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05-04-2013, 03:28 PM   #1
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Schmutz? what schmutz? K-o1 sensor cleaning success

Good afternoon,

I recently posted about (and am still curious about) what cleaners to use on the K-o1 sensor. In particular, I was curious about what is "on" the sensor, if anything, that might be damaged by commercial cleaning products. In any case, after consulting the forum, a scientist friend of mine who is frequently cleaning microscope optics, and reading every article I could get my hands on, I opted for a methanol-based cleaner that is very very very popular. I wont mention their name, but it is something that recently happened in the night sky. I used both their pre-moistened swab and a dry swab with a few drops of their solution.

So, some history: I had some dots showing up at f/11 that wouldn't shake or blow off. I used a stick-type polyurethane cleaner which has worked very well in the past on my dust. Problem was, the speck wasnt dust. I highly suspect it was shutter oil or lubricant because I ended up redistributing gunk all over the sensor.

After about 2 pre-moistened swabs and one dry swab used with solution....well, the results speak for themselves. About 8-10 "passes" and I think I am good to go. Both shots were at f/22 (pentax SMC M 28mm f/2.8 lens stopped all the way down):

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05-04-2013, 05:18 PM   #2
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Wow, how'd you get the sensor that dirty in the first place?
05-04-2013, 06:18 PM   #3
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What product did you use?
05-04-2013, 06:27 PM   #4
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A methanol product that occurs in the sky?

That's Eclipse. We can use the name here. No biggie.

05-04-2013, 07:24 PM   #5
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The issue was with using the equivalent of the Pentax "stick" sensor cleaner (a Promaster knock-off set) in an attempt to clean what I thought was stubborn dust specs. It is basically a piece of polyurethane gummy rubber. You very very gently touch to the sensor and then dab on a 'cleaning block' and it is actually very good at removing dust. The way the sensor ended up that filthy was because the 'dust' I was trying to remove was actually not dust. My best guess is that it was shutter lubricant (I am not entirely sure that the K-o1'a leaf shutter has a lubricant applied to its moving parts, but I would be surprised if it didn't) or some other oil based specs. It stands to reason that when I dabbed it with the polyurethane and then touched the cleaning block, the oil was picking up the filth and redepositing it on the sensor. The more I tried to dab it away the filthier it got. After a lot of reading about what to do about it, I basically decided that a) if I wanted to use the camera again I was going to have to use a wet cleaning method (the sensor was visibly dirty wide open at 2.8 in the viewfinder without post processing. it was that bad, and b). I'd better just learn how to do a wet cleaning as the k-o1 is the only camera I own and I shoot everyday. Since the leaf shutter is always open (for live view), I have to just accept the fact that the sensor is going to get dirty.

Yeah, it was a product called Eclipse. This is some no-bulls**t stuff. I read somewhere that it breaks down like this: Lab grade Methanol (for medical applications) is no more than 500ppm adulterants. Eclipse is apparently no more than 5ppm (five) adulterants and can be considered to be pure menthaol with some water and possibly some kind of conditioner or other agent in it. That was what I was particularly interested in. Was it safe on the K-o1 sensor? I had read that Eclipse released another product in response to some Nikon sensors being coated with some kind of tin oxide. I recall reading in another thread (I think it is the thread about converting the K-o1 to IR only) that the K-o1 sensor possibly doesn't have as many layers of "stuff" on top of it as a conventional sensor (reasons cited, if I recall correctly, were a) lower profile b) possibly work in progress for the K-5iis to see if it worked. Some attribute the sharpness of the k-o1 to the missing 'layers.' I may have misconstrued this, and I am certainly no expert on these matters. In any case, I was just curious what the safest thing to use was. Finally I decided to just bite the bullet and try the Eclipse. It seemed to me to be the most rapidly evaporating thing I could think of. My scientist friend said they usually follow up with Acetone rinse on their microscopes/optics. The acetone seemed a bad idea to me--I know it can rapidly eat finishes (I have used it to clean my oil brushes and it takes the lacquer up in spots and makes it a little gummy -- my turpentine wont even do that, or at least not as immediately).

