Sensor dust: advice requested

JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
edited December 2014 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Hi everyone,
It finally happend. For the fist time in my life as an amateur photographer, I'm comfronted with sensor dust. :-(
Back in my film shooting days, it was just a question of blowing the dust of the film and out of the camera back. Nice and easy.
(oh yes, I still had some dust spots on a negative from time to time but the cleaning felt easy and routine)
During my first years as a digital shooter I opted for a superzoom sytem camera. (So a camera without interchangeble lenses)
So, I wasn't confronted with sensor dust.
A few years ago I found that technology had finally matured enough to really give better results then film.
So, it was time for an upgrade.
That upgrade came in the form of the brand new Nikon D800 with a few of those nice f2.8 zoom lenses.
I have loved my Nikon ever since and have made thousands upon thousands of pictures without any problem.
(I always took care when switching lenses to avoid sensor dust and often used the sensor dust off features of the camera)
But last week it finally happened...
I came home after shooting a good friend's newborn son and found a little dustspot on the photo's.
(This is after over 3 years of use)
I've tried the sensor dust off features but it remains stuck.
So, right now I'm a little stuck.
I'm a perfectionist at heart so I definately want to get rid of the dust.
But should I drop it of at the local nikon repair center, the camera shop where I bought the camera and where they also provide cleaning or do it myself?
I have no experience with sensor cleaning and it feels a bit like performing an open hearth operation.
I don't want to ruin my camera...
Then again, I have no idea about the quality of the repair center/camera shop's work.
What if it comes back in worse condition then before?

So, what do you do?
What would you do in my case?
How good are the nikon repair centers?
And if you clean your own sensor: What do you use for cleaning? I've looked at the arctic butterfly range but have seen a lot of mixed comments. Some claim that they offer the best tools around and other call them cheap looking and totally overpriced.
And for the price of a few sensor cleaning set I can send my camera a few times in for cleaning


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Comments

  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    Cleaning a sensor is not that difficult. But given you level of comfort, take it to your local camera shop and have a pro do it.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    If there is one dust spot, I may try blowing with a good hand blower, camera pointed down, but having the sensor cleaned for one spot may not be as productive as expected.

    My D800E has a spot, has shown up a couple times but for 99% of my shots it is not apparent. So, no cleaning for me until it is something which must be removed in post on almost every shot.
    Msmoto, mod
  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    If we are "only" talking dust, then the sticky pen from eyelead is a fantastic solution (http://www.amazon.com/eyelead-Sensor-Cleaning-Papers-Olympus/dp/B00KMOWAHK)

    It has to be the easiest solution in the world to use, and I can't imagine how that can in any way hurt your sensor. I have used in on many cameras by now, and only use the proper sensor cleaning method once in a while, like for water/oil spots.
  • BesoBeso Posts: 464Member
    I am very careful when changing lenses but I find the D800 picks up dust anyway. I routinely use a rocket blower to clear the dust. With the camera facing down use the menu cleaning option that locks the mirror up for cleaning. Follow the screen instructions. Using the hand blower, blow vigorously at the sensor and thoroughly around the interior of the camera body. Trigger the shutter to close. Remount a lens and try shooting to see if the dust a completely removed. It may take a second effort but I have found this method to be adequate and have never had to physically clean the sensor with a liquid or the eyelead pen, even after 20,000+ actuations. Good luck!
    Occasionally a decent image ...
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member

    I clean my own sensor about every 6 months it is not a difficult task
    but do get a good illuminated magnifier
    However I never seem to get rid of all the spots
    but my local repair station is doing it every day
    and do a better job than me
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    There are plenty of photographers who clean their own sensors, However the best advice I was given by a 40 year experienced camera technician was leave well alone, If it goes wrong it is the most expensive part to replace and cleaners can effect the rubber seals inside the camera. In fact a lot of camera technicians refuse to clean sensors due to the small amount they can charge against a major cost if they get it wrong. Not sure what country you are in but in the UK if you send it to Nikon Uk, they not only clean the sensor but check the camera fully for just a small fee.You have made a large investment why risk it by saving a few dollars/pounds.
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,450Moderator
    The greatest danger in recommending people clean their own sensors is that a/ we do not know their actual abilities, and b/ we do not know if freak chance has stuck something hard to their sensor so by recommending they clean it themselves, we could be giving very bad advice.

