Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Get the Goods: Getting my camera professionally cleaned

I have spent entirely too much time editing out dust from my images. Thank goodness I finally found a place to have 5D and one of my lenses professionally cleaned. Turns out that Ray Pong of Ray's Camera Repair and Service (303-595-3213) is now conveniently located in a shop right inside Denver Pro Photo. Ray is a certified photographic consultant & camera repairman and Pro Photo is one of the premiere photography stores in Denver. Talk about one stop shopping!

Ray explained to me how to access my camera's CCD sensor to check for dust. Sure enough, there were three rather large specs that have shown up on all of my photos. The process is commonly called "cleaning the sensor," but in reality we never actually clean the sensor itself, but a low pass filter mounted in front of the sensor. While he said I could use the "swab and methanol method," using a Photographic Solutions Sensor Swab (No. 3, since it's the only one large enough to clean a full frame sensor), he said not to do it unless you are completely comfortable, have steady hands and a good mechanical aptitude. I may have the steady hands sometimes, but my mechanical skills are lacking when it comes to fear of doing something that would severely mess up my camera. I think that $60 isn't much to pay for peace of mind for this first cleaning. Ray's going to throw in cleaning services for my dirty Sigma 24-70 too. I may be a little more confident and willing to try cleaning it myself later on.

Ray showed me one nifty tip of the trade that I do think I can do. If you look in the back of your lens, you might see a soft, velvety area surrounding the inside. The velvet was literally caked with dust. All of that easily transfers onto a photo. Ray took a toothpick, wrapped the end of it with a piece of Scotch Tape and circled around the velvet, using the toothpick like a lint dust. Worked like a charm! I should have my camera and lens back in a few days, and Denver Pro Photo has some of those sensor swabs on order for me as well, should I be brave enough to use them myself.


Lisa Piellusch said...

This is something I'll most likely need to do in the near future as well. I'm way too chicken to try it myself....too afraid I'll mess something up! Fortunately they do this sort of thing at my 'local' photography store. :)

-- Lisa P.

CĂșchullain said...

It seems kind of intimidating at first, but with the proper solution and the proper tools the risk is not as high as you would think.

First you are not really cleaning the sensor itself. The sensor is actually covered with a low pass filter (the green piece next to the penny in the article).

Second if you choose a solution such as the Eclipse product, the manufacturer guarantees against damage to the sensor. Just make not that when shopping for products to get the proper solution (Eclipse for example has Eclipse and E2) and the proper sized swabs.

The key is to carefully choose your tools and just go at it with a calm (non panicked) approach.

Sheba Wheeler said...

I just got my camera back tod ay and it looks great. Ray says he thinks I could do it, so I may try it once I get my hands on the right size of swabs for my full frame. I've been waiting for a shipment of them to come in....

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