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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Sensor cleaning: Eclipse vs. tape. The results
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03/03/2011 10:23:01 PM · #1
***Everybody always has a disclaimer when we start talking about sensor cleaning. It is the camera's nether regions and only touching with respect is tolerated. If you don't know what you are doing, try to find someone who does before you launch in yourself. If you want to take the advice here, you do it at your own risk. Be warned, the coffee is hot!***

When the subject of sensor cleaning (or properly the IR filter over the sensor) is raised, people usually mention one of two different do-it-yourself methods. The most common is the Copperhill method which uses methanol, kimwipes, and a cut down spatula. At times, however, people mention using Scotch brand Magic Tape (otherwise known as Scotch Tape). I have used both to clean my sensors but over time gravitated to the Scotch Tape method as I found it much easier to get good results. Many reasonable people, upon finding out, were alarmed that I would do such a thing to my sensor and risk leaving residue from the tape.

' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' coryboehne was gracious enough to send an IR filter from an old camera for me to do some tests on and take pictures of. I compared both the Copperhill method and the Scotch Tape method. I have a 30x dissecting microscope and had hoped I could simply shoot through the eyepiece with my camera, but that was not to be. Instead the pictures are with my macro lens (on a tripod) with a 1.4x extender. I also observed things with the 30x scope and can assure people that there was not more going on at a level that could not be seen with the macro lens (but I donít have pictures).

First, a typical picture of an IR filter. This is probably what a dirty filter looks like although this may be dirtier than usual (Corey sent it to me in a ziplock baggie).

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939002.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939002.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Now, a quick swipe with Scotch Tape. I generally place the tape smoothly over the filter and then pull it off in one swipe. Do note I changed the background under the filter (now a yellow piece of paper). The dark spots previously seen were actually on the microscope base and not on the filter. Looks pretty good. No residue was seen at 30x:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939003.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939003.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Having done the Copperhill method before, I knew if you werenít careful you could leave a residue as the Eclipse evaporated quickly. This experiment was simply to swipe Eclipse across the sensor with a Kimwipe on a spatula and let it dry. So this is looking at a worst case scenario for Copperhill. I used a typical amount (2 drops) for cleaning and swiped it once across. Surprisingly the reside formed very quickly. 5-7 seconds. It would be difficult in real cleaning conditions to remove the wet Kimwipe and get a dry one inside the camera before it has evaporated.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939004.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939004.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I did it a second time with the same method:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939005.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939005.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Then I used some Scotch Tape on it. It was not able to get all the spots up, but helped and did not leave any new spots:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939006.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939006.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I went after those extra spots with Eclipse again, this time I tried to quickly use a dry Kimwipe to dry the surface. I was probably able to do it faster than you would if cleaning a real camera. It seemed to get the old spots, but left new ones:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939007.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939007.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

One final attempt with the Scotch Tape again. Ahhh, pretty good (I wasnít super careful to get the very edges):

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939008.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/40718/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_939008.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I am not trying to encourage one cleaning method over the other. Everyone here is big enough to make their own choices. Personally, I felt good using the Scotch Tape method before and I see no reason with this experiment to stop doing so. Observing the sensor with the 30x scope could never reveal a residue or scratches left behind by the tape.

I hope this has been helpful for people. Thanks again to Corey for sending me the IR filter.

Iím available for questions. :)

Message edited by author 2011-03-04 20:06:13.
03/03/2011 10:38:56 PM · #2
Thanks for the info, just this week I was looking at methods to clean my sensor because it got so dirty during my travels. I was ready to try the copperhill method when I remembered that I had received a LensPen SENSORKLEAR from a contest prize...To my surprise, it worked surprisingly well for me! The edges are a bit hard to reach (and may take a couple of passes) but it wiped clean smudges and that nasty stuck on dust easily.
03/03/2011 10:42:45 PM · #3
Funny enough, I've started to just blast the shat out of my sensor with canned air, holding the straw only mm's away from the sensor... works like a champ and it is super fast/easy...
03/03/2011 10:53:25 PM · #4
Originally posted by coryboehne:

Funny enough, I've started to just blast the shat out of my sensor with canned air, holding the straw only mm's away from the sensor... works like a champ and it is super fast/easy...


The problem with that is after a short bit of blast the stream gets super-cold and weirdness begins to happen. Be careful. But I have used canned air in the past quite successfully in short blasts.

