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Cleaning CCDs in field.

Just got back from Operation Swarmer and saw that my cameras have dirt/dust in them. Being in the desert that’s not entirely unheard of, right? How do I clean the sensors? Thanks.


by Bill Putnam at 2006-03-21 15:09:34 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Ad Dawr , Iraq | Bookmark | | Report spam→

In emergencies, while holding the camera high and lenside pointing down on my face, I “whistle” soundlessly towards the sensor (when the shutter’s open, of course) to imitate a common rubber blower only with a constant airflow. That technique doesn’t kick out all the dirt, especially the stubborn specks at the edges and corners of the sensor. And if you make a mistake, saliva could get in there and then you’d need a Q-tip to clean that up. So be careful.

by Max Pasion | 21 Mar 2006 19:03 (ed. Mar 21 2006) | Jersey City, NJ, United States | | Report spam→
by shooting film.

by Paul Philipson | 21 Mar 2006 21:03 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
There is a product called speck graber that I have had some luck with just be ever so gentle, but id try the blower bulb approach first.

by Travis Bartoshek | 21 Mar 2006 21:03 | Dallas, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
i don’t know man when I got back from trips in nam the last thing i wanted to worry about was dust specks on my images, man. i was really far more interested in getting laid and worrying about my next mission. 

by Paul Philipson | 21 Mar 2006 22:03 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
Blower brush is good.  Also take a look at www.visibledust.com.  And if you are feeling brave, try the Eclipse optical cleaning system made by Photographic Solutions.  They have a thing called a Pec-Pad which come in various sizes to suit different sensors.

If you need any of this stuff sent over, we can work something out.

by ABC | 22 Mar 2006 00:03 | San Francisco, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks for the help, guys. I dug through my camera bag (which isn’t carryin cameras… just chargers and extension cords!) and found a little brush blower. I can also acquire some canned air from my my embed. So I may have solved this problem. Will drop everyone I line if it does or doesn’t work. 

by Bill Putnam | 22 Mar 2006 01:03 | Ad Dawr, Iraq | | Report spam→
WAIT NOOOOOOO, never use caned air!!! it can kill a CCD

by Travis Bartoshek | 22 Mar 2006 01:03 | Dallas, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
i’d second being super careful with canned air, as it can freeze (specially when shaken and in balmy environments) the filter that is in front of the ccd. freezing leads to cracking, cracking leads to defectiveness, defectiveness leads to replacement of ccd, and replacement of ccd leads to a whole lot of unhappy. so be careful not to freeze it. my understanding is that some canned air has goey stuff in it (can’t quite remember why, i’ll assume preservative), so you might end up caking your ccd’s filter with a fine layer of goo. yummy, and probably not fun to get off.

by [former member] | 22 Mar 2006 03:03 | paris, France | | Report spam→
In the field I’d think about a small brush along with the rubber blower bulb. The brush needs to be kept clean and dust-free in a plastic bag or similar, don’t use one you use for lens cleaning (I use a Lenspen for this anyway.) You can buy special brushes or use an artists or makeup brush if you wash out the size they usually have on them thoroughly, and any loose hairs, I think synthetic brushes are better than natural fibres. 

First try with the blower on its own, and if that doesn’t work, blast the brush a dozen or so times which will give the bristles a static charge, then do a single gentle stroke on the sensor. The more blasts on the brush and repeat the stroke.

Really stubborn stuff you need the pec pad and methanol method, using the pec pad wrapped around a flexible support, and just 1-3 drops of pure methanol. But I’d save that for when you are back at base.  My feature on cleaning sensors which gives more detail on all this starts at http://photography.about.com/od/digital/a/dslr_cleaning.htm

I don’t like the speck grabber, but there are some micropore headed sensor sticks that might be worth taking on location mentioned there too. 


by Peter Marshall | 22 Mar 2006 04:03 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
First, check your camera’s manual. Some cameras have a special cleaning mode that turns the power off to the sensor so that it is not electrically charged and thus attracting the dust that you are trying to get rid of.

by Jonathan Castner | 22 Mar 2006 08:03 | Denver, United States | | Report spam→
Ok ok… no canned air. I’ll use the blower. I don’t have a pec pad here. In fact, I’ve never heard of it. Is it worth having out here in the field? I also didn’t bring the camera manual with me. The cam is a D2H.

Oh totally off topic but I’ve found that baby wipes, or diaper wipes or whatever they’re called outside the States, are great for cleaning cameras. Seriously.

by Bill Putnam | 22 Mar 2006 11:03 | Ad Dawr, Iraq | | Report spam→
For field use, I’d stick with a good blower brush (like the Rocket from Giotto) and/or the Visible Dust brush.

