Help, did I screw up my sensor?

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
mactac
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Help, did I screw up my sensor?
11 months ago

So I had a bunch of dust on my sensor of my d800, and decided to use the visibledust vswabs.

I used one, and it left streaks & marks all over my sensor, and almost a 'film' all over it, like i had breathed on it.

I tried again (finally using all 4 that came in the pack), and still have the same problem.  I now have most dust specks, and streaks on my sensor.

Have I screwed this up?  the guy at the store gave me these swabs after asking what type of camera I had.

I feel like I just need to get in there with a microfiber cloth or something & clean it up, but I'm obviously reluctant to do that.

How delicate is the sensor in a d800 really?  How can I get this thing clean?  I don't live anywhere near a place that could clean it for me.

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Nikonparrothead
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

mactac wrote:

So I had a bunch of dust on my sensor of my d800, and decided to use the visibledust vswabs.

I used one, and it left streaks & marks all over my sensor, and almost a 'film' all over it, like i had breathed on it.

I tried again (finally using all 4 that came in the pack), and still have the same problem. I now have most dust specks, and streaks on my sensor.

Have I screwed this up? the guy at the store gave me these swabs after asking what type of camera I had.

I feel like I just need to get in there with a microfiber cloth or something & clean it up, but I'm obviously reluctant to do that.

How delicate is the sensor in a d800 really? How can I get this thing clean? I don't live anywhere near a place that could clean it for me.

So you're saying these guys, I just saw on the Web don't exist anymore?

http://www.victoriacameraservice.com/

I can't make any suggestions other than that since I've never wet cleaned a sensor. The one time I accidentally did more harm than good (had some foreign matter on an Arctic butterfly brush) and added more stuff than I took out, I sent it out to a guy locally here in Florida who cleaned sensors (he used to work for a now defunct camera store -- I found him through word of mouth).

I've only seen microfiber cloths recommended for use outside the camera (again through google).

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j_photo
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

What cleaning fluid did you use? If VD Smear Away, you need to then use one of the other fluids to remove all residual film.

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InTheMist
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

Get some different swabs. It sounds like maybe you had a drop of oily substance and you're just smearing it around.  Or the first swabs were bad.

Try swabs for oil, THEN normal ones.

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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to Nikonparrothead, 11 months ago

No you haven't damaged it. I think that is just the antireflection coatings smearing slightly when rubbed.

Microfibre cloth, some lens cleaner and a hurricane blower should do the trick. I had this happen on my Sony A7r which is the same sensor as D800. I also got concerned but Ive cleaned optics many times and I knew the coatings can sometimes smear like that. It will even out with some cleaner and mircofibre cloth.

I continued to rub mine down making sure there was no trapped grit that could scratch. It evened out pretty  well. Not 100% yet but thats not with cleaing fluid yet. I see no effect in the images though.

Greg.

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mactac
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to j_photo, 11 months ago

j_photo wrote:

What cleaning fluid did you use? If VD Smear Away, you need to then use one of the other fluids to remove all residual film.

I used the vdust plus

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mlewan
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

The only cleaning I do myself is with air. I do not dare touching the sensor with anything - not even blowing on it with my mouth. Even if exhaled air would not contain saliva particles, it is apparently slightly acidic, and than may damage sensors or lens coating.

What I use is a lens blower, like a Giottos Rocket Air Blower.

There are also canned air blowers like Beseler Duster. However, I have so far never tried any on my sensor, and I am not sure it is a good idea.

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mactac
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, 11 months ago

Astrophotographer 10 wrote:

No you haven't damaged it. I think that is just the antireflection coatings smearing slightly when rubbed.

Microfibre cloth, some lens cleaner and a hurricane blower should do the trick. I had this happen on my Sony A7r which is the same sensor as D800. I also got concerned but Ive cleaned optics many times and I knew the coatings can sometimes smear like that. It will even out with some cleaner and mircofibre cloth.

I continued to rub mine down making sure there was no trapped grit that could scratch. It evened out pretty well. Not 100% yet but thats not with cleaing fluid yet. I see no effect in the images though.

