Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Started Oct 29, 2020 | Discussions
RacingManiac Contributing Member • Posts: 689
Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

So I've tried DIY cleaning kit and being fairly diligent in lens swapping with my A77II. I've just can't get rid of the dust bunnies. Enough so that I've been trying to shoot around it but its just a pain in the butt. Looking up prices for Precision Camera's service and its $475 regardless what happens plus whatever else they deemed to quote it seems. Seems like a steep price to pay but I don't know what else is out there. Are there places that can do a proper cleaning of sensor/mirror of these camera without being that kind of price, or am I just SOL at this point?

Andrew

Maxxum 7
KM 5D
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha A77 II

Sony a77 II
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SQLGuy
SQLGuy Forum Pro • Posts: 11,089
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Where are you?  A local real camera shop should be able to clean the sensor for, I'd guess, $50 - $100.

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 21,325
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...
1

RacingManiac wrote:

Looking up prices for Precision Camera's service and its $475 ...

They can't possibly charge that much for that service. Contact them for the real price rather than rely on the online estimator for general repairs. Or look at the 'other' Precision Camera:

https://www.precision-camera.com/sensor-cleaning/

Are there places that can do a proper cleaning of sensor/mirror of these camera without being that kind of price, or am I just SOL at this point?

I've heard of camera shops that charge maybe $20-$30, but I would never pay somebody even $5 when I can do it myself.

And it will always have to be done again at some point. And again. And again.

What's making it so hard for you?

DutchMM Senior Member • Posts: 1,997
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Just a thought or two.  Firstly, the presence of the mirror in front of the sensor means that you are more likely to get stuff - in my garden, it's often pollen - on the mirror than on the sensor.  Replacement mirrors are available - as has been discussed recently in this forum.  I'm not sure (but @SQLguy will know) whether it is possible to take a shot with the mirror removed - you would certainly need to change the Release Priority away from "Focus" - so as to demonstrate to yourself whether the offending spots are on the sensor (you would still see them on a photo of a white sheet at f22) or on the mirror.  There are videos for mirror change on U-tube, IIRC.

Secondly, have you considered wearing an anti-static bracelet and nitrile gloves when doing your sensor clean?  Is is it possible that you are actually attracting dust to your sensor rather than removing it?  Admittedly the men in my family are above average hairy, but we have to be careful touching electronic stuff - and metal door handles - to avoid undesired discharges of static electricity.

I used to send my A77ii to a camera store chain called Jessops (in the UK).  Now I am stuck at home in Italy, I bought this cleaning kit, and a sensor loupe (can't see the one I bought on Amazon in North America).  And when I clean it wearing my gloves, the result is pretty much perfect.

Anyway, good luck!

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 21,325
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

DutchMM wrote:

I'm not sure (but @SQLguy will know) whether it is possible to take a shot with the mirror removed ...

Many of us know, and it's easy. The only thing you lose is autofocus.

DutchMM Senior Member • Posts: 1,997
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Would that affect one's ability to detect dirt on the sensor?   You would still see it, but have less of an idea how big an area it covered?

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SQLGuy
SQLGuy Forum Pro • Posts: 11,089
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

DutchMM wrote:

Would that affect one's ability to detect dirt on the sensor? You would still see it, but have less of an idea how big an area it covered?

Dirt on the sensor can be easily seen by shooting a clear sky or blank wall with the lens set to a small aperture (F22 is great for this).

Dirt on the mirror will be much less distinct. There was a guy who posted some examples here of shots taken with an actually torn mirror, with a big gash in it, and you still couldn't tell... though that's probably something that's aperture-sensitive, too.

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DutchMM Senior Member • Posts: 1,997
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Thanks!  Hopefully this will help RacingManiac get his camera clean!  Or at least help him find out where the stuff really is.

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OP RacingManiac Contributing Member • Posts: 689
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Thanks for all the replies, sorry I don't use this forum as often as I used to. I've actually replaced the mirror at one point also since there wasn't a really easy way to clean the mirror as far as I know and I've heard that majority of the issues can be mirror related, so that was what I tried and unfortunately the spots remains so I assume at least some of the dirt spots are on the sensor.
As far as sensor cleaning itself goes I've used the sensor swab and solution(I think PSI and Eclipse or something). I did this before on my old KM 5D and A700 to varying degrees of success but doesn't seem to get the A77II as well. Hence why I am wondering if I am not doing something right.

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Maxxum 7
KM 5D
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha A77 II

DutchMM Senior Member • Posts: 1,997
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Disappointing to hear you are still struggling.  The spot shows up in the same place with all your lenses?

Where are you?

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robberfly12 Junior Member • Posts: 35
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

RacingManiac wrote:

As far as sensor cleaning itself goes I've used the sensor swab and solution(I think PSI and Eclipse or something). I did this before on my old KM 5D and A700 to varying degrees of success but doesn't seem to get the A77II as well. Hence why I am wondering if I am not doing something right.

