefully the D200 too, until I can get into the city to check out a dealership that will have to wait, as I do not want to order something by mail order and then find it is not the correct product, again thanks for the updated information, regards Mike
  12. I have wet-cleaned my D3 with good results. Just be sure to get the size swab for a FF sensor. The pre-moistened ones are nice and safe.
    And BTW, I think all sensors are covered with some sort of glass. Even my M9, which has no AA filter has glass, that is for IR cutoff purposes. I suppose things would be possibly different for MF backs.

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