D3s Sensor Cleaning Caution

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Nov 26, 2005
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Yesterday I called a rather chi-chi camera store in Palm Desert to ask if they had any sensor cleaning stuff; my new-ish D3s sensor was covered in dust bunnies. They said they did and I went in. When I arrived they told me it is risky to do that oneself using a brush as the D3-series sensors have a little oily frame around the sensor and it's easy to smear that oil on the sensor when cleaning it, which they characterized as a big risk (they recommend the paddle and fluid method which I don't have). Well, I just wanted get right back to shooting and they said they'd clean it in 15 minutes for $45 and I said OK.

Now I've always cleaned my own sensors with a brush and compressed air and this was the first time I'd been told "don't try this at home." I didn't really mind the cleaning fee (I'm 3,000 miles from home and shooting all the time) but I wonder how real this risk is. Any thoughts?
 
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Yep.
1. Do NOT used compressed air. Rocket blower only.

2. The lube they're referring to is real in some bodies. I had it in my D3. If you do your own wet clean and come in contact with the lube, be prepared to spend some extra time re-cleaning a few times till it's all gone. Eventually it will be all gone and in my case hasn't reappeared.

Didn't your shaky shake work???
 
Joined
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
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Yep.
1. Do NOT used compressed air. Rocket blower only.

2. The lube they're referring to is real in some bodies. I had it in my D3. If you do your own wet clean and come in contact with the lube, be prepared to spend some extra time re-cleaning a few times till it's all gone. Eventually it will be all gone and in my case hasn't reappeared.

Didn't your shaky shake work???
No, I suppose the shaky-shake didn't work on that body. I also have another D3s which is fine so I guess it's variable camera to camera. So it sounds like this cleaning issue is not a particular risk to the equipment, just that it might require some more work if it gets smeared. Do you do wet clean?
 
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is there a reason why not to use compressed air?
Some, if not most, cans of compressed air contain liquid propellants that can exit with the air stream. If you are trying to remove some dust particles, you could add blobs that will require a wet clean to remove.
 
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Real Name
Mike
Yesterday I called a rather chi-chi camera store in Palm Desert to ask if they had any sensor cleaning stuff; my new-ish D3s sensor was covered in dust bunnies. They said they did and I went in. When I arrived they told me it is risky to do that oneself using a brush as the D3-series sensors have a little oily frame around the sensor and it's easy to smear that oil on the sensor when cleaning it, which they characterized as a big risk (they recommend the paddle and fluid method which I don't have). Well, I just wanted get right back to shooting and they said they'd clean it in 15 minutes for $45 and I said OK.

Now I've always cleaned my own sensors with a brush and compressed air and this was the first time I'd been told "don't try this at home." I didn't really mind the cleaning fee (I'm 3,000 miles from home and shooting all the time) but I wonder how real this risk is. Any thoughts?
I use the brush for dust bunnies and the paddle/fluid for wet cleaning my D3s. I can't recall the brush smearing anything from the edge of the sensor, but I know it's there.

For two or three cleanings, you have paid for the kit to do it yourself.
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2008
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Toronto, CANADA
I got myself into a little predicament with an Arctic Butterfly brush that did get a small smear onto the sensor, and didn't enjoy the experience at all. I managed to keep working a wet swab setup to clean it off, but it wasn't at all quick and painless, and I admit I uttered a few nasty words during the process of cleaning, testing, cleaning, testing, cleaning ad nauseum. The built-in sensor clean is nice, but it sure isn't a catch-all. Dust still sticks that it won't shake, so I've had two occasions to have to take the wet swabs to it since I first got it. Similar timing to the D700. For whatever reason, I never had the same frequency with previous DX bodies, even ones that didn't have the sensor-shake setup.

I'm extremely careful when I use anything on my sensor to place the swab down without contacting the edges, but like Mike I do realize that sloppy swabbing could result in a worse situation than a few dust particles sticking. It can be done though with patience and a steady hand.
 
