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Thread: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

  1. #1

    Default Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    After using my camera (Pentax K-x) for over a year, I've noticed dust spots appearing on my photos. Did some reading up and found out that those were dust on the sensor. The recommended cleaning methods are sending back to the service centres or buying cleaning kits (swaps, brushes etc) specially made for sensor cleaning. But these are rather expensive (to me).

    Not wanting to spend too much to clean up the dust, i searched online for 'cheap' cleaning methods.

    First the easiest way, use blower to blow.. I squeezed till hand tired.. but the dust are still there.

    Then I saw recommendation to use 3m scotch tape on the sensor. A few websites recommended this method and there are also a few youtube videos showing how to do it. Well it seems rather easy and effective. So i bought 3m scotch tape and tried on the back of a DVD (they recommended to do that to show that there will not be any residue). Truly, the tape picked up the dust from the DVD and leaving no residue, CLEAN.

    So, confirm ok.. it's time to do my sensor cleaning with 3m scotch tape. Followed the instruction on the youtube video and .. first dab of the scotch tape on the sensor... saw a line.. dab the tape over the line.. ANOTHER LINE! IT DOES LEAVE RESIDUE! And it's the sticky scotch tape residue! Suddenly.. cold sweat started pouring.. is this the end of my camera?!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    I thought since damage already done.. I'll try to see how I can clear the residue. I then took an ice-cream stick.. wrap a piece of small cloth.. and i started rubbing lightly on the residue.. (thoughts running thru my mind.. dun touch the sensor. . leave cleaning to the professionals..)

    Seems like the light rubbing is clearing some of the residue. . but at the same time, the residue starting smudging.. After a while, the residue started disappearing .. but this time.. i saw some real tiny scratches! After clearing the residue (left the tiny scratches which i cant get rid off), i tried taking test shots. Funny that the scratches are not showing up on the photo but the dust have multiple.

    Worsen the dust problem with addition of scratches! DIY sensor cleaning indeed!

    Today I searched online again for remedies.. then i came across this site: http://www.tribcsp.com/~sigma2/SensorDust01.html

    Cleaning with cotton bud and breathing (not blowing) on the sensor. Damage already done.. no harm trying..
    Got some cotton buds and breathed once onto the sensor.. the sensor fogged up.. started light rubbing with the cotton bud.. when the fog clears.. the tiny scratch lines were not there anymore!! Sensor seems clean and clear. Did some test shots.. wala!~ CLEAN SENSOR!! Happy at last! =)
    Last edited by PixelHero; 22nd July 2011 at 12:14 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by PixelHero View Post
    After using my camera (Pentax K-x) for over a year, I've noticed dust spots appearing on my photos. Did some reading up and found out that those were dust on the sensor. The recommended cleaning methods are sending back to the service centres or buying cleaning kits (swaps, brushes etc) specially made for sensor cleaning. But these are rather expensive (to me).

    Not wanting to spend too much to clean up the dust, i searched online for 'cheap' cleaning methods.

    First the easiest way, use blower to blow.. I squeezed till hand tired.. but the dust are still there.

    Then I saw recommendation to use 3m scotch tape on the sensor. A few websites recommended this method and there are also a few youtube videos showing how to do it. Well it seems rather easy and effective. So i bought 3m scotch tape and tried on the back of a DVD (they recommended to do that to show that there will not be any residue). Truly, the tape picked up the dust from the DVD and leaving no residue, CLEAN.

    So, confirm ok.. it's time to do my sensor cleaning with 3m scotch tape. Followed the instruction on the youtube video and .. first dab of the scotch tape on the sensor... saw a line.. dab the tape over the line.. ANOTHER LINE! IT DOES LEAVE RESIDUE! And it's the sticky scotch tape residue! Suddenly.. cold sweat started pouring.. is this the end of my camera?!
    Send it to the service center and see if they can remove it, most probably they can. Do proper cleaning of the sensor of you are going to DIY, don't try weird thing like that

  4. #4
    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    I never liked the 3M scotch tape method because of the residue problem - plus if you touch the scotch tape unwittingly you are risking transferring a whole load of the oils on your finger onto the sensor.

    You should just buy $20-30 sensor cleaning fluid (which can be used for very long, mind you), and pair it with any appropriate tool with minimal risk of the above... Sensor swab cover can swap with Pec Pads, I use surgical grade cotton buds... Works for me still 5 years on (I think it's 5).

  5. #5
    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Btw, scotch tape method should not work on welded dust, that one needs wet cleaning anyways... So actually all this trouble might have been all for nothing, since if the blower did not move the dust, it is likely to be welded.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by PixelHero View Post
    After using my camera (Pentax K-x) for over a year, I've noticed dust spots appearing on my photos. Did some reading up and found out that those were dust on the sensor. The recommended cleaning methods are sending back to the service centres or buying cleaning kits (swaps, brushes etc) specially made for sensor cleaning. But these are rather expensive (to me).

    Not wanting to spend too much to clean up the dust, i searched online for 'cheap' cleaning methods.