R.
03/03/2011 10:56:04 PM · #5
Otherwise, I've always been an advocate of the tape system, though I haven't used it in a while. One caveat: "Scotch Tape" and "Scotch Magic Tape" are NOT the same thing. Magic Tape is an extremely low-residue product: that's the only one to use.

R.
03/03/2011 11:08:58 PM · #6
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Otherwise, I've always been an advocate of the tape system, though I haven't used it in a while. One caveat: "Scotch Tape" and "Scotch Magic Tape" are NOT the same thing. Magic Tape is an extremely low-residue product: that's the only one to use.

R.


Yes, good point. I wouldn't guarantee that just any tape is going to work like this. For the record I used Scotch Matte Finish Magic Tape by 3M. It's commonly available, but I would look for those exact words.
03/03/2011 11:39:49 PM · #7
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Yes, good point. I wouldn't guarantee that just any tape is going to work like this. For the record I used Scotch Matte Finish Magic Tape by 3M. It's commonly available, but I would look for those exact words.


Right. Now walk us through it, willya? Exactly what steps do you follow to use the tape on a sensor in-camera? How do you get into the corners? etc etc. Lead the way, oh Spotless master :-)

R.
03/03/2011 11:48:54 PM · #8
Yes, step by step please.
03/03/2011 11:49:33 PM · #9
I set my camera up on the tripod and usually wear a headlamp so I can see. I then break off a fresh piece of tape about two inches long and fold over one end (maybe a quarter inch) so you have one end that isn't sticky. The trick is to try to line it up nice and straight while you press the edge of the tape against one edge of the sensor. You then push the tape forward and it should nicly bend and adhere across the sensor (without air bubbles if you are good). I then either use my spatula or a finger to press it down firmly, but gently and then remove it. The tape is probably adhered to the filter for only a few seconds.

It IS difficult to get the edges perfectly and the tape doesn't quite cover the whole sensor if you are on a full frame. I'll often take a test shot and then look to see where the remaining dust is and go back and get it with another piece of tape.

Message edited by author 2011-03-03 23:50:41.
03/04/2011 12:08:14 AM · #10
Thanks Jason. BTW, did the tape remove the eclipse residue?

ETA: To clarify, I'm referring to images Sensor 4 and 5. Was that the tape that cleaned up the residue?

Message edited by author 2011-03-04 00:11:16.
03/04/2011 12:41:39 AM · #11
Originally posted by bspurgeon:

Thanks Jason. BTW, did the tape remove the eclipse residue?

ETA: To clarify, I'm referring to images Sensor 4 and 5. Was that the tape that cleaned up the residue?


Yes. The tape removed the residue, but you can see it left a few spots. I tried the tape again, but they were still there. So I swiped it again with Eclipse which worked on the old spots, but left new residue. I then taped it again and that time it got rid of everything.
03/04/2011 06:47:46 AM · #12
Cool! I've used scotch tape once before and it worked perfectly. I've never used any of the store bought kits. But what I ALWAYS do when I clean my sensor is use canned air. Like you with your scotch tape, people are horrified when they hear this is how I clean my sensor. They claim I will ruin it. But I've done it dozens of times and never had a problem.
03/04/2011 08:26:41 AM · #13
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by bspurgeon:

Thanks Jason. BTW, did the tape remove the eclipse residue?

ETA: To clarify, I'm referring to images Sensor 4 and 5. Was that the tape that cleaned up the residue?


Yes. The tape removed the residue, but you can see it left a few spots. I tried the tape again, but they were still there. So I swiped it again with Eclipse which worked on the old spots, but left new residue. I then taped it again and that time it got rid of everything.


Did you try removing the Eclipse residue by rubbing with a dry wipe? I've had decent results doing that but I didn't use a 30X scope to afterwards.

Tim

Message edited by author 2011-03-04 10:46:23.
03/04/2011 09:31:35 AM · #14
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Many reasonable people, upon finding out, were alarmed that I would do such a thing to my sensor and risk leaving residue from the tape.

Devil's advocate: Is it possible the Eclipse residue problems were a result of a clear but sticky residue left behind by the tape?
03/04/2011 10:02:48 AM · #15
I have used the small eye-makeup applicators with the very fine white sponge tip to gently dry-wipe my sensor. Some spots are a little obstinate, but several passes usually cleans them up. Dust and other crunk don't stand a chance. I "think" they do a pretty good job.

