Joseph Clemson

Dealing with a dusty sensor on a Canon 60D

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Joseph Clemson    486

I've recently started doing timelapse clips using my Canon 60D and interval shots.  Because this often involves pointing the camera at large areas of sky and using small apertures to obtain slow shutter speeds, dust bunnies have suddenly become very noticable - maybe ten or a dozen faint but obvious spots on each image. I searched the internet on how to assess the extent of the problem and discovered how to shoot an out-of-focus area of sky and then use auto-levels on the image to show up the spots. SHOCK! It looked like a passing car had run through a puddle of dirty water and showered my sensor with it - there were dozens and dozens of spots.  :(

 

In my normal photographic  use these spots rarely show up at all, and if one or two do they are easily cloned out. The camera is four years old and has rarely had the 18-135 lens off. I do know that zoom lens pump action can introduce dust, but I was flabbergasted at the apparent extent of the problem.

 

I seek the wisdom and experience of the Alamy community...

 

1.  Is the use of auto-levels on an out-of-focus image likely to give me a true assessment of the dust problem, or does the technique overstate the extent of the problem?

2.  What is the likely cost of getting the sensor professionally cleaned (in the UK)?

3.  How long before I have to do it again?

4.  Does anyone know of a reliable cleaning service in the Lancashire/Manchester area or is the best bet to return it to Canon?

5.  Has anybody had successful and repeated experience of DIY sensor cleaning?

 

Cloning a few spots on an image is one thing, but cloning 10 spots on each of 500 slightly different frames on a timelapse becomes something of a chore. Something will have to be done, what is the best course of action??

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JohnB    74

I clean my Nikons regularly. You just need the correct cleaning fluid and swabs. I don't know about Canons but Nikons have a setting to hold the mirror up to allow access to the sensor.  I've not had any problems although if often takes several attempts to get the sensor properly clean.

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davidl    14

You can get it done for you but as it's not a one time thing you might as well learn to do it yourself. There are loads of tutorials on the web. Look at Visible Dusts site and the following give a good general background  http://www.dmcphoto.com/Articles/SensorBrushes/    http://www.strobist.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/you-can-do-it-clean-your-dslrs-ccd.html. Copperhill images seem to be unavailable at the minute but could be my current on the move set up. If you can get to their site it's useful. This shows how an experienced set up deals with it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRW9AmDPqr0
I found copperhill's sensor brush to be effective and a reasonable price. I use visible dust green swabs with their sensor clean fluid if I need to wet clean. I'm not sure their expensive blowers are any more effective than the usual rocket blower. You'll need a 1.6 swab for a canon APS sensor
Prices on a lot of this stuff is rediculous for what it is and you'll probably find it easy to get through a box of swabs and still have dust. It's probably happened to a lot of other people until they get confident. If you want to scare yourself watch a Canon tech use a kimwipe on a pair of tweezers to clean your sensor.
Re shooting a test image. Either take an image at infinity and at f22 of a clear blue sky, or do a several (3-4) second exposure while moving the camera over a clean plain white/light grey wall. Switch off any image stabilising in the camera and or lens. Load this image in photoshop then go to levels - auto - select options and use the enhance per channel contrast option. This will show you the dust on the sensor, it may well also show you the dust on the elements of the lens, these will be much larger "Blobs/smears"
Good luck on your mission, it's not impossible;-)

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Bill Brooks    698

This sensor loop uses dark field illumination and will make dust particles stand out that you cannot see with the naked eye.

 

http://www.visibledust.com/products3.php?pid=605

 

It is a simple thing to put a drop of cleaning fluid on a swab and GENTLY clean the sensor.

 

You can get the swabs, cleaning fluid and sensor loop from the above site, or you may be able to purchase same from any semi professional camera store.

 

I inspect with the sensor loop weekly, and can usually blow all dust off with a hand blower. No need to touch the sensor. Inspect blow, inspect blow, inspect blow, per session. If that doesn't work then I have to touch the sensor and I brush with a dry swab. If that doesn't work, usually with organic smeg like blackflies, I put a drop of cleaning fluid on the swab.

 

I reuse swabs and only discard if I have to use cleaning fluid. The swabs come in individual resealable clean room packages, so it is simple to reinsert the almost pristine swab back into the package.

 

Usually I have to dry swab every 4 th week, and wet swab every 6 months. You may have to resort to a wet swab the first time.

 

It really is easy. Make sure you understand how to lock up the mirror and open shutter for cleaning. Keep the swab away from everything except the sensor, as you may transfer oil onto the sensor from the mirror mechanism. Put only gentle pressure on the swab, or you will scratch the sensor cover.

