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09-30-2014, 12:51 PM   #1
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out damned spot! sensor cleaning and keeping it that way

Dropped off my K30 to a local shop to get the sensor cleaned as it's gotten to the point where I basically couldn't have the sky or blank space in the frame anymore. Under a loupe my sensor looked like a dust bunny.

Any advice for cleaning it myself in the future? I tried a rocket blower and using the camera's dust removal shaker, no luck.

And now that it's going to be nice and clean, how do I keep it that way?

09-30-2014, 01:02 PM   #2
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Practice safe lens changes.
You probably do all these but good to keep in mind:
Avoid windy and dusty locations for the switch, then turn it off, point open camera down, do it quickly.
(Leaving the camera on lets the charged sensor act like a vacuum for airborne dust.)
Zooms can suck in dust when they pump in and out.
Use WR lenses.
Use dust removal at startup
Store the camera with a lens on it, not open

Learn how to clean the sensor yourself with a commercially avaiable sensor cleaning system like the Pentax o-ick.
09-30-2014, 01:40 PM   #3
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I have successfully used Visible Dust fluid and swabs. But quite frankly, I think it's all a bunch of massively overpriced stuff. .8oz of fluid for $22 and it says that it contains isopropyl alcohol. Well, heck, I get a 16oz bottle of 90% from Target for about $2.
The swabs are nothing more than pec-pads on a plastic stick.
They do work, but I can't stop feeling like I've been taken by their pricing.
09-30-2014, 02:00 PM   #4
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On previous cameras I have successfully used the pec-pad "swaps" (really expensive) and the pee-pad cleaning that you can get with them. It works, but you may need a few passes. So far on my pentax I have been able to use a rocket blower (the large one) and get rid of any spots so far.

For what its worth, the cleaning solution is really good. I use it to clean my lenses as well (with the regular pec-pads, which are decently priced for a pack of 100) and it works miracles compared to some of the other fluids like canons lens fluid (streaky disaster).

BTW lots of people seem to freak out if you talk about cleaning a sensor with one of these swabs. I don't think it's a big deal. I had to rub the heck out of a canon sensor (not highly advised to do this) to get it clean, but didn't manage to do any damage. I think the UV, etc, filters before the sensors are a lot tougher than people seem to think. As long as you're not doing something really silly you'd be hard pressed to do any damage.

09-30-2014, 02:15 PM   #5
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My K-30 sensor was the same way. I was going to send it off to be cleaned, but though I'd give the pre moistened DSLR cleaning swabs a try. It took 3 of them, but it removed every spot. I was very pleased and my skies are clear again. They were about $12 for a 4 pack I think. Plus what crewl1 said about changing your lenses.
09-30-2014, 02:39 PM   #6
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Dust removal procedure in order:
1) Use the camera dust removal system. There is a menu setting to turn on/off. If you have dust run this several times in a row and then check for dust again. I leave mine on "run on startup" and I think that is best so you don't have to worry about it.
2) Use a 'rocket blower' or equivalent to blow off anything the shaker will not get rid of. Do not use compressed air or canned air. Some folks report it is OK to use canned air if you are careful, personally I'm not taking any chances but YMMV.
3) Use a wet cleaning kit. This is the last resort, and on two cameras with over 25,000 actuations in all kinds of environments I've never had to use one yet. Get this if all else fails but don't go there unless you are sure you need it.
4) Send in for professional cleaning. Pentax extended warranty (in the US) includes one 'free' cleaning. Not sure about anywhere else.

Easiest way to check for dust is to set your aperture to f/22 or so and take an image of the sky. Dust on the sensor is more visible at smaller apertures.
09-30-2014, 04:56 PM   #7
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Think of your cameras insides as the character " Pigpen". You will get dust on your sensor and viewfinder an periodically need to clean or get them cleaned. My K50 I constantly needed to blow the sensor off even with using the dust removal program. My K5 lls I haven't needed to as yet.
09-30-2014, 05:45 PM   #8
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Very nice title. It is perhaps more fitting than you thought. In the story, she is haunted by a spot that only she can see. It is similar with dust spots. Often, we obsess over them and most viewers don't even notice them.
But it is true, if you show a photo to a jury, photographers, they will notice it. And of course there is a certain limit, where there are so many dust spots that they become noticeable. Enable the dust removal action, use rocket blower, think about buying the Pentax lollypop dust removal tool, and take camera to service centre that offers cleaning. Its a process, a battle, that is always ongoing and you can never win it once and for all. It is unavoidable, but you should still try to minimize it. Good tips in this thread so far.

09-30-2014, 05:59 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by skierd Quote
And now that it's going to be nice and clean, how do I keep it that way?
  • Don't sneeze when changing lenses
  • Don't cough when changing lenses
  • Wind is not your friend
  • Salt spray is not your friend
  • Static is not your friend
  • Going to the rodeo/beach/burning man? Plan on shooting with a single lens.
In reference to the first two points...that spot that won't come off is not dust.


Steve
09-30-2014, 06:15 PM   #10
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I live in Florida, and get quite a bit of wet pollen stuck to my sensor. Going from inside (Air Conditioning) to outside (hot and humid I mean VERY hot and VERY humid), which causes condensation on the sensor. This condensation binds the pollen and dust to the sensor surface pretty securely. Here's what I do, and have had great results:
1: Start by using the dust removal system 4 or 5 times.
2: Remove the lens, lockup the mirror and use a rocket blower 5 or 10 times with the lens mount pointing down.
3: I use one of the "CleanSkies" brushes with one swipe across the sensor. You use canned air on the brush first to clean it off and build up a static discharge. Do not swipe a second time without blowing the brush with the canned air, or you will wipe all that pollen back on your sensor. Never use the canned air on your camera!!! only on the brush itself.
4: Check at f22 at the sky. Repeat 2 and 3 until the sensor is completely clean, usually no more than 2 or 3 repeats.


The cleanskies brushes are on e-bay for something less than $15 last time I checked. Cleanskies Sensor Brush Cleaning Set for Digital SLR APS C and Full Size Sensors | eBay
09-30-2014, 07:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
The cleanskies brushes are on e-bay for something less than $15 last time I checked. Cleanskies Sensor Brush Cleaning Set for Digital SLR APS C and Full Size Sensors | eBay
Sorry for straying off-topic, but do those brushes work for focus screens too?


Steve
09-30-2014, 07:12 PM   #12
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I don't know anyone who has ever cleaned or touched a sensor.


What you can physically touch is a sheet of glass which sits on top of the sensor. I don't know of any sensor that is exposed when cleaning, theyr all under sheets of glass. The topmost sheet of glass is the IR filter and yet another sheet of glass sits under that, the AA filter.


I suppose if you have the top sheet of glass removed when the camera is converted to IR use by IR filter removal, and the second sheet of glass, the high pass AA filter is also removed, you might then be able to touch the sensor surface.


If you have either an AA filter present or an IR filter present or both, you cant possibly touch the sensor, so clean away, we all know how to clean a sheet of glass don't we?
09-30-2014, 07:13 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Sorry for straying off-topic, but do those brushes work for focus screens too?


Steve
The set comes with two brushes. One is supposed to be only for cleaning the sensor, so you don't contaminate it. The other one is specifically for cleaning the mirror box and etcetera. I have not used my second brush to clean my focus screen; mostly I use the rocket blower (I leave it in the frame, just tip the frame down, and blow). I then clean the mirror box with the other brush.
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