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How to clean D800 sensor?

vladiator

Auckland, NZ
129 posts

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vladiator Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jan 2009
Wed 18-Sep-13 05:28 AM

Hi all.

Prior to buying D800 I used D90 with 18-200mm, so I almost never had to change my lenses. As such, I have never had any noticeable dust on the sensor and never needed to clean it.

Now I use D800 with 24-70mm and 70-200mm and swap lenses regularly. After using it for the last 6 months, it is time to clean my sensor.

I have a few dust spots that appear of photos here and there, so I tried suing a rocket blower on the mirror and the sensor to get rid of them. Unfortunately, only a couple of spots disappeared and the rest are still there (and one new one seems to have appeared).

Since I have never cleaned a sensor before, I do not want to do any more intrusive cleaning without first asking for your comments regarding processes / tools which you use for cleaning a D800 sensor. What works and what does not work for you?

I also have a couple of questions regarding cleaning lenses:

* I noticed that my Nikon 24-70mm lens seems to have some kind of a speck under the front lens element (i.e. not on the outside of the front element lens where I could reach it, but somewhere inside the lens). It appears quite tiny, like a speck of dust. Is it normal and should I be worried about it?

* Rear lens element - if there is a speck of dust that cannot be removed with a rocket blower, can I use a LensPen brush on the rear lens element?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

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vladiator

Auckland, NZ
129 posts

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#1. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 0

vladiator Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jan 2009
Wed 18-Sep-13 03:34 AM

FYI, please see a photo I tried to take to identify the dust. Unfortunately the sky was not perfectly blue and the sun was quite bright. I had to increase exposure and contrast in CS6 to see the dust properly (the biggest accumulation is in top/centre area).




Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)

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bkinthebay

bkinthebay, BE
409 posts

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#2. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 0

bkinthebay Registered since 27th Feb 2010
Wed 18-Sep-13 04:02 AM

Hi Vlad,

A good place to start is:

https://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=430&topic_id=20394&mesg_id=20394&page=

Cheers,
Bernard.

f5titan

HILO, US
1051 posts

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#3. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 0

f5titan Platinum Member Nikonian since 12th Jul 2006
Wed 18-Sep-13 04:11 AM

I've used my D800 for one year and a D700 for three years and regularly actuate the "clean image sensor" options. The particles that are not removed are dwelt with by using a small air blower. The particles in my 24-70 and 70-200 lenses are no more numerous than my 15 to 30 year old manual focus lenses. I don't think that you need to worry about your lenses. I've never used the LensPen so I can't speak on it's use.

"Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together." Vincent Van Gogh

lukaswerth

Lahore, PK
574 posts

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#4. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 3

lukaswerth Registered since 24th May 2012
Wed 18-Sep-13 07:50 AM

I know many photographers clean their sensors themselves routinely or when necessity arises. Here is my own experience:

When my sensor was dirty and wouldn't becoem clean by activating the sensor cleaning of blowing, I used swabs from www.visibledust.com. They also have cleaning fluids, but the shop from where I bought them advised me to use propyl alcohole from a pharmacy store. I did that - got a much worser, visible smear on my sensor, was mortally afraid I had permanently scratched it - Nikon Germany cleaned it while I was waiting there, luckily got clean, is up to now - this is what I will do in future, instead of bothering with swabs of my own, with whatever fluid.

Lukas

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FineArtSnaps

Leesburg, US
401 posts

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#5. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 0

FineArtSnaps Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2012
Wed 18-Sep-13 01:27 PM

Hi Vlad, Bernard gave you a link to a pretty complete rundown on the subject. If that isn't enough, get on Google and do more research. The web's full of info on sensor cleaning. As I said in Bernard's reference thread, cleaning a sensor isn't rocket science; it's about as difficult as shining your shoes. It IS scary at first, though.

By the way, you don't really need a clear blue sky to make a test shot that'll show up the dust (or oil spots, which almost always are produced during the first thousand or so shutter clicks on a new DSLR). Copper Hill, which markets all sorts of sensor cleaning equipment and supplies has a screen you can reach on your computer at http://www.pbase.com/copperhill/image/95174363/original. It's a plain blue field that takes the place of a clear blue sky on days when there isn't such a thing. I like to shoot it with my lens set at infinity. On the other hand, if you're shooting the sky you should shoot with the lens set to its closest focus. You don't want your target to be in focus and confuse the issue. I also like to set the aperture at at least f/16. f/22 will give you an even sharper picture of your sensor dust problem. You don't need to worry about VR, either. The dust is going to be in focus no matter what.

