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06-26-2010, 09:49 AM   #1
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Pentax disappointing Sensor cleaning.

Hi all,

A couple of weeks ago I sent my K100D to Pentax for a Sensor cleanup ( it was quite dusty and it had to be sent to the manufacturer ).

In any case, when i called technical support prior to sending the camera, I was told the price would vary depending on how much work the camera required. Mine was quite dirty, so when I was told the total was $170, I thought it was a bit expensive but given how dirty the sensor was i assumed that was the correct price and that as long as they through fully cleaned my camera i would not mind it.

Well yesterday i got my camera, and first thing i did was to try a couple of pictures to see how it was... to my surprise, the sensor still has dust particles all OVER !!!

I do not understand what they did ??? They did remove a few dust particles, but for $170 i would expect a complete cleanup. I'm calling first time monday morning as well as sending a couple of emails. I cant believe this is the quality of work they provide on their cameras.

If they thought the sensor was too dirty they could have told me before charging me such amount and sending the camera back half fixed.

Please refer to the attached pictures to see how it looks now.

First picture is the first one i took when i got the camera, after that i tried with a dust remover and then i took the next picture.

What should i do about this ? Is this the 'normal' clean up service Pentax provides ?

Attached Images

Last edited by coljung; 06-26-2010 at 12:36 PM.
06-26-2010, 01:15 PM   #2
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I agree it looks like you have a problem. I'm not sure what to do about Pentax, but when the sensor on my K20D was dirty (now a few times). I've looked at the options and I finally decided to do what your not supposed to do and cleaned it myself with canned air and it worked like a dream.

If you want to attempt this though I will give you the same warning that is on all the websites (don't try this at home kids). It is possible to shot the propellant out of to the nozzle, and if you get that on your sensor, you have bigger problems than just dust. But in my experience (I work with this at work to clean dust from my metallurgical samples before looking at them under the microscope), I've only seen propellant spray out when the can hasn't been kept vertical, so typically I spray some air and make sure that the air's clean before cleaning my sensor. Also try not the use a mostly empty can, I'm not sure what will happen after the air has run out.

Anyway, good luck with Pentax, I hope that their customer service is better than their cleaning services are.

06-26-2010, 01:46 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Simian Summit Quote
I'm not sure what will happen after the air has run out.
We all die.

I routinely use canned air for sensor cleaning. I consider the naysayers to be braying at nothing.
06-26-2010, 02:04 PM   #4
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Pentax service goofed. My 5D1 sensor cleaning had to be repeated about a dozen times, because 11 times the mirror flipped more dust on the sensor as soon as camera was switched off from cleaning mode -- the mirror box needs to be thoroughly blown out before going into sensor cleaning mode, then the 'sensor box' needs to be thoroughly blown out, repeat both a few times because dust does hide in the most inaccesable places only to come loose & migrate to the sensor. The good news is that was almost two years ago; with care in changing lenses -- in protected area, quick, with camera opening pointed own -- the sensor has gotten dust on it a few times, but a rocket blower removes all of it. (knocking on wood here....)

06-26-2010, 03:16 PM   #5
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Thing is, they might have gotten the dust off it there, then more developed in transit back to you. Dust is an every day part of life on Earth. Sending a camera off for cleaning is just a bad idea.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 06-27-2010 at 10:08 AM.
06-26-2010, 03:32 PM   #6
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I certainly wouldn't be happy if I'd paid $170 for a clean and my sensor cameback looking lke yours did. Did you take an 'out of the box' sensor shot when your first got the camera to serve as a reference? Failing that, did you take a shot immediately before sending it to Pentax? In order to pursue your complaint with them it would be helpful to have one or both to hand. Depending on how hard you are prepared to 'push', including putting your complaint in writing, you may get all or some of your money back. Either way, you should use it to purchase some sensor cleaning kit of your own. Contrary to what most manufacturers, and some camera shops, would have you believe, it is not difficult to clean a sensor, or more correctly the anti-alias filter that covers and protects the sensor. I would avoid using 'canned air', as this is more likely to re-distribute dust than remove it. For a clear no-nonsense guide to DIY sensor cleaning, and a range of affordable products that are safe and effective in use, look here: Just Ltd - Help & Guidance - Sensor Cleaning Introduction

As is clear from the url, the company is based in the U.K., but many, if not all, of the products they use and recommend are available in the U.S. I'm fortunate enough to live a few miles from where they are based and have found them friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

Hope this helps and good luck in getting a refund from Pentax.

