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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Still struggling with sensor dust
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06/09/2020 12:48:47 PM · #1
Five days ago I attempted to clean my sensor, following some really bad advice I'd seen in a YouTube video. I've already mentioned it in this old thread.

Based on recommendations from ' . substr('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' pgirish007 and ' . substr('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Yo_Spiff, I ordered this cleaning kit.

It arrived today, so I tried to clean my sensor.

There's a slight improvement. Here are before and after shots:
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The trouble is that I can't seem to get it any better than that. Even using Canon's dust delete data doesn't make much difference.

I've already tried seven times and now I've only got five swabs left. Is it worth going on trying?

I'm so frustrated because there wasn't even much dust when I first started trying to clean my sensor last week:
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As I've been stuck at home for two months now, my camera has been the only thing keeping me sane and now I feel like I've ruined it.
06/09/2020 01:52:05 PM · #2
That's a huge improvement, but what I'm noticing is that those specks seem to be in pretty good focus. Usually I get a very blurry blob. Can you see anything on the sensor filter when you look at it? In my case, I was actually able to see whatever it was on my sensor.
06/09/2020 02:04:36 PM · #3
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

That's a huge improvement, but what I'm noticing is that those specks seem to be in pretty good focus. Usually I get a very blurry blob. Can you see anything on the sensor filter when you look at it? In my case, I was actually able to see whatever it was on my sensor.


No, I can't see them. My close vision isn't what it used to be though, so maybe a younger person would.
06/09/2020 02:33:51 PM · #4
Maybe take a photo that you can then zoom in on. I'm wondering if some of these spots may be on the lens? You've probably already tested that theory, however.
06/09/2020 02:55:04 PM · #5
I don't think they're on the lens. I wiped the back before I started and an EF-S lens on an EF-M camera is quite far from the sensor, so I don't think that's it. Besides most of the spots only appeared after I brushed the sensor.

I cleaned the sensor seven times and took a new test shot every time and a lot of the spots are in different places on each photo.

It's nearly 9pm now and the stress of this (and other lockdown factors) is really tiring me out. I guess I'll have to try again tomorrow. Perhaps I'll even have to order another kit.
06/09/2020 02:57:26 PM · #6
When you re-clean, are the remaining spots in the same places, or do they move? If they are in the same places, then they may be stuck too tightly or are actual defects in the filter surface. If they are moving from cleaning to cleaning, then it's just methodology.
06/09/2020 02:59:16 PM · #7
Originally posted by kirbic:

When you re-clean, are the remaining spots in the same places, or do they move? If they are in the same places, then they may be stuck too tightly or are actual defects in the filter surface. If they are moving from cleaning to cleaning, then it's just methodology.


I'm not sure about all, but most of them are moving.
06/09/2020 03:14:08 PM · #8
Good. Next question: does the swab you have with your kit cover the entire height of the sensor with one pass?
06/09/2020 03:33:42 PM · #9
Originally posted by kirbic:

Good. Next question: does the swab you have with your kit cover the entire height of the sensor with one pass?


There's seems to be a slight gap, but I'm trying to adjust for that between the first and second passes. That's strange though because it says the swab is 16mm and the sensor is 22.3 x 14.9mm.
06/09/2020 05:04:47 PM · #10
So, when you swab, make sure that the swab is just moist, not soaking wet. Make absolutely sure that you don't contaminate a clean swab prior to the actual swabbing. Swab in one complete pass from left to right (or right to left) with the swab angled to the surface and "dragging" the edge behind. At the end of the stroke, you'll have to bring the swab handle upright. Be sure to completely finish the stroke.
Then reverse using the clean side of the swab edge, going back the other direction.
Don't try to do multiple back-and-forth passes with the swab, that will risk re-depositing particles.
06/09/2020 05:32:20 PM · #11
I've been trying to concentrate on most of what you mention, but I think I may have been making my swabs too wet. And maybe I've been getting the angle wrong.

I was surprised to see a recommended video on Google in which the guy did multiple back-and-forth passes. I knew at once that it was wrong, but his viewers seemed to be happy with his advice. YouTube offers some good advice, but one has to be really careful whom to trust.

One more question for now. The instructions with my kit refer to using swabs dry - either instead of doing a wet clean, or after one. I'm short of swabs so I don't want to waste the few I have left. Should I try dry or just use less liquid on the ones I have left?

It's nearly midnight, so I won't be trying anything else until tomorrow afternoon, if I can find the time then. We're expecting a big delivery from the pharmacy which will need to be sanitised and packed away, and that has to take priority.
06/09/2020 05:44:12 PM · #12
an old but good trick is to photograph a white surface ie a sheet of a4 paper before and after the clean, that gives you an idea how well cleaned the sensor is and if you have to redo the clean ...
06/10/2020 08:08:29 AM · #13
Make sure your work environment is Super clean, Turn off any fans etc. A good spot to do this would be in the bathroom an hour or so after its been good and steamy(ie its dry but the air should be super clean and slightly humid to reduce static buildup). Make sure anything and everything you are using is dust free(ie lens wipes or brand new microfiber, old ones can hold tons of dust)

Wipe down your entire camera and lens etc with a damp microfiber and maybe a small brush in the corners to get any dust off before you open things up. Also wipe down with damp will reduce any static charges. You may even want to pick up a static control mat used for soldering and electronic repair with the wrist strap and grounding plug. your camera can pickup a pretty decent static charge and will suck in dust particles like crazy. I would also Run your swab around the seal for the mirror after you have hit the sensor, could be knocking dust loose when it closes up.


