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Old Mar 15, 2008, 1:09 PM   #1
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I listen to a podcast called Tips from the Top Floor, which is a show for all things photography. In one episode, the host was talking about a cleaning method that involved a product called DiscoFilm. This product, which appears as a viscous fluid, was a water-based polymer that you would "paint" onto the sensor, let dry until the product forms a film, then pull the film away from the sensor. The obvious advantage this method has is that any dust on your sensor will be embedded into the film and removed with the film, rather than pushed aside with other products. The obvious disadvantage is that any film left on the sensor will need to be removed with another application of product; furthermore, it can't remove any oil-based marks, like fingerprints.

Rainer Honle, the scientist that came up with this cleaning method devised his own cleaning product based on the DiscoFilm product and calls it Sensor-Film. You can get more info about it from http://www.sensor-film.com/

My K100D finally got some dust that could not be removed with my rocket blower. Wanting to try this method (and possibly find a reason to get a K20D), I bought a pack of Sensor-Film pellets. I had to dissolve these pellets in water and then bake the mixture for 2 hours! But after 2 hours, I had my honey-like fluid. Next time, though, I'll just buy the pre-made stuff.

Anyway, the time came for me to try the cleaning method. Let me say, it's a scary thing painting this stuff onto the sensor for the first time. What if I prepared the Sensor-Film incorrectly? What if I paint over the holding bracket? What if I can't remove it all? These thoughts raced through my head while I was covering the entire sensor area with this goop. After application, I had to let the camera sit completely open, though covered with paper, for 30 minutes to let the Sensor-Film dry. After 30 minutes, I had to cut a small strip of paper, paint some Sensor-Film on one end of it, and attach it to the already dry film. The cool thing is that Sensor-Film integrates with any previous film below it. Another 30-45 minutes, and then it's time to pull the film off with the paper.

I pull, and got most of the film off. However, I stress the word "most," because there were bits and pieces of Sensor-Film on the sensor still. Fearing the worst, I decide to try again. Second time, the paper ripped off! So I apply another paper and get off most of the film again. Then I tried applying the film and paper simultaneously. It seemed to go on and on, either having the paper tear, or having a tiny bit of the Sensor Film left.

Almost succumbing to defeat, I tried one last tactic. I would follow the directions again, this time applying the product fairly liberally and using cross-swipes to ensure the entire film is evenly covered. Instead of using a thin strip of paper and folding it into a "dog ear" to place at the corner of the sensor, I cut a thick piece about the length of the short side of the sensor and folded the paper straight back to attach at the short edge. After letting the paper adhere, I pulled slowly, applying force in a side-to-side fashion until I felt the film starting to pull away from the sensor. Then I SLOWLY pulled the sensor off, taking care to ensure that no part of the film is tearing.

After a few more attempts perfecting this method, I FINALLY got ALL of the Sensor-Film off. Even better, I did some test shots, and the sensor is virtually dust free!

All I can say is that if you're crazy enough, and have a lot of patience, the Sensor Film method might be worth a try. It's scary as hell to do, and may require reapplications, but it really does get the stickiest of dust off the sensor.

- Jason
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 1:11 PM   #2
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Here's a picture simulating the kind of dust on my sensor before Sensor-Film. I tried using a rocket blower (many times over) to no avail.

- Jason
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 1:12 PM   #3
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Here's an example of pieces of Sensor-Film that did not come out. Looks nasty, eh? Luckilly, you can reapply another coat of Sensor-Film, which will integrate with the leftover pieces.

- Jason
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 1:13 PM   #4
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Here's the end result of my numerous applications. This took me about a week to achieve, but the sensor is virtually spotless now!

EDIT: Yes, I know there's a small speck there, but considering that this is at f/38, it won't show up at all.

- Jason
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 2:19 PM   #5
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Wow I can't wait to do that to my sensor, or possibly not!

I think I will keep doing it the old way, with a static brush.

Tom
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 2:54 PM   #6
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Hi Jason,

The K20 has a dust detect mode. You choose the mode from within the menus, then press the shutter. The cam takes a very long exposure (@10 sec?) without raising the mirror, and after a log while, the LCD lights up and shows you where the dust is. The image is reversed, and shows the lens index dot for reference, so you get the view as if you're looking into the lens opening. It sounds like a marketing gimmick, but actually seems to work extremely well.

When you put the cam in sensor cleaning (mirror up) mode, the LCD lights up with the last dust detect image to give you an idea where the dust is.

I've tried it, and after repeated tries, there are a couple of particles that I can't see in my shots, but I shoot at wide apertures mostly, so they aren't really a problem. -- I try not to get obsessive about these things -- I'd go batty with this dust detector thing, trying to get it perfectly clean. . .:-)

Scott
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Old Mar 15, 2008, 10:10 PM   #7
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Whew, Jason you have more courage than I. I think I will stick with the eclipse on a pec pad method.

Tim
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Old Mar 16, 2008, 5:34 AM   #8
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Jason, the least thing to say, is that it works,

only I don't think I've got the nerve to try that ...

Ronny


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Old Mar 16, 2008, 9:10 AM   #9
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You've got bottle Jason ... I get shaky just using an anti-static brush. ... Jack
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Old Mar 16, 2008, 10:07 AM   #10
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thanks for the info but i'll stick to my eclipse and pecpads.. whew

you're a brave soul,
roy
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