All the best,

06-26-2010, 04:29 PM   #7
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Pentax cleaning kit works very well, easy to use, and almost no risk of sratching the low-pass filter.

Cheers - Klaus
06-26-2010, 06:39 PM   #8
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I used a local place here in Phoenix that is an authorized service center for everything but Pentax - Jay at Phoenix Camera Repair. I figured that if they did Hasselblad, Nikon, Canon for over 30 years, he could do my K100. My sensor was really dirty from being out at sea (actually stack gas and not salt spray), so I wanted to get it done as soon as I was back. $45 for the body and $10 a lens, and they were absolutely perfect. Dropped them off one afternoon, and he called several days later saying that they were ready to go. The camera body and lenses looked absolutely brand new - I think that he cleaned everything, inside and out. So, I would look around for someone local, and give them a try.

06-26-2010, 07:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
We all die.

I routinely use canned air for sensor cleaning. I consider the naysayers to be braying at nothing.
I'm probably worse as I use a very old squeeze bulb blower with a brush on the end and sometimes blow the inside out with my mouth, being careful not to spit on the sensor. It works. I changed lenses on a hike once and the inside of my camera got a number of blackflies inside.
06-26-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
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You only have to worry about canned air if you

a) shove the straw in and jam it into the sensor surface
b) make the horrible mistake of tipping the can and spraying propellant all over the sensor.

Otherwise using canned air can be just as safe as using a bulb.
06-26-2010, 08:45 PM   #11

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Although the sensor in the 2nd picture doesn't look quite clean, it doesn't look bad either, especially if you took this at f22 or some similar small aperture.

My k100 sensor has one spot, maybe more, that absolutely won't come off, so I just have to live with it.

06-27-2010, 05:38 PM   #12
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Original Poster
Well, thanks for all the responses.

A couple of points.

I did take it to a local place for clean up. First place i was told they had to send it somewhere else for clean up as it was too dirty. Second place i left it overnight and was called afterward and they told me I should send it to Pentax as the sensor was too dirty.

I did try with a dust cleaner but the sensor was in fact too dirty.

Although the sensor in the 2nd picture doesn't look quite clean, it doesn't look bad either, especially if you took this at f22 or some similar small aperture.
Yes I did take the pictures with max aperture. But, having sent the camera to Pentax, and paying such an amount, I would expect them to really clean it. They take apart the sensor, and have the means to properly clean the camera. I could pay $30 and get the same mediocre results i got from Pentax service department.

I totally understand if the camera was too dirty and it was not possible no clean it, but i think in that case they should have contacted me and let me know of this before sending me my camera back half clean and charging me the full amount.

In any case, I will be calling tomorrow first time in the morning and looking for either a full refund or another cleanup.
06-27-2010, 08:58 PM   #13
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Why would a sensor cleaning cost $170? The only thing I can think of is dust got under the AA filter. When we clean or blow on sensors its just the cover/AA filter we are cleaning. There is a warning not to blow the sensor in the Pentax K200D service manual as there is a potential to get dust under it, which will require you to take it apart to clean, or replace the cover. Many don't know this.

Did they tell you as the service manual says, that they may not be able to clean all the dust? It true what Mark is saying. The only way to keep a perfect dSLR sensor is to clean it yourself with wet swabs on occasion if blowing does not work. However we all have are IMO, but I am against blowing, its too easy to keep wanting to blow your camera and over time just keep pushing dust deep into the unit and maybe even under the AA cover, as dust can get into anything it seems. This is not IMO, this is also in the Pentax service manual for what its worth. The absolute best way to keep it clean is with brushes or lenspen and when needed wet swabbing. Don't be worried its not the sensor your touching.
06-27-2010, 09:13 PM   #14
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I bought a commercial sensor cleaning kit and it worked great. I didn't want to send it back for the cleaning like you did. It took several times going over the sensor to get it clean, but the bad pieces of gunk on it that were plaguing my pictures were finally gone. Check out the sensor scope system from (I think) Delkin. It's about $100, but it was well worth the money.
06-28-2010, 01:19 AM   #15
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I just breathe on it and then wipe it with an ear bud on my K-x. Cheap and it works. I don't have anything else where I am at the moment.

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