    If Nikon scratch it, you will get a new sensor.
    Always learning.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    @spraynpray: Hence, my recommendation for this user to do just that.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    Hence my suggestion on the eyelead sticky stick. It can't hurt the sensor, and it is soo easy to use. In most cases it is enough, and only when the spots prove to be water or oil is it actually necessary with the real clean. Then if you are not up to that, then send it in for professional cleaning.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    I usually clean all my sensors but my new D610 has some dust that is not moving when I brush it with the soft tips of the eye makeup brush. I think I will not attempt to wet wipe it this first time. will have to find the time to get it cleaned professionally.
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • calengorcalengor Posts: 277Member
    I usually clean all my sensors but my new D610 has some dust that is not moving when I brush it with the soft tips of the eye makeup brush. I think I will not attempt to wet wipe it this first time. will have to find the time to get it cleaned professionally.
    Have you tried the eyelead sensor cleaner linked up-thread?
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    I usually clean all my sensors but my new D610 has some dust that is not moving when I brush it with the soft tips of the eye makeup brush. I think I will not attempt to wet wipe it this first time. will have to find the time to get it cleaned professionally.
    Have you tried the eyelead sensor cleaner linked up-thread?
    No . I use home made stuff :-) These specks of dust are pretty stuck. I will let nikon do it. :-)

    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    The price of the eyelead sensor cleaner is less than me sending my Nikons to Denmark for cleaning. I got the D810 1 month ago, and have already used the cleaner once.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited December 2014
    Just so it is said, for those that are a bit novice...if you are not shooting above f8, the odds are you will not see the dust spots as much. However a shot above f10, you will see them very clearly, specially in shots of the sky or during the golden/blue hours.
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    All three of my FX bodies are now showing sensor dust in images at high numerical apertures. The spots are fairly prominent when shooting against a gray seamless at f/8. My oldest body, a Nikon D3s, was purchased in 2011, and a second D3s about a year later. My D800E is only 18 months old, and it's showing the most dust, possibly due to that fact that it's the body that has seen the most extreme environments (beach, desert, tropics, etc.).

    Do you all think that I should self-clean using the Eyelead Sensor Gel Stick, or just drive over to Nikon (I live in Los Angeles) and have them wet-clean all three sensors? Now that I think about it, the D800E has seen quite a lot of harsh environments (e.g., ocean spray, humidity, etc.), so I should probably wet-clean that body in particular in any case.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited December 2014
    If you have never cleaned a sensor, you will need more than just a Eyelead Sensor Gel Stick.

    Just take it to Nikon Service Center in LA and have them do it for you. The odds are they can do it while you wait or have it done for you within a day or so.
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,450Moderator
    Yes Studio - what Ali said.
    Always learning.
  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 5,493Member
    +1 on Golf's comment. Take it to Nikon Service center.

    For those who aren't close, I use to use a dealer or distributor at big camera shows where they do free or minimal charge for cleaning mirrors and sensors.
    D750 & D7100 | 24-70 F2.8 G AF-S ED, 70-200 F2.8 AF VR, TC-14E III, TC-1.7EII, 35 F2 AF D, 50mm F1.8G, 105mm G AF-S VR | Backup & Wife's Gear: D5500 & Sony HX50V | 18-140 AF-S ED VR DX, 55-300 AF-S G VR DX |
    |SB-800, Amaran Halo LED Ring light | MB-D16 grip| Gitzo GT3541 + RRS BH-55LR, Gitzo GM2942 + Sirui L-10 | RRS gear | Lowepro, ThinkTank, & Hoodman gear | BosStrap | Vello Freewave Plus wireless Remote, Leica Lens Cleaning Cloth |
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    Most camera shop charge anywhere between $30-40 to do the job...most while you wait. It is always best to know how to do it yourself and so long as you have the right stuff...it is truly an easy process. Just take your time and after a few times you will be a pro at it.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • HipShotHipShot Posts: 526Member
    Is it true that the D600 gets free sensor cleanings for life?
  • puppycatpuppycat Posts: 13Member
    For what it's worth, the last time I was in B&H I brought this subject up, and they recommended to watch some youtube videos to see how easy/difficult it is. It turns out to be very easy with the right tools and a steady hand. Use a Rocket blower and a loup to get a good view of the sensor. For stubborn spots, there's the wet wipe method. Be careful though, if you use too much cleaning solution and don't let it evaporate off the wipe first, the solution can leave streaks on the sensor. That happened to me and I ended up sending to Nikon for cleaning anyway :-$
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    Some worth video for those that are willing to take matters into their own hands.

    The only thing I would recommend is not to use the blower they have. The rocket blower sucks in unfiltered air, which will have dust particles, and blow is it right on your sensor. You should get the Hepa Jet Air II /w a Hepa Filtered.

    Video's on: How to Clean D-SLR Sensor and more....
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • The_Other_SteveThe_Other_Steve Posts: 14Member
    Be careful though, if you use too much cleaning solution and don't let it evaporate off the wipe first, the solution can leave streaks on the sensor. That happened to me and I ended up sending to Nikon for cleaning anyway :-$
    You can get the swabs pre-moistened. They're like individually wrapped, ready-to-use, use once and discard things. I keep one packet/swab in my bag.
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