sensor dust

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lee
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#1
Hi all.

I did a search a week ago as I had dust on my sensor,
bought the recommended sensor cleaner,which was the one with swab things and liquid,
cleaned it twice now and its got some dust off but there are 3 bits i can still see when i look through the camera onto a white background,
should i keep trying or will it need sending off for a proper clean,
thanks.

lee
 
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#2
Might be worth giving it another go, sometimes dust can get a bit "worn in". I did my Kodak about a month ago, and it was perfect, but I noticed on the weekend there is another little bit on it now! I think its one of those things that is always going to happen. I'm tempted to get a mini rocket air blower or something like that to use ones every couple weeks or so to save opening a new sensor cleaning swab and all that jazz.. wish they had the dust reduction features in the olden days !
 
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Jason
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#3
... but there are 3 bits i can still see when i look through the camera onto a white background,
should i keep trying or will it need sending off for a proper clean,
thanks.

lee
Look through the viewfinder or look at the resulting shot?

If it's an SLR the dust may be on the mirror...
 
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burleyviking
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lee
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#4
good thought, iv just tried it on a white wardrobe door and the picture is now showing no dust, I will try again on a nice bright blue sky and see again,
not that it really matters but can a the mirror?
thanks for both replies.

lee
 
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Carlos
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#7
best way to see sensor dust is to take a photo of the sky at close focus (out of focus in manual) at F22. they will show up as black/grey dots, little hairs/fibers and all sorts. very sharp. 99% of my sensor cleaning is dry sensor swabs. they do the job for most dust/crap, just be gentle
 
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Tommy
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#8
Hi all.

I did a search a week ago as I had dust on my sensor,
bought the recommended sensor cleaner,which was the one with swab things and liquid,
cleaned it twice now and its got some dust off but there are 3 bits i can still see when i look through the camera onto a white background,
should i keep trying or will it need sending off for a proper clean,
thanks.

lee
All they will do if you send it of for a pro clean is give it a brush over with a swab and liquid the same as you are doing yourself.

Is it an evf?

You can’t see sensor dust on an optical viewfinder.

Is it showing on images?
 
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#9
To summarise:-
Dust on sensor will only be visible on the recorded images and when using live view.

Dust visible through the optical viewfinder is not on the sensor (of a dSLR)

If you have cleaned the sensor and the images are dust free, you have done a worthwhile job.

If you are seeing dust through the OVF it can be, in general, in/on one or more of three places:-
On the mirror ~ use a rocket blower.....if it does not budge, use of physically touching the mirror to clean it......at your own risk because the surface is a top coated mirror and AFAIK is 'soft' plus apart from potentially damaging the surface if you are too heavy-handed the mechanism that moves the mirror could be affected.

Behind the viewfinder lens ~ I have read of some folk that dismantle that area AOK!

Behind the Fresnel focusing screen ~ in most dSLR that is not a user removable part.

Simply put ~ it is up to you as to how much cleaning you do and how you do it but dust in the OVF light path is a fact of life.....unless the rocket blower clears it, live with it;)
 
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burleyviking
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lee
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#10
its a D800 so presume its a OVF,
dont think its actually showing on the photos but will know better tomorrow,
as of now I can only see it when I look through the VF,
if its not on the sensor then I wont be overly bothered, if I can easily get rid I will.
dont want to be doing to much inside as im a bit heavy handed, dont do gentle,
thanks.

lee
 
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23,692
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Alan
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#11
As you have a DSLR with an ovf and you can see it when you look through the ovf it's possibly on the focus screen.

You can remove these on some cameras, they can be quite delicate but I used to take the screen out of my 5D and wash it under a tap, no problem. If you don't know what you're doing I'd say don't do it. It could be on the mirror but I think the focus screen is more likely. It could be on the back of the vf that you look through.

I'd much rather clean a sensor than attempt to clean a dslr's optical path. Maybe try a rocket blower.
 
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Rob
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#12
its a D800 so presume its a OVF,
dont think its actually showing on the photos but will know better tomorrow,
as of now I can only see it when I look through the VF,
if its not on the sensor then I wont be overly bothered, if I can easily get rid I will.
dont want to be doing to much inside as im a bit heavy handed, dont do gentle,
thanks.

lee
it could on the focus screen (definitely don't touch that) or behind the the circular eye piece. If I remember correctly you need to close the view finder shutter curtain and the eye piece will unscrew.

If its not showing in the photos I'd not be too concerned and leave it alone. Sensor dust usually shows at smaller apertures (f8, f11 etc) rather than when wide open (f2.8, f4 etc).
 
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North York Moors
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#13
With a good light you can often see all but the smallest specs directly on it if they are still there.
Bear in mind top is bottom and left is right if you can see something in a photo.
Just take a bright sky at f.22 or whatever it goes up to. You don't even need to focus.
A few small bits are not really worth worrying about, they only show up in the sky as a rule and relatively easy to clone out with most editing software
 
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Richard
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#14
Dust is a fact of life with interchangeable lens cameras, but it's usually only visible in images at high f/numbers like f/16 or f/22 that include large, plain areas such as sky and is easily cloned out. Nothing to fret over, wet clean when you have to, but it'll be back ;) Note that a dust mark in the top-right of the image will be on the bottom-right of the sensor as you look through the lens mount (ie inverted, but not flipped left/right as is often claimed).

