Camera Sensor Cleaner

Old Sep 9th, 2007, 09:46 AM
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Camera Sensor Cleaner

We have Canon DSLRs 20D, 40D and 5D - Which sensor cleaner do you recommend to take on Safari? On the Vehicles?
Thanks for you help!
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 10:43 AM
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I feel that for very good cleaning one needs to use a swap type such as Visible Dust Orange swabs etc however carrying these on a safari is not so eay and aslo using them is not ideal when in a hurry. My suggestion on safari is to take a rocket blower and a sensor sweep brush. The rocket blower can be used to charge the bush and also doubles up for quick cleaning lenses etc, and the brush is nice and small in size, quick and easy to use. Another good very compact option is the artic butterfly.

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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 10:44 AM
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sorry for the typo I meant "swab" not "swap"

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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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You want to touch the sensor as little as possible, but sometimes that's not possible ... here's what we use, in order:

1) Giotto Rocket blower and hope that works ... often it doesn't, sometimes it does. This is quick and low impact because nothing touches the sensor, but sometimes it seems the dust isn't cleaned out of the chamber.

2) Sensor Brush (or similar like the Arctic Butterfly, which we don't have) ... blow compressed air on the Brush and gently pull across the sensor. Static gets most of the dust bunnies but sometimes leaves problems in the corners and, worst case, can smear something like pollen grains.

3) Pec-pads with Eclipse fluid ... this will clean anything but it's the most hassle to take (Eclipse is highly flammable) and harder to use correctly (too much fluid and it can seep under the sensor, too little and you can scratch the sensor filter cover). But it always works (for me at least).

We try to avoid switching lenses as much as possible when it's dusty, but don't sweat it too much, just do the best you can and clone out the dust specks in Photoshop if you have them.

Bill
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 11:15 AM
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Exactly the same protocol as Bill suggests but recenly added a new product to my kit, "Dust-Aid", www.Dus-Aid.com. It has proven itself 100% effective for use in the field, although some people fear using it for what I feel are unjustified reasons. I also carry Eclpise 1 & 2 in addition to a brush and rocket blower. Best to avoid changing lenses and keep sensor cleaning to a minimum. Shouldn't be a problem unless you shoot stopped down (below F16/22)al ot of the time. Also it is not difficult to clone dust out in PS. I never attempt to clean sensors until back at camp in the security of my tent with the best light and a cold beer.
Cheers-Chuck
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 11:29 AM
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Did you mean www.dust-aid.com?
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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hills27,
Yes, www.Dust-Aid.com. I have the dumbest keyboard in North America
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 12:32 PM
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Thanks for the help. We have the Giotto Rocket Air.
Which "brush" or is it a static brush, do you suggest? Looks like there are many to choose from at the Visible Dust website.
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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Thanks for the Dust-Aid link Chuck ... looks like it would be effective, though I'm nervous about touching the sensor with an adhesive I see some 5D owners (certain serial #'s) had problems with it ...

I wish the self-cleaning ones worked better ... I see Chewy has a 40D, which has the vibrating sensor that's supposed to shake off the dust bunnies, but when I checked this feature on two XTi's it didn't work all that great. There were 25 and 17 dust specks on them as shipped from Canon that repeated iterations of Sensor Clean Cycles didn't clean off.

Bill
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 12:41 PM
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I have awful dust spots on my photos taken last month. I definitely need to learn how to properly clean the sensor before my next trip.
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 01:02 PM
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Bill,
It is my understanding that the new Canon 40D uses a next generation dust clean system, ala the Series 1 Mark III camera. It is reported to be very effective, I haven't aquired the new Mark III yet because of the reported autofocus problems with that model. Initially I shared your misgivings about touching anything to the sensor, but after using the DustAid pad, I was converted. I am in the unusual position of having a high power surgical microscope at my disposal and I did the first cleaning using it to learn if any visible dust, adhesive, or other contaminant remained. I saw nothing at all. Susequently I took test shots at F22-32 and found all dust was gone. In contrast it always takes me 3-5 wet cleaning to remove the dust. The blower is certainly the least invasive technique but in my hands it always leaves some dust. I will be happy when I finally aquire one of the newer bodies with built in dust control. I wonder however if I should still drink a cold beer when I turn it on

Hills27,
You might want to look at www.copperhillimages.com. This is a very helpful little company with a large following of professional and serious amatuers adherants. The woner is most helpful when you can get him on the telephone. They have afull range of products for sensor cleaning and they are down to earth in their pricing. unlike the Canadian "Visible Dust" company.
Hope this is useful and helpful information.
Regards-Chuck
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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<b>Bill,
It is my understanding that the new Canon 40D uses a next generation dust clean system, ala the Series 1 Mark III camera. It is reported to be very effective</b>

EVERY review I saw on the XTi, including Luminous Landscape and dpreview, said the XTi auto-cleaning worked 'great' ... but it didn't on either of the samples I tested.

So I'll remain a skeptic about the &quot;new and improved&quot; system until I actually verify it myself. I have a Mark III on order but like you I'm a bit nervous about the AF issues ...

