SensorKlear works…


SensorKlear works. Well.. sort of. It’s certainly not a snake oil story.

Usually, I send my K100D to Pentax authorized Service Center in Jakarta. The service is free, since my camera is still under waranty. The camera spends 2-3 days there, and delivered to me clean and shiny.

But yesterday was not the case. I was in Singapore, and I don’t really know where to look for Pentax service center. Beside, I don’t have 2 days, as I will be leaving for Jakarta first thing in the morning, and I really really need to use my camera. So the only option that I have is to do it myself.

So what are the available DIY solutions for DSLR sensor cleaning?

  • Blower
    Done that. This is what I usually do for sensor cleaning. This time it failed me.
  • Eclipse and PecPad
    Expensive, but usually give the best result among other solution. Also seems to be one of the most difficult technique. Some model (like Canon D5) require different cleaning agent, since there are reports that Eclipse can cause irrecoverable damage to the coating layer on the low pass filter.
  • Arctic Butterfly
    Easy to deploy, but very expensive. There are reports this method can cause slight damage to sensor. Spinning brush may also touch shutter grease, and can make the sensor even dirtier. Success rate are moderately high.
  • Static charged brush
    Cheap, and seems to be very difficult to do. And just like any other method with brush, you need not to touch the sensor. Beside where can I find such brush in such a short time?
  • SpecGrab
    Fairly easy method. But you need to be able to locate the dust for this method to be effective, since you can not “grab” the dust if you don’t know where it is. You need some tool like sensor loup, which is.. expensive 😦
  • Pentax Sensor Cleaning Tool
    Not available anywhere I look. And I don’t even know how it looks, how it work, etc
  • SensorKlear
    Made by the same company that gives you LensPen. Actually it’s just a LensPen with head specially shaped for sensor cleaning. There are rumors that canon actually use the original LensPen to clean sensor. Just like using PecPad, this method require you to actually touch the sensor. Some argue, that since the LensPen is save enough for optic lens, it should be good enough for the glass that cover DLSR sensor. But using the SensorKlear require you to actually touch the sensor, and potentially damaging it. But from what I’ve read this method has moderate level of success, and quite save.

At the time, it looks like the only options that available to me is to use SensorKlear. So after a trip to a camera shop at Peninsula Plaza, I managed to grab 2 sets of SensorKlear, a micro fiber cloth, and a Nikon lens to Four Third adapter with half the price of you must pay in Jakarta.
As I have mentioned before, the SensorKlear looks and handles just like a normal LensPen. In one end, it has a retractable soft brush, that is used to clean everything about your camera BESIDE the sensor. The brush can not be use to clean your sensor. The other end of the pen hosts the cleaning head that you can find on a normal LensPen. But instead round shaped, SensorKlear’s cleaning head has triangle head, with a flat surface. The flat surface is ideal for cleaning flat shaped glass (just like camera’s sensor), and the edge of the triangle is used to reach the corner of the sensor. It is said that one SensorKlear is good for 50 usage. So after reading the manual for 154 times, here’s what I do:

  1. Perform a test shot. Set your camera to use the smallest apperture, and take a 2 shots at a different part of a white wall. Compare the shot. If you see something that looks like a dot at exactly same spot on your photos of 2 different part of the wall, then you have dust in your sensor,
  2. Make sure that the battery of the camera is fully charged. Power off will cause the mirror to flip back to it’s original place. You don’t want that to happen during your cleaning routine.
  3. Clean the body of the camera using the retractable brush,
  4. Raise the mirror, and detach the lens, secure it by putting the back cap of the lens. Make sure that the lens connector of the camera is faced downward to minimize the chance more dust gets into the camera.
  5. Clean the lens connector of the body with the brush, carefully not to touch the inside of the camera,
  6. Clean the sensor by blowing air into the body via the opening with a rocket blower,
  7. Still while holding the camera downward insert the cleaning head of the SensorKlear into the body, carefully placing it at the center of the sensor.
  8. Move the SensorKlear lightly up and down through the lens, start from the middle, ends it by cleaning the corner of the sensor. Not easy. To achieve it’s Shake Reduction function, K100D’s sensor is placed on a movable platform. Even a slight nudge with the SensorKlear’s cleaning head causing it to move. Adding more pressure may cause harm to the sensor. So the only option is to be very patient πŸ™‚
  9. Blow some more air into the the body.
  10. Shut the lens connector of the body with body cap,
  11. Clean the backend of your lens, reattach it to the body.
  12. Check if there still dust left on your sensor, by performing another round of test shots.

If repeating the process is needed, be sure to clean the head of the SensorKlear first by putting back the cap, and twist the cap several times. I use a mini Maglite flashlight to check for visible dust spot on the sensor, so that SensorKlear can be applied directly on the troubled spot.

Finally, after a second go, I managed to remove most of the dust spot. Some are still there, but won’t cause to much harm. Avoid persistent attempt to clean a specific spot. Most “accidents” that happen during sensor cleaning is usually caused by repeated process to clean a stubborn spot.

So that’s it. My first try in cleaning CCD sensor was fairly successfull. It did not manage to remove all the dust spot, but so did the service guy from Oktagon. It left my camera very usable, and now, back to taking shots…

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thomas says:

    Hi,

    spinning the Arctic Butterfly is only for charging it up. You are not supposed to spin it when it is in the camera. Anyhow, it is too expensive to be a viable option for me anyhow.

    Regarding other “brush techniques”: Charging them (e.g., by blowing air at them) is supposed to help in the cleaning process, but you are actually required to touch the sensor with them. The won’t work like a vacuum cleaner, at least not effectively. Gentle brushing moves should not cause damage to the sensor and is supposed to be safer than wet cleaning with PecPads or similar. Hence the recommendation is
    1. blow
    2. brush
    3. wet clean
    BTW, the Pentax Cleaning kit is a kind of SpecGrab tool, but while it is probably a safe method it doesn’t appeal to me at lot because of the need to exactly know where the spots are (remember to vertically mirror their position).

  2. Ikhsan says:

    Thank you for your correction πŸ™‚
    Apparently I misread some of my source. With static charged brush, you must not touch anything except the sensor. My bad. But still, touching the sensor with anything that supposedly not designed to be used to clean the sensor horrify me 😦

    As for Pentax Cleaning Kit, the newer dslr model from Pentax includes a tool to locate the dust spot. The camera detects where the spot is, and automatically swap the image vertically and laterally to show us where exactly the dust spot is located on the sensor. This should help when you want to use the Pentax Cleaning Kit

    As for the sensorklear I think of it as more of a quick fix for a certain situation, just like what I was experiencing back then. For more thorough cleaning (ie. wet clean), I prefer to send my camera to certified technician :D. Beside, it doesn’t happen that often once you start to use sensorklear more frequently.

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