Have you cleaned your sensor?

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Nando

New member
Hi all,

Last week I did a pretty stupid thing. Was in a woodland taking some flower photos. Decided to use my extension tubes and removed my lens from my Nikon Z6 II without switching it off.
I had my camera on the tripod, 20 centimeters from the ground and there was a bit of wind.
Apparently, the static that existed on the sensor due to not switching the camera, pulled some dust.

I bought VSGO sensor cleaning swaps to clean it.
Already used 5 swaps. Every time I clean the sensor, I remove some spots but others appear which is really frustrating me. I just can't remove them all and the spots are visible in my photos.

Have you guys done this? How did you resolve the situation?

See attached image using the Lightroom Spot Removal, Visualize Spots.
Those lighter spots are visible in the photos.
If I use another swap, I will most certainly remove those but will place new ones :(
This is a photo I shoot at a white card board.

Thanks,
2021-04-12_16-30-57.jpg


Fernando
 
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DRwyoming

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Have you guys done this? How did you resolve the situation?
I've cleaned sensors many times over the years. My approach is basically:

- Start with a blower as that can often resolve the easier problems and when possible it's best not to actually touch the sensor.
- If the blower doesn't resolve the problem I'll use sensor swabs (have tried various brands but currently use Delkin swabs) with just a drop or two of sensor cleaning fluid (currently using Gamma fluid which works well).
- I have a lens pen sensor cleaner where I use the small triangular end to clean up the corners of the sensor which sometimes accumulate a bit of dust after using the swabs.
- After doing a number of these over the years and using the stop down, shoot against a blue sky (or white wall) test I eventually invested in a sensor loupe which is helpful for seeing where the dust or streaks are and to see if I've sufficiently cleaned them up.
- That's generally enough to get the job done, but be careful of a couple of things: too much fluid can result in streaking and require additional passes with a damp but not wet sensor swab and it's possible to scratch sensors if you apply too much pressure and never swab with a completely dry swab.

I've always been able to get my sensors clean using this approach but sometimes it takes a few passes which can be frustrating. I've tried the Arctic Butterfly and the pressure pad approaches but overall have had the most reliable success with what's listed above.
 

Nando

New member
Thread starter
Thanks DRwyoming,

I did use the blower, but did not help, actually, seemed it got things worse since I got way more spots after blowing it than I had before.




I've cleaned sensors many times over the years. My approach is basically:

- Start with a blower as that can often resolve the easier problems and when possible it's best not to actually touch the sensor.
- If the blower doesn't resolve the problem I'll use sensor swabs (have tried various brands but currently use Delkin swabs) with just a drop or two of sensor cleaning fluid (currently using Gamma fluid which works well).
- I have a lens pen sensor cleaner where I use the small triangular end to clean up the corners of the sensor which sometimes accumulate a bit of dust after using the swabs.
- After doing a number of these over the years and using the stop down, shoot against a blue sky (or white wall) test I eventually invested in a sensor loupe which is helpful for seeing where the dust or streaks are and to see if I've sufficiently cleaned them up.
- That's generally enough to get the job done, but be careful of a couple of things: too much fluid can result in streaking and require additional passes with a damp but not wet sensor swab and it's possible to scratch sensors if you apply too much pressure and never swab with a completely dry swab.

I've always been able to get my sensors clean using this approach but sometimes it takes a few passes which can be frustrating. I've tried the Arctic Butterfly and the pressure pad approaches but overall have had the most reliable success with what's listed above.
 

Warren D

Well-known member
I'll preface by saying I haven't cleaned a Z sensor yet, but I've cleaned sensors in at least 8 dslrs. Funny, but the D100, D200, D300 and D500 all cleaned well, usually the first time. OTOH, the D2x, D4 and D5 have been miserable to get clean, I've used as many as 12 swabs as it seems the dirt just moves around. I'll start with the built in cleaning function, then go to a blower and finally the swabs if all else fails. It does take a little practice.
 

