Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Striking Fear in my Heart!

I ain't no wimp. I want to make that clear right from the start of this post. While I wouldn't classify myself as a dare-devil--no bungie jumping, sky-diving, or other extreme sports for me--I'm fairly gutsy in other ways.

But this... this thing I'm facing... it's striking fear in my heart. And I don't think I'm alone in my fear. What is it that's causing me to shake in my boots? My sensor needs cleaning!

I've never cleaned a sensor before. For some reason, neither my 10D nor my 20D has ever seemed to need cleaning. I have no idea why that is. That doesn't mean those cameras don't need sensor cleaning, it only means I haven't seen any evidence of dust in the images. But my 5D is exhibiting a fairly large spot that I can only assume is the result of a collosal, mutant, dust bunny.

Are there support groups for photographers who need their sensors cleaned? Should I seek professional help? Or should I simply go the stiff upper lip route, bite the bullet, and clean the sensor and hope for the best?

Here's the deal: I'm not the most mechanically-inclined guy around. Yeah, I can screw in a light bulb but my mechanical prowess doesn't go far beyond that. And when I've researched how to clean a sensor, the information I found was so filled with alarming warnings of catastrophic results (should I mess up when attempting the cleaning) that I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm fairly concerned... make that, I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.

It all started on my last shoot. I was going over some images with a model when she suddenly became agitated. "What's that?" she exclaimed and, with that, she jumped up, tore open her blouse, and began inspecting her torso looking for a bruise or a malignant mole or something like that. "It must be your camera," she finally said with obvious relief.

I immediately grabbed my camera and inspected the UV filter on the front of the lens. It was clean. And the moment I realized it was clean, the blood started draining from head. I realized what was going on at once-- the sensor was dirty!

I've avoided doing anything about this problem since that shoot. That's mostly because I haven't shot anything since. But things are coming up and I know I'm going to have to deal with this.

And I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.

The lovely lady accompanying this paranoid post, shown clothed then sans clothing, is Francesca. MUA was Lilian.


Anonymous said...

There is visible dust even on the first image of this post (s1600-h/francesca-008rev1.jpg in upper right). I suspect you have not seen this as much of a problem due to the frequent use of f5.6. Try shooting a blue sky at f22 and I think you will see your sensor is a mess. I clean my sensor before every shoot. I just use the brush from these guys http://www.visibledust.com/. Good luck…just don’t drool while looking down at your sensor

Anonymous said...

funny you should mention dust... This link was posted on Strobist the other day http://www.copperhillimages.com/index.php?pr=tutorials

Anonymous said...

Don't be afraid JD,..just give it a blow job. :)

I cleaned mine once with a baby's ear syringe, by holding the camera face down with the mirror locked up,..worked for me.


Anonymous said...

Do what I did with my 20D. Take it to the camera store along with $50 and let them do it. I tried cleaning mine myself but all I seemed to do was move it around.

Kevin H. Stecyk said...

Here is one of the best links I have found...


So far, my blower has removed a couple dust bunnies. I have purchased Visible Dust's products (http://www.visibledust.com/), but have not had to use them as yet.

Before using my blower on my camera, I prepared the shower area. I ran the shower for a couple minutes to increase the humidity and reduce the air borne dust floating around. Using a tripod, I had the camera facing down. I then followed Canon's instructions about removing the lens and having the mirror up. I used the blower on the camera, and problem seems to be gone, at least for now.

Good luck.

Marco said...

Don't worry, you're not cleaning the sensor itself but the (rather sturdy) piece of glass (AA filter) that is in front of it.
use one of the available options in the market, take care that:
- your power cannot suddenly go off (with the mirror slapping down as result) during the process
- no pets can run about (hairs)
- don't wipe the filter with a dry cloth/brush/swab. Always use some alcohol (usually in the same package as the swabs)

that's it, really. don't be afraid to use a little pressure (of course, don't put your weight behind it), because too little will not remove anything.

jd said...

If you do decide to fix it yourself, i wish you good luck. Obviously, running this blog means you have a lot of karma points going for you. You should not have a problem.

That said, I took a Canon 30D in to get cleaned and the nice fellow at the Canon center was able to do it in ten minutes. I think it cost me all of about ten dollars. Fifty bucks sounds too high to me, but it is possible that the prices in South Korea, where I live, are a lot lower.

Anonymous said...


For sensor cleaning I personally use Eclipse cleaner along with their sensor swab. I've used this stuff on my Canons (D1 & D1s)for about five years now. NO PROBLEMS. product made by Photographic Solutions,Inc.
I buy mine at pictureline.com Best stuff I've seen. Her's alink to their sensor cleaning tutorial and the product. http://www.pictureline.com/newsletter/2004/june/dslrclean.html
For what it's worth..
Enjoy your site and chatting afew times with you on GG or should I now say G1.
BillS (bill8131)

Anonymous said...

The Copperhill method is the way to go. Like you I was petrified. It's actually quite easy, you can push harder than you imagine and it does work. I actually swabbed it 6 times before I got the right pressure [start of softly softly] and you'll work it out. I've got the mechanical aptitude of a gnat so we're about the same there.

Nike [Just do it]