XE-1 Sensor Cleaning. . .

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by Bill Bowes, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. Hello everyone. The XE-1 is my "first" pure digital camera after 40+ years of things Minox to 8x10. I am noticing "blurbs" on my pictures which only move around when the sensor is "cleaned" with a large bulb blower, so have ordered a "wet" cleaner kit from Dust Patrol. It is the 17mm Alpha Swab & their methanol cleaning solution.
    Anyone want to offer up some "tips" on approaching this task? Aloha, Bill
  2. I use a blow, brush, and wet method in that order. If the simplest method works, why go further.

    Get a strong light with a small bulb to highlight the dust. Use the wet swab only once in each direction. Never touch the swab tip with your fingers - oil from your fingers will streak the sensor. While the wet method is very effective in removing spots, it usually leaves dust or lint on the sensor in the extreme corners (sometimes elsewhere too). A blower may remove them, but a brush is better.

    I seldom resort to wet cleaning. A set of micro-fiber brushes is more effective at removing lint, including that left by the wet cleaning method. One brush should be full width of the sensor, and the other can be smaller for spotting edges and corners. I bought a "Visible Dust" kit with an electric spinner to "charge" the large brush, but passed it on to my son along with the Nikon D3 kit. I replaced it with a set of inexpensive brushes, one with a spinner, from Amazon, which seems to work perfectly. It has a built-in LED light, but a desk lamp is more effective illuminating dust.

    You can test your results by stopping down all the way and pointing the camera toward the sky. Focus doesn't matter, just a small aperture to cast a sharp shadow. Shutter speed doesn't matter either, because dust on the sensor doesn't change if the camera moves. This is a very sensitive test, detecting even microscopic particles of dust.
  3. I should explain. When you spin the brush, the bristles flare out, dislodging any dust clinging to them. At the same time, the bristles receive a static charge due to air friction which sucks up dust from the sensor like a vacuum cleaner. Kinda' neat and completely renewable.
  4. I use VSGO swabs and AERO-CLIPSE cleaning solution, and have found the combination very good. You need to put your sensor into it's locked down cleaning mode if you have ibis. If you haven't done this before you might like to go with what Ed suggested to start with because it may do the trick without a wet cleaning. In any event follow the camera makers instructions, and what comes with your cleaning fluid.
  5. I don't think wetting your sensor helps much unless it actually has a stain or similar on it. You may find the cleaning agent introduces more stains than it removes. I agree with a blower or small vacuum/antistatic brush. I have a special sticky pad system (name escapes me) that actually will remove recalcitrant spots from the sensor. It is stickier than the sensor so lifts the speck off. It is pretty good. You will need a good illumination system and a loupe to see what is going on, otherwise you may have difficulty removing a tricky stuck-on speck. Most dust is removed quite easily by a blower or brush or the camera's auto cleaning, but occasionally you do need to resort to something more invasive.
  6. Thanks everyone. Does anyone have a name for the "spinning brush"? Last count I see about 5 different models. Aloha, Bill
  7. I don't recommend this but when I clean the sensor on my XE1 I breath on it and then wipe it down with a q-tip and finally hit it with the blower brush.
  8. Visible Dust probably invented the technique, but they're priced too high for the value. These are the ones I ordered from Amazon...


    The most durable spots on a sensor result from salt spray and/or breathing on it to clean it or blow dust away. I developed oil spots on the sensor of my A7ii and A7Rii within the first couple of weeks. This is probably due to manufacturing. They have not recurred, and did not occur with my A9.

    Cotton swabs leave a lot of lint, but it's fairly easy to remove. Since they only cover a small area in each stroke, they are more likely to leave streaks than a full-width swab.I recommend non-woven PEC pads, dampened with Eclipse Fluid (spectroscopic grade methanol). Better, if expensive, are Sensor Swabs, which are plastic spatulas tipped with PEC Pad material in a sealed, foil pouch. (I save the spatulas for use with regular PEC Pads.)
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  9. Dust-Off first, the 3M Magic Tape if anything is left. I've never needed a wet-cleaning.
  10. Tape on the sensor? The LCD panel maybe, but sensor no. I don't use canned air on my sensor. There is a risk of driving dust under the cover glass. Please don't ask to borrow my camera :)
  11. Ray House

    Ray House Ray House

    I use a rocket blower and then if needed PEC pads wrapped on a wooden tongue depressor with Eclipse fluid.
  12. No interest in your camera. You'd be amazed to find out where I learned my sensor cleaning secrets, but it's a source that cleans sensors for a living, at a pretty elite level; otherwise, he'll go unnamed. It works.
  13. Magic Tape does a good job cleaning LCD screens. It removes dust and even finger prints. My concern is that it could also leave some adhesive on the sensor. That doesn't matter on a viewing screen, but might be troublesome on a sensor, which is affected by particles too small to see (< 20 microns) without a microscope. Even if the deposit were invisible, it would attract dust. There are tacky lens cleaning swabs which prove to leave such deposits.

    Pressure sensitive adhesives are usually a two part compounds, with a fixed phase for strength and a mobile phase for tack, typically silicone. An oily deposit would have an adverse effect on anti-reflective coatings, so I wouldn't use Magic Tape on lenses or front-surface mirrors either.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
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  14. I don't remember this being as bad a problem with DSLRs. I think the mirror kept a lot of stuff off the sensor especially when using those air pulling zooms.
  15. I had to clean my Nikon DSLRs at least monthly, even daily in dusty environments. With my first mirrorless camera onward, cleaning is rarely needed. I think several factors are at play...
    • The mirror box gets dusty, in part introduced by the lens.
    • The mirror fans the air inside the mirror box, causing some of that dust to land on the sensor
    • The Sony has a sensor-cleaning cycle each time you power up, and optionally via the menu
    • The wider the relative aperture, the less dust is visible in the image
    • The Sony cover glass is thick, nearly 2 mm. The further the surface from the sensor, the more diffuse the dust shadows.
    The first point illustrates the need to clean the rear of your lenses, and occasionally vacuum the inside of the camera bag. Also the inside of the camera needs to be cleaned with a brush or blower from time to time, but not with the same brush as for the sensor. There is a risk of contaminating the brush with lubricants from the mechanism or left over from manufacturing. That said, both mirrored and mirrorless lenses suffer the same problem, but iMO the effect is less for mirrorless because dust inside the camera tends to stay put.
  16. Good points...
  17. Hello everyone. Thanks for all the input. A Dust Patrol cleaning kit & a dedicated cleaning brush were purchased. Several attempts with the blower & brushes did manage to get all but one stubborn spot vanished. Close inspection revealed an "evil spot" which thankfully has also vanished with a wet cleaning. I might mention that the wet process is EZ. Aloha, Bill

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