Sensor cleaning: what could possibly go wrong?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by leslie_reid, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. I'm posting this here since it's not a brand-specific question. My Canon 80D turned 10,000 yesterday, and I start to confront the inevitability of having to blow the dust off the sensor. The on-line directions seem pretty straightforward; as long as the mirror is locked up in cleaning mode and I donโ€™t actually touch anything with the blower, it seems like not a lot can go wrong. But the prospect of diving into the innards of my beautiful camera is unnerving. So my question to you: has anyone here had a bad experience with sensor cleaning? If so, what went wrong, and how would you avoid it in the future?
     
  2. No bad experience yet.
    Make sure your battery is close to full.
    Think about your environment choice. Maybe work off your reluctance vacuum cleaner in hand?
    There are 2 approaches to cleaning: Mirror up, camera pointed downwards, blind rocket blower exercise and praying.
    The other tries to watch success. - Problems: It is sneezing season right now. - Cover your face? / Time to dig your watchmaking glasses out? How to light the camera's inside to see anything at all? How to get along with just 2 arms holding lamp blower and camera?
    Blowers aren't always successful. - I'd stock a 2nd step. "DUST-AID" worked for me so far. - I used it once successfully on my M8 sensor in bad need of a cleaning (the filter on that sensor is thinner than others and I use the camera for product shots at f16...). - I haven't tried other stuff yet and am scared by the thought of wet cleaning approaches.
     
  3. Whatever you do, don't use canned or pressurized air. If a 'rocket' blower doesn't do it, get professional cleaning. Usually not terribly expensive...
     
  4. I bought the Chinese-made swabs and cleaner from Amazon. Worked beautifully. Two swabs, clean sensor.
     
  5. Gup

    Gup Gup

    I live about 2 hours from the nearest Nikon service centre so I've always done my own.
    Not much can go wrong with a simple rocket blower but it probably won't be enough after 10,000 clicks. Pollen can be especially stubborn to remove.
    Are you seeing dirt spots or is this preventative maintenance?
    I use a lighted sensor loupe first to inspect the sensor. Then I use a sensor swab with a tiny bit of cleaning solution (methanol works) and gently wipe it. You aren't actually wiping the sensor but the glass over top of it.
    We don't discuss this subject much here anymore but it used to be a popular question in the 'old days' before manufacturers started equipping their DSLRs with 'self-cleaning' sensors. Back then many of us cleaned our sensors before every outing.
    It is normal to be timid at first, but you will soon gain confidence after a few cleanings. The more you use zoom lenses and the more often you change lenses the more often a quick cleaning will be necessary.
     
  6. Thanks very much to all of you for the really helpful suggestions and encouragement--you've given me the courage to give it a try. I've probably been over-cautious in the how, when, and where of lens changes, so I've accumulated only a few specks that are easily handled in post--I don't need to clean it quite yet, but when I do I'll be ready, thanks to your coaching. And having confidence that I can do it means that I'll probably start switching lenses more often. Many thanks!
     
  7. Gup

    Gup Gup

    You are welcome.
    I always face my camera downwards during lens changes, too, just as an added precaution against anything falling inside while it is open.
     
  8. My best suggestion is not to do it, unless you really need it.
    Do you see dust spots in images?
     
  9. Thanks, Glen. I do have a few dust spots that aren't dislodged by the automatic cleanings, but they make their presence known only occasionally (notably on photos involving clear skies, which we don't tend to have on the NW California coast), and I know where they are and spot-heal them to oblivion whenever they show up. My plan is to send away for the necessary supplies so I'll be ready when the dust becomes obnoxious enough that it bugs me. Did you have a particular experience with cleaning that was problematic? And I'll definitely heed the general caution--thanks!
     
  10. "What can go wrong?" Well, if you're clumsy or careless, you could break your camera. However, with basic, reasonable, common-sense precautions, you shouldn't have any trouble. If you have spots that are not going away after the "self clean" cycle in your camera, a gentle blow with a squeeze-blower (rocket type or whatever) might take care of them. But sometimes, if the built-in self-clean vibration doesn't do it, that means something a little more sticky is causing the problem, and a gentle blow won't dislodge it. But a gentle wipe with a swab usually will. Emphasis on gentle; you don't want to use any pressure. If the spots are particularly stubborn, a wet swab might be needed, but use only a tiny amount of fluid; you don't need to drench it. As somebody above pointed out, you're not actually touching the sensor itself, but rather the glass that covers the sensor. So be careful, but don't be too intimidated; you're basically just cleaning a glass window. A very small, quite fragile glass window that would be expensive to replace if you scratched or broke it. But still just a window. Nothing supernatural about it to be terribly afraid of.
     
  11. Agreed- go for it. I was first afraid but am now fairly cavalier about self cleaning. I take an image of a flat white surface at f16 to better illuminate spots. I buy commercially available wipes. If a dry wipe doesn't work, a wet, gentle wipe will. I repeat a photo of the white surface afterwards. Sometimes a repeat cleaning is needed. Sometimes I can find streaks in the image from the wet cleaning. The answer is to do it again. I think once it took me about 5 tries/5 swabs. Annoying but eventually successful.
    I agree with the above- full battery charge, point the open camera throat down. I wear a headlamp for light, and have to wear my glasses.
     
  12. Success! I finally got some strategically misplaced dust on the 80D and went for it. I practiced on my T3i, where the blower alone pretty much did the trick (and was surprisingly easy), then went in with the lighted loupe and lenspen (from a Lenspen Sensorklear Loupe kit) to deal with the immobile particles. The dust was stickier on the 80D, and I had to rely almost completely on the loupe & lenspen combination - it worked brilliantly (but I was very glad I'd practiced on the T3i--the trick was figuring out how to tell how close the lenspen tip was to the sensor glass). Thanks to all of you for the tips and encouragement! I'll be changing lenses fearlessly from here on in.
     
  13. Gup

    Gup Gup

    • I'm glad you tackled it yourself, Leslie.
    • I've done it dozens of times on about 8 different bodies. It really bothers me when others try to justify their fears by advising others against something they've never even tried themselves.
    • I tune my own engines, too. So often, if you can read, you can do it yourself.
     
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  14. yeah, it's easy to use a rocket blower or even a wet cleaning with eclipse solution and pec pads
     

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