DRwyoming

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thanks DRwyoming,

I did use the blower, but did not help, actually, seemed it got things worse since I got way more spots after blowing it than I had before.
Two things to think about:

- Some inexpensive blowers (e.g. the bulbs sometimes included free in some photo kits) can actually blow bits of oil or rubber up onto the sensor so make sure your blower is actually clean. Some of the best blower bulbs have a filter screen on the air input port (the back end of the bulb) to limit dust from the environment being sucked up and blown on your sensor. You can actually make a small filter out of fine mesh or something like a coffee filter and tape it on the back of most blower bulbs to achieve a similar result.

- When working in a less than sterile environment I'll use a small spray bottle filled with tap water to spray some mist around the room prior to sensor cleaning. Basically the water mist pulls dust out of the air for a few minutes for a cleaner working space. Sure, this won't get the job done if it's crazy dusty but it's an old darkroom trick for minimizing dust in the air and something I'll do if I don't have a very clean environment to work in.
 

Nando

New member
Thread starter
Oh yes, it does seems it moves around.
Yeah, it seems the 12 swaps I bought will all gone if I continue this path. So annoying...


I'll preface by saying I haven't cleaned a Z sensor yet, but I've cleaned sensors in at least 8 dslrs. Funny, but the D100, D200, D300 and D500 all cleaned well, usually the first time. OTOH, the D2x, D4 and D5 have been miserable to get clean, I've used as many as 12 swabs as it seems the dirt just moves around. I'll start with the built in cleaning function, then go to a blower and finally the swabs if all else fails. It does take a little practice.
 

Nando

New member
Thread starter
That's a great idea, spray water to pull down some dust out of the air.
Yeah, my blower do not have a filter. Will check how can I add a filter inside of it.

thanks


Two things to think about:

- Some inexpensive blowers (e.g. the bulbs sometimes included free in some photo kits) can actually blow bits of oil or rubber up onto the sensor so make sure your blower is actually clean. Some of the best blower bulbs have a filter screen on the air input port (the back end of the bulb) to limit dust from the environment being sucked up and blown on your sensor. You can actually make a small filter out of fine mesh or something like a coffee filter and tape it on the back of most blower bulbs to achieve a similar result.

- When working in a less than sterile environment I'll use a small spray bottle filled with tap water to spray some mist around the room prior to sensor cleaning. Basically the water mist pulls dust out of the air for a few minutes for a cleaner working space. Sure, this won't get the job done if it's crazy dusty but it's an old darkroom trick for minimizing dust in the air and something I'll do if I don't have a very clean environment to work in.
 

Palouse

Active member
Thanks DRwyoming,

I did use the blower, but did not help, actually, seemed it got things worse since I got way more spots after blowing it than I had before.
Here is the blower I use—it has a filter and a valve to prevent sucking in and redistributing dust! Beats my old rocket blower by a mile!
 

dtibbals

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Yes it is very simple! Steve should do a video about it but there are easy to follow videos on youtube
 

bleirer

Well-known member
Have you checked to make sure those arent blown pixels? I'm not sure I would know the difference to look at them, but those are quite regular in shape which makes me suspicious. I assume if you shoot some test shots in total darkness with the lens cap on, if they are still there it is a blown pixel.
 

Rassie

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I agree with Bleirer. Those spots look very much like hot pixels, especially when they show up so bright white on a black background. I suggest you test for that per his suggestion. Apparently Thom Hogan mentions in his new e-book on the Z6/7 cameras that manually activating the Clean Sensor Now feature a couple of times in a row will help reduce the incidence of these faulty pixels.
For cleaning the sensor on my Z6II I always start with the blower. If that does not work I use the Eyelead sensor gel stick https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0046VBEE0/. These two methods have kept first my Z6 and lately my Z6II sensors clean (also my DSLR's prior to the MILC). I also have an Arctic Butterfly brush but I haven't used that since I got the gel stick. My last resort would be a wet swab - I have those as well.
 
