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Sensor Cleaning Question....

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Flew, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    The sensor in my D2H is filthy. I put off cleaning it because I didn't want to do anything that might screw up the cam before the Merritt session, but it is now time.

    My question is, what is everyone here's preferred method? Is it pec pads and eclipse? Sensor Brush? Something else?

    If it is pec pads and eclipse, where is the best place to order? I know that you can get eclipse from B&H, but am not sure of where to get the pec pads. What about the Photographic Solutions type 2 swabs?

    Finally, do those of you that have the D2H just set the camera to a 60 second exposure, and try to clean the sensor while the shutter is retracted (is that the right term?)?

    Obviously, I'm sort of in the dark here, and scared to death that I'm going to screw up my camera. Would I be better off just sending it back to my dealer (or Nikon) for service.... :?

    Thanks for your assistance.

  2. I use the power adapter with the D100, which enables a special "cleaning mode". Can't help you with the D2H specifics, but I definitely use Pec Pads and Eclipse when I can't blow off the dust bunnies. I went the route of a specially-cut Wendy's knife (I have three of them, and I typically use at least two when cleaning). I don't know how people say that they can do it with one application; that has never worked for me (but maybe I'm just too picky). Every time I do it, I think I should buy something a bit more formal to do the actual application. But the Pec Pads on the knife is about the cheapest way to go that I've found.

    Last I knew, B&H wouldn't ship Eclipse (you could only buy it locally in the store). I picked some up at Penn Camera in the DC area the last time I was there, and bought the Pec Pads at the same time.
  3. You can order Eclipse and Pec Pads from Copper Hill (just use your search engine). First you might just try blowing the dust out by putting your camera on bulb and then holding the shutter open while turned in a downward direction. Blow with a bulb blower such as a Giotta's Rocket (about $13.00 from B&H.
  4. Hi Frank,

    I purchased pec pads and eclipse from http://www.2filter.com/prices/products/eclipse.html they can send it UPS, B&H could not ship in 2003.
    I made a cleaning tool from a pan spatula that I bought at Wal-Mart in a four-pack for about $1.99
    I followed the Copper Hill instructions. Practice first in an asprin box. It is scary the first time, but OK after that. Four hand help, Nan removes and holds the lens once I get the pad ready. I put the camera on the tripod with it pointing down slightly to do it. Don't be surprised if it takes 3 or 4 tries the first time, you won't press hard enough at first.
    Good luck,
  5. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    Jan 26, 2005
    I use AC adapter, sensor swabs and eclipse ordered from Adorama.
  6. Hi Frank,

    You can send your D2H to me and I promise I would only ask half of what Nikon would bill you;-)

    I ordered my pads and eclipse from "http://www.2filter.com/prices/products/eclipse.html" too. I bought AC adapter a week after I bought my D2H. People always say they have good result by using Bulb mode. But I would not risk my D2H this way. The reason is pretty simple. When you put your camera in B-mode, your camera is basically in a "working" mode. But when you connect the AC adapter to your camera and set Mirror Lockup on for sensor cleaning, your camera is in a "cleaning" mode. I really think $80 is worth.

    I made several sweep tools of plastic knife. I wrap a whole folded pad around the knife with a piece of scotch tape. Then I apply one drop of eclipse. Once the camera mirror is up, I quickly sweep from one end to another several times. The whole process takes only a few seconds. HTH.

  7. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Spring for the AC adapter, Frank

    60 secondes isn't nearly long enough for a 1st timer! Plus some agrue that using the battery's power charges the CCD, err, "LBCAST". Copperhill's kit is exaclty what you need. I made my own modified spatula according to his instructions. It's truly a piece of cake to do. It's just really nerve wracking the 1st time. Just follow his instructions *exactly*, and you can't go wrong. My former D1X hadn't been cleaned in 2yrs, and I had to go over it twice. You should'a seen the crud that came off with the 1st swipe! Almost chunks!
  8. sensor cleaning question

    One of the items I had read about and saw at the PMA show was the sensor brush from VisibleDust.com I let them clean my camera and didn't see any spots after that, I have since ordered a kit from Canada as they didn't have any US dealers as yet.

  9. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    After a year and a half of blowing out dust with perfect results, I finally had dirt that wouldn't blow out. I guess it was that trip to the foggy/rainy beach I did a month or so ago.

    So I broke down, went to the photo store and bought Eclipse and Photo Sol'n's Type 2 swabs. I put my D100 into bulb mode and locked the button down with my vintage, locking, cable release. I followed the instructions that come with the swabs explicitly, and the whole operation was over in 15-20 seconds. I tested by shooting the sky at f/22 and the sensor is as clean as it was when I first got it. Plus I now have an 18 year supply of swabs and methanol.

    PS, there were also 6 pec-pads in the box with the eclipse.
  10. sensor cleaning question 2

    Duh, I forgot,when blowing dust around my D2H , I first put the camera on bulb, hook up my trusty Nikon MC-30 cord,trip the shutter and lock the switch(be sure you got a charged battery in camera ) i plan on doing the same method when I get my visible Dust brushes.

    keep a cap or lens on camera ALL the time.carry extra body caps,they hide whrn you really need them.

    When you are ready to start cleaning,find/make a clean well-lit area,open the shutter and swing mirror out out of way by what ever method AC adapter, time exposure,MC-30 cord etc. remove lens/cap
    and while holding camera face down to reduce amount of dust entering chamber and getting on the sensor,puff away at sensor with your rocket or enima bulb,never touching the glass with the nozzle.

    to test results ,turn off autofocus and throw out of focus manually shoot some frames of blue sky or some bright uniform subject,after downloading bring image up 100% and look for flecks of spots on screen if there is any they should be easy to see. Thats the method I have used for the last year and a half. Good Luck,first rule of cleaning is "Do No Harm!"

