Sensor Cleaning your old cameras?! e.g. 5D MkI

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by h_._jm, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. Hi people
    My question in a nutshell, is I have a 5D and over last 6 months I took it to Canon for sensor repair twice, and now I need to clean it again! It's too costly to take it back there...
    I tried the dust blower method as well as direct sensor cleaning e.g. special brush...both did not work with me. So I am sure many of the professional members here in have worked out some methods around cleaning the sensor...
    Please Enlighten me!
  2. Which Canon service center did you take the camera to and what did they charge you?
  3. So I am in Sydney Australia and I took it to the official Canon repair centre here, cost $50 because I wait for it to be finished, so less work for them...but still my canon 5D collects dust like crazy these days and wondering of practical points, methods, or internet links that some users agree with or tried and works for them... thanks
  4. Search the archives, this question has been answered very often. Have a look at for an overview/tutorial of how it works.
    The 5D-I is a dust magnet but with the proper care it is not so much of a problem. DIY cleaning is not too difficult but it takes some practice.
  5. The best site I have found for this is
    I use their cleaning supplies and methodology and have never had a problem cleaning my lenses or camera sensors. Their website is also a wealth of information!
  6. I just boxed up my 5D to send off to New Jersey for a sensor cleaning. I bought it used a couple months ago and was a bit horrified by the dirty sensor when I reviewed my small aperture landscape photos while traveling in Mexico. I'm guessing that it was probably not cleaned by the previous owner. I used to change lenses all the time with my old Rebel under very rough field conditions (archaeology). I've decided to avoid lens changes in the future with my 5D when I'm in the field or traveling. I'm even set on picking up a 50D so I can have multiple camera/lens set ups while I'm out and about. I kind of miss those days of paranoia free photography. Maybe the 5D is a magnet, even my lens/filter seem to be dusty whenever I inspect them.
  7. If blower and special brush is not working, you need a wet cleaning. IT is not that hard. You just need a clean place with the AC turned off etc and wait 15 min for the dust to settle in the room before you try it.
  8. [[ I've decided to avoid lens changes in the future with my 5D when I'm in the field or traveling.]]

    This will not help. The best solution is to learn how to clean the sensor yourself.
  9. Bummer! Guess I'll have to learn some maintenance cleaning after the professional cleaning. Especially since I just spent $37 just to FedEx the camera from PA to NJ! Still going to get the 50D for convenience and flexibility of adding the 1.6 camera and it has interchangeable batteries/grip/remote shutter/etc.
  10. Greg, as far as dust on lenses is concerned-I shoot a lot of Motocross, so there is always dust on the front element. Most of the time, it's not an issue as the effects usually cannot be seen, even at 100%. Only concern would be a slight decrease in contrast (caused by flare)when shooting toward the sun when it's got a fair amount of dust on it. Wouldn't go crazy trying to keep front elements (or filters) spotless.
  11. Thanks Randall, I always seem to make it worse with a t-shirt wipe or an eye-glass wet one. After seeing all those spots on some of my digital images, I found myself unscrewing my clear filter when it looked too dirty. What a nut! Glad to know that the dust on that end is relatively harmless. Anyway, I'm really happy with the 5D and I probably notice things like dust more since I started shooting Raw with that nice big sensor regardless of it being a dust magnet. I enjoy finding useful information on these forums.
  12. Humidity in your region will change how you clean your sensor. With sticky dust (higher humidity) one has to either touch the sensor with a cleaning tool or wet clean it.
    I own a 5D and have never wet cleaned it. I use the blower plus a Sensor Pen, with a very gentle touch. That's all I've ever needed. I shoot weddings every weekend, and clean the sensor maybe once every couple of weekends. I change lenses a lot too.
  13. As crazy as it sounds I've used scotch tape to clean the sensor on my 5D.
  14. david_henderson


    IMO 5d owners would be best served by learning a satisfactoty wet-cleaning routine for when the various dry-cleaning techniques simply fail to move the crud. I don't think there's much future in taking the camera to Canon every time it gets some marks on the sensor. Neither would I want to artificially restrict lens-changing. It's in most respects a Pro camera- you need to work out a way of doing what you want with it, not restricting how you use it in response to a weakness.
    When dust etc doesn't blow off I use Eclipse fluid and microfibre swabs, individually packed in a dust-free environment. It usually takes 3 swabs to get the sensor materially clean though there's always some stuff visible at f22 that won't appear on most pictures. I have tried other routes such as dust-aid though for me they didn't work as well.
  15. Newer camera bodies vibrate the sensor to clear dust from it. Does that really work? If so could you vibrate your older camera for a few minutes to make the dust fall off?
  16. Ed, the newer cameras use a very high frequency vibration (possibly an ultrasonic vibration frequency?). I'm not sure how you'd vibrate the whole camera at that kind of rate or if you want to. And yes, it does work but you'll still probably need to clean the sensor from time to time.
  17. Ed asks: "Newer camera bodies vibrate the sensor to clear dust from it. Does that really work? If so could you vibrate your older camera for a few minutes to make the dust fall off?"
    Nothing is perfect, but the vibration systems are a vast improvement. Unfortunately it would be just about impossible to vibrate the entire camera in a way that simulates the high frequency vibration used to clean the sensors on the newer cameras.
    Regarding wet cleaning, based on my own experience I would save that for only the very worst and must stubborn spots. When I first got a 5D some years ago, I believed the claims that wet cleaning was the "best" approach and basically used it as my main method of cleaning the 5D sensor. I eventually figured out that is is far better to generally rely on easier, less invasive, and less time consuming approaches including the bulb blower and a sensor brush. With a heavily used 5D I found myself doing a brush and blower cleaning perhaps once per month and a wet cleaning maybe twice a year at most.
    See the link I posted earlier in this thread for more details.
  18. david_henderson


    The 5Dii is a vast improvement. In 18 months and about 10 000 exposures I have't once had to wet clean and in general I rely on the in-camera vibration. I just sppent 17 days in India in some pretty dusty and dirty environments with lots of lens changes and I have materially no marks on my images at all.
    However I think, after reading all or at least a big majority of the posts on PN on this subject, that some 5D cameras are much more prone than others to accumulate hard-to-move marks and whereas some people can cope only or mainly using dry techniques, others with the same model have to use wet cleaning to get to the same place.
  19. well I lied guys, I picked up an inexpensive used 40D rather than a 50D to join my 5D in the camera bag. i guess i'm one of the few downsizing megapixels. which probably doesn't matter since i'm learning the in and outs of photography. the 40D feels so dainty compared to the 5D. the shutter requires just the lightest touch compared to the torque on the 5D. the 5D may be a dust magnet but I love the feel and output of the beast. thanks for your 5D sensor cleaning input to the OP and my excessive chatter on this thread.
  20. p.s. - out-of-warranty Canon sensor cleaning: $209 + $14 shipping. yes, i will learn to clean my camera sensor in the future.

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