If you really want to see all the dust, crank up the contrast to max and convert to grayscale in ACR or whatever you're using. If there's crud there, it'll jump out at you.

Russ Lewis
www.russ-lewis.com
www.FineArtSnaps.com

vladiator

Auckland, NZ
129 posts

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#6. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 5

vladiator Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jan 2009
Wed 18-Sep-13 07:53 PM

Thanks for responses and links everyone.

So I understand that generally people are confident enough to do it themselves rather than using service centres? My worry was that I will have same experience as Lukas had...

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JosephK

Seattle, WA, US
7069 posts

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#7. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 6

JosephK Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Nikonian since 17th Apr 2006
Thu 19-Sep-13 01:15 AM

Doing the cleaning yourself is easy, just time consuming. These guys have great products and tutorials:
http://www.CopperHillImages.com

---------+---------+---------+---------+---------+
Joseph K
Seattle, WA, USA

D700, D200, D70S, 24-70mm f/2.8, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II,
50mm f/1.4 D, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX

JECoutre

Concord, US
375 posts

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#8. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 2

JECoutre Gold Member Nikonian since 02nd Jan 2008
Thu 19-Sep-13 01:51 AM

I've used Visible Dust's systems for years now on D3, D300, D4,and D800E. It works and I use their solutions Smear Away and VDust along with the Green stick Swabs.

FineArtSnaps

Leesburg, US
401 posts

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#9. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 4

FineArtSnaps Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2012
Thu 19-Sep-13 03:19 PM

Lukas, One thing that probably doesn't get pointed out often enough is that a single pass with a swab isn't necessarily going to do the complete job. When I set out to clean a dirty sensor I usually plan on using two or three swabs before the job's done. If there's oil on the sensor, you'll usually end up with a smear after the first pass, no matter what.

You always want to use a blower before you try a wet cleaning. The hardest, sharpest particles -- the ones that might scratch the sensor -- usually will blow off. I also like to follow a blow job with a pass with an Arctic Butterfly brush. If there's oil on the sensor the brush is going to smear it, but the brush usually will get any leftover hard particles. You always want to clean the brush if there's any sign of a smear after you use it. Since the idea of the brush isn't to sweep the sensor, but to get dust to jump to the bristles after you've statically charged them, ideally you'd never touch the sensor with the brush, but in practice that doesn't seem possible.

Another problem, and it sounds as if that's what happened to you, is putting too much solvent on the swab. Two small drops are enough, and it pays to wait a couple seconds to let the solvent spread out along the edge of the swab before you do the swabbing.

I'm surprised the guy told you to use isopropyl alcohol. The best solvent I've found is Eclipse, which is designed for lens and sensor cleaning and is methanol.

Russ Lewis
www.russ-lewis.com
www.FineArtSnaps.com

aolander

Nevis, US
3938 posts

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#10. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 0

aolander Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Sep 2006
Thu 19-Sep-13 03:33 PM

Small specks of dust in or on a lens aren't going to be visible in an image. A large particle especially if it's on the rear element may be visible. Dust on the mirror is never visible in an image.

Alan

factotum

US
342 posts

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#11. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 10

factotum Registered since 17th Jun 2007
Thu 19-Sep-13 03:41 PM

F22? Really, don't bother until they start showing up at f11. At most "normal" f stops, the dust bunnies don't even appear. I have yet to clean the sensor of my D800, and it's 9 months old. Even for landscapes I rarely close down past f8.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."
Miss Piggy

km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3559 posts

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#12. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 4

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Thu 19-Sep-13 06:04 PM

I think you got bad advice from the shop. IsoPropanol is a good general purpose solvent but the drugstore grade will have a lot of water and other contaminants. The expensive lens and sensor fluids are usually just plan Methanol, reagent grade available at chemical supply houses for not too much more than bottled water. It dried without residue, dries quickly and if kept in well sealed bottles, will not absorb much water out of the atmosphere.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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vladiator

Auckland, NZ
129 posts

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#13. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 12

vladiator Silver Member Nikonian since 01st Jan 2009
Thu 19-Sep-13 09:09 PM

Again, thanks everyone.