So in any case, as absolutely nerve wracking as it was to actually do this, it was followed by a feeling of utter relief. Just knowing that it is possible to clean the sensor is a major load off. I may have hosed my warranty by touching the sensor, but I think it may have been worth it.

Last edited by cristigj; 05-04-2013 at 07:30 PM.
05-05-2013, 11:40 AM   #6
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Nice to know, I'm guessing this is an issue. My k-01 has the same problem, used the pentax stick and it spread it everywhere. I'm going to try this wet method on my K-01, looks like it works great.
05-05-2013, 05:58 PM   #7
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So at least two known issues with this one.

I'd be after Pentax on this one; in or out of warranty. Because if a flaw in Pentax design caused the issue, the they might very well owe that person an entire new camera
05-06-2013, 05:48 PM   #8
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i dont know that I would call it a design flaw necessarily. I suppose that you could call it a known factor which affects mirrorless and/or live-view cameras a little more than slr or a camera where the shutter doesnt have to be open. Now, suppose they shipped a k-o1 with 4x the amount of lubricant on the shutter than should be there and it destroys the sensor, the rear element of the mounted lens and cost the user hundreds of dollars to rectify...then I could see an issue. I dont really think it is a flaw in the design. Plus, I have to say, I made a relatively small problem much worse by using the wrong tool for job. The spots were only showing up at f/11 initially. I thought it was dust, tried to remove it like dust and made it much worse. Even if you could claim that it was a design flaw (in which case, I'd be tempted to include the Sony NEX7, any of the Leica rangefinders, almost all of the micro four thirds cameras on the market right now--anything with live view and a focal plane leaf shutter), I doubt, in this situation, I would prevail on court or in arbitration on the basis that a) the problem was rectified using off-the-shelf, commercially available solvents b) I have already admitted in this forum that it was more or less my ignorance of what was on the sensor to begin with and my subsequent attempt to clean it that made the camera unusable (again, I could see the marks with the aperture wide open in live view).

Newson's design may well have been a crime against fashion in some people's opinion, but I dont think pentax offered anything in the way of the K-o1 that was so far off the beaten path (from an industrial design perspective) as to imperil the longevity of the device itself.

05-07-2013, 07:25 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by cristigj Quote
I doubt, in this situation, I would prevail on court or in arbitration on the basis that a) the problem was rectified using off-the-shelf, commercially available solvents b) I have already admitted in this forum that it was more or less my ignorance of what was on the sensor to begin with and my subsequent attempt to clean it that made the camera unusable (again, I could see the marks with the aperture wide open in live view).
Let me cover this number of issues in a slightly different order.

First of all when anyone purchases a digital camera (in which one also has the ability to actually reach the sensor to also be able to clean it); then one would expect that the sensor remain basically as close to perfect as possible; especially under the warranty period and (more so) that it would not have ANY defects which would ever cause issues - even outside of the warranty period.

One also must realize two main issues here. 1. How much longer before one might have to clean the sensor again, and exactly how routine would this be? 2. Could the sensor possibly be getting damaged by this (visible to the naked eye, or possibly beyond that)?

...And not to be confused with any type of licensed professional legal advice; which would also depend on where one lives and all...

But you do have a legal case in all fifty plus states; especially if you also happened to purchase any additional gear at the same time or since. At the very least Pentax would actually owe you a new camera body.

Or if you would elect to pass on that one... Pentax should reimburse you for any sensor cleaning efforts, even if done completely by you. As a matter of fact they would also be liable for full service center servicing, and then some.

I know of many a lawyer (or even a firm) who would love this case.