If you can see clear specs of dust through the viewfinder of a DSLR, it will almost certainly be on the underside of the focusing screen, just above the mirror. They could be inside the viewfinder, but unlikely. Remove with a rocket blower, being careful not to touch - the underside of the focusing screen has very fine ridges that are easily damaged, leaving permanent marks.

Anything on the mirror or in the lens will be too out of focus to see, unless it's huge and shows up as a big blurry blob. In which case, it'll be obvious and easy enough to locate.
 
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Geoff
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#15
If you set to the smallest aperture (I use a macro lens that goes to f32 or something crazy like that!) and manually set focus to closest distance, then point at blue sky, then look at the image you'll fall off your chair. It's actually quite horrible to see just how dusty the sensor gets when you "encourage" it to show it's true colours to you with those settings.

Everyone has their own opinions on this and different things work for different people. I've been cleaning my own sensor for many years and I still dread it every time. The only way I've ever managed to get a clean sensor is by using wet swabs (Digipad or similar, so basically a pec-pad wrapped around a plastic spatula). Put JUST ONE DROP of Eclipse 2 fluid on one side of it before cleaning, otherwise you will leave behind a streak that will only come off with more wet cleaning. Wipe the sensor's protective glass one way, then the other, using the side with the drop on. Then turn it over and do the same with the other side to help dry off any leftover streaking. Take another test shot and see how it looks. Expect to see some dust still, and don't keep cleaning or using more and more fluid, or you'll end up worse off.

I would never send a camera off for cleaning, as they'll only do the same as you can. They don't have any sort of powers to do an extra good clean, and I've read many stories of sensors coming back with even more dust on.

The last attempt I made at sensor cleaning was to buy one of those loupe things, like a small magnifying glass, that you place over the camera. They are backlit and magnify just enough so you can see dust specs on the sensor. You can then clean it, and take another look, target the leftover specs, look again, etc.. It FEELS wrong to do it that way, but twice now I've found it far quicker and less stressful.

You'll never be able to get rid of all the dust, and if you do, it'll be back the next day. If you often look for it, you WILL find it and it'll drive you crazy. What I do now is carry on using my camera, and if I get to the point of seeing dust regularly and it's making processing difficult, then I give it a clean. If you want to remain sane, just don't do that test to look for dust unless you're in the process of cleaning. Also if you're cleaning and you're left with 10 dust spots scattered across the sensor, LEAVE IT ALONE. :) I know some people claim to be capable of cleaning every spec of dust off, but if they do a thorough test I think they'll be shocked just how dirty it still is. In the real world though, you'll never notice. Having OCD tendencies, as I do, is not great when it comes to sensor-dust!
 
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Alan
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#16
You'll never be able to get rid of all the dust, and if you do, it'll be back the next day. If you often look for it, you WILL find it and it'll drive you crazy. What I do now is carry on using my camera, and if I get to the point of seeing dust regularly and it's making processing difficult, then I give it a clean. If you want to remain sane, just don't do that test to look for dust unless you're in the process of cleaning. Also if you're cleaning and you're left with 10 dust spots scattered across the sensor, LEAVE IT ALONE. :) I know some people claim to be capable of cleaning every spec of dust off, but if they do a thorough test I think they'll be shocked just how dirty it still is. In the real world though, you'll never notice. Having OCD tendencies, as I do, is not great when it comes to sensor-dust!
The op almost certainly has contamination on the focus screen or in the ovf, that's what's visible when you look through the ovf of a slr/dslr.

I feel the need to reply to the paragraph about leavings things alone and doing thorough tests and seeing lots of contamination. I do the testing and cleaning and it really isn't a problem if you're even half way competent and the chances of causing damage are imo minimal. I must have cleaned my various cameras sensors hundreds of times now with zero incidents. I do a lot of lens changes in any environment and if I get contamination I clean it. I do a test before going on holiday but don't bother while on holiday and more normally I do a test before I set out or when I get home from a day out with my camera or maybe the next day. I take an out of focus picture of a white door at minimum aperture which will vary depending on the lens but it could be f16 or f22 and if there's a dust bunny I banish it and repeat the test. Simples :D These days I have cameras with in built cleaning systems so that's the first thing I try, if that doesn't work I use a rocket and if that doesn't work I do a wet clean and it is possible to get a sensor clean to f22, I'm never shocked and left with 10 remaining bunnies.

My Canon 5D was the worst camera I've had for this and it needed constant cleaning but whatever improvements have been made in anti static coatings and the like seem to have worked and my more modern Panasonic and Sony cameras seem relatively dust bunny resistant.

The main thing to get over is imo a fear of cleaning the sensor. People with unsteady hands, limited mobility or failing eyesight maybe shouldn't attempt it but for many people with good enough vision, dexterity and steady enough hands and capable of performing relatively fiddly tasks this shouldn't be too much of an issue and you have to remember your not cleaning the sensor as such you're cleaning a filter over it.

