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09-14-2018, 02:26 PM   #1
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Gel sticks for sensor cleaning?

I've noticed some spots on my sensor, I need to clean it. I ordered some swabs and cleaning fluid. But then thought I might also try the gel sticks before going the wet swab route. I don't know which ones, or if the $50 (on Amazon) sticks were better than the $10-15 sticks, so I went to B&H to see if there were some reviews.

B&H doesn't seem to have any gel sticks. Went to Adorama. Same deal, all kinds of swabs, some other type of kits but no gel sticks. Not even one that I could find. If you search on Pentax' O-ICK1 it comes up on Adorama, but as backordered.


Amazon has various types, but... why not the two biggest US camera stores? Is there some problem with gel sticks, some reason they're shunned?

09-14-2018, 03:30 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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If you're cleaning a sensor, the first thing to try is a good quality, powerful rocket blower. That will deal with 95% of spots, if you get the nozzle close enough (obviously you have to be a little bit careful when doing so). You might need repeated attempts, but it's worth trying, as any method that doesn't touch the sensor is best. If that doesn't work, then a gel stick is definitely the next step, IMHO.

The best choice for Pentax cameras is the official O-ICK1. If you can't get hold of one, a great alternative is the Eyelead SCK-1, which claims compatibility with the sensors used in Pentax cameras. I use the O-ICK1 on my own Pentax cameras, and it's excellent. I also use the Sony-specific version of the Eyelead stick on my A7 MkII and Hasselblad HV, and I'm very happy with the results.

I would advise against buying anything other than those two products... especially, avoid any unbranded or unknown-brand copies. And when buying the originals of either, make sure it's a boxed original product. You really have no idea of the composition of the gel on copy or unbranded versions, which could leave you with a much bigger problem than you started off with

Last edited by BigMackCam; 09-14-2018 at 03:43 PM.
09-14-2018, 06:32 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
If you can't get hold of one, a great alternative is the Eyelead SCK-1, which claims compatibility with the sensors used in Pentax cameras.
+1, Used successfully.
09-14-2018, 06:40 PM   #4
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What do you all think of Photographic Solutions Sensor Swab kits?

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1165578-REG/photographic_solutions_ul...ab_type_2.html

hhhmmmm B&H says store pickup only, but Adorama looks like they will ship it:

https://www.adorama.com/cpuk2.html

09-14-2018, 09:35 PM   #5
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I used to have a ton of dust spots on my sensor, and a rocket blower got rid of all of them. So, definitely try that first. It's cheap and can be used an unlimited number of times. It's also good for getting dust off lenses as well.
09-15-2018, 01:43 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
What do you all think of Photographic Solutions Sensor Swab kits?
I haven't used that particular brand, but wet-cleaning sensor swabs are a different part of a complete sensor cleaning solution, rather than an alternative to gel-sticks.

I described my own approach in the following post:

How do you clean a really dirty sensor? - PentaxForums.com
09-15-2018, 03:08 AM   #7
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Not a great friend of gel sticks. Tried Pentax's own on my K-3 sensor in 2015, I think, and broke a little sweat when - possibly due to my user error - it created more problems (residue) on my sensor than it solved (had started out with a single speck of stubborn dust).

Much to my relief, wet cleaning with VSGO swabs and fluid according to instruction solved the problem 100% and worked like a charm:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K8MTPEW/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?tag=pe...&ie=UTF8&psc=1

The manufacturer is based in China and claims to be OEM supplier for Nikon.

In all likelihood, Rollei source their swabs and solution from VSGO too:

amazon.com : Rollei Sensor Cleaning Set APS-C - for professional wet or dry cleaning of cameras, vacuum packed and dust-free, white : Camera & Photo?tag=pentaxforums-20&

Since that wet cleaning effort years ago, my sensor has remained squeaky-clean (helped by antistatic effect of the fluid?).
09-15-2018, 06:51 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
rather than an alternative to gel-sticks.
Thanks! This makes sense as a sequence of attack. The swab kit I linked is made by the folks who make the Eclipse fluid you mention in your other post, so I'm thinking it's probably a good kit. I've got a stubborn dust bunny on my K3 II that my rocket blower just isn't getting. Time to take it up a level.

09-16-2018, 07:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
If you're cleaning a sensor, the first thing to try is a good quality, powerful rocket blower. That will deal with 95% of spots, if you get the nozzle close enough (obviously you have to be a little bit careful when doing so). You might need repeated attempts, but it's worth trying, as any method that doesn't touch the sensor is best.
So I rocket blowered my K-3ii sensor and took another picture of a flat white wall and... hmmm... pretty much all the spots are gone. Maybe I should have done that before ordering the wet clean kit that's no on its way from Amazon.