Bill
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Old Sep 10th, 2007, 03:36 AM
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Bill,
I think you are wise to be skeptical of Canon's latest claims. I cancelled my own Mark 3 order when it appeared it would not arrive in time for my June Botswana safari. If you have not already discovered it, Andy Biggs (www.andybiggs.com) has a very nice piece on the Mark 3 settings that worked for him on his safari in June. If you go to his website and click on BLOG and then type &quot;1D Mk3&quot; into the search box on the right, you will be taken to his article on his settings. I find useful tips on technique and on composition and style all thoughout his website. Another top professional with interesting wildlife photography experience using the Mark III is Art Morris (www.birdsasart.com). My own dust strategy with that camera will probably be to leave a 1.4X Teleconverter on it most of the time and shoot with a Supertele L 300mm 2.8 lens. The 1.4X is weather sealed so that will keep the body sealed from much of the dust. Another trick I discovered was to keep the most active camera on my lap in a waterproof pillowcase, while the vehicle was moving. I was amazed at the difference this made in dust, both on the sensor and the front element of the lens.
Cheers and good luk with the new body, let us know what settings worked well for you. Chuck
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 05:28 PM
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Don't clean it yourself, the experts say. Prolong the life of your sensor. Do what the pros do. Take an extra body or two. Cheaper to buy an xti back up than damage your 5d sensor. Really, I know the best thing is to send it in when you get home. A $200 cleaning is cheaper than a new body... Better yet take a few 5d's, they are the same price as a 40d online right now... A marginal expense for a trip to Africa.
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 07:02 PM
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I like to have a multi-step cleaning approach:

Step 1: use a rocket blower (not compressed air) to dislodge dust bunnies from the sensor. I do this with camera pointing downward.

Inspect sensor using a head lamp and naked eyes. If more cleaning is needed, which is normal, I proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly. Atrociously priced, but works well for my needs. I always have a spare set of AAA batteris on hand, just in case they run out while on safari.

Step 3 (optional): I use the Visible Dust swabs with their non-flammable liquid. On a 3-week safari, I find that I need to resort to this cleaning method once or twice for the camera that I change lenses on. My 1DMk3 is usually mated with my 100-400mm lens, which never gets removed. So the jury is still out on whether the Mk3 is effective at cleaning its own sensor. Heck, I doubt it will be worse than not having it at all!



Andy
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Old Sep 12th, 2007, 09:09 PM
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<b>Don't clean it yourself, the experts say.</b>

Can you name an &quot;expert&quot; who says this? The only people who say this are the camera manufacturers, in cover-your-ass mode. Every pro I know cleans their sensors. It's not much harder than cleaning the front of the lens.

<b>Do what the pros do. Take an extra body or two.</b>

We take four bodies ... worst case, January 2006 when it was extremely dry, we cleaned the sensors on every one of them almost every day. No big deal. (On wetter trips - April 2006, January 2007 - we only have to clean a couple of times in a two week trip ... but when it's dry and dusty it's tough).

<b>Really, I know the best thing is to send it in when you get home. A $200 cleaning is cheaper than a new body</b>

The problems with &quot;sending it in&quot; include a) takes too long, b) they don't necessarily do a good job, c) it costs $200 each time and d) they use the same methods as the rest of us, including Pec pads with Eclipse. Learn to clean it yourself, it's not that hard.

Bill

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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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Bill,

I appreciate your opinions re: the sensors. I do not feel that risking damaging a sensor or negating my warranties are worth the risk. It is a bit more &quot;tricky&quot; than it seems, you are obviously well trained and perhaps more savvy with that sort of thing than others. I do defer to the manufacturers as the experts, they made the cameras after all. It is strange to hear that it takes too long to get them to turn around a camera for cleaning. I send mine in after a weekend of shooting and it is usually back by Friday for another go of it. Additionally, there is a pro-plan for a flat fee annually you can send in your equipment as often as you like and is covered under the plan. There are a lot of third party cleaning gizmos, even they have a myriad of &quot;precautions&quot; for sensor cleaning. I still must defer to the manufacturers and those endorsing my warranty. I just feel it is important to make sure that the novice photographer does not get the impression that is is as easy as cleaning the front of the lens. The experts say it is complicated and if you are not comfortable doing it yourself after concise explanation, don't do it. A lot cameras have been damaged this way. I hope to prevent this from happening to others. Good luck and keep shooting...
http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com/warnings.html
http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com/
Please read his disclaimer next to the sensor with a penny photo.
&quot;there are many ways to skin a cat&quot; Isn't that what these forums are for...
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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 05:52 AM
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jeffreyobrien,
There is really nothing complicated, dangerous, or difficult about cleaning a sensor on a modern digital SLR. Certainly some prople should not attempt to clean their own sensor but for most people, with average dexterity, it it not a problem. After all, some people cannot change the battery in a digital watch or put batteries in their TV remotes. You don't have to be a super techie to clean your own sensor. Still if one is not confident in their ability and can afford the time, send it off. You know the saying, &quot;Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime&quot;. It rally isn't difficult and after the first cleaning you will be an expert. Another point, where do you find 5D bodies for the same price as the 40D bodies? I would love to pick up a few 5D bodies for $1299. Also, if you paid $200 per cleaning (your figure) you would have bought the 40D after only 6 1/2 cleanings.
Regards-Chuck
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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 05:55 AM
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By the way,
People reading the above posts should be aware that the point and shoots (i.e., the non SLR cameras) are very well sealed and you should not worry about sensor cleaning.
Regards-Chuck
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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 06:34 AM
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I bought the supplies to clean the sensors on my cameras but haven't gotten the nerve to try it yet. My local camera shop (authorized repair shop for many brands including Canon) charges $60 to clean them. I decided I would 'teach myself to fish' (good analogy Bill!) rather than pay someone over and over to do it. I have the Pec-pads with Eclipse fluid and have bookmarked a tutorial for when I get ready to do it.
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