Message edited by author 2020-06-10 08:10:38.
06/10/2020 08:33:42 AM · #14
Originally posted by jhomrighaus:

Make sure your work environment is Super clean, Turn off any fans etc. A good spot to do this would be in the bathroom an hour or so after its been good and steamy(ie its dry but the air should be super clean and slightly humid to reduce static buildup). Make sure anything and everything you are using is dust free(ie lens wipes or brand new microfiber, old ones can hold tons of dust)

Wipe down your entire camera and lens etc with a damp microfiber and maybe a small brush in the corners to get any dust off before you open things up. Also wipe down with damp will reduce any static charges. You may even want to pick up a static control mat used for soldering and electronic repair with the wrist strap and grounding plug. your camera can pickup a pretty decent static charge and will suck in dust particles like crazy.


That all sounds a bit complicated. I can't get hold of all those things if I'm dependant on deliveries - I'm not going anywhere to avoid exposing my elderly mother to covid-19. If I could go out I'd have got it done professionally and avoided all the problems I've already had.

I'll do the best I can to follow your instructions though.

Originally posted by jhomrighaus:

I would also Run your swab around the seal for the mirror after you have hit the sensor, could be knocking dust loose when it closes up.


Thankfully the camera I'm trying to clean is mirrorless so that's one problem I don't have. I've got a DSLR too, but I don't use it much, and it's only got minor dust on it so I can live with that for now.
06/10/2020 03:25:45 PM · #15
If they're moving around each time, have you tried a rocket blower?
06/10/2020 04:26:17 PM · #16
Yes, that was the first thing I tried and I've tried a it few times since in combination with the swabs.

I took a break from sensor cleaning today because the stress is really getting to me, but maybe I should give the blower another try on its own tomorrow. How do I ensure that it doesn't blow more dust onto the sensor though?

A big issue is that there seems to be a lot of dust trapped near the edges of the sensor.
06/10/2020 04:30:00 PM · #17
Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

Yes, that was the first thing I tried and I've tried a it few times since in combination with the swabs.

I took a break from sensor cleaning today because the stress is really getting to me, but maybe I should give the blower another try on its own tomorrow. How do I ensure that it doesn't blow more dust onto the sensor though?

A big issue is that there seems to be a lot of dust trapped near the edges of the sensor.


I don't know very much about it -- I just hold the camera upside down when I blow so that hopefully things just fall out. Sorry I can't be more help.
06/10/2020 05:20:06 PM · #18
Originally posted by vawendy:

I don't know very much about it -- I just hold the camera upside down when I blow so that hopefully things just fall out. Sorry I can't be more help.


I wish that was all I'd done to start with. That dust was pretty minor before I went to YouTube. And I wasn't even looking for advice there. That video found me!

In hindsight Canon's dust delete data would probably have dealt with the worst spot if the blower didn't, but I wasn't aware of that feature.

If nothing else I've learnt what not to do.
06/10/2020 05:26:41 PM · #19
Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

If nothing else I've learnt what not to do.

I've been following your tribulations, somewhat thankful that all my cameras still have fixed lenses.

Good luck -- it will get better (eventually) ...
06/10/2020 06:42:02 PM · #20
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

If nothing else I've learnt what not to do.

I've been following your tribulations, somewhat thankful that all my cameras still have fixed lenses.

Good luck -- it will get better (eventually) ...


Thanks. I hope eventually doesn't mean when the threat of Covid-19 is over.

I have moments when I long for a camera with a fixed lens and an APS-C sensor but I don't think it would get much used because the lens would be too limiting. And those cameras are rather pricey.
I still have my Canon PowerShot SX700 HS which has more reach than any of my lenses, but I rarely use it because its image quality is awful.
06/10/2020 07:42:59 PM · #21
Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

I still have my Canon PowerShot SX700 HS which has more reach than any of my lenses, but I rarely use it because its image quality is awful.

That's newer and probably better than any of my Canons, but I've decided that I'd rather worry more about getting a quality image (theme, composition, exposure) than the image quality (noise, focus) ...
06/10/2020 09:06:53 PM · #22
I've found a lot to dislike about the SX700 HS - especially the lack of a viewfinder and very limited control of focus point selection. The camera is so small that I struggle to keep it steady - a problem compounded by the fact that I have very shaky hands.
06/10/2020 09:14:37 PM · #23
Yes, I hate the cameras with only a screen and no viewfinder. They're OK on a tripod or other support though.
06/10/2020 09:56:56 PM · #24
So a camera without a viewfinder is okay for using at home maybe - which means okay for lockdown. But not so good elsewhere because I hate carrying a tripod. But with this particular camera the only autofocus options are centre, face or tracking, so you need to focus and recompose. That makes tripod use rather tricky.
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