Also in closing for now; consider how one paid for the camera. Typically using a credit card gives one an additional warranty; even technically - a type of double payday
05-09-2013, 07:11 PM   #10
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well, I hear what you are saying, but I thought that sensor cleaning was part of routine maintenance. Like changing the oil on your car. If you are saying that the analogy would be something akin to the auto maker having implemented some design flaw which causes the oil to have to be changed every 500 miles rather than ever 3000 miles, then you may have a point -- the additional cost of more frequent maintenance, etc.. I am not totally sure that the K-o1 suffers from a design flaw in that regard though. I know that the action of the shutter on dSLR cameras can stir up a lot of dust. The Leica M-P has movie mode as does just about every modern dSLR...the shutter stays open on most all of these during recording. The Leica being a focal plane shutter is the most analogous to the K-o1 in terms of design implementation. Who knows--I would say that digital photography is still in its infancy, possibly an adolescent if one applies Moore's Law, and I am not sure that there has been a perfect solution to these issues (save for the Ricoh model of having the lens and the sensor in one unit--and it remains to be seen how that will be adopted in the long run), but in the meantime, I kind of figured it was a mitigation issue on the part of the user.

I dont know. I dont know if cleaning with eclipse will prematurely damage the sensor in the K-o1 or not. I was trying to get a handle on that before I tried it. So far so good though. I havent noticed any issues.Technically, my understanding is, is that you are actually cleaning a piece of glass -- not the sensor itself. Methanol for cleaning glass is perfectly safe. Whether or not its fumes (which dissipate rapidly) are injurious to any other electronic components inside the camera is unknown to me, and it is unlikely I would ever get to know that, as it is likely proprietary. I doubt I would be able to obtain that information even in discovery in a protracted legal case. My attorney friends have given me some rather interesting advice on this though-- 'whoever has the deeper pockets wins' because they can bring to bear disproportionate legal blockades and can afford to sit out and create stalemates in court. We are talking about a $300 camera body. Is it worth a legal battle? That's what I am looking at. I suppose it wouldnt hurt to contact Pentax and see what their position is on it before going the legal route.
05-12-2013, 07:29 AM   #11
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I do not consider sensor cleaning routine maintenance. Knock on wood, I Have never had to have any of my cameras sent in for a professional cleaning, nor have I ever had to get in there and attempt to clean them myself. I am someone who only uses primes so that could be a factor.
06-06-2013, 11:49 PM   #12
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just got my survival kit pack today, came with some lens cleaning clothes, sensor cleaning sticks and the solvent. The stuff works miracles, my sensor was pretty gnarly, was pissing me off no way in hell macro shots were going to happen (how I found out my sensor was so dirty). Sensor is like brand new now, no single spot or spec. This is my new go to sensor cleaning kit.
06-07-2013, 04:07 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by wanderography Quote
just got my survival kit pack today, came with some lens cleaning clothes, sensor cleaning sticks and the solvent. The stuff works miracles, my sensor was pretty gnarly, was pissing me off no way in hell macro shots were going to happen (how I found out my sensor was so dirty). Sensor is like brand new now, no single spot or spec. This is my new go to sensor cleaning kit.
Where does one go about ordering one of these "survival kit packs"?
06-08-2013, 12:56 AM   #14
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heres the link Amazon.com: Digital Survival KIT - Sensor Swab Type 2 (w/Eclipse): Camera & Photo , I bought that one, I don't know the difference between type 1, 2, or 3. I just know the type 2 pack specifically states pentax k-5 and comes with a little bit of everything, so I figured same sensor in K-01, should be good. This is one of the best products I have used for sensor cleaning. I also used the pentax stick and just made things a whole lot worse.
06-08-2013, 06:29 AM   #15
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That looks like a good kit, and once you have swabs you can just wrap a fresh pec pad (or kim wipe) around it with a couple drops of methanol and you're good to go. The pentax sticky thing does work on some dust the blower won't get, but I had mine do some smearing too on a body that got a new shutter. I guess it was oil.
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