Greg.

So, how do I clean it with the cloth, just put it over my finger & start digging around down there on the sesor?

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mactac
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mlewan, 11 months ago

mlewan wrote:

The only cleaning I do myself is with air. I do not dare touching the sensor with anything - not even blowing on it with my mouth. Even if exhaled air would not contain saliva particles, it is apparently slightly acidic, and than may damage sensors or lens coating.

What I use is a lens blower, like a Giottos Rocket Air Blower.

There are also canned air blowers like Beseler Duster. However, I have so far never tried any on my sensor, and I am not sure it is a good idea.

Air definitely will not clean my sensor.  It's got streaks & what looks like a bit of a film on it in places.

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Dennis Watts
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

Don't use anything other than the swabs. If you got oil on the sensor it may take several. Be sure you follow the directions, and don't use too much fluid.

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PenPix
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

... it's good you resisted wiping it with a micro fibre cloth!  The actual sensor is actually under a AA and/or IR filter (sorry.. not exactly sure what glass is stacked atop the D800 sensor).  The sensor itself is not damaged, but to the IR filter could be scratched.  If you didn't press too hard with the swab and get a hard bit of dirt under it, I do not think there will be any permanent damage. The only way to know for sure is to have it professionally cleaned and have it checked for scratches.

I've used the Visible Dust swabs on my D200 sensor because I got tired of fixing all the black dots on my pictures. After the first go, I had streaks too and wondered if I made a judgement error in cleaning it myself.  After watching the tutorial video and reading the instructions several times over, my second attempt was perfect.

In the future, make sure you thoroughly clean your work area, were a short sleeve lint-free shirt, turn on a evaporative humidifier, and use a blower bulb and vacuum to clean inside the camera, before putting the swab on the sensor.  I wish that would have been recommended on the instructions.  That kind of attention to dust is what we used to do when handling negatives.

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mactac
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to Dennis Watts, 11 months ago

Dennis Watts wrote:

Don't use anything other than the swabs. If you got oil on the sensor it may take several. Be sure you follow the directions, and don't use too much fluid.

Well, I did use several already (and re-used a few, which it says not to do, but I was out of options).

I can't see how buying 4 more swabs ($25!) will get it any cleaner.  Every time I swipe it, it just leaves different streak patterns, and then dries, leaving residue all over it.

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Joe Huckleberry
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

I found that if I put too much fluid on the swab it would streak. Not sure if you are using pre-moistened swabs, but I found those to be far too wet. Going over the sensor/filter a second time with less fluid (and a new swab) has always got rid of the streaks, taking a second pass with the other side of the swab. I also pause for about 10 seconds to let the fluid absorb evenly into the swab before taking a pass over the sensor. But I use cleaning tools made by these folks http://photosol.com/, and not visible dust.

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Robin Casady
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I've been cleaning sensors for years.
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

mactac wrote:

So I had a bunch of dust on my sensor of my d800, and decided to use the visibledust vswabs.

I've been cleaning my cameras sensors for years (D2x, D700, D800E). For wet cleaning I use Copper Hill Images swabs, QuikStrips, and Eclipse liquid. They are effective and much less expensive than Visible Dust products.

QuikStips is a package of PEC PADs cut into swab-size strips for the pad on the swab. You use the swab over and over, but with a different QuikStip (one pass on each side and then change). Use 3 drops of Eclipse for each pad.

Don't scrub. Just use a lot of pads and the right amount of liquid.

When you are done with the pads there maybe lint left behind. This can easily be removed with a Nylon bristle cosmetic brush that has been properly prepared.

Clean the bristles very very thoroughly with dish soap.

Do the final rinse in distilled water.

Allow to thoroughly dry in a place where dust wont settle on it.

Test it on a very clean filter. If it leaves a smudge, wash it again.

See the Pixel Sweeper page for a complete discussion and instructions for selecting and preparing a brush.

I used one, and it left streaks & marks all over my sensor, and almost a 'film' all over it, like i had breathed on it.

When you have oil on the sensor it can take quite a few passes to remove it all. This is why changing pads is helpful.