If you swipe one or two from your wife and try them out, I'd love to know what you see.
03/04/2011 10:03:08 AM · #16
Originally posted by bohemka:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Many reasonable people, upon finding out, were alarmed that I would do such a thing to my sensor and risk leaving residue from the tape.

Devil's advocate: Is it possible the Eclipse residue problems were a result of a clear but sticky residue left behind by the tape?


I will occasionally get residue with Eclipse when I clean my sensor. Drives me nuts and requires a second or third cleaning. I'm going to give the tape method a go.
03/04/2011 10:25:11 AM · #17
I've been putting it off, but you convinced me to give the tape method a try.
03/04/2011 10:43:44 AM · #18
Now, how about we do some stress testing..

First I'd like to see you try a few alternative cleaning methods like Alcohol (isopropol, 90+%), and perhaps even some glass cleaner (ammonia and non ammonia based), some Zeiss wipes (for glasses typically, they are single packs of little pre-moistened wipes), as it would be nice to see what effect they have, and how effective they are.

Second, I'd like to see a destructive test, using a contaminated swab, be cautious to use calcium carbonate for the first contamination (limestone, pure). Next, I'd like to see the swab contaminated with metal shavings, preferably steel and aluminum (aluminum first, then the steel) Next I'd like to see a contamination of fine dust (largely organic debris and clay particles), then perhaps some borax or some similar scrubbing cleaner, and finally a silica sand contamination (which should will do irreparable damage)



Message edited by author 2011-03-04 10:46:05.
03/04/2011 10:53:04 AM · #19
Originally posted by bohemka:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Many reasonable people, upon finding out, were alarmed that I would do such a thing to my sensor and risk leaving residue from the tape.

Devil's advocate: Is it possible the Eclipse residue problems were a result of a clear but sticky residue left behind by the tape?


Pictures 3 and 4 are two swipes with the Eclipse. Each swipe left a different residue pattern. I think it's easier to explain if you blame the Eclipse than if you blame an already present residue from the tape.

Heh, I'll get my lab right on it Cory.

Message edited by author 2011-03-04 10:54:13.
03/04/2011 11:08:20 AM · #20
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by bohemka:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Many reasonable people, upon finding out, were alarmed that I would do such a thing to my sensor and risk leaving residue from the tape.

Devil's advocate: Is it possible the Eclipse residue problems were a result of a clear but sticky residue left behind by the tape?


Pictures 3 and 4 are two swipes with the Eclipse. Each swipe left a different residue pattern. I think it's easier to explain if you blame the Eclipse than if you blame an already present residue from the tape.

Heh, I'll get my lab right on it Cory.


LOL, I know, that's a ton of stuff to try, but I've heard people saying that each of those thing can destroy a sensor... I'm suspicious that only the silica will really do the trick..
03/04/2011 11:10:23 AM · #21
Well, I don't have all that, but I can do what I have around. I might also be able to grab some canned air at work and see if that leaves a residue too.
03/04/2011 11:14:24 AM · #22
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Heh, I'll get my lab right on it Cory.


When you do that, have them extract the residue and run FTIR on it. Compare to samples of:
- Dissolved tape adhesive
- Eclipse solution
- Lubricant swabbed from camera parts in the mirror box
- Extract of residue left from your personal brand of canned "air"
- Any other forensic evidence you can think of

Now you've got some ammunition in the debate over residues!

;-)
03/04/2011 01:12:13 PM · #23
Thanks for doing this test, I am looking into getting prepared to clean my sensor. What it looks like is the tape method is the best and probably the easiest - is this the correct product?
03/04/2011 01:23:24 PM · #24
Originally posted by DrAchoo:


Iím available for questions. :)


If either of these methods you are advocating hurt my sensor are you willing to pay the repair bills to have it done the correct way by the manufacturer or replace any damaged components? I don't see any disclaimers in your post covering your butt, so I assume you will.

:p
03/04/2011 01:27:57 PM · #25
Butt covered here......"I am not trying to encourage one cleaning method over the other. Everyone here is big enough to make their own choices. Personally, I felt good using the Scotch Tape method before and I see no reason with this experiment to stop doing so. Observing the sensor with the 30x scope could never reveal a residue or scratches left behind by the tape. "

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