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When I arrived they told me it is risky to do that oneself using a brush as the D3-series sensors have a little oily frame around the sensor and it's easy to smear that oil on the sensor when cleaning it, which they characterized as a big risk (they recommend the paddle and fluid method which I don't have). Well, I just wanted get right back to shooting and they said they'd clean it in 15 minutes for $45 and I said OK.
I think they were trying to scare you into paying for the cleaning. Unless the D3s is significantly different than the D3, there is no oily frame around the sensor. I usually do it myself, but my local camera shop will do it for free since a wet cleaning is pretty easy. Here are 2 sites with info that will show you how Nikon Techs do it, as well as how to make you own tools.

Thom Hogan's article and link to the Nikon method:
http://www.bythom.com/cleaning.htm

DIY Sensor cleaning:
http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com/cleaning.html

Now I've always cleaned my own sensors with a brush and compressed air and this was the first time I'd been told "don't try this at home." I didn't really mind the cleaning fee (I'm 3,000 miles from home and shooting all the time) but I wonder how real this risk is. Any thoughts?
You should keep doing your own cleanings. The D3 was notorious for getting excess lube on the sensor during early use, but even that stops after a few cleanings. If you do have oil spots on the sensor, it just requires a bit more cleaning effort than a simple dust-bunny cleaning. No big deal if you are careful. I use E2 on Pec-pads wrapped around chopsticks (from Panda Express) cut flat on one end. My tools and methods mimic that shown in the video of the Nikon tech.
 
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I am tempted to get this one, has anyone tried it yet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8_0GK41AcA
I like Peter Gregg, his original "a better bounce card" was great. Even so, I would not breath onto my sensor to clean it. The "fog" he speaks of is mouth moisture, or spit. Do you really want to use spit on your sensor to clean it?

Based on Thom Hogan's article at:http://bythom.com/cleaning.htm I looked up the Nikon sensor cleaning videos. They are in Japanese, but video P09 and P10 show you in excellent detail how to clean the sensor of a Nikon DSLR.
P09 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPcvaJl-eS4
P10 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2yfZL0edqs

The Nikon Tech uses a chopstick like device and lens cleaning paper with the appropriate sensor cleaning solution. (pretty sure it is not spit)

I use chopsticks from Panda express cut to form a thin, flat surface. I wrap PecPads exactly as in the video and use Eclipse E2 sensor cleaning solution. It has worked perfectly for me with my D3, D300, D200, and it cost relatively little. I suggest you practice rolling the cleaning pad onto the "swab" until you can do it right a few times, before trying to clean the sensor.

Notice the amount of solution used in the videos. If you put too much E2 on the sensor swab, it will leave a smear when it dries. If you put too little, it won't clean the toughest spots off. I tend to make the swab rather wet, so it leaves a limited bit of solution behind like in the video. This gets enough solution onto the tough spots to loosen or dissolve them. Then I quickly redo the process again with about 1/2 ~ 1/4 the amount of solution. That picks up whatever wasn't fully removed, including excess E2.

I always do 2 passes, because when I put a drop of E2 on a clean, clear piece of glass and let it evaporate, it left a bit of an evaporation ring that I could see. So, I use a medium-heavy amount of E2 for the first cleaning pass, and then use a new PecPad and medium-low E2 for the second pass. No E2 evaporation marks or smears, and a clean sensor. It works for Nikon and it has worked for me, but if you want to buy an expensive kit or spit on your sensor, it's your gear, give it a go and let us know how it turns out.
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
Messages
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Bournemouth, UK
pec pads and some type of plastic spatula (cut down) is what I used and have used since d70 times w/o issue,. I wanted to mention about normal eclipse Vs E2 - last I heard the requirement to use E2 was discounted - to the extent that E2 is no longer being made,. I might be wrong :smile:
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
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seen just now, according to http://www.copperhillimages.com/index.php?pr=contact

NOTE: If you are confused about whether to use E2 or Eclipse, do not be. E2 was discontinued in mid-2009, Eclipse is now a universal fluid, 100% safe to use on all sensors. If you are using E2, it would be wise to discard it immediately and make the switch to Eclipse. The are many websites and e-sellers who are hopelessly out-of-date with this new protocol, and that is the source of a lot of the confusion.
 

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