Cleaning sensors with Pec Pads?

Started Feb 10, 2011 | Discussions thread
TimR32225 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,405
Re: Cleaning with Pec pads & Eclipse

I've been using pec pads and eclipse liquid for wet cleaning on 3 Canon DLSRs going back to 2005. I originally used the copperhill website instructions to make a cleaning tool from a rubbermaid spatula, and I have been doing it that way ever since. In fact, I also clean sensors on my brother's cameras and several close friends, since I've gotten very comfortable at doing it.

That said, you still need to take precautions to avoid doing any damage to your camera. Always use a bulb blower first to dislodge any large dust particles. Then be careful when you swab not to touch anything else inside the mirror box, such as the foam gaskets around the mirror, or anything else. If you do, you may deposit very small fibers from the pec pad that can be tedious to remove. I still use the copperhill instructions, which suggest folding the pec pad over the cleaning tool, and then wrapping the excess around the handle and taping it in place. This keeps the ends of the pad out of the way so they do not contact the inside of the mirror box when cleaning.

It's very important that you do not apply excess pressure to the sensor, because it's possible to crack the sensor if you do. I remember reading in these forums when Ben Egbert cracked his sensor on a 1Ds camera and it was a very expensive repair. He was having trouble removing some stubborn dirt, and he swabbed over a half dozen times, applying more pressure on the last try, which cracked the sensor. Do not make this mistake.

When you swab, go in one direction with one side of the pad cleaning the top half of the sensor, and then in the other direction with the other side of the pad to clean the bottom half (overlapping in the middle). Never use a pec pad twice.

Use no more than 2 or 3 drops of Eclipse on the pad. If you use the correct amount, you will see the eclipse fluid evaporate behind your pec pad as you swab across the sensor.

I use a "sensor scope" lighted magnifier prior to cleaning to locate the dust on the sensore before I begin. This is a big help because after I swab, I can also see very clearly whether I have removed all the dust, or if I need to swab it again. Someone gave me that little gadget as a gift so I don't know where it came from, but I'm sure you could google it and find out. This has eliminated the need to shoot f22 before and after photos of the blue sky to tell if my sensors are clean. It has also shortened the time needed to clean the sensors.

Cleaning a sensor is easy if you are careful. I realize there folks here who are paranoid about changing lenses for fear of getting dust in their cameras, and it's usually the same people that are also paranoid about cleaning their sensors. I guess that's why. There is no right or wrong answer. Do it only if you are comfortable with the risk involved. I do it myself because I find it easy to do, and also because a lot of the people who send their cameras off to Canon for cleaning get them back in the same condition or worse. Being a CPS member, I can get my cameras cleaned by Canon for free, but I don't send them to Canon because I do not want to be without my gear.

Dust is a fact of life, and sooner or later you will need to clean your camera sensor. I change lenses any time I want, and I never worry about dust. If it happens, it takes me 5 or 10 minutes to fix the problem. I typically clean my camera sensors 2 or 3 times a year.
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