First time sensor cleaning experience (Sony A7III)

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jtra Contributing Member • Posts: 919
First time sensor cleaning experience (Sony A7III)
4

I have never cleaned sensor on my Nikon cameras before, they did not got dirty that much to bother. I let the Nikon service to clean them few times over years and they did great job.

But my A7III was getting quite a bit of dirt on sensor even after month and half of owning so I decided I will be doing this often so I better learn it myself.

I have Eyelead Air Blower, but that one was not sufficient to clean it so I wanted to get some wet cleaning. Only one available in a local shop was Green Clean SC-4060 so I bought that. It has one wet foam swab (smaller than short sensor side) and one dry sweeper (width matching a short side of sensor). I did not want a gel stick based on reports of being it unsuitable for Sony sensors.

Here is how sensor looked before cleaning taking picture at f/22 to show all dirt (that does not get seen at wider apertures), manual focus, ISO 100, long exposure with movement to blur white tiles on the wall:

initial (no contrast adjustments)

All the remaining pictures are with following contrast adjustments in LR:

Here is the picture from same RAW as above, but with contrast adjustments applied:

initial (high contrast)

So this is initial state. Then I was vigorously blowing some air from close distance to clean it. Result of this blowing was this (still quite dirty, disregard the big ridge on the left - that is just wall detail not fully blurred by movement):

after blowing (high contrast)

I have put camera into cleaning mode to have non-moving sensor and did wet cleaning with first wet foam swab and dry sweeper. I did it in same way as shown in product demo videos. It cleaned, but not fully:

after first wet & dry cleaning (high contrast)

I did second pass with another pair (they are not supposed to be reused):

after second wet & dry cleaning (high contrast)

This is good enough and it will not be visible in low contrast pictures at all.

The original state was not overly bad, but when I was shooting distant low contrast landscape with 24-105 at 105mm f/8 and f/5.6 I needed to increase contrast in post-processing and then dirt was quite visible.

eques Veteran Member • Posts: 3,122
Do Sonys need more cleaning?
1

Interesting.

Is it a general phenomenon with SONY FE cameras, that the sensor needs a lot of cleaning, or did you use your camera in dusty surroundings?

I come from M43 and had to clean a sensor only once in 7 years in spite of a lot of lens changing.

Peter

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OP jtra Contributing Member • Posts: 919
Re: Do Sonys need more cleaning?
1

eques wrote:

Interesting.

Is it a general phenomenon with SONY FE cameras, that the sensor needs a lot of cleaning, or did you use your camera in dusty surroundings?

I come from M43 and had to clean a sensor only once in 7 years in spite of a lot of lens changing.

I did change lenses a lot in dusty environments. But I have been doing same thing with D750 as well and it was better. Perhaps a mirror helps a bit, but if dust gets onto mirror it may find its way onto sensor when mirror is flapping anyway.

M43 cameras have much thicker glass over sensor (than Canon, Nikon and Sony) so all that dust is farther away and more out of focus.

phototeacher Contributing Member • Posts: 599
Re: Do Sonys need more cleaning?

jtra wrote:

eques wrote:

Interesting.

Is it a general phenomenon with SONY FE cameras, that the sensor needs a lot of cleaning, or did you use your camera in dusty surroundings?

I come from M43 and had to clean a sensor only once in 7 years in spite of a lot of lens changing.

I did change lenses a lot in dusty environments. But I have been doing same thing with D750 as well and it was better. Perhaps a mirror helps a bit, but if dust gets onto mirror it may find its way onto sensor when mirror is flapping anyway.

M43 cameras have much thicker glass over sensor (than Canon, Nikon and Sony) so all that dust is farther away and more out of focus.

Also, since it is mirrorless, the shutter isn't really covering the sensor all the time (except at the moment of actual exposure) as it is in a traditional SLR camera, so there is no mirror or shutter blocking the dust from the sensor during lens changes.

lattesweden
lattesweden Senior Member • Posts: 2,069
Re: Do Sonys need more cleaning?
3

phototeacher wrote:

Also, since it is mirrorless, the shutter isn't really covering the sensor all the time (except at the moment of actual exposure) as it is in a traditional SLR camera, so there is no mirror or shutter blocking the dust from the sensor during lens changes.

I have been wondering why the shutter don't close when one changes lens. Could be made as automatic operation when one presses in the lens locking button or as a manual option in menus/custom buttons.