Edited by Bill Brooks
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Joe Gaul    31

If you fancy doing this yourself take a look at the Just Limited web site. I also have the 60d and after a couple of years found the sensor shaking simply wasn't enough. I use eclipse fluid (only a drop is necessary) on a pec pad (never cut them as they are lint free only fold as per web instructions) over a paddle for the aps-c sensor. It isn't hard to do and you are only cleaning the filter over the sensor rather than the sensor itself. I mount the camera on a tripod and use a head torch. If you don't fancy doing this there are many people willing to take your cash but the only one I have used is in Old Eldon Square, Newcastle upon Tyne and he is very reasonably priced.

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To detect oil spots (the most common spots with Canons), I use the background of the monitor sreen shot OOF with a macro - shoot a jpeg and then put a black overlay mode layer or two on top - spots are very obvious.

 

I've used various services for cleaning such as Fixation but frankly you can do as good a job yourself with Visible Dust Plus and some of their swabs. It simply a question of cleaning, retesting and cleaning again. I may have to do it four or more times untill I get it spotless. I put a couple of drops of the VDust solution on a swab and press and swipe across the sensor filter, I don't go back for a second pass with a dirty swab. They are not that cheap but I only clean every so 4-6 months now so it's not a major issue. I only use each swab once - I don't want to transfer anything back onto the filter.

 

As Bill said, be careful not to touch the swab on to the mirror box at any time.

 

The brushes I've found of zero use with modern anti-dust mechanisms, it's the oil spots that are the pain.

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Armstrong    430

My way of detecting the sensor spots is to take a shot of blue sky with the lens zoomed out and manually focussed at infinity whilst at the smallest aperture. Then examine the shots on a large screen not the camera LCD.

 

I have had my sensor professionally cleaned before but it still doesn't come back 'clean'. There's always some residual dust left on the sensor.

 

I've tried both wet and dry clean methods. I've used pec pads and eclipse fluid but find the most effective method has been using a Lenspen Sensor Klear combined with a Giotto's Rocket Blower before and after. It's also very cost effective. This works for dust and pollen. If it's oil then you'll need to wet clean. You can tell if it's oil as it's a spot within a circle (think of a pencil drawing of a fried egg!)

 

Michael

Edited by Armstrong
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Bill Brooks    698

Geoff the sensor loop will show oil spots as well as dust, saving you the testing.

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Steve Tucker    16

As above really, a sensor loupe I find essential to see the dust and the effect of any swabbing. The first time I tried I made a real mess of it with a new D800 until I realised it was oil spots and not dust (D800 issue) and then needed the visible dust orange swabs with fluid for oil. Otherwise use the green swabs. Make sure you buy the right size for your sensor.

I have one of the ultrasonic brushes but not found it very useful to be honest. More often than not I use the swab dry but occasionally use the fluid and then follow it up with a dry one to clear any smearing. Only ever use a swab once.

Once you have tried it you will have the confidence, don't believe all the horror stories it is actually quite difficult to scratch a sensor unless you use a contaminated swab or have sand or similar on the sensor.

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Geoff the sensor loop will show oil spots as well as dust, saving you the testing.

 

Apart from the $100, |I really only want to see the results on a file in photoshop - IME, far easier to see any problem spots and .....free....

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Joseph,

 

These are Fixation's prices http://www.fixationuk.com/Fixation/Sensor%20Cleaning.html

 

I used to use them when I was visiting agents in London - probably on the top side of the spectrum of prices - camera shops that deal in a lot of secondhand often have good cleaning services. Sending off the camera will easily double the bill with post/insurance.

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Barking    26

I've had my camera (Nikon) cleaned twice now...on both occasions the `bunnies' were caused by sand dust  (must be a lesson in there somewhere!!!! :D ).  Tried the self cleaning but found it very time consuming and frustrating..

 

Decided to use a professional service and used Calumet.  My local is in Belfast, but they have an outlet in Manchester...charged around £40 if I remember correcty..but it is worth it :)

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Bryan    7,084

In most (all ?) cases you are cleaning a filter not the sensor itself. Would you think twice about cleaning a lens or filter? 

 

Just ensure that the mirror is safely locked up with plenty of charge in the battery, use a blower first then a clean swab.

 

Strangely I find that my mirrorless Sony is much less prone to dust problems than my Canons, maybe the mirror acts to draw the stuff in?

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spacecadet    1,492

Digipad kits are inexpensive. HArdly necessary now on an SLT, but I used them a lot on my A350 which was rather prone to dust.

Hold throat down, four quick blasts with a rocket blower, then one or two wipes with a pad with a couple of drops of PEC fluid on it.

