To clean or not to clean...help me!
Sorry for the long post, but I'm really stuck with what to do.
I'm hoping you can give me some advice. I was so lucky to get myself a D800 and a new 24-70 F/2.8 lens a couple of months ago. The first thing I did was attach the lens to the camera and it hasn't been removed since. I know that dust can still work it's way inside the camera over time, but I was not expecting this:
So many spots and they're all concentrated in one area. I've adjusted the image in Lightroom to reveal the full extent of the contamination. I don't know whether it is dust or oil (or both). But what I would like to know is should I bother cleaning it now?
I've had to clean my D7000 a couple of times and it's not something I'm particularly proficient at (it took me several tries, I made it much worse before it got better and I never succeeded in getting it 100% clean).
But with the D800 being so much more expensive, I'm really unsure whether it's worth the risk now. I've read that diffraction starts to reduce image quality around f11 on the D800 so, I've been shooting at f11 and below. At f11 the spots, are pretty hard to see and under most conditions they would be invisible. Plus if it is oil, then aren't the spots are likely to return again until the camera has been "run in" so to speak? Maybe better to wait?
My nearest Nikon Service centre is in Tokyo, which is a 2 hour drive away. For cleaning the only thing I have is Nikon's official cleaning kit (chopsticks, special paper and a cleaning agent) Most of the products discussed on here are not easy to come by in Japan.
any help and advice would be most appreciated!
Thanks for your time.
#1. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0Antero52 Nikonian since 07th Jul 2009Fri 10-Aug-12 04:42 AM
Have you tried the camera's built-in dust removal function?
As you have LR, you've probably noticed that the spots are relatively easy to spot out. You can even shoot a reference photo against a clear blue sky, use LR's spot removal function for the reference photo and sync the spotting across all photos or those that need spotting. What LR synchronizes is the action of performing local spotting, not the pixels that each individual photo may have around the spot.
#3. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 1Fri 10-Aug-12 08:27 AM | edited Fri 10-Aug-12 08:28 AM by Skyworksjp
Thanks for the reply.
The built-in cleaning system was the first thing I tried. But after several attempts I noticed no improvement. Likewise I used a blower, but that too made no noticeable difference. That, combined with the distribution of the spots and the fact that I have not changed the lens at all since I brought the camera (nor used it in a dusty environment) strongly suggests to me that what I'm seeing is oil, not dust.
And if that is the case, then perhaps cleaning it now would be pointless as the same thing is likely to happen again until the "excess oil" has been used up?
Right now, I'm very reluctant to have a go at cleaning myself, so I'd prefer to have the pro's in Tokyo do it for me. But I'd hate to make the trip there, have it cleaned and then find that a couple of weeks later new oil spots have appeared...
#2. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
I think it is better that you have it clean soon. For a couple of months old camera - there should not be so much dust, unless you have been changing lenses frequently. Furthermore, the concentration of spots seem to indicate that they are oil than dust. Regardless, cleaning now would be a good idea.
#4. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 2Fri 10-Aug-12 08:30 AM
Thanks for the reply. I'm very hesitant to try cleaning the sensor myself (not very good at it) however my nearest Service Centre is a considerable drive away. If the spots are oil then perhaps they're likely to return, so it could mean multiple trips to get it sorted.
#5. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 4walk43 Registered since 07th Feb 2012Fri 10-Aug-12 09:08 AM | edited Fri 10-Aug-12 09:12 AM by walk43
To put it bluntly....I think you have a real mess and I certainly would not want to have to touch up each spot if all images have the same spots. Do all of your photos show exactly the same pattern and since you have only used 1 lens... are you certain that it is not some sort of a 'spray' on you lens (front or back)?.
I would take a test shot (for reference) at a plain wall or clear sky. Then take maybe 100-200 shots to see if any more spots are showing up compared to the reference photo. If not... then I would clean it now myself....if the spots are still accumulating, then wait till the spots stop increasing in number and try cleaning the sensor yourself. If you have done it before and finally succeeded then you have some experience.
I have the Sensor Swipe basic kit from Copper Hill Images ($50) and with patience the kit should work for you. If it were my camera, I would work gently and if the kit didn't work I would then take it to Tokyo for a 'professional' cleaning. But NOT until I knew that the spots were no longer accumulating!!
