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12-19-2014, 04:11 PM   #1
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Sensor cleaning woes, need a bit more advice

So now I have this same problem that sometimes people have posted about. Dirty sensor leaves some spots on images.


Only I read up on here quite a bit. Bought my Giotto blower and a pack of four Eclipse Type 2 swab sticks. And here is where I am at.


- I now have zero swab sticks left.
- Sensor is still dirty but not as bad as before. Dust spots and specks "moved" a few times so I don't think I damaged the surface of the sensor.
- Rocket blower is cute. It doesn't seem to help my situation. Yes, I turned the body face down and blew upward to let stuff float out.
- Reticle view is... nasty. Specks and curly fibers. Tried to clean the underside of the prism and the mirror. Obviously I failed at doing so.


SO.... Is there some kind of technique? I read the Eclipse swab instructions, and it said to firmly swipe left, then pull it firmly back the other direction. I did that. the first time it cleaned it 98%. So I pulled out another swab and repeated. The remaining spots went away but a couple new ones showed up. Swabbed again. This time streaks. Last swab (fourth time) seems to have removed specs but left streaks at the 4th quadrant of the sensor.


No, I really don't want to pay someone 50 bux to clean my camera. I want to do it myself. What are some of the problems you run into when swabbing?


Also, B&H ships quickly. Great store. I only wish I could find someone local who sells good supplies. I'd go right now and try this one more time!


I have new glass I want to try out. This sucks!


Any advice welcome. Any n00b bashing, not so much. I'm trying guys... I've been reading. I've been watching. I've even called a couple repair shops to discuss it.

12-19-2014, 04:37 PM   #2
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To be honest $50 to have a professional clean the sensor is well worth the money if you are still having problems getting it clean. I paid $200 for a professional kit with a loup but I have only used it twice in the last 5 years (And one of those cleans was for a friends DSLR). Cleaning a sensor yourself can go wrong which can can really wreck your day.

Do you have any defocused shots of a plain background that shows the extent of the problem? (It pays to have some of these before a professional clean so you can compare the results after cleaning)
12-19-2014, 04:41 PM   #3
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It seems the dust is not stuck to the glass. CleanSkies sensor brush is ideal in that situation (and cheap too). (Thanks to Kozlok for the recommendation.) It comes with a second brush for cleaning the mirror and chamber. You need to pair it with a can of compressed air (obtainable from a good computer store). Less invasive than wet swabs, which I keep as a last resort.

A loupe is handy. One with a piece out of the side so you can use it with a brush or swab is best. Doesn't need to be expensive.

If that doesn't work, I agree with ak_kiwi: consider professional cleaning. It will get the gunk out from under the focus screen and elsewhere in the chamber.
12-19-2014, 04:57 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
It seems the dust is not stuck to the glass. CleanSkies sensor brush is ideal in that situation (and cheap too). (Thanks to Kozlok for the recommendation.) It comes with a second brush for cleaning the mirror and chamber. You need to pair it with a can of compressed air (obtainable from a good computer store). Less invasive than wet swabs, which I keep as a last resort.

A loupe is handy. One with a piece out of the side so you can use it with a brush or swab is best. Doesn't need to be expensive.

If that doesn't work, I agree with ak_kiwi: consider professional cleaning. It will get the gunk out from under the focus screen and elsewhere in the chamber.
Be very careful using can compressed air. A lot of time the propellant liquifies and comes out and gunks up the entire inside of your camera. The rocket blower is nice but a bit anemic. I use a foot pump like what is used to inflate air mattresses etc. They are fairly cheap and can be found in camping goods stores. You get a much more forceful stream of air that way. That tip was given to me by a guy who repairs Nikons and Canons for a living. Also if you can find a source for methanol (methyl alcohol) you can use that instead of Eclipse fluid it's the same stuff and methanol is a LOT cheaper.

NaCl(hope this helps)H2O

12-19-2014, 05:37 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
. CleanSkies sensor brush is ideal in that situation (and cheap too)
Those brushes look like visible dust knock-offs - I would avoid them. Visible dust sensor brushes are more expensive, but I wouldn't skimp on sensor cleaning equipment. The visible dust brushes are excellent for dry sensor cleaning. Regular animal hair artist brushes have microscopic barbs on them, Synthetic brushes also have burrs on them ( why do you think the paint sticks to the brush) The visible dust brushes are without these barbs (and therefore are useless for painting) and the hairs are able to be statically charged which pulls dust from the sensor surface.