I tried again (finally using all 4 that came in the pack), and still have the same problem. I now have most dust specks, and streaks on my sensor.

I've not used the VD swabs, but you may be able to replace the pads with strips cut from PEC PADs, or QuikStips.

Have I screwed this up?

Probably not.

I feel like I just need to get in there with a microfiber cloth or something & clean it up, but I'm obviously reluctant to do that.

Resist that urge.

How delicate is the sensor in a d800 really? How can I get this thing clean? I don't live anywhere near a place that could clean it for me.

From: Nikon USA web site

As you can see above, you are cleaning the first low-pass filter. It will have an anti-reflection coating. Some such coatings are oil-loving and difficult to clean. I don't know the specifics of the D800 OLPF coatings, but it seems oil-loving.

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Re: I've been cleaning sensors for years. Great advice.....
In reply to Robin Casady, 11 months ago

Robin Casady wrote:

mactac wrote:

So I had a bunch of dust on my sensor of my d800, and decided to use the visibledust vswabs.

I've been cleaning my cameras sensors for years (D2x, D700, D800E). For wet cleaning I use Copper Hill Images swabs, QuikStrips, and Eclipse liquid. They are effective and much less expensive than Visible Dust products.

QuikStips is a package of PEC PADs cut into swab-size strips for the pad on the swab. You use the swab over and over, but with a different QuikStip (one pass on each side and then change). Use 3 drops of Eclipse for each pad.

Don't scrub. Just use a lot of pads and the right amount of liquid.

When you are done with the pads there maybe lint left behind. This can easily be removed with a Nylon bristle cosmetic brush that has been properly prepared.

Clean the bristles very very thoroughly with dish soap.

Do the final rinse in distilled water.

Allow to thoroughly dry in a place where dust wont settle on it.

Test it on a very clean filter. If it leaves a smudge, wash it again.

See the Pixel Sweeper page for a complete discussion and instructions for selecting and preparing a brush.

I used one, and it left streaks & marks all over my sensor, and almost a 'film' all over it, like i had breathed on it.

When you have oil on the sensor it can take quite a few passes to remove it all. This is why changing pads is helpful.

I tried again (finally using all 4 that came in the pack), and still have the same problem. I now have most dust specks, and streaks on my sensor.

I've not used the VD swabs, but you may be able to replace the pads with strips cut from PEC PADs, or QuikStips.

Have I screwed this up?

Probably not.

I feel like I just need to get in there with a microfiber cloth or something & clean it up, but I'm obviously reluctant to do that.

Resist that urge.

How delicate is the sensor in a d800 really? How can I get this thing clean? I don't live anywhere near a place that could clean it for me.

From: Nikon USA web site

As you can see above, you are cleaning the first low-pass filter. It will have an anti-reflection coating. Some such coatings are oil-loving and difficult to clean. I don't know the specifics of the D800 OLPF coatings, but it seems oil-loving.

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That sounds like great advice. The couple of times I cleaned my D5000 sensor (have not had to clean my D300 sensor in the almost year I have had it (guess I should..     ), I used Eclipse and Pec pads, after blower brush.

Worked fine.

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GearGuru
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Stop using Visible Dust
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

I used to use Visible Dust fluid for a few years and always got frustrated by streaks. I feel like VD is not a good product. Leaves streaking even with a modest amount if fluid. I think it is formulated so that you must use $25 worth of swabs, or more!

Instead, invest in Pec pads, Pec swabs and Eclipse solution - all made by the same brand, Photographic Solutions. Eclipse works great and is an organic solvent that cleans dirt and oil. No streaking and works quickly and easily. I can also make my own swabs too by taking pec pads and wrapping them around older used swabs (after removing the old wrap). I use one to apply the solution and one to wipe and buff.

I know some will frown upon this, but the only way I was able to remove streaks from when I used visible dust fluid is to breathe a bit of moisture vapor from your breath onto the sensor and then use a swab to remove. Somehow the vapor helps to remove the streaks. Sometimes you have to go up and down as well as right to left, and you'll still have to do this a couple times to remove all the streaks. Sometimes blowing air softly while wiping helps to evaporate the vapor if there is too much.