The pad is sized to the sensor so there's no scrubbing about. Then check and repeat if needed.

Odd how less prone the SLT is even though the shutter is effectively open all the time when not exposing.

I just photograph a white monitor screen at infinity and f32 or whatever to see the spots. Then you know where to direct the blower. If you're lucky it does the trick on its own.

Just don't try a bicycle pump as I did. :lol: That's why I had to buy the kit in the first place.

Edited by spacecadet
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Joseph Clemson    486

Thanks folks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I'm trying to digest it all and decide which way to go.

 

I'm leaning towards a DIY solution and the concensus around the interweb seems to be to avoid wet solutions except as a last resort. With this in mind, has anybody used the Dust Aid Platinum cleaner kit, which is basically a plastic stick with some special sticky pads on the flat base which pick up the dust without moving it around and risking scratches. See http://www.wilkinson.co.uk/just-dust-aid-platinum-sensor-cleaner-kit.html

 

I suspect I'll end up trying one brand or another of wet swabs, but I want to investigate the dry solutions first.

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spacecadet    1,492

I wet-cleaned my A350 regularly, maybe half a dozen times a year, with no ill effects. it's more damp- than wet-cleaning really.

If you haven't done it before you may have quite an accumulation, so it may not need doing again for a long time.

The silicone sounds interesting but of course it won't shift anything nastier than dust, and some specks do seem to need a bit of a shove to get rid of them IME.

Oh, and a Digipad kit is cheaper by quite a few pints  Mailonline licences pounds.

Edited by spacecadet

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nilisha    0

Here’s a rundown of the various ways to remove dust from your camera:

  • Use the built-in cleaning system. Many cameras have a feature that vibrates the filter to dislodge bits of dust. This doesn’t work so well with stuck-on crud like pollen.
  • Use the camera’s dust-deleting software. Some cameras have a feature that identifies dust that’s stuck to the filter and automatically maps it out of the picture when capturing an image.
  • Remove it in post-processing. You can retouch the dust out of your pictures using image-editing software. This can be time-consuming, even if you use batch processes like those in Lightroom or Photoshop
  • Send it to the manufacturer. Having the manufacturer clean out your camera means there’s no chance of voiding your warranty. But it does involve shipping your camera, spending some money, and not being able to shoot while your camera’s in the shop.
  • Use a hand-blower. This can dislodge some of the dust, but not stuck-on bits of pollen. DO NOT use compressed air or blow with your mouth.
  • Use a brush. This method sweeps away more stubborn dust, but not the stuck-on crud. It can also leave smears of its own, and it voids your warranty if the manufacturer can tell you’ve touched the filter.

For more details refer to Canon 60d Manual. Good Luck. 

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wiskerke    1,883

In most (all ?) cases you are cleaning a filter not the sensor itself. Would you think twice about cleaning a lens or filter? 

 

Just ensure that the mirror is safely locked up with plenty of charge in the battery, use a blower first then a clean swab.

 

Strangely I find that my mirrorless Sony is much less prone to dust problems than my Canons, maybe the mirror acts to draw the stuff in?

 

The filter glass on top of the sensor is much thicker than some Canons. So it requires smaller apertures to project a sharp dust bunny.

(Filter stack thickness list here at LensRentals.)

With the higher resolution sensors it makes sense to use wider apertures because diffraction is more visible. So that's 2 causes that reinforce each other towards less dust being noticeable.

Because there is no mirror, there's also a lot less dust and oil flying around. Otoh the sensor is open at all time, so it is a good practice to turn the camera off before changing lenses. Something I never did with my canons. They were always on.

 

Having said that, I find that with a wide angle at f8 the dust bunnies are still quite visible. I also was not prepared for the huge size of them at 100% (on a A7RII).

 

wim

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Joseph Clemson    486

Wow. This is an OLD thread, so don't feel the need to discuss it further on my account, though others may find is useful.

 

You may be interested to know I eventually followed Spacecadet's advice and got the 'inexpensive' Digipad wet kit. It took me most of the kit (about eight attempts) to get the sensor properly clean, but I managed it in the end.

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I found that with the Nikon D3, dust bunnies were a real problem, but cleaning the sensor as discussed above was effective. Since moving to the Nikon D800, D801 and D750, I find that dust bunnies are a thing of the past, they just do not occur.

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Colblimp    182

I clean my sensors myself and was scared at first but now it's easy.  I made the mistake at first of pressing the swab very lightly on the sensor, which isn't what you want to do. I now press firmly, but not too hard, and I can usually get them clean at the first attempt.

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