Monday, September 21, 2009

Spring Cleaning: Visible Dust Sensor Brush and Swab

A while back I bought a sensor brush for the 1.0x sensors (D3, 5D, 1D). With the kit came some sensor swabs and sensor solution. This was months ago and for the last 20k+ shots I've mostly gotten away with being able to blow the dust away with the Giottos Rocket Blower and occasionally brushing the sensor with the Sensor Brush

Giottos Rocket Blower

Sensor Brush from Visible Dust

But 20k+ frames later you'll inevitably have some dust bunnies that you can't remove with the blower and the brush. For the most part since my images are fairly focused on the face with a dark background the dust bunnies aren't ridiculously obvious. However on the rare occasion that I shoot against a lighter background and/or landscape, the bunnies are there and there in hordes.

So I caved in and decided to try the sensor swab that came with my kit. I've read up on the swab method numerous times and was well aware of the dangers of scratching the sensor, getting dirt/grease from the chamber on the sensor, and leaving streaks. I reread all the instructions and went for it.

My first impression was that the swab was too fat, it would get caught on the sensor chamber along the sides of the chamber walls. Visible Dust has since redesigned the swab to be thinner where it does not need to have such width. I got around this by inserting the swab horizontally then rotating it vertically when it was right above the sensor's side ready to be swabbed.

I found that the eyedropper would sometimes not evenly distribute the fluid and would sometimes require more than 2-4 drops as the instructions say. I also mistakenly let the swab dry out (or almost dry out) once. Fortunately with my light pressure I don't think I scratched the sensor.

I also found that the fluid that Visible Dust uses left streaks for the me the first time around and I had to use 2 swabs in order to A) remove the dust and B) remove the streaks. This could very well have been user error though.

Ultimately however, I think I succeeded in cleaning the CCD without scratching and streaking the AA low pass filter. I've done some test shots of the sky/wall at small apertures to ensure the bunnies are gone. I will need to evaluate future pictures for streaks but it would appear that I did not leave any streaks on the sensor in my initial test images (3 sets of tests already).

Having only 1 sensor swab left, I have the urge to replenish my stock (I only had 3 to begin with). The sensor swabs are expensive as is the fluid/solution. It's all part of the advancement in technology since we don't use film anymore and must rely on these sensors to translate an analog signal into a digital file. For what it's worth it's well worth the trouble and it's not too difficult to perform correctly without damaging the sensor. Lots of care and patience is required but it's not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination. Good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment