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07-08-2010, 05:03 PM   #1
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General lens/mirror/sensor cleaning for noobs? Pentax K-x

I've got a fair bit of dust somewhere, I don't know whether its on the lens or what. Is there a simple step by step for general maintenance/cleaning of SLRs and lenses?

It seems I've got some dust/hair fibres/whatever in my viewfinder as well?

07-08-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
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If you can see it in the viewfinder, it's on the focusing screen or bottom of the prism.
If it shows up on your pictures, it's on the sensor.
I'm of the opinion that viewfinder dust is something best lived with, it's hard to get rid of and you can cause other problems during the cleaning process.
I won't clean my sensor unless I absolutely have to, and when I do, my first course of action is to shoot it with canned gas (much to the chagrin of most of my peers who think this should be instant death for the camera).
Dust on the lens I just leave alone. I've seen more lenses marred by excessive cleaning than all other types of damage combined, and a pile of dust isn't going to affect picture quality anywhere near as much as one small cleaning mark.
07-08-2010, 06:06 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
If you can see it in the viewfinder, it's on the focusing screen or bottom of the prism.
If it shows up on your pictures, it's on the sensor.
I'm of the opinion that viewfinder dust is something best lived with, it's hard to get rid of and you can cause other problems during the cleaning process.
I won't clean my sensor unless I absolutely have to, and when I do, my first course of action is to shoot it with canned gas (much to the chagrin of most of my peers who think this should be instant death for the camera).
Dust on the lens I just leave alone. I've seen more lenses marred by excessive cleaning than all other types of damage combined, and a pile of dust isn't going to affect picture quality anywhere near as much as one small cleaning mark.
Wow, so I've got a massive hair on my viewfinder within 3 weeks of use and I've got to live with it?

EDIT:

It appears that a high (narrow) apeture of around 22 must be used in order for the dust to show up. The problem is that I only have a single kit lens that will allow me to change the aperture AT ALL, i.e. all my other lenses are old M42 mount lenses that are locked to the widest aperture. Thus, the dust is not evident AT ALL on these lenses (well, at least my f1.8).

I've flipped the mirror in the settings to look at the sensor and could not visually see any obvious dust, though I understand that I probably won't really be able to see most of the crud on there because it is so small.

I've removed the small bit of hair that was on the prism (I think this is what it's called - The bit at the top with the [ O ] focus indicators on it) by gentle blowing on it until it dislodged (made sure that I wasn't blowing spit everywhere as well).

Here's a photo at f28, taken at the wall.


EDIT2: For future reference, what is the best way of cleaning the a.) mirror and b.) prism - I might leave sensor cleaning to the professionals at least for the first time!

Last edited by maxwolfie; 07-08-2010 at 08:17 PM.
07-08-2010, 08:04 PM   #4
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You don't *have* to, but I agree, it's probably best to leave it alone. It will be there for while, then eventually move or leave - to be repaced soon enough by a new hair or dust speck. Unless you move to outer space, dust is going to be a fact of life with a DSLR. But as the many existing threads ont he subejct will attest, trying to clean it from your viewfinder is as likely to make it worse as better, and there is very real risk of ruining it ntirely.

07-08-2010, 08:19 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
You don't *have* to, but I agree, it's probably best to leave it alone. It will be there for while, then eventually move or leave - to be repaced soon enough by a new hair or dust speck. Unless you move to outer space, dust is going to be a fact of life with a DSLR. But as the many existing threads ont he subejct will attest, trying to clean it from your viewfinder is as likely to make it worse as better, and there is very real risk of ruining it ntirely.
See my updated post above - I blew gently on the prism a couple of times and it's fine now.

EDIT: It's on the sensor. I can EASILY see the matching dust bits on there.

Hmm..

Last edited by maxwolfie; 07-08-2010 at 08:24 PM.
07-08-2010, 08:41 PM   #6
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I had a few pieces of dust or fibers on my sensor and focus screen today and they were barely noticable but they did annoy the hell out of me.

I flipped up the mirror (I have a Kx), and used a rocket blower on the sensor and the fibers/dust was removed immediately.

As for the viewfinder I actually removed the screen and wiped it with a microfiber cloth and that was immediately free and clear of all dust too.

I was pretty nervous doing the cleaning (as it was my first time) but I just took my time and remained calm and everything worked out fine.
07-08-2010, 09:11 PM   #7
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A few shots from a rocket blower solved my problem

I won't blow on the prism ever again (I didn't know I had the rocket blower funnily enough!!!)
07-08-2010, 09:12 PM   #8
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Sensor cleaning is a fact of life, and isn't actually all that hard. Put a fresh battery into the camera and then in cleaning mode, which opens the shutter and raises the mirror, you can access the sensor for cleaning.
Generally, compressed air from a bulb type blower (Rocket Blower is popular here) will blow off the dust.
It's not as delicate in there as people make it out to be.
Something to remember is that when the camera is powered down, the sensor is bouncing around free.
It can take a little handling.
As I said in my prior post, I use compressed gas (Dust Off) for routine sensor cleaning, but I won't recommend it to anyone else because it is so unpopular.
I've had to wet clean a sensor once in 7 years of digital photography, I've been pretty lucky.
Don't ever blow into a cameras guts, BTW. You are definitely better off suffering with dust than doing that.

07-08-2010, 10:35 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Sensor cleaning is a fact of life, and isn't actually all that hard. Put a fresh battery into the camera and then in cleaning mode, which opens the shutter and raises the mirror, you can access the sensor for cleaning.
Generally, compressed air from a bulb type blower (Rocket Blower is popular here) will blow off the dust.
It's not as delicate in there as people make it out to be.
Something to remember is that when the camera is powered down, the sensor is bouncing around free.
It can take a little handling.
As I said in my prior post, I use compressed gas (Dust Off) for routine sensor cleaning, but I won't recommend it to anyone else because it is so unpopular.
I've had to wet clean a sensor once in 7 years of digital photography, I've been pretty lucky.
Don't ever blow into a cameras guts, BTW. You are definitely better off suffering with dust than doing that.

Yeah, won't do that again. The mirror was in place when I did it, shielding the sensor, but still...
07-10-2010, 08:23 AM   #10
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I recommend the Visible dust Arctic butterfly - which is my in field dust removal tool of choice. I was never comfortable about using rocket blowers to blast off dirt from my pentaprism or focus screen. Sometimes all that does is move the dust so it can show up again in a worse place than it originally was.
07-10-2010, 10:36 PM   #11
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I thought i read in my K-X book that it vibrated to shake the dust off?
07-10-2010, 11:02 PM   #12
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I also remember seeing on a DVD I bought that you should always turn your camera UPSIDE DOWN to swap lenses. That way no dust.
07-11-2010, 11:27 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by SelfEmployedDebtFree Quote
I thought i read in my K-X book that it vibrated to shake the dust off?
Yes, it does that, and this might sometimes help, but dust will still happen from time to time, Even if you do everything right - turn the camera off and hold it upside down when changing, etc.
07-16-2010, 02:16 PM   #14
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I had a little dust in my K2000 a few months after I bought it. I had tried cleaning out the dust but only managed to add more. Maybe I'll revisit it in the future, but for now I'm just living with the annoyance.
07-17-2010, 09:06 AM   #15
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Are you talking about the viewfinder? If so, you're making the right decision in leaving it alone, I think. But if you mean dust on the sensor that shows up in your pictures, then it's definitely worth spending some time getting rid of it. Unlike the case with the viewfinder, the camera was *designed* to allow the sensor to be cleaned, and given that the results of sensor dust are readily visible in pictures, there is much more reason to do it.
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