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DSLR Sensor Cleaning V1.1 11/16/09 Bob Douglas b.douglas@sun.com


Warnings •

Never, ever, ever use a pair of tweezers or any other tool inside the chamber. Did I say never, ever?

Never, ever, ever do this while drinking.

If you can not hold your hands steady consider fnding a good friend you trust to do it.

It's highly recommend that you use pre-made swabs. These are manufactured in clean rooms to exacting specifcations.

The Methods 1. Fixed lens method This method leverages the fact that if you never remove your lens you will never expose your sensor to dust. 2. Dry method The dry methods are a gamble as the foreign objects can run the gamut from non static dust to grease from the camera mechanism itself. If it if sticks, the dry method won't work. 3. Wet method If you take your camera in for a professional cleaning this is what they use. That being said you need the eyes of a hawk, guts of steel, the steady hand of a sniper and the right tools.

The Wet Method A couple of facts frst. There are two main classifcations of sensor technologies are CCD and CMOS. Sensors vary in size so it's important to chose a swab with the right width so only one pass is needed. All sensors are protected by a glass flter, unless your camera was modifed. If it was modifed stop here and consult with who ever did the modifcation. This should make you less anxious it's this glass flter that you are really cleaning. The glass flter serves two purposes one to protect the delicate sensor and two to provide depending upon the manufacturer various degrees of IR fltering.

Cost 4 Pre-moistened swabs + loupe = $110

Tools 1. Tripod 2. Cleaning swabs (Optional Pre-moistened swabs) 3. Cleaning solution. The latest info was that this cannot be shipped by B&H, it's a fammable liquid. (Not required if using pre-moistened swabs) 4. Sensor loupe with LEDs


5. Camera manual 6. Clean surface area for the tools

Tools to put away 1. Tweezers 2. Screwdrivers 3. Blowers 4. Anything not covered in the frst list

Getting ready 1. You will need to be sitting down for the duration of this process. Prepare a clean working surface for your tools that is in reach of your chair and on the side of your working hand. Include a something to rest your swab on like a small hashi rest. The goal is to never to rest the swap on any surface. Doing so could pick up an abrasive contaminant and end up scratching the sensor. 2. Setup your tripod with your camera on it so that the lens is at eye-level. Make sure the legs are secure. Lock every movement down. Double check the locks. Face the lens towards you. 3. Ensure your battery is fully charged. Some cameras will not allow you to lock up the mirror with a partial charge. Read the mirror lock up process twice, practice it twice. Do not use a long shutter speed to hold the mirror up. If it closes on the swab you will be facing very expensive repairs.

Illustration 1: Mirror in normal position.


4. Lock the mirror and inspect your sensor with the loupe.

Illustration 2: Mirror locked in the up position.

Illustration 3: Dust

5. If it's clean, smile and put everything back together again. If not proceed to step 5. 6. Open the lid of the cleaning solution. Remove a virgin swab and draw a quick line of solution on the edge of the swab.


Illustration 4: Cleaning. Sweep from one side to the other and lift. 7. Hold the swab in a vertical position and place on either the right or left side of the sensor. Draw the sensor swab in a sweeping motion across the sensor applying moderate pressure. Lift the swab at the end of the sweep. Place the swap on the rest and inspect the sensor with the loupe. If there are what appears to be tiny raindrops on your sensor wait 2-5 seconds and they will evaporate. If it takes longer you may have used too much solution. Not a bad thing but try and reduce the amount the next time. If the sensor is clean congratulations. If not repeat this step to include reloading the swab with cleaning solution. When you are done throw away the swab do not reuse it. 8. Disable your mirror lockup (Nikon – turn the camera off). 9. Replace the lens back on your camera right away.

Comments Currently I use the visible dust swabs. To be honest it was a coin toss between that or the Eclipse product. I can tell you that my experience has shown that the Visible dust swabs are not really meant for multiple uses. I suspect the same holds true for the Eclipse product. Buy the prefab swabs that ft your sensor size (see links in the Resource section below). In a pinch you can get by with a smaller one but never a larger one. Great news the Eclipse solution has been determined to be safe on all sensors as of August 1, 2009. From all of my research on the web ultra-purifed methanol is the best solution. It contains the least amount of particulate matter and dries extremely fast. http://www.photosol.com/documents/eclipse_e2_announcement.pdf


Resources Both B&H and Calumet offer USPS fat rate mail to Hawaii. B&H Website Calumet Website Eclipse Website Product safety announcement for tin oxide sensors Sensor Swab chart Visible Dust Website Sensor Loupe Sensor Swab chart


SensorCleaning  

Bob Douglas 11/16/09 b.douglas@sun.com V1.1

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