As I posted above, I'd rather clean a camera sensor than the optical path of a slr/dslr any day.
 
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Geoff
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#17
The op almost certainly has contamination on the focus screen or in the ovf, that's what's visible when you look through the ovf of a slr/dslr.

I feel the need to reply to the paragraph about leavings things alone and doing thorough tests and seeing lots of contamination. I do the testing and cleaning and it really isn't a problem if you're even half way competent and the chances of causing damage are imo minimal. I must have cleaned my various cameras sensors hundreds of times now with zero incidents. I do a lot of lens changes in any environment and if I get contamination I clean it. I do a test before going on holiday but don't bother while on holiday and more normally I do a test before I set out or when I get home from a day out with my camera or maybe the next day. I take an out of focus picture of a white door at minimum aperture which will vary depending on the lens but it could be f16 or f22 and if there's a dust bunny I banish it and repeat the test. Simples :D These days I have cameras with in built cleaning systems so that's the first thing I try, if that doesn't work I use a rocket and if that doesn't work I do a wet clean and it is possible to get a sensor clean to f22, I'm never shocked and left with 10 remaining bunnies.

My Canon 5D was the worst camera I've had for this and it needed constant cleaning but whatever improvements have been made in anti static coatings and the like seem to have worked and my more modern Panasonic and Sony cameras seem relatively dust bunny resistant.

The main thing to get over is imo a fear of cleaning the sensor. People with unsteady hands, limited mobility or failing eyesight maybe shouldn't attempt it but for many people with good enough vision, dexterity and steady enough hands and capable of performing relatively fiddly tasks this shouldn't be too much of an issue and you have to remember your not cleaning the sensor as such you're cleaning a filter over it.

As I posted above, I'd rather clean a camera sensor than the optical path of a slr/dslr any day.
I agree with much of that. I agree there is no need to fear cleaning the sensor for most people, and as an Engineer it's never scared me. With steady hands and common-sense, it's not difficult.

I do honestly struggle to accept that you manage to get a completely clean sensor, as my own experience is that it's almost impossible. I find that the more I look, the more I see. I can get it acceptable clean though as long as I don't try too hard to see it. I do push the limits though in order to dust, with the settings I described earlier that show up a lot more than using f22 with distant focus. I also set Lightroom to show them and it's really quite scary how dirty the sensor usually is. It's all just my own experience of course and yours could be different for various reason, so I don't dispute what you see, just as I can't change what I see using my own methods. :)

The only reason I suggested leaving it alone if you don't notice any problem is that my experience with sensor-cleaning is that it can be very stressful if you're looking closely to find dirt. I admit I probably go too far though with trying to see it, and that's why I tried to warn against being like me in my previous post. If I was about to go on an important shoot, or maybe do some macro photography with high f-numbers, then yea I would likely give the sensor a clean first.

I had forgotten to mention the dust visible in the viewfinder. I've always managed to get rid of that with my rocket-blower over the mirror and AF thingamie, thankfully.
 
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Alan
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#18
I just use eclipse fluid and pec pads and then view at 100% in PS5 and yes it is possible to clean a sensor and get it that clean. Maybe it depends on the make/model and sensor coating but I have no problems with my current cameras and even my 5D could be clean for a few minutes...
 
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Richard
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#19
Cleaning tip. As mentioned, dust shows up on areas of plain tone at high f/numbers like f/16 or f/22, commonly blue sky. But assuming you're not cleaning the sensor outdoors on a sunny day, you'll need another convenient indoor subject to show it up as you check progress.

That's very easy. Any reasonably plain surface will do (wall, ceiling, sheet of paper, blank monitor screen) and normal room lighting is just fine. In fact, the longer the shutter speed the better, like a few seconds maybe, and deliberately move the camera during the exposure. That will ensure everything except the dust marks will be completely blurred so they stand out clearly.

With respect to all those who have spent over £100 on a sensor loupe, I would say this method is just as easy and reliable.
 
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Alan
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#20
That's what I do Richard. To avoid waiting for blue skies and the possibility of being distracted by birds or bugs in the shot I use a white door and select minimum aperture and ISO 100 and focus at infinity. The combination of ISO 100 and f16/22 is normally enough to give a shutter speed into the seconds when pointed at a white door and I find it ideal. I then hold the camera a few inches from the door and move it about while the shutter is open to prevent the possibility of any detail on the door being recorded. That should show any contamination on the sensor and nothing from the door.
 
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burleyviking
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lee
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#21
did another test shot today on a blue sky, I could see the 2-3 specs through the OVF, checked the pictures very close up and couldn't see a thing, so im more than happy with that, its obviously not on the sensor so I wont let it bother me, now I can go back to taking very average photos:D
thanks for everyones advise,
thanks.

lee
 
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Phil
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#22
@burleyviking
Your thread title is leading people to keep talking about sensor cleaning.

But as @woof woof has pointed out, with your DSLR OVF if the dust you’re worried about is visible through the viewfinder, it’s not going to affect your images.

you can possibly shift it with a rocket blower, but learning to live with it would be a sensible option too.
 
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