I used a D1X and know that the camera had to be plugged in to an external AC power source before you could open it up to get access to the sensor.  Not sure if that is the same with the D2H.  There should be a menu option for sensor cleaning.  If you select it, it will tell you if you need to plug in or not.   Oh, here’s something I just Google’d - 

Sensor cleaning is no different with the new model than previous. Nikon disclaims all but blower bulb cleaning, and you can’t clean without an AC adapter. Yuck. This means that I have to travel with my extra cost AC adapter. Have Nikon engineers actually traveled with their products?

by ABC | 22 Mar 2006 11:03 | San Francisco, United States | | Report spam→
i just set the camera to bulb and make sure i have a fresh battery in the camera and i have a d2h

by Travis Bartoshek | 22 Mar 2006 11:03 (ed. Mar 22 2006) | Dallas, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
Hey Bill, I’m using the Artic Butterfly sensor brush by “Visible Dust” this trip. Seems to work pretty well on the big stuff. Gina and are heading your way so just shoot at f2.8 till we get there and you can try mine out. Drop me a sitrep when you get a chance. Best, JLee

by James J. Lee | 22 Mar 2006 11:03 | Iskandiriyah, Iraq | | Report spam→
I left my AC cord at home. Don’t really see a reason to have on here in Iraq… anyway. 

J, I’ll be at the Garden Spot sometime tomorrow. Thanks. See you two then.

by Bill Putnam | 22 Mar 2006 12:03 | Ad Dawr, Iraq | | Report spam→
How bad is the problem?  Dust, like a lot of things photography-related, is a bigger deal on the internet than on your sensor.

by [former member] | 22 Mar 2006 13:03 | | Report spam→
D70, D200 you can clean without AC adaptor, and I think other recent models. So Nikon did learn.


by Peter Marshall | 23 Mar 2006 04:03 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Preston… I’ll post an image on my gallery this evening so the problem can be seen. Ah the joys of switching lenses here.

by Bill Putnam | 23 Mar 2006 06:03 | Ad Dawr, Iraq | | Report spam→

Ok, this is an example of the dust problem on my CCD. Is it bad or bearable? Thanks.

by Bill Putnam | 23 Mar 2006 15:03 | Ad Dawr, Iraq | | Report spam→
For me, that needs some work on the sensor now, or a lot of work in Photoshop later.  I know which one I prefer….

by ABC | 23 Mar 2006 16:03 | San Francisco, United States | | Report spam→
Yeah… I think so too. What do you think of the photo itself?

by Bill Putnam | 23 Mar 2006 16:03 | Ad Dawr, Iraq | | Report spam→
The almost  monochromatic coloring (or lack thereof) makes this image more powerful.  There is a sense of isolation in the troops and a feeling of an approaching re-connection with the helo’s coming in.

by ABC | 24 Mar 2006 07:03 | San Francisco, United States | | Report spam→
Cool. Thanks, Mike. I liked this one as much as the top one on my blog. But the dust killed this one from being posted/transmitted.

by Bill Putnam | 24 Mar 2006 07:03 | Ad Dawr, Iraq | | Report spam→
Haha Nikon has engineeers?

by [former member] | 20 Apr 2006 14:04 | Allentown, PA, United States | | Report spam→
I work a lot in dusty conditions and the best advice I ot from somwhere on the web was not to use canned air – it does leave deposits. Rather to use an Enema bulb – its a much better blower than small photo blowr bulbs ( it can be bit difficult to explain if it falls out of your bag )


by [unverified member] | 21 Apr 2006 03:04 | Johannesburg, South Africa | | Report spam→
..or use olympus e-series cameras, and forget the dust problem..

by Morten Hvaal | 21 Apr 2006 04:04 | Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina | | Report spam→
“an Enema bulb”

And you never know where else that may come in handy.

by [former member] | 21 Apr 2006 10:04 | Paris, France | | Report spam→

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Bill Putnam, Producer. Bill Putnam
Washington, D.C. , United States
Max Pasion, Street Photographer Max Pasion
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Paul Philipson, Retired Paul Philipson
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Travis Bartoshek, Videographer/Multimedia j Travis Bartoshek
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Peter Marshall, Writer-Photographer Peter Marshall
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Jonathan Castner, Photojournalist Jonathan Castner
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James J. Lee, Photojournalist James J. Lee
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Chris, Chris
Johannesburg , South Africa
Morten Hvaal, Photographer Morten Hvaal
Oslo , Norway ( OSL )


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