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ZodiacPhoto
ZodiacPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,695
My method
1

I cleaned my A7R2 sensor many times using the following method - repeat at you own risk

1. Use camera built-in senor cleaning mode. This should get rid of large, non-sticky particles.

2. Use combination of a blower and soft brush to remove the rest of dust, this is usually sufficient.

3. If something is stuck to the sensor, I use Zeiss Lens Wipes - they are designed for cameras, binoculars, etc. - for coated lenses. Open the individual wipe pack, but DON'T unfold the wipe. The width of the folded wipe matches the width of the sensor perfectly.

With the folded wet wipe, gently slide from one edge of the sensor to another, and back, tilting the wipe in the direction of the movement. Repeat if needed, rotating the wipe 90 degrees. Use it just like a sensor wet cleaning swab.

4. Inspect the sensor after each swipe. When you are sure that there are no particles attached to the sensor anymore, wipe the sensor with clean microfiber cloth to remove any residual streaks, and blow with air to dry / remove lint from the cloth.

This method lives my camera sensor perfectly clean, and causes no damage. I used it many times, and it costs nearly nothing.

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A Wingnut
A Wingnut Regular Member • Posts: 196
Re: My method

Thanks for sharing. I have been curious about this process, as I do have to switch out in the field and I really dislike doing it. I am super paranoid about damaging the sensor and find myself trying to be careful, however, I know dirt is inevitable.

I don’t even think we have a repair/maintainance shop in my area at all. I think the closest shop is a 1.5-2 hour drive. We have no camera shops here either. Everything is through mail or Best Buy, which is a poor place to buy/service because they seem to have a lack of knowledgeable employees.

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vali003 New Member • Posts: 6
Re: My method

Have my 7 iii for two weeks , change the lens just two times , in side . The sensor was full of dust stick on, had to take it to the shop I buy it and a profesional clean it , he told me the sensor was really hard to clean , still have two very small spots . I use Canon for years and never had this problem .

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TRIODEROB Senior Member • Posts: 2,321
Re: My method
1

vali003 wrote:

Have my 7 iii for two weeks , change the lens just two times , in side . The sensor was full of dust stick on, had to take it to the shop I buy it and a profesional clean it , he told me the sensor was really hard to clean , still have two very small spots . I use Canon for years and never had this problem .

Canon sensor drops down and mirror protects - Sony stays exposed and is dust magnet

lots of pluses and minuses with these different camera designs

I am reading a lot of complaints here about dirty sensors - no good

vali003 New Member • Posts: 6
Re: My method

This is very similar to what we have on the pictures up ,  this dirt on my sensor was after two weeks of use, and two lens change inside. I think everybody needs to check the sensor when using the first time, looks to me come already dirty.

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Susurus Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: My method

vali003 wrote:

This is very similar to what we have on the pictures up , this dirt on my sensor was after two weeks of use, and two lens change inside. I think everybody needs to check the sensor when using the first time, looks to me come already dirty.

Yep! Looks similarly to mine as well... Been ‘fighting’ with dust for last month but there can’t really get rid of it.

Susurus Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: My method

P.S. Can there theoretically be accumulated dust behind the shutter as well..Which gets on the sensor later? Or it is not possible?

I am asking because my camera’s sensor got cleaned professionally, and even not changing the lens - in the first picture I saw only 1-2 dots but after taking some more in 10 minutes there were around 20. Those spots do not move and there are now no new spots, however...

agfa100 Regular Member • Posts: 473
Re: My method

I have had a A7s that I picked up used in Dec. the sensor had some dust on it when I got it. I cleaned it once and have not had to clean it again, however I use it in low light alot so I am shooting wide open or only stopped down to 2.8, no zooms only primes and I make sure I blow off the rear of the lens before I change them. And always turn off the camera before changing the lenses. I used the sticky sensor stick for Sony sensors and have not had any issues, but also I don't take pic's at f22 and look for dust I am sure I would find it. Dust on your sensor is just a way of life, why do you think they put felt lips on camera film cart.

Enjoy

wbill

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eques Veteran Member • Posts: 3,122
Re: Do Sonys need more cleaning?

jtra wrote:

eques wrote:

Interesting.

Is it a general phenomenon with SONY FE cameras, that the sensor needs a lot of cleaning, or did you use your camera in dusty surroundings?

I come from M43 and had to clean a sensor only once in 7 years in spite of a lot of lens changing.

I did change lenses a lot in dusty environments. But I have been doing same thing with D750 as well and it was better. Perhaps a mirror helps a bit, but if dust gets onto mirror it may find its way onto sensor when mirror is flapping anyway.

M43 cameras have much thicker glass over sensor (than Canon, Nikon and Sony) so all that dust is farther away and more out of focus.

This explains, why OP shows very small specs of dirt, while mine was much larger and more OOF. Thanks.

Peter

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