As was mentioned, I cannot see all of those dust particles in all my photos, as I do not shoot at f22. But a couple of them have appeared on my landscape photos at around f11. Wasn't hard to get rid of the spots in the Photoshop, but still annoying enough to make me want to clean my sensor.

So, my understanding is that a good sensor cleaning kit would contain:

* a blower - which already have;

* a brush - I see that Arctic Brushes are popular;

* swabs with a cleaning solution - e.g. from Visible Dust;

* a loupe? Otherwise need to take test shots, transfer them to PC and analyse there after every cleaning step above.

The above is not cheap, but I guess these tools are a bit of an investment and will prove useful for some time (except for swabs which cannot be reused)...

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lukaswerth

Lahore, PK
574 posts

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#14. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 12

lukaswerth Registered since 24th May 2012
Fri 20-Sep-13 05:53 AM

I guess you are right, and I will keep the Eclipse which Russ mentioned in mind. I did not buy the alcohol for economic reasons, but because I got advice from a source I usually trust. I have also let her know what happened to me.(Otherwise I did everything according the instructions, and I am not normally that clumsy.)
By the way, the people at Nikon Frankfurt told me they use a silicone-containing cleaning fluid. Any idea what that might be?

Lukas

Trying to be a keeper of the light

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mborn1

Taunton, US
222 posts

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#15. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 7

mborn1 Gold Member Nikonian since 20th Nov 2008
Fri 20-Sep-13 05:25 PM

>Doing the cleaning yourself is easy, just time consuming.
>These guys have great products and tutorials:
>http://www.CopperHillImages.com
>
>---------+---------+---------+---------+---------+
>Joseph K
>Seattle, WA, USA
>
>D700, D200, D70S, 24-70mm f/2.8, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II,
>50mm f/1.4 D, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX
>


This is what I use after first blowing with Rocket Blower and using an Arctic Butterfly re-inspecting with a sensor scope then if anything is still ion the sensor wet cleaning

Myer
Photo Bee1
http://photobee1.blogspot.com/
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gpoole

Farmington Hills, US
4123 posts

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#16. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 13

gpoole Platinum Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Awarded for his very generous support to the Fundrasing Campaing 2014 Writer Ribbon awarded for his article contributions for the Articles library and the eZine Nikonian since 14th Feb 2004
Fri 20-Sep-13 06:00 PM

>...
>* a loupe? Otherwise need to take test shots, transfer them
>to PC and analyse there after every cleaning step above.
>...

You don't need to transfer your images to a PC to scan for dust. In playback, zoom in a few steps short of maximum and then use the multi-selector to systematically scan the image from top to bottom and right to left.

I find it easiest to make an image of a white piece of paper to look for dust. Set the aperture to your lens minimum, set exposure compensation to +1, manual focus at infinity, zoom all the way out, hold the camera so the lens is a few inches (~10cm)from the paper, and move your camera slightly during the exposure. It will be easy to see the dust on the zoomed in display.

Gary in SE Michigan, USA.
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lukaswerth

Lahore, PK
574 posts

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#17. "RE: How to clean D800 sensor?" | In response to Reply # 14

lukaswerth Registered since 24th May 2012
Sun 22-Sep-13 07:35 AM | edited Sun 22-Sep-13 10:54 AM by lukaswerth

>I guess you are right, and I will keep the Eclipse which Russ
>mentioned in mind. I did not buy the alcohol for economic
>reasons, but because I got advice from a source I usually
>trust. I have also let her know what happened to me.(Otherwise
>I did everything according the instructions, and I am not
>normally that clumsy.)
>By the way, the people at Nikon Frankfurt told me they use a
>silicone-containing cleaning fluid. Any idea what that might
>be?

An afterthought to my reply quoted above: my camera has been with me now since June 2012. I had to clean the sensor once - I think one reason were a few drops of oil which had settled on it. I did a lot of pictures with these drops, removed them in pp, until I decided I would finally try to clean the sensor. I have to see how it goes, but one preliminary conclusion might be: wet sensor cleaning may not be necessary all that often, and if it is, why not letting it being done by a professional who then takes over also the responsibility of something happens with the sensor?
For my part, I think I will get some first-rate cleaning fluid, and then keep it for emergencies, otherwise getting the camera once in a while cleaned by Nikon. -Just a thought; I may change my opinion, but there it is.

Lukas

Trying to be a keeper of the light

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lukaswerth/

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G