    First the easiest way, use blower to blow.. I squeezed till hand tired.. but the dust are still there.

    Then I saw recommendation to use 3m scotch tape on the sensor. A few websites recommended this method and there are also a few youtube videos showing how to do it. Well it seems rather easy and effective. So i bought 3m scotch tape and tried on the back of a DVD (they recommended to do that to show that there will not be any residue). Truly, the tape picked up the dust from the DVD and leaving no residue, CLEAN.

    So, confirm ok.. it's time to do my sensor cleaning with 3m scotch tape. Followed the instruction on the youtube video and .. first dab of the scotch tape on the sensor... saw a line.. dab the tape over the line.. ANOTHER LINE! IT DOES LEAVE RESIDUE! And it's the sticky scotch tape residue! Suddenly.. cold sweat started pouring.. is this the end of my camera?!
    I saw my pic have some dust on it as will, after hearing this I think I better send my to Csc.
    Canon| Tokina(UWA) | newly added a Tamron(walkabout)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by spree86 View Post
    Send it to the service center and see if they can remove it, most probably they can. Do proper cleaning of the sensor of you are going to DIY, don't try weird thing like that
    Haha.. I did research before attempting.. insufficient research done for my case..

  8. #8

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by edutilos- View Post
    I never liked the 3M scotch tape method because of the residue problem - plus if you touch the scotch tape unwittingly you are risking transferring a whole load of the oils on your finger onto the sensor.

    You should just buy $20-30 sensor cleaning fluid (which can be used for very long, mind you), and pair it with any appropriate tool with minimal risk of the above... Sensor swab cover can swap with Pec Pads, I use surgical grade cotton buds... Works for me still 5 years on (I think it's 5).
    Thanks for the tips edutilos =) I'll be more careful in future.. this kind of stunt do once enough liao.

    btw, like your master pieces alot.

  9. #9
    Moderator ziploc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by PixelHero View Post
    I thought since damage already done.. I'll try to see how I can clear the residue. I then took an ice-cream stick.. wrap a piece of small cloth.. and i started rubbing lightly on the residue.. (thoughts running thru my mind.. dun touch the sensor. . leave cleaning to the professionals..)

    Seems like the light rubbing is clearing some of the residue. . but at the same time, the residue starting smudging.. After a while, the residue started disappearing .. but this time.. i saw some real tiny scratches! After clearing the residue (left the tiny scratches which i cant get rid off), i tried taking test shots. Funny that the scratches are not showing up on the photo but the dust have multiple.

    Worsen the dust problem with addition of scratches! DIY sensor cleaning indeed!

    Today I searched online again for remedies.. then i came across this site: http://www.tribcsp.com/~sigma2/SensorDust01.html

    Cleaning with cotton bud and breathing (not blowing) on the sensor. Damage already done.. no harm trying..
    Got some cotton buds and breathed once onto the sensor.. the sensor fogged up.. started light rubbing with the cotton bud.. when the fog clears.. the tiny scratch lines were not there anymore!! Sensor seems clean and clear. Did some test shots.. wala!~ CLEAN SENSOR!! Happy at last! =)
    Now bacterias from your breath will happily start multiplying on your sensor...

  10. #10
    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by PixelHero View Post
    I thought since damage already done.. I'll try to see how I can clear the residue. I then took an ice-cream stick.. wrap a piece of small cloth.. and i started rubbing lightly on the residue.. (thoughts running thru my mind.. dun touch the sensor. . leave cleaning to the professionals..)

    Seems like the light rubbing is clearing some of the residue. . but at the same time, the residue starting smudging.. After a while, the residue started disappearing .. but this time.. i saw some real tiny scratches! After clearing the residue (left the tiny scratches which i cant get rid off), i tried taking test shots. Funny that the scratches are not showing up on the photo but the dust have multiple.

    Worsen the dust problem with addition of scratches! DIY sensor cleaning indeed!

    Today I searched online again for remedies.. then i came across this site: http://www.tribcsp.com/~sigma2/SensorDust01.html

    Cleaning with cotton bud and breathing (not blowing) on the sensor. Damage already done.. no harm trying..
    Got some cotton buds and breathed once onto the sensor.. the sensor fogged up.. started light rubbing with the cotton bud.. when the fog clears.. the tiny scratch lines were not there anymore!! Sensor seems clean and clear. Did some test shots.. wala!~ CLEAN SENSOR!! Happy at last! =)

    You are lucky, your cloth must have been quite clean.

    The sensor glass does have some amount of resilence, contrary to all the alarmists would have you believe, but still, I've known someone who went to wrap cloth around his screwdriver and use it to clean... Naturally halfway the cloth slipped and he happily introduced screwdriver marks on the glass...

  11. #11
    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by kelchew View Post
    I saw my pic have some dust on it as will, after hearing this I think I better send my to Csc.
    If you take the proper precautions and exercise some amount of self-restraint, common sense and self-confidence, it'll be fine.