(Nikon D800,V2,Sony HX400V,Lumix ZS40)
"I don't read, I just look at pictures" - Andy Warhol
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#6. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
Hi, one of the first things you said ..... < The first thing I did was attach the lens to the camera and it hasn't been removed since> .... So you have not locked the mirror up and used the blower right ?
#8. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 6Fri 10-Aug-12 10:56 AM
Sorry, I should clarify. I did not remove the lens at all until I noticed the dust spots. Only after trying the built in cleaning system did I finally remove the lens, lock the mirror and attempt the blower method.
And right now, I've just swapped out the lens to make sure it's not a problem with that, but the spots remain.
#7. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
Built in dust removal rarely remove much dust and never remove the stuborn stuff. Using LR sync function is nice until your reference photo coincides with an edge or facial detail. If you are uncomfortable with cleaning it your self, take it to a pro and have it done.
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#9. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
Cleaning is not difficult or in need of great skill, nor it is very dangerous to the camera. It is part of normal routine maintenance and should be learned as a way of keeping the camera, any camera, in peak condition.
It does not take long, and with a few attempts you will be an expert. More skills is required to insert contact lenses yet millions of people do it every day, and the AA filter is a lot tougher material than a cornea. It only seems risky because you are not used to cleaning your sensor. Some people view dirt as a defect and a repair issue when it is closer to the analogy of washing one's clothes.
It could be oil or atmospheric contaminates so learning to clean it yourself is a cost and convenience benefit to you because it will probably reoccur. It is a camera, exposed to air, it gets dirty, even though when "dirty" it is still many times cleaner than any surface exposed to air than you have in your life. Dirty is a natural part of life and only noticeable when looking at the appropriate scale to see it. My D800 sensor is probably the cleanest thing I own, regardless whether a few spots can be seen with 500:1 magnification, or not. If it bugs me, I clean it. If not, I don't.
St Petersburg Russia
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#10. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
My D800 had the same after a few days, I took it in to be cleaned and the guys there were surprised to see so much stuff after such a short time, it took them a while to clean the oil off and they said they would happily sent it to Nikon for them to clean (the place I use is a professional nikon dealer) as it was not normal for it to be that bad.
The mirror and focus screen are also very dirty but as that doesn't affect image quality I can live with that for a little while before I send it in to Nikon. I want to play a little more with the camera to see if any other issues crop up.
Not much use to you I know, but you are not the only one to see this!
ps great camera
#11. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
Thank you all for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate your advice. I should be able to get to Nikon's service centre in Tokyo next week, so I'll ask them to clean it then.
I suspect it is oil and that it will probably continue to appear until the excess oil has been thrown off completely, so I'm probably going to have to clean it again myself sometime soon.
#12. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 11johntechx Registered since 09th Jul 2012Sun 12-Aug-12 11:58 PM
I recently purchased one of these cleaning tools
I noticed a lot of dust on my new D800 and thought I'd give this a go. I was surprised how easy easy and safe the cleaning process with this is.
I've never cleaned a sensor before, except with a rocket blower and previously owned Canon 20D, 5D and 5DMK11. I did not fancy using a wet cleaning kit for fear of smearing/scratching.
The eyelead has a tacky, viscous gel pad on the end of a plastic wand, which you simply place on the sensor and lift off, repeating until you cover the whole sensor area. You then press the gel pad onto a supplied adhesive tape strip (which has a stronger tackiness than the gel, so it pulls off the contamination). I was surprised how effective and simple this was to do,my sensor is now spotless with no danger of smearing or scratching!
#13. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
I was able to visit Nikon's Service Centre in Tokyo today. They were very good and cleaned the sensor free of charge. It was quite busy so I had to wait an hour, but fortunately there was a big branch of BIC Camera right next door to Nikon, so I was able to geek out with all the camera gear while I waited (ended up buying a load of bits and pieces too).
Thanks for the all the help!
#14. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 0
Grrr....a month/few hundred more clicks of the shutter later and I have 10 or so dust/oil/unknown spots on the sensor once again! They're concentrated in the same area as before. I haven't changed lenses since the last clean so I'm really thinking this is not dust but oil perhaps. Wondering whether to bother cleaning it again now?
Or perhaps I should just wait a while and get a few thousand clicks ran through the camera (currently around 1,000) before cleaning again?
Seems like this problem is going to keep on recurring. I might be wrong but it definitely seems to start appearing after shooting in CH mode and/or vertical orientation.
