D610 to be announced within 48 hours (as of 10/5)

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
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Dissolving doubt (and other things)
In reply to John Motts, 6 months ago

John Motts wrote:

Is this some sort of police interrogation?

No, of course not!

Nikon says, "Under no circumstances," but you say, "chill out, it's fine!" So, given that direct contradiction, it seems fair that I should be able to ask how you it's fine, right?

People have been cleaning their sensors for years. Yes, many of them pros, myself included.

Cool. But this is anecdote, right? This is people saying, "look, I did it, and right now my camera is good." There's no data there, though.  Nothing to track beyond a bunch of people I'll never meet and you'll never meet saying, "yeah, sure, why not?"

When I search the net for anecdotes of people bricking their cameras with failed cleaning attempts, I find many of them--a disconcerting number of real horror stories.  But like you, I don't put much stock in them: they're just anecdote.

Do we work with stories and hunches, or do we work with facts?

Wouldn't you rather just have someone who can cite some facts just prove it's OK? It seems like that shouldn't be so hard--to tell you that "This technique won't mechanically or chemically damage your camera's sensor" without some kind of glaring disclaimer?

The surface in question is perfectly tough enough. Why wouldn't it be?

Err . . . because they tell you never to touch it?   If I tell you "never touch X," then I don't have to design X to withstand touching, do I?

Hey, I don't mean to be a hard as$.  It's a great question.  I don't know why it wouldn't be, but I don't design optical sensor systems for a living. Do you? So far, the people who do design optical sensors for a living say you shouldn't ever touch it with anything.

Why would manufacturers cover up and seal their AA filters with something so delicate that it gets damaged by routine cleaning?

Again, I don't know--I don't design them. Do you? (Seriously, I'm not asking that to be flip. Maybe you have some inside knowledge, here, that would be awesomely informative.)

I hate to speculate, but what if the truth were something like this:

(1) many filters over camera sensors are coated with a metallic compound (often, tin oxide) to reject unwanted light frequencies.

(2) These metallic coatings work wonderfully in their filtration, but they are unfortunately chemically vulnerable--relatively easy to damage with common alcohol-based solvents. (Hardier coatings are available, but they don't perform as well, optically.) The manufacturers figure that since the sensor is located "inside" the camera and not generally exposed the the environment, it'd be OK to use a somewhat vulnerable but higher-performaning coating and simply advise customers not to touch it themselves.

(3) There's radical variation from camera-to-camera, brand-to-brand in the coating thickness and its deployment--so solvent exposure that would noticeably damage one camera wouldn't noticeably damage another, and vice-versa. Specific cleaning technique you'd use for one camera wouldn't necessarily apply to another.

Aren't those facts you'd want to know? Wouldn't you rather be operating with that awareness than with "it's perfectly tough enough because I can't envision why it wouldn't be?"

Again, I hate to speculate, but from the data I've been able to find, I have a strong suspicion that Nikon says "Under no circumstances" not just for basic liability reasons (they can't control how you swab your sensor or what you swab it with) but moreso because they're trying to limit your sensor coating's lifetime exposure to solvents. They know that sometimes only a wet clean will remove the junk, but they also know that, given the sensor filter coating's chemical vulnerability, even a properly-executed wet clean might take some filter coating off, too. Insisting that you send your camera in for that kind of service keeps you from doing it so often that you'd accumulate noticeable damage (in addition to eliminating the basic liability problems).

I suppose NikonFan99's frequent cleaning gives us an investigative laboratory, of sorts, to explore!

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