    I have never sent in my cameras for cleaning by servicing centre... Number one is need to travel, number two is, if you don't know how to clean yourself, if go overseas with no easy access to servicing centre, you're going to take photos with dust all over?

    I've cleaned all my cameras myself for 5 years or so... Sold off 4 or 5 of them, none of the buyers ever came back with complaints.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by edutilos- View Post
    If you take the proper precautions and exercise some amount of self-restraint, common sense and self-confidence, it'll be fine.

    I have never sent in my cameras for cleaning by servicing centre... Number one is need to travel, number two is, if you don't know how to clean yourself, if go overseas with no easy access to servicing centre, you're going to take photos with dust all over?

    I've cleaned all my cameras myself for 5 years or so... Sold off 4 or 5 of them, none of the buyers ever came back with complaints.
    Can I just send my cam over to you if ever I have a nasty dust specks?

  13. #13
    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by symmetrix View Post
    Can I just send my cam over to you if ever I have a nasty dust specks?
    I have done cleaning for the friends who are willing to trust me at hawker centre before..

    Very little cost anyways, why not.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by edutilos- View Post
    I have done cleaning for the friends who are willing to trust me at hawker centre before..

    Very little cost anyways, why not.
    Thanks. Hopefully I won't ever have to take you up on that.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by ziploc View Post
    Now bacterias from your breath will happily start multiplying on your sensor...
    Wah..didn't think of bacterias...btw I'm clean, hope no side effects suffered by the sensor

  16. #16

    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by edutilos- View Post
    You are lucky, your cloth must have been quite clean.

    The sensor glass does have some amount of resilence, contrary to all the alarmists would have you believe, but still, I've known someone who went to wrap cloth around his screwdriver and use it to clean... Naturally halfway the cloth slipped and he happily introduced screwdriver marks on the glass...
    I read about the screwdriver case.. Dats y I used a wooden icr cream stick instead.. The cloth was clean from a fresh pack of screen protector for my iPhone

    I notice the sensor is quite tough.. And it moves.. Probably becos of the SR?

  17. #17
    Moderator rhino123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by PixelHero View Post
    Wah..didn't think of bacterias...btw I'm clean, hope no side effects suffered by the sensor
    Basically, there is no such thing as zero bacteria no matter how clean you are. But what is done is done, no need to worried too much about it... just that in future, don't ever breathe onto your sensor, lenses and stuff... not good.

    As for the sensor cleaning, better to get a sensor swap or sent it to the professionals.
    I am not a photographer, just someone who happened to have a couple of cameras.
    My lousy shots

  18. #18
    Senior Member sinned79's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    i tried for the first time DIY myself too...

    bought the pec pad solution at $20 from cathay... and bought a box of premium cotton bud stick from watson (can't find those surgical ones... but at least the cotton bud stick dun fray as much as those cheaper ones).

    really had a tough time cleaning for the first time for 2 hours... think i use up 10-20 pieces of cotton bud sticks in the process.

    think i need to buy a proper sensor swab... cos my 5dmkii sensor too big for the cotton bud stick...

    and ohh... the sensor filter pass or something isn't as fragile as i think it would be haha
    Last edited by sinned79; 25th July 2011 at 10:35 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by sinned79 View Post
    i tried for the first time DIY myself too...

    bought the pec pad solution at $20 from cathay... and bought a box of premium cotton bud stick from watson (can't find those surgical ones... but at least the cotton bud stick dun fray as much as those cheaper ones).

    really had a tough time cleaning for the first time for 2 hours... think i use up 10-20 pieces of cotton bud sticks in the process.

    think i need to buy a proper sensor swab... cos my 5dmkii sensor too big for the cotton bud stick...

    and ohh... the sensor filter pass or something isn't as fragile as i think it would be haha
    You can blow the buds to remove any loose fibres before applying the solution.

    But yes, the bud is probably a bit small for a full frame sensor. You can try getting a swab and replace the swab thing with pec pads in the long run - I didn't like that though, it's a bit... Fiddly, and I always worried if the pec pads were gonna slip off and I'd end up scrapping the sensor with the naked spatula.

    One point to note is not to apply too much liquid and drown whatever you 're using - there have been reports of people who did that and ended up with the solution seeping UNDERNEATH the glass. You'd have to really put A LOT of liquid to achieve that though, I suppose.

  20. #20
    Senior Member sinned79's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Stopping Moment - DIY Sensor Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by edutilos- View Post
    You can blow the buds to remove any loose fibres before applying the solution.

    But yes, the bud is probably a bit small for a full frame sensor. You can try getting a swab and replace the swab thing with pec pads in the long run - I didn't like that though, it's a bit... Fiddly, and I always worried if the pec pads were gonna slip off and I'd end up scrapping the sensor with the naked spatula.

    One point to note is not to apply too much liquid and drown whatever you 're using - there have been reports of people who did that and ended up with the solution seeping UNDERNEATH the glass. You'd have to really put A LOT of liquid to achieve that though, I suppose.
    thanks for the advise!

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