Review Sensor Cleaning - Wet vs Dry (Pec Pads vs Arctic Butterfly) - Mini Review

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Keith
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#1
Before I start, I must urge caution when attempting to clean your sensor, it's not as daunting as it sounds but if not done correctly it can damage your sensor and leave you with a costly repair bill. Please read the manufacturers instructions carefully and don't blame me if it all goes horribly wrong!

Much information is around for the relative merits of different methods of sensor cleaning so I won't even begin to attempt to describe each of these two methods in any detail. I have, however, just tried both methods back to back and the results are a real eye opener to me so I felt I should share them here.

The wet method I have used is with SENSOR SWABS and Eclipse 2 fluid. This is a 'wet' method which involves wetting a swab with sensor cleaning fluid and then wiping it over the exposed sensor, once in each direction.

The dry method is the ARCTIC BUTTERFLY . This device is a battery operated soft brush which is spun at high velocity to clean the bristles and electrostatically charge them to attract dust. It is then swept gently over the sensor.

I had a couple of nasty spots on my sensor that were even showing up under quite wide apertures so I decided to give it a clean.

I have always used Sensor Swabs in the past and have a few in my camera bag so this is the method I tried first. After one try, the sensor was improved but still had one very noticeable spot on it so I opened another swab and tried again. This time it was much better and the worst of the debris was gone.

Taking an image of a white wall at minimum aperture reveals every speck of dust. As can be seen in the first image below, the wet method left a couple of larger spots and numerous tiny fibres on the sensor. These would disappear once the aperture is opened up a little but still shows the effectiveness of the wet method. Regrettably I didn't keep an image of the sensor before cleaning with this method but it was a lot worse than this.

1. Sensor after cleaning twice with Sensor Swabs (remaining dust and fibres outlined in red):



I then tried the Arctic Butterfly on the sensor and after just one gentle pass with the brush the improvement was dramatic.

2. Sensor after cleaning once with Arctic Butterfly:


As you can see, the Arctic Butterfly left perhaps just three tiny specs of dust which would completely disappear at anything less than minimum aperture... impressive stuff!

CONCLUSION:
There is no doubt in my mind that the first method of sensor cleaning I will use in future is the dry one. It is less invasive on the sensor and undoubtedly safer. It is also, in the long run, cheaper as you don't have to dispose of the brush after each use as you do with the swabs.

The dry method does not remove 'welded' dust spots though, so there will be occasions when the wet method will achieve what the dry won't. Ideally both methods should be used in conjunction with each other when appropriate but if I had to choose between the two, I'd go Arctic Butterfly every time.

Flashy
 
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Chris
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#2
Thanks for the review Flashy :) - very useful and a real eye opener in the mine field of sensor cleaning.

I think I'll dig out my largest net & go bag me a butterfly ;)
 

Marcel

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#4
Thanks for posting that. Now I would have thought the results would be the other way round. Wet cleaning much better.
Im tempted with a magazine subscription that gives one of these away.
 

AliB

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Thanks for that. I've always had mine cleaned professionally by Calumet but I think it's £35 now and that starts to mount up with the two cameras. (and I could buy a lot of nice stuff with £70!)

Many thanks, might have to get one sooner rather than later.

TP discount time anyone?
 

RobertP

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#6
Interesting.

I will continue with the (hardly) wet method as I know it works. it is very rare that I would see a completely clean sensor with just 2 swabs - 4 or 6 is the norm and i see no spots afterwards even with auto levels. Big plus for me with the swabs is that is so cheap with each clean costing only a few pence.

If you are nervous about cleaning then the brush method sound like a good idea.

Be interesting to see a comparison with 2 similar cameras cleaned one with each method.
 
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Thanks for this! What model of the arctic butterfly was this?

I'm holding you responsible for setting me back further from my D300 purchase with tempting me with this! :LOL:


EDIT: ordered my Arctic Butterfly 724 from Morris Photographic. I'll post before and after images! I blame you flashman! :)
 
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andy_fozzy

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#8
Nice review. Thanks for taking the time to post it :clap:

When you talk about the wet method, do you make your own swabs using pads, or use ready made swabs?
I ask because it recommends on a that sells both swabs and pads, NOT to use pec pads as it isn't the same material used in swabs.

I have my doubts, but I haven't attempted to make my own. Yet...!!!
 
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#9
Sorry about the slow replies, heavy day yesterday! :)

Be interesting to see a comparison with 2 similar cameras cleaned one with each method.
Yes, that would be a lot more scientific than my impromptu test!

Thanks for this! What model of the arctic butterfly was this?

I'm holding you responsible for setting me back further from my D300 purchase with tempting me with this! :LOL:


EDIT: ordered my Arctic Butterfly 724 from Morris Photographic. I'll post before and after images! I blame you flashman! :)
Hehe... sorry about that! :) Hope you're as pleased with it as I am... please let us know how you get on.

Mine is the SD800 (as it includes a larger brush for the D3's FX sensor), seemed reasonable value with four brushes included. The angled one is handy for getting at the mirror & focusing screen too, I had a couple of annoying specs showing in the viewfinder that the brush dispatched in short order.


Nice review. Thanks for taking the time to post it :clap:

When you talk about the wet method, do you make your own swabs using pads, or use ready made swabs?
I ask because it recommends on a that sells both swabs and pads, NOT to use pec pads as it isn't the same material used in swabs.

I have my doubts, but I haven't attempted to make my own. Yet...!!!
My sincere apologies, I should have called them 'Sensor Swabs'... I don't know why I put 'Pec Pads', the name was in my mind for some reason. I've edited my original post to correct this, thanks for pointing it out.

I'm sure home made swabs are (or at least CAN be) just as good as the packaged ones... I just wouldn't trust myself to make them properly. With the prepackaged ones costing around £2.50 - £3.00 each it's not cheap. My cleaning routine from now on will be a sweep of the Arctic Butterfly, followed by a wipe with a swab ONLY IF NECESSARY for the stubborn welded dust. Hopefully that won't be too often!
 
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