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Photography Question 
Paul S. Fleming

Cleaning the Sensor

Hi Guys,
To clean my D-200 and my D-70 sensors, I have been looking at the Delkin Sensor Scope, swabs, a blower and cleaning fluid. The whole lot comes in a kit, and you can buy them separately. Has anyone used these products? If so, would you please let me know what you think and who has the best price? Many thanks ahead of time. "ps"

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10/8/2008 2:26:14 PM

Bob Fately   Paul, I use Pec pads and Eclipse fluid (from, along with the Visible Dust brand Arctic Butterfly brush and Sensor Loupe. The Loupe is the same basic thing as the Delkin, it's just made a bit better (and costs a litle less, I believe). I also have a bulb blower to get out the particles that will blow away before attempting the "washdown".
As for pricing - you can check around. I don't know who else carries Eclipse (besides Photosol); the other stuff is pretty much available.

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10/9/2008 3:44:43 PM

Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  Paul, I don't know how Copper Hill Products compares to what Bob has used, but I bought one of their sensor cleaning kits and I'm pleased.

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10/9/2008 4:21:03 PM

Phillip A. Flusche
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2003
  Before going to the cleaning swabs, ask yourself "Just how dirty is the sensor." If you only have one or two spots of dust then just use a bulb blower on it. I have D200 also. Begin by locking up the morror. Be sure you have a fully charged battery so the mirror will stay up and not fall down during the cleaning process. Be in as dust free environment as possible. Point the camera down while the lens is off with the mirror locked us so no new dust gets in. Blow on the sensor with the bulb blower a few times. DO NOT EVER USE COMPRESSED AIR AS DAMAGE CAN OCCUR. The bulb blower should not have a brush on it. Be careful not to touch the end of the blower nozzle on the sensor. After blowing off the dust take another test photo of some sort of light colored background such as a clear blue sky or a neutral colored wall. Download the photo and zoom in and scoll around to see if the dust is completely gone. Repeat as necessary. The last time I had a couple of dust spots it took me 3 or 4 times to finally get it. I suppose if the sensor is really badly contaminated the swabs would be the way to go though. Be careful with the lens off in normal use to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS turn off the camera and wait a few seconds. The sensor is a very good electronic magnet for dust when the camera is on. Much like a TV screen or monitor screen. They attract dust too.

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10/14/2008 7:59:41 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Most all the Pro's at the racetracks use Visible Dust brushes...they're not the cheapest but the pro's I work with swear by them. The Arctic Butterfly (sounds Obscene) but works awesome, used it at a Nascar event because you pick up a lot of dust when switching between lenses in the pits.

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10/14/2008 9:10:06 AM

Bob Fately   Paul, I guess it bears some clarification - there are essentially three approaches to cleaning the sensor. Ranked in terms of "invasiveness", they are:

1) puffs of air - as Phillip points out - use only a bulb type blower - never canned or compressed air - blowing air across the sensor (with the mirror locked up, obviously) will remove loose particulate matter.

2) Arctic Butterfly brush: whereas the air bulb does not touch the sensor itself, this brush is designed to make contact. There are no liquids used here - the brush's bristles are designed to accrue a static charge when you actuate the motor in the handle (it runs on an AA battery). The motor spins the brush head, the act of spinning in the air is enough to build up a charge. The idea is to swipe the thusly-charged head across the sensor ONE TIME. This is not an exercise in painting - a single swipe is all it takes. Once the sensor is touched, the brush head loses the static charge and thus its effectiveness in attracting particles that were a bit too sticky to get blown away in step 1. So take a brush stroke, then check with the loupe to see if the sensor is clean. If not, try again after re-running the spinning motor on the Butterfly.

3) Finally, if steps 1 and 2 still leave dirt on the sensor, you will need to try something more persuasive - a clean swab with liquid on it. This is the Eclipse/Pec pad combination I mentioned earlier. The Pec pads are extremely sterile and lint free, the Eclipse liquid likewise pure, so the approach is to fold a pad over a small spatula-shaped tool, drip a drop or two of Eclipse on it, then take a single swipe across the sensor - that's it. No scrubbing, no second swipes. If there's still dirt, take another Pec pad and do it again. The whole idea is to avoid contaminating the sensor with any debris that did get stuck to the pad.

So the complete approach would be to take the above steps in that order. Start with the blower bulb, move to the Arctic butterfly, and if they fail then swab with the Eclipse.

Hope that helps

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10/14/2008 9:28:31 AM

Phillip A. Flusche
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2003
  Bob, thanks for your response. I was not aware of the Artic Butterfly and how it worked.


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10/14/2008 10:11:56 AM

Paul S. Fleming   Thank you everyone for answers to cleaning the sensors on my cameras. I knew I could trust BP members to come to my aid...You always have in the past. Thanks again, "ps"

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10/14/2008 3:48:15 PM

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