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Woodpecker

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Being one of those who were struck by the constructional deficites of the shutter in the D600 I had to do it on a regular basis.
Through PhotograhyLife I git in contact with the Eyelead Sensor Gel Stick a couple of years ago and it was a great experience using it.
It was able to remove everything including the oilish stuff the D600 has spit on its sensor.
That said, these days it is important to get the original as there are too many bad and cheap copies on the market by now. This in combination with big A...'s total market control lets Nasim Mansurov of PhotographyLife now step out of trading the Eyelead stuff.

However, I never use the Gel Stick unless there isn't something on the sensor I can't get rid of with pure air. In case conventional blowers do not provide enough pressure to do that I use my compressor at home as a kind of rocket blower XXL ;) .
Of course the 8 bar of the compressor would potentially kill the camera when shooting short distance. So I use a pressure regulator and take a piece of one of these FFP2 masks we have to use for Covid prevention to put in front of the nozzle and it works great:

Open camera with lifted mirror on the tripod,
compressor nozzle with "homemade" filter in one hand for blowing off the sensor,
a small hose connected to the vacuum cleaner in the other hand for sucking off the air directly beside the lens connector ...

... and off you go - sorry, dust.
 

Richard Stern

Active member
I have cleaned my D500 sensor many times by using an air blower followed by a swab-based sensor cleaning kit (I sorry, can't remember the name), with no problem. So when a friend with a D5 asked me to clean his, I used the same technique, and it actually made it worse. When he took it to our nearby camera store and cleaning guru, and showed them the result the first question they asked was - Did an amateur try to clean the sensor! So as noted above, the sensors on different cameras seem to respond differently to cleaning attempts.
 
I've cleaned my sensors for years and two things really help reduce my frustration. #1 is a get a nice Loupe so you can see the spots without having to shoot a picture every time you clean. #2 get a nice sensor brush. That takes most of the dust off that the blower can't get.
 

Dan291

Member
Supporting Member
As a former D600 owner, yes I’ve wet cleaned. The first couple times I probably experienced what combat pilots term Maximum Pucker Factor.
Since then, I have a D750 and D810 that I’ve never wet cleaned. The built-in sensor cleaning function, a blower, a sensor brush, and an Eyelead gel stick... as needed, in that order.
Wet clean as a last resort. (Actually, sending to Nikon would be the last resort, but that’s never happened, for just a cleaning.)
So far, so good.
 

ssheipel

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Here is the blower I use—it has a filter and a valve to prevent sucking in and redistributing dust! Beats my old rocket blower by a mile!
Thanks DRw... and Nick; have often thought when using the blower that I'm just throwing dusty air at the lens or sensor; just ordered the Photo Solutions blower!
 

Nando

New member
Thread starter
Thanks guys for all your posts.
Now I'm getting confused because no idea what I'm having here :unsure:

Did try a couple more times with 3 swaps, like Warren said, the spots seems to move place when I clean, not being able to remove them.
This is how my sensor looks like. Comparing with the image I uploaded in my first post, spots moved place.

sensor 1.jpg


I then took Bleirer and Rassie advise and took an image with the lens cap on. And this is what confuses me since I get a different set of spots.

sensor 2.jpg


I live in Portugal so the air blower Palouse mention is not available in Europe.
Did look at Amazon but the customs I would need to pay for it, I would buy 3 of them o_O

I ended up ordering one of these https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07LFV6QW6/ which has also an air filter.

I will look at the Eyelead Sensor Gel Stick that Woodpecker mention, and also that technic of holding a vacuum cleaner near while we blow air might work, pulling any air particle away... I hope

I did on youtube some people using this also https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001B9RI5O/ . It amazes me how all this stuff can be expensive.
 
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ingweDave

Well-known member
Supporting Member
For what its worth, I have been using an Attic Butterfly for probably 10+ years and it works well for me. I am obsessively careful of keeping it clean and using it in a clean environment. I start with the in camera cleaning, (Never sure how well that works.) followed by a blower, followed by the Arctic Butterfly. I will then carry out a swab clean, once or twice a year. I do seem to clean the Z6 sensor the most.
 
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