I only use wet cleaning methods when there is a speck on my camera sensor that won't budge ( pollen, water spray, oils) the sensor brushes can move everything else.
12-19-2014, 07:21 PM   #6
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Don't forget to check the lens for motes..
Caught me out once...
12-19-2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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Well it turns out that the place who said 45 bux doesn't have a technician to do it until Wednesday. And then he will be backlogged. So they can't even say for sure. And that's Christmas eve. There is another guy closer who wants 60 with a one hour turnaround. I will try him tomorrow morning.


Also I kept the swab sticks in case someone here can figure out how to make my own applicator tips. I think the wet system is what got it cleanest. But I only had 4 swabs. Maybe with a couple more I would have got it right.


In any case, this guy can do what I couldn't, which is also get the reticle view clean. Even when I had the sensor 98%, the reticle view had fibers and specks.


And yeah, rocket blower is nice for maybe a quick blast but not gonna help always. Good to have it but this time not enough.
12-20-2014, 05:24 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Be very careful using can compressed air. A lot of time the propellant liquifies and comes out and gunks up the entire inside of your camera.
The compressed air is used to clean and "charge" the brushes, not to spray into the camera.

12-20-2014, 05:35 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Suleeto Quote
But I only had 4 swabs
Remove the material, turn it around reattach with rubber band provided, or just let it slip about 3mm and reattach, as good as new, I've re used swabs a few times without problem, if the material is folded double, I even turn that around, just make sure that you stretch it tightly and that it covers the plastic...
12-20-2014, 05:52 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Those brushes look like visible dust knock-offs - I would avoid them. Visible dust sensor brushes are more expensive, but I wouldn't skimp on sensor cleaning equipment. The visible dust brushes are excellent for dry sensor cleaning. Regular animal hair artist brushes have microscopic barbs on them, Synthetic brushes also have burrs on them ( why do you think the paint sticks to the brush) The visible dust brushes are without these barbs (and therefore are useless for painting) and the hairs are able to be statically charged which pulls dust from the sensor surface.
The CleanSkies brushes are not animal hair, so no barbs.They are high quality nylon brushes (without the "sizing" coating that paint brushes have). Never before heard about burrs from these brushes damaging a sensor.

The greater risk seems to me to be contaminants getting on the brush and being transferred to the sensor, or the material being removed scratching the sensor (e.g. fine grain of sand). That could happen with any brush.
12-20-2014, 06:50 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
The CleanSkies brushes are not animal hair, so no barbs.They are high quality nylon brushes (without the "sizing" coating that paint brushes have). Never before heard about burrs from these brushes damaging a sensor.
The damage will not be immediately visible, but the gradual scratching of the sensor glass will eventually become apparent.
12-20-2014, 10:37 AM   #12
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Ok so typically how expensive is it to replace the sensor?

I don't think I need that.... yet. I'm leaving in a few minutes to go get it cleaned, but I want to understand more of the potential future expenses.
12-20-2014, 03:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Suleeto Quote
Ok so typically how expensive is it to replace the sensor?
The sensor accounts for nearly 60% of the cost of a DSLR.
12-21-2014, 05:17 PM   #14
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Ok wow. So, and bearing in mind this is a K-50 and not a K-3, if it ever needs to be replaced, still the better route than a whole new body, but still not cheap. Good to know, thanks.


Okay so I managed to get the viewfinder clean myself... I see it's easy to remove. Looks like it's plastic or nylon... which would scratch easily. Can't be too expensive to replace. Anyone replaced it yet? How much?


As of right now... viewfinder view and sensor view is clear again, in time for Christmas. Which is great! I kept a couple of the Eclipse applicator sticks. Where can I get that methanol at, and what do I put it on?


Monday I'm going to spring for that $20 Pentax deal. That's the extended warranty, right? I read something about it here on the forum but I looked on the Ricoh site and wasn't able to find it. I did register my camera tho.


Sorry about all the questions. Just want to do it all right!
02-13-2015, 06:32 PM   #15
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What was the outcome? I usually use the rocket blower then a sensor swab wrapped with CVS LENS WIPES ,and then finally I use a Pentax gel stick to remover anything left behind. OH with the gel stick only dab the sensor don't wipe. ACTUALLY you can probable ony use the blower then the gel stick, that should work 95 percent of the time.

Last edited by photolady95; 02-13-2015 at 08:56 PM.
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