Hope that helps. Cleaning the sensor is quite easy and a routine procedure needed on all sensors periodically.

Again, just throw away the visible dust stuff and get the Photographic Solutions brand products, they are way better. Then, no headache.

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soloryb
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DON'T clean a sensor with a microfiber cloth!
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

I just read some of the responses you've gotten about the use of a microfiber cloth directly on your sensor (actually that sensor is protected with a thin layer of glass which is what you're cleaning.)

DON'T DO IT! Sorry for shouting but it sounds like you're about to make an extremely damaging and costly mistake. Never touch a sensor with anything but a clean wet swab or a clean sensor brush. A microfiber cloth could contain minute particles and rubbing it on a sensor can scratch that glass layer - permanently. In fact you should never rub anything back and forth on a sensor. Even clean wet swabs should only be used in one direction with one wipe per side, never back and forth.

I've been wet cleaning sensors for many years using a variety of different wet cleaning kits and have experienced the same thing you did on a few occasions. I think it comes from accidentally picking up some lube from the mirror hinges (especially on a new camera) on either a sensor brush or a swab and then the swab just keeps spreading it out in streaks. Repeated wet cleaning will eventually remove the stubborn streaks, but can be costly if you buy your wet-clean supplies from most vendors.

Try Copper Hill. They are the best provider of wet-cleaning kits and related supplies. Their prices are also very reasonable and their kits and materials are first rate. You can also check their site for tutorials.

soloryb

mactac wrote:

So I had a bunch of dust on my sensor of my d800, and decided to use the visibledust vswabs.

I used one, and it left streaks & marks all over my sensor, and almost a 'film' all over it, like i had breathed on it.

I tried again (finally using all 4 that came in the pack), and still have the same problem. I now have most dust specks, and streaks on my sensor.

Have I screwed this up? the guy at the store gave me these swabs after asking what type of camera I had.

I feel like I just need to get in there with a microfiber cloth or something & clean it up, but I'm obviously reluctant to do that.

How delicate is the sensor in a d800 really? How can I get this thing clean? I don't live anywhere near a place that could clean it for me.

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coronawithlime
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

First, it's unlikely that you have actually caused any damage.

Second, rubbing with a micro fiber cloth CAN cause damage.

Third, it sounds to me like you are using too much liquid.

Fourth, reusing a swab might make it worse.

I have no personal experience with any of the products other than Sensor Swabs and Eclipse.  Available from Photographic Solutions and several others.  I have never had the slightest hint of a problem, but when I first started I was very inefficient and used more swabs than necessary.  There is a learning curve.  I also tended to use too much liquid.  I now use a max of two swabs.

My suggestion is that you purchase these products, read, understand, and follow the instructions carefully, and expect to burn up more swabs than you want.  If $25 seems like more than you want to spend on sensor cleanings supplies I suspect you will be disappointed, cleaning is expensive.

Somewhere you will likely have a local camera store that will clean it for around $35.

Don't use the microfiber cloth.

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NEVER Use Canned or Compressed Air!!! (nt)
In reply to mlewan, 11 months ago

mlewan wrote:

The only cleaning I do myself is with air. I do not dare touching the sensor with anything - not even blowing on it with my mouth. Even if exhaled air would not contain saliva particles, it is apparently slightly acidic, and than may damage sensors or lens coating.

What I use is a lens blower, like a Giottos Rocket Air Blower.

There are also canned air blowers like Beseler Duster. However, I have so far never tried any on my sensor, and I am not sure it is a good idea.

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j_photo
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Re: Help, did I screw up my sensor?
In reply to mactac, 11 months ago

mactac wrote:

j_photo wrote:

What cleaning fluid did you use? If VD Smear Away, you need to then use one of the other fluids to remove all residual film.

I used the vdust plus

You just need practice. Maybe fewer drops on the swab. Four swabs is not enough, especially when you are first learning.

Also, at first I did find the larger FF sensor a little more difficult to do a good job on compared to my DX sensor second body.

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