Aside from this annoying sensor dirt problem, my D800 has been a fantastic camera.
#15. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 14Sun 09-Sep-12 07:06 PM
David, What's the activation count on your shutter? If it's less than a couple thousand exposures, what you're seeing is almost certainly oil, and the camera's going to keep spitting oil onto the sensor for a thousand or more additional shots. My D800 isn't up to 1000 shots yet, and it's doing the same thing. I had to clean the sensor after the first hundred or so shots, and I'll probably have to clean the sensor two or three more times before the oil stops spotting the sensor. It was the same thing with my D2X and my D3. But I haven't had to wet-clean the D3 for a couple years now. Just the blower and the Arctic Butterfly have been enough since the oil spray stopped.
As Stan pointed out, learning to clean your sensor isn't a big deal, and it's something anybody with a DSLR needs to learn. I've posted this reference on here before, but here it is again: http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com/methods.html.
#16. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 15Sun 09-Sep-12 07:59 PM
Just passed 1,000 actuations so not that much really. I think you're right in that it is oil that's causing the spots. I'll just have to keep an eye on it and clean as necessary.
Thanks for the advice.
#17. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 16Tue 11-Sep-12 01:42 PM | edited Tue 11-Sep-12 01:43 PM by InsaneO
>Just passed 1,000 actuations so not that much really. I
>think you're right in that it is oil that's causing the spots.
>I'll just have to keep an eye on it and clean as necessary.
>Thanks for the advice.
Here is my experience.
Compare to other Pro cameras I have/had D800 is a freaking dust magnet.
But it does not matter much because it takes just few seconds longer to clean it with this kit
The beauty of this method (used by Canon BTW) is that dust is removed by flicking particles off. The pad itself is cleaned by rotating cap over it.
No need to take pictures and view them on the screen to find dust.
Loupe magnifies enough to see all the dust and if it is not seen then it most likely not going to show up in the pictures. And no streaks after cleaning like after wet cleaning or any kind of residue.
They have more than one style of this kit. Make sure you get one with replaceable tips. These tips can also bend to make it more comfortable to reach in very corner.
#18. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 17Tue 11-Sep-12 02:06 PM
That may be okay for normal dust, Eugene, but it's not going to do much for oil spots, other than smear them. I'd also question its ability to get rid of pollen, which tends to be very sticky. It looks to me as if the Lens Pen approach is roughly in the same league as the Arctic Butterfly: it'll take care of dust. You still need wet cleaning when wet cleaning is called for.
#19. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 18Tue 11-Sep-12 03:29 PM | edited Tue 11-Sep-12 03:46 PM by InsaneO
>That may be okay for normal dust, Eugene, but it's not going
>to do much for oil spots, other than smear them. I'd also
>question its ability to get rid of pollen, which tends to be
>very sticky. It looks to me as if the Lens Pen approach is
>roughly in the same league as the Arctic Butterfly: it'll take
>care of dust. You still need wet cleaning when wet cleaning is
It will lift oil spots and pollen and dead bugs too.
The only time wet method needs to be used is then oil is spread.
But tip does not smear the oil, more likely absorbs it.
The key is to flick it, not rub it.
That is why I bought a kit with 5 replaceable tips.
I got this kit long time ago and never used anything else after that.
#21. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 20
#22. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 21Tue 11-Sep-12 10:12 PM
>Brian's right. You can't "absorb" oil off the
>surface of the AA filter with anything dry. It takes something
>liquid, like Eclipse, which is methanol, to absorb and remove
Try it before you condemn it.
Works for me for many years now.
Soft felt can absorb oil without leaving any streaks. But I am on my forth tip now. Time to buy extras.
#23. "RE: To clean or not to clean...help me!" | In response to Reply # 22lkrlinda Registered since 28th Sep 2012Fri 28-Sep-12 10:16 PM
I have had similiar sensor dust problems wiht my D700 and my D800.
Jay, the technician at the Nikon-authorized repair center in Pelham, New York told me that zooming a lens quickly will suck dust into a DSLR.
He said to keep the outside of the camera as clean as possible and to move the zoom slowly. He demonstrated this by removing the zoom lens and then zooming quickly while I could feel the air blow at the back of the lens.
I also try to keep my cameras in cases or wraps when they are not in use.