Edit: My test photo was wide open instead of f/16. Took another and there are a few very small, light spots still there. But still a dramatic improvement with only the blower. Also tested my old K-30, it has spots. Will try the blower on it, too.


Okay, tried it on the K-30 and there's still quite a few spots. It will get a secondary cleaning method.

Last edited by ThorSanchez; 09-16-2018 at 07:46 AM.
09-20-2018, 07:18 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Madaboutpix Quote
Not a great friend of gel sticks. Tried Pentax's own on my K-3 sensor in 2015, I think, and broke a little sweat when - possibly due to my user error - it created more problems (residue) on my sensor than it solved (had started out with a single speck of stubborn dust).[/URL]
Same here, was a panic!
09-26-2018, 04:55 PM   #11
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Not a fan either. I've seen gel sticks leave more residue on the sensor than what they should have removed to begin with. I've always had good luck with the Visible Dust orange swabs and their solution if a blower bulb can't remove the particles.
09-26-2018, 05:02 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Madaboutpix Quote
Not a great friend of gel sticks. Tried Pentax's own on my K-3 sensor in 2015, I think, and broke a little sweat when - possibly due to my user error - it created more problems (residue) on my sensor than it solved
QuoteOriginally posted by Andrea K Quote
Same here, was a panic!
QuoteOriginally posted by amstel78 Quote
Not a fan either. I've seen gel sticks leave more residue on the sensor than what they should have removed to begin with.
Honestly, I'm very surprised. As mentioned, I've used both the Pentax O-ICK1 and Eyelead products on my Pentax and Sony cameras respectively... many times... and not had a single problem

Still, everyone has their own preferred methods
09-26-2018, 05:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Honestly, I'm very surprised. As mentioned, I've used both the Pentax O-ICK1 and Eyelead products on my Pentax and Sony cameras respectively... many times... and not had a single problem

Still, everyone has their own preferred methods
I believe a lot of problems with gel sticks have to do with people not cleaning them properly after each application. They also tend to break down over time if exposed to high humidity or large temperature swings.


OTOH, a clean swab, a drop of juice, followed by a rocket blower always worked for me. I've never had to clean sensor more than once a year though; I'd prefer to clone them out in post if I can and only resort to a wet clean if the number of dust bunnies exceeded my patience threshold.
09-26-2018, 05:23 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by amstel78 Quote
I believe a lot of problems with gel sticks have to do with people not cleaning them properly after each application.
Right. I can believe that. I'm strict about the way I use them... One dab on the sensor is followed by one dab on a *clean* section of the correct sticky paper. Never anything else. And after each dab on the sticky paper, I visually check the gel to make sure any obvious debris has been removed. I can only think of one occasion where I had to dab it to another clean section of the sticky paper a second time, which then worked.

QuoteOriginally posted by amstel78 Quote
They also tend to break down over time if exposed to high humidity or large temperature swings.
Interesting. I have no experience of that, living here in the UK. We don't really have extremes of humidity and temperature in the same way some parts of the world do (both a blessing and a curse, depending on your point of view ).

I can't remember where I read it, but I definitely read somewhere that Leica or Hasselblad (the former, I think) used the Pentax O-ICK1 in their official service facilities. I don't know if that's correct, but I found it interesting...

EDIT: Here's one mention of that...

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/33321432
09-26-2018, 05:30 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Right. I can believe that. I'm strict about the way I use them... One dab on the sensor is followed by one dab on a *clean* section of the correct sticky paper. Never anything else. And after each dab on the sticky paper, I visually check the gel to make sure any obvious debris has been removed. I can only think of one occasion where I had to dab it to another clean section of the sticky paper a second time, which then worked.



Interesting. I have no experience of that, living here in the UK. We don't really have extremes of humidity and temperature in the same way some parts of the world do (both a blessing and a curse, depending on your point of view ).

I can't remember where I read it, but I definitely read somewhere that Leica or Hasselblad (the former, I think) used the Pentax O-ICK1 in their official service facilities. I don't know if that's correct, but I found it interesting...

EDIT: Here's one mention of that...

Leica seems to use the Pentax O-ICK1 cleaning kit.: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
For what it's worth: Sensor Damage From Sensor Gel Stick: Sony Alpha Full Frame E-mount Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Some folks swear by them, as noted in the above article but personally, I'll stick (no pun intended) to the tried and true.
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