Sensor Cleaning Warning on D300, Canon

I don’t have a D300 on my wishlist, as I don’t fully utilize my D200. I’m also thinking of trying Canon for my next major camera purchase.

Regardless of whether you use D300 or Canon, Earthbound Light provides a warning about the type of sensor cleaning fluid you use. I gather the D300 has a ‘sensor shake’ option, but it won’t handle the dust that fuses to your sensor–pesky stuff.

However, the regular Eclipse fluid won’t work on the sensor coating used in newer cameras–including the D300, my D200, the Canons, and others–and we should be using the Eclipse E2 cleaning solution. Since E2 works on all sensors, it makes little sense to buy the original fluid.

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8 Responses to Sensor Cleaning Warning on D300, Canon

  1. Karl says:

    We love our Canon SD870. I know it’s not an SLR, but for us, it has been an ideal camera to capture moments as they happen, including short videos.

    Our older SD550 was the primary camera we used to take photographs and short videos of Emma.

    In fact, that little camera has let us take around 70+ short videos of her over the last two years. It is just so easy to start recording a video and put it on a DVD that way. So easy you don’t think twice about it, unlike our old MiniDV camera. And the quality beats it by a mile.

  2. Doug says:

    You covered some of this territory before, which was my fault at the time :-)

    Since then, I’ve been watching the various discussions in the (mostly Canon) fora that I frequent. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

    1: A lot of people cling to the “you’re just cleaning glass” story, blissfully ignorant that many (most?) modern sensors have dispensed with the protective cover glass. This is pretty much universally true of the cameras that have a separate dust-shaking layer. For many modern DSLRs, the front of the sensor assembly is a chemical coating that forms the dichroic “hot-mirror” that reflects infrared. Manufacturer marketing departments like to refer to that coating as being “anti-static” as well.

    2. A lot of people cling to the “you’re not cleaning the sensor itself” straw—the cited Earthbound Light article even does it. The sensor probably would withstand cleaning better than the chemical coating does. And besides, if you wreck the coating Canon will replace the entire sensor assembly anyway (it’s the same minimum repair charge).

    3. No matter what cleaning methods are used, I haven’t seen any pattern of coating damage caused by cleaning with one notable exception: the Canon EOS 5D. I’ve seen maybe a dozen reports of wrecked coatings on 5D sensors caused by cleaning (using a variety of techniques), and the repair cost is reported to be about $500 US. If I had a 5D, I would only use a cleaning system that guarantees to pay for any damage, and I would only use it according to directions.

  3. Shelley says:

    I figured a reminder for Christmas wouldn’t be amiss. However, disquieting to hear how vulnerable the Canon EOS 5D is.

    Karl, I’d love to see one of your videos of Emma. She’s such a little darling.

  4. Charles says:

    A friend of mine just ordered a new Canon 40D, I’m anxious to hear his reports on how well the automatic sensor cleaner works, it’s supposed to shake off the dust ultrasonically. It’s a clever design, but I wonder how complex they can make these sensor/shutter mechanisms without them becoming mechanically unreliable.
    Anyway, there are rumors of these new self-cleaning sensors in a forthcoming Canon 6D, it’s hard to improve on the 5D but it’s due for an upgrade.

  5. Doug says:

    Charles: the dust-shaking system that Canon uses is fairly simple and should be eminently reliable.

    They don’t shake the sensor itself, as some brands do. Instead the front layer of the filter stack is mounted a bit away from the sensor and vibrated using piezoelectrics. There is a gasket between the front (shaken) layer and the rest of the sensor assembly to keep dust from getting in between.

    On the 1DmkIII, Canon also cocks the shutter either twice or three times—Canon’s documentation varies on this—during the dust-shaking sequence, to knock dust off of the shutter blades and curtains. The 40D does a single shutter-release during dust-shaking for the same purpose.

    The dust-shaking is intended to be preventative, not curative. The general idea is that if the camera is used regularly so that the dust-shaking cycle is run frequently, it’ll be much harder for dust to get firmly stuck. There are a few Web sites that have tested the dust-shaker’s ability to remove large quantities of dust and have found it lacking, but they miss the point that it’s supposed to prevent the buildup of large quantities of dust in the first place.

  6. Charles says:

    Thanks for the interesting info, Doug. I am all for preventive maintenance, a clean camera is a happy camera.
    I just talked to my buddy, he just got delivery of his 40D, he says the shutter noise is much louder than his 10D, which concerns him because he shoots billiards tournaments and the shutter noise annoys the players. This makes me concerned about the complexity of these fancy shutters, there must be a lot more mechanism if it’s putting out more mechanical noise. He says there’s a “quiet mode” but it’s just as loud. I told him to get a “camera blimp” if he really wanted silent running.
    I heard something about the new Canons coming with live preview so you could lock the mirror up and view the live sensor data through the LCD to shoot. That would probably be the quietest mode, and it would save a lot of wear and tear on the whole shutter. But my friend hasn’t read the 40D manual yet so I don’t know any details about these modes. I couldn’t believe it, he asked me if I could download the 40D manual online myself, and tell him if there was anything important and new in it. Sheesh.

  7. Doug says:

    Charles, the noise is mostly (but not entirely) from the mirrors going up and down. The increase in noise is, to some extent, a function of the higher shooting rate. The 10D can only do 3 frames per second, while the 40D can rattle off 6.5 frames per second. That requires that everything move a lot faster, especially the mirrors.

    And yes, the 40D does have a quiet mode in live view. The mirrors are already up and the shutter is already open to do the live view. When you take the picture the sensor is electronically reset and the exposure begins by electronically simulating the first curtain (a tricky job, actually). The second shutter curtain comes down to terminate the exposure, so that’s the only noise at that point. When you let off on the shutter button, the second curtain is cocked (reopened), but by holding the shutter button you can delay that sound. Obviously, continuous shooting is not possible in this mode. Tell your friend to check out page 113 of the 40D manual.

  8. Rob says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ve had a horrible fleck of dust on the sensor of my Digital Rebel XT (I know, I’m just an amateur) for quite a while now. First it took me a while to figure out what it was then I got scared off of cleaning it when I did know what it was.

    I read your earlier posts on cleaning your lenses and you’ve given me the courage (and the reference info) to get to work on removing that UFO from all my blue skies.