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Photography Question 
Thomas Lam
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/24/2004

dSLR cleaning

Hi All,

Can anyone help me with this question? I have been researching on how to clean the mirror on my Nikon D50, but most finding via Google resulted to mainly cleaning the CCD. This is not what I am hoping for the answer at the moment.

The question is: Can I use a lens cleaning solution to clean the mirror?

Much thanks,


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4/10/2006 8:02:49 PM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  I've heard that it is best to have the mirror professionally cleaned, because it's very easy to scratch.

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4/10/2006 8:31:12 PM

Thomas Lam
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/24/2004
  I know I can not use Qtip to clean it b/c the cottons can get stuck in there or worse to the CCD.

Too bad there isn't a documentation out there about how to clean the mirror or maybe I wasn't searching the right place.

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4/10/2006 8:38:14 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  The problem isn't just the potential for scratching the mirror, but also knocking it out of adjustment. If all you're talking about is removing a little dust or particulate matter, you can probably get away with using a small bulb/brush to blow those things off the mirror without actuall touching it.

Once you start adding lens cleaner to the process, you're inviting trouble by placing any sort of pressure on the mirror itself. So, if it's really really dirty, have it cleaned by a camera repair shop or someone who really knows how to do this. If it's not all schmutzed up, try the blower brush. If that doesn't work, try to live with it or get it professionally done.

Take it light.

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4/10/2006 9:50:05 PM

Thomas Lam
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/24/2004
  Thanks Brendan and Mark for the quick reply.

I am taking those advise and consider professional to do the cleaning. With my investment of over a $1k.... Coughing out $50 or so isn't so bad compare to damaging the camera trying to DIY....

Thank you all.


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4/10/2006 9:54:11 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Boy, you've got that exactly right, Thomas !!! Good choice.

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4/11/2006 6:30:42 PM

Alan N. Marcus   The mirror on a SLR is of the first surface variety. The make-up is flat glass coated on its front surface with aluminum deposited by vacuum plating. Most likely, but not for sure, the aluminum is over coated with a thin transparent deposit of quartz to make it more durable.

These mirrors are made exactly the same way as the primary and secondary mirrors of astronomical telescopes. Cleaning both verities is exactly the same.

Know that the SLR mirror is not in the optical path during exposure, thus the mirror plays no part in image quality. Its purpose is to direct light from the taking lens to the viewfinder. Just before exposure, it flips out of the way allowing the image forming rays from the lens to play on the film or chip. Once exposure is complete, the mirror is repositioned for viewfinder duty.

That being said; no need to clean this mirror at all unless you are having difficulty focusing. I donít advise cleaning except in cases where it has oil or fingerprints etc. and you canít stand it any more.

Best not to clean but: To clean, first use canned air to blow out the whole camera interior and mirror. You can use most any lens cleaner. Well washed soft cotton cloth is OK. Well used clean undershirts make a fine lens/mirror cleaning cloth. Place a drop of cleaner on the cloth and staring at the center, gently swab in a circular motion outward until you reach the edges.

Badly solid? You need ethyl alcohol. This is the drinking kind. I buy 190 proof ďEver ClearĒ at the liquor store. Cut with distilled water. Make a 25% and a 50% and a 75% solution.

First try distilled water only. If mirror is only dusty and mildly soiled this may work just fine. If this fails, next go to the 25% solution. If this fails, move up to the next. You may go to the straight stuff if necessary.

If all fails due to oil or some other surface contamination, add a drop or two of dish washing detergent (not soap).

Donít use denatured alcohol as it has an additive designed to make you sick that leave behind a residue. Rubbing alcohol may contain oil and itís denatured too. This same approach works for lenses also. I often use q-tips and never once harmed a lens or mirror. Biggest danger besides pressing to hard and scratching is using too much liquid on the cloth or q-tip. Excess liquid runs into the mechanism or in the case of lenses, wicks between the element and into cement that binds together the elements.

Good luck

Alan Marcus

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4/11/2006 10:02:50 PM

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