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Best way to clean sensor/mirror?

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by KierFX, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. KierFX

    KierFX Well-Known Member

    Hi there

    I've a few cameras now that need their sensor and mirror cleaning and wondered about the best way to go about it. I would rather clean them my self than pay an extorniate fee at a camera shop. The places nearby charge £30 each and i'm not willing to pay £90 to clean the three cameras that need to be cleaned. I've seen online these little sticks with a sort of jelly material on the end that you dab on the sensor and it picks up the dirt and then you deposit that on the special paper they give you. Are these any good or whats the best product to clean sensors with? Incase it matters, the cameras that want cleaning are as follows.

    • Canon 1100D (both sensor and finder mirror need cleaning)
    • Nikon F (only mirror obviously, since theres no sensor)
    • Canon 600 (only mirror too, since theres also no sensor)

  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Don't touch the mirror. The silvering is very sensitive and you can damage it and that will essentially break the metering. Follow the camera manual instructions for the sensor - gently blow with a bulb blower, preferably one with a filter in it so that you are not adding to the problem.
  3. mark 1

    mark 1 Well-Known Member

    as said leave the mirror it will not affect your pictures no matter how much crud it has on it. it moves up out the way to take a picture. the sensor cleaning seams to be in the realm of the gods. lots of people tell you its so delicate send it back to get cleaned. and I would give the same advice if your camera is still under warranty as cleaning it yourself may void that warranty. or if your a thumberling oath with shaking hands.

    its easy to clean a sensor. its not anything like the mirror. you can brush it with an electrostatic brush to remove crud. you can blow it with a hand blower. not compressed air. you can wipe it with a sensor cleaning pad. what method you use depends on the crud. but what ever you do don't go off the sensor when your wiping it. other parts carry oil and can make your clean up take a lot longer if you smear that oil over your sensor. but it does clean off.

    I start by taking a test shot to see wear the dirt is. a sheet of white paper or blue sky, longish lens manual focus f22 or what your lens allows and gives a clear shot. don't worry to much about shutter speed. the crud is on the sensor so don't show like camera shake as bad. blow with a blower wipe with a sensor wipe that fits your sensor size. (wipes come in sizes.)one wipe on each side of the wipe and then throw it or use it to clean other parts that don't need as much care. wipe with a dry wipe and check with a test shot again. if you already have oil on the sensor it will smear when you wipe it with the sensor wipe. don't worry just change wipe and carry on. if you only have a small amount of muck a wet and then a dry wipe with a few blows should do the job. and use sensor solution not your vodka. :p
  4. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    IIRC your 11ooD tried scuba diving a while ago, so a professional clean is probably the best solution for that one as there is likely a lot of crud well stuck to both sensor and mirror.

    As already said the surface silvered mirrors are prone to damage easily and are best not touched really. If you are seeing particles in the viewfinder they are likely to be on the screen, a good blast or three with a bulb blower will shift the worst of them. On cameras with an interchangeable screen it may help to drop the screen frame down and clean the upper side if cleaning the lower is not successful.
  5. KierFX

    KierFX Well-Known Member

    Is there no way I can fully clean the mirrors then? It really bugs me, the dust and grime I can see through the viewfinder..
  6. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The dust and grime you see is more likely to be on the screen or inside the viewing system. Try blowing the accessible side of the screen with a rocket blower. On the Nikon F you should be able to access both sides of the screen.
  7. mark 1

    mark 1 Well-Known Member

    yes you can clean the mirror but with great care and some risk. The mirror can scratch very easy.

    I have cleaned mirrors using a new lens cloth folded or roll loosely. a small amount of lens cleaner or dry cloth. DON'T PUT ANY PRESSURE. With most care and hardly touching the mirror move the cloth over it. your not trying to rub it clean. just attract the dust to the cloth. if you have oil or anything other that sticks the risk is even higher. change the area of cloth each time you look to check if its clean. and make certain your hands are cleaned before you even touch your new lens cloth.
  8. IvorCamera

    IvorCamera In the Stop Bath

    Never even try to clean the mirror!!!!!! once its marked its marked, and a dirty mirror don't make any difference to the finished picture....
  9. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    9 times out of 10 you will damage a mirror beyond repair if you try cleaning it.
    Even experts remove the entire mirror box, take out the mirror and clean it with no physical contact of the actual surface.
    There is no actual point anyway, because the surface of the mirror is not focused by the viewing system. The crud that you see will mostly be on the surface of the focus screen. on some cameras they are interchangeable like on the old Olympus OM1 so they were easily washed clean and air dried.
  10. mark 1

    mark 1 Well-Known Member

    I agree with Terry. I have 2 annoying specks in my prism I can't get rid. I live with them as the cost or risk of cleaning is more than its worth. The sensor has good reason to be cleaned. and is fairly easy to clean. My mirror has dust on it as well but that don't bother me.

    try shining a small torch through the eye peace and tilt the camera so you can see the mirror surface. you Will probably notice the mirror isn't that bad and more specks site in the view finder or prism.
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Fortunately the trouble with the F will be the screen. Drop it out and clean it with a blower and/or a very soft brush. You can clean the bottom of the prism at the same time. The brush on a LensPen or a very soft make-up brush (Boots) should work well. The top side of the screen is tough (tough enough for the business end of a LensPen): it's the bottom side that is tender. I've just confirmed all this on one of my own Fs.

    Anything you can't brush or blow off (with a bulb blower) may be a visual nuisance in the finder but it won't affect the pictures: after all, you have a new, clean sensor for each shot. If you're feeling brave (or have a spare screen) you can wash very gently with detergent and your finger tips, then leave to dry without touching.

    With the screen and prism off, and the shutter open on T so you don't suck the shutter out of shape, you can vacuum the interior of an F with a low-suction vacuum cleaner: they're pretty tough. Blowing it out with a bulb blower is probably a better idea, though. Use a little Blu-Tack or similar, rolled to a point, to get into corners inside the mirror box.

    Mirrors (at least F mirrors) are pretty tough too. I just tried both a brush and a Kinetronics Speck Grabber without doing any damage whatsoever. The only reason to clean the mirror is so there's no dust swilling around in the dark box. Actually, based on 40+ years' experience, most mirrors are pretty tough: taking out the mirror box is a new one on me.

    And no, it isn't that I've been lucky. More that I've been careful. Cleaning a camera carefully can take an hour or two -- which is why your F wasn't spotless when you got it. Clean the outside with Blu-Tack, and with Q-tips dipped in alcohol.


    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016

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