I think you are doing the right thing. I recently cleaned my A77ii’s sensor with sensor swabs and Eclipse fluid. I used too much fluid on the first pass and had some “lines” of dried fluid on the sensor. On the next couple passes, I think I used too little fluid, and just kind of smeared the lines. I finally got the right amount on the next pass, which finally resulted in a clean sensor.

I had previously cleaned sensors on my A330 and A580. They seemed much less susceptible to the smearing I encountered on the A77ii. I’d recommend using fluid sparingly, and expect to do multiple passes. You should blow out the sensor after each cleaning, and of course use a new sensor swab each time. Finally, don’t expect the the cleaning to be perfect. You will always see a few small spots at small apertures on a clear sky or white wall, but they will not be visible on normal photos. Good luck!

Howie Dewing
Howie Dewing Junior Member • Posts: 38
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Late to the party. Sorry. If those dust bunnies cannot be removed after repeated cleanings and they appear in the same place on every shot, your camera may be suffering from the same problem my a65 does, mildew beneath the image sensor. I sent mine to Perfect Image Camera out of Lancaster PA and after spending $59.95 + shipping, they delivered the bad news to me: not economically feasible to repair. They seem to be a pretty good company and gave me a fair and honest assessment, but

Mildewy a65 at f/4. No spot problems yet. Vignetting from lens hood. Lens is Sony's SAL18-250 at 26mm. All images compressed to 0.25MP for easier file transfer.

Same shot, f/5.6. Probably couldn't see any spots yet even at full res.

f/11. Here, Spot!  Trust me, they look worse at full resolution, and is why my a65 is resigned to being bubble wrapped in a box.

f/22. The image overall is still decently sharp for such an optically challenged lens at minimum aperture, unfortunately, so are those spots. I wouldn't stop even my best lenses down this far unless I wanted to intentionally slow the shutter speed down. I've got variable neutral density filters for that.  It was such a bummer that I had to console myself by getting an a77 II. Unless you're really handy at disassembling an image sensor (not for the faint of heart nor shaky of hand), or you want to spend more than your camera's replacement value to have those spots removed, do what I did and treat yourself to another camera. For the most part I loved my a65, but my a77 II, preowned though it may be, is amazing.

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 21,325
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...
1

Howie Dewing wrote:

... your camera may be suffering from the same problem my a65 does, mildew beneath the image sensor. I sent mine to Perfect Image Camera out of Lancaster PA and after spending $59.95 + shipping, they delivered the bad news to me: not economically feasible to repair.

In almost 15 years of shooting digital ILCs and frequenting photography forums, I've never read a report of such a thing before. Must be a rather rare situation.

robberfly12 Junior Member • Posts: 35
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

sybersitizen wrote:

Howie Dewing wrote:

... your camera may be suffering from the same problem my a65 does, mildew beneath the image sensor. I sent mine to Perfect Image Camera out of Lancaster PA and after spending $59.95 + shipping, they delivered the bad news to me: not economically feasible to repair.

In almost 15 years of shooting digital ILCs and frequenting photography forums, I've never read a report of such a thing before. Must be a rather rare situation.

I suspect they actually mean there is fungus under the low-pass filter, rather than under the sensor. A quick google search reveals a few examples of that. I don’t think fungus under the sensor would even be visible. Either way, it would be difficult and expensive to fix.

Howie Dewing
Howie Dewing Junior Member • Posts: 38
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

Sybersitizen and robberfly12 are correct, the fungus was under the low pass filter. Sorry for the error. It still sidelined an otherwise good camera. I'm not sure that is what is affecting RacingManiac's camera, but if anyone else knows of an "economically feasible" remedy, let us all know.

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JimH123 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,248
Re: Professional Sensor/Mirror Cleaning...

RacingManiac wrote:

So I've tried DIY cleaning kit and being fairly diligent in lens swapping with my A77II. I've just can't get rid of the dust bunnies. Enough so that I've been trying to shoot around it but its just a pain in the butt. Looking up prices for Precision Camera's service and its $475 regardless what happens plus whatever else they deemed to quote it seems. Seems like a steep price to pay but I don't know what else is out there. Are there places that can do a proper cleaning of sensor/mirror of these camera without being that kind of price, or am I just SOL at this point?

Andrew

Maxxum 7
KM 5D
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha A77 II

I had a problem that was hard to clean with a normal cleaning.  And I took so extra steps.

First, I mounted a camera over the camera's sensor so that I could get a magnified view of the sensor on my monitor.  And yes, I could see the spots.  I did a regular cleaning while watching the monitor, and the spots remained.  I used regular sensor cleaning swabs and fluid.

I then changed to distilled water and scrubbed over the spots with more pressure using the same swabs.  And I did this a number of times and eventually the spots went away.

Continued inspecting the sensor as it dried and verified nothing on the sensor.  And with a magnified view, anything on the sensor is very visible.

One thing to keep in mind is that you aren't scrubbing the sensor.  You are actually scrubbing the cover glass over the sensor.

Camera now takes pictures without the spots.

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