  11. GeeJay


    Jan 26, 2005

    This whole thread has me so nervous that I know when I have to clean my D2H that I'm going to have to call you and have you talk me through it.

    So take good notes :!: :lol:

    Harry helped me do my D-70 at Ron's session. I had no fear there because he was watching. Now that I've had a chance to think about it I'm quaking in my boots..

    Good Luck and let us know how and what you do :D 

  12. There's been some good advice here... to reiterate some of the more salient points:

    Whatever method you actually use to do the cleaning (blowing/swiping with ethanol), do the following when taking a test shot afterwords to check:

    - Stop down to the as small an f-stop (ie. f/22) as you can for the lens (this helps define the spots better)
    - use manual focus, and intentionally defocus to make sure you're not seeing a speck on the wall or a bug in the air, etc.
    - if you're anal like me, move the camera intentionally while taking the test picture (ie. introduce camera shake). This will insure that any sharper spot that shows up is actually dust on the sensor, not a random speck in the scene.

    Like Bob and Nan, I put my camera on the tripod while performing the cleaning operation to make it easier to deal with.

    There are some folks who will swear to you that blowing can get all specs if done properly. I don't buy that theory, and I think it depends largely on the humidity level of either the debris and/or the atmosphere when the debris entered the sensor area. Drier climes seem to fare better, but eventually you will end up with spots that simply will not leave with only air blasts. The worst dust bunnies I've ever had came during shoots in Florida. Conversely, I had almost none while traveling out west this past summer.
  13. bpetterson

    bpetterson Guest

    This has been my routine.

    Take a picture aperture priority say at f14 to f22. Focus on a distant
    object and shoot at the clear blue sky. At nite try a white paper.

    Open in PS- then Image-adjustments- invert or equalize.
    If dust or dirt -you will see it.

    I sit on a stool or chair by the sliding glass door [open] where I can
    get the sun shining in so I can hold camera and the sun will shine on
    the CCD

    If dust is upper top right- then when you look at CCD- it will be lower
    left bottom.

    Using bulb or manual. Careful when I have to use Manual 30 sec
    shutter in the field. [only earsyringe ]
    At home I use the adapter.[ earsyringe, eclipse, and sensor swabs ].
    The adapter is the only safe way.
    If the shutter closes and anything is in the way, you will have a big repair bill.

    Practice holding the camera in the suns rays so you can see the dirt.

    Table or box next to you with eclipse and sensor swabs.
    2-3 drops on swab, and wipe CCD one way- and if you have time flip the
    swab and wipe opposite way. Toss that swab away.
    Now check CCD in suns rays.
    If it looks good- you may use ear syringe to blow loose dust out holding
    the camera face down. Well almost.

    Ear syringe- Drug store- do not use plastic nozzle. Rinse with water
    several times- dry- and let set overnight.
    I have used the Rocket blower- but it took me forever to get the internal
    A rectal syringe from the drug store is better in my mind.
    But make sure the inside is clean and dry.

    When lighting is poor and I'm at home, I use a Petzl Myo or a Black Diamond
    headlamp. These are used for caving, climbing, camping etc.


    When I first had to clean the CCD on my Old D1- Before Thom Hogan,
    eclipse, sensor swabs etc.
    I had something that I could not blow off. Yes four hours. Just battery
    I had one of the first D1's.

    Well I put the camera in the refrig for 7 to 10 min and tried again.
    Got rid of half the spots. The second time I got them all.

    This was only using an ear syringe.

    I do use canned air to blow dust off camera and lens casing prior to

    How does dust get in.
    When you change a lens.
    When you pump some zoom lenses, not all.

    The healing brush in PS is a life saver.

    Now some people use a trimmed down spatula and pec pads.
    I have not attempted this method.

    A vacuum tip can be very dangerous.

    If you use a ear syringe or rectal syringe from the drug store
    make sure that it is white.

    Nikon does not approve of you doing any cleaning except with a blower.

  14. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Wow!! Thanks for all of the responses. I've ordered the AC adapter and Eclipse, Sensor Swabs, and Pec pads.

    Since they won't ship Eclipse by air, it will be a week or so, but I guess if I've waited this long, I can wait another few days. :?

    Thanks again to everyone for your responses. :!: :!:

  15. joecolson


    Jan 28, 2005
    Cary, NC

    One more suggestion. Look at this site: http://www.pbase.com/copperhill/ccd_cleaning for a photo tutorial on how to use the Pec pads and Eclipse with a homemade tool that is more effective than the Sensor Swabs. I use this method and it works wonders. Also, please use the AC adapter when cleaning the sensor. Using bulb charges the CCD and attracts dust. Using the AC adapter doesn't charge the CCD.
  16. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Thanks Joe,

    I did order the AC Adapter. Several others recommended it just because I'm a newbie at this, and it will probably take me a while to get everything done. The fact that Bulb puts a charge on the sensor is more than enough reason though, even if I were an expert.... 8)

    I looked at the web article that you referenced. It is a little long winded, but very good.

    Thanks again for you inputs. Now I just have to wait for everything to come in.

  17. Here's the least expensive source I found

    I ordered the complete cleaning kit from


    Came with complete instructions, 100 PEC*PADS, Eclipse fluid, and a SensorWand sized for my camera. Total cost with shipping $24.00

    One thing I always do when changing the lense is hold the camera with the back facing up and the lense side facing down. After all dust settles down, so if there is any, it should fall down from the camera. Seems to be a good way. In over 10,000 photos and numerous lens changes, I have only had to clean my D-100 once.

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