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Sensor Cleaning

Discussion in 'Zenmuse X5' started by pixl45, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. pixl45

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    Those of you who are fairly new to digital photography and/or have never had an interchangeable lens digital camera may not understand that the sensors on these things are dust magnets. Having been a pro photographer when real full frame sensors arrived in SLR's, I can attest to how much time I spent cleaning dust from my then state-of-the-art Canon 5D.

    It appears that every camera on the market now boasts sensor self-cleaning, that is all, except the sensor on our X5's.

    Has anyone here found a best way to clean these things? I'm guessing Sensor Swabs and fluid...but I'd be open to hearing any other techniques.
     
  2. FlyHighUSA

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    What about compressed air like for keyboards on computers. Nothing strong of course but I really don't want to touch my sensor if at all possible.
     
  3. Haakon

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    As a professional photographer I'd recommend a large bulb blower like the Giottos Rocket - gives nice powerful blast of air that will remove any dust likely to accumulate on the sensor. As there is no mirror or mechanical shutter in the X5 you're unlikely to get oil spots so hopefully wet cleaning can be avoided for the most part.

    In the event that something sticks to the sensor I'd recommend Eclipse fluid and m4/3 sized cleaning swabs. Only ever do this in a clean dust free area on a firm surface like a desk. Get the sensor so you can see it clearly flat in front of you, a couple of air blasts from a bulb blower - then if needed remove a swab from its wrapper, without putting it down apply a drop of Eclipse or other sensor cleaning solution to each side of the swab just behind then straight edge. It should be moist but not saturated. You then want to use the width of the swab to wipe the length of the sensor in one swipe. If the sensor is particularly dirty you can lean the swab back when you get to the end of the sensor and swipe back using the other side of the swab. The eclipse should evaporate almost immediately and your oils spots and pollen etc should be safely on the swab - dispose of this as they are one use only.

    Never use the aerosol office dusters - hold it the wrong way up and you'll spray your sensor with a load of propellant.

    The best advice of course is to minimise the chances of dust ingress - 1. only change lenses in still air (back to the wind if necessary)
    2. Use gravity to your benefit - Keep the sensor pointed down, bring the lens up to the mount - don't have the sensor exposed and pointing up.
    3. Make sure you're not introducing dust on the back of the lens you're about to insert - a quick blast from a bulb blower should clear anything that's accumulated under the dust cap in storage.

    Happy flying!
     
    pixl45 and dopeytree like this.
  4. pixl45

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    Actually, I'm pretty experienced at sensor cleaning. I just wanted to open up the thread so that others would understand that this is an issue.

    As far as using an air bulb, my experience says to avoid it. The blasters can sometime harbor small amounts of moisture and shoot it onto the sensor. There are bulb blowers that have filters in them to keep particulate out that may be helpful, but I've found that I pretty much always use the swab anyways since the sensors are static charged and require more than a puff of air.

    Many people just use Lightroom's dust removal tool for stills. This is pretty much a batch healing bush, and can work well, but not in all circumstances. Best to get rid of the dust to begin with. I have no idea what people do in post production for video -- not my area.

    Good tips on dust prevention above ^^^. Pro level cameras generally have decent environmental protection as well as sensor cleaning so all this has become almost a non issue. But our little X5's lack any sealing at all (at least nothing mentioned in the specs) and also are frequently pushed around at 30+ mph. Dust will be an issue.
     
  5. FlyHighUSA

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    Definitely follow this recommended practice, it's very thorough and safe for the camera. Great info!!!
     
  6. Casey Preston

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    My preferred method of cleaning is to not look at the sensor and assume that it is clean. I know this might seem like an unhelpful comment, but I think it is important to note for those on this board who don't have experience dealing with sensors that the best policy is to not touch the sensor unless absolutely necessary.
     
  7. FlyHighUSA

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    Yep the sensor is a no go for me unless absolutely necessary. I'm very careful when changing out my lenses to not let anything get on the sensor to begin with that's the best practice.
     
  8. x5yo

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    Not much point in having a clean sensor when the video is full of flickering!
     
  9. AllanM

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    I change lenses often, in any conditions (still cameras) and don't even bother to switch off...... and still it isn't often I have to clean sensors.

    I use an air bulb initially, and find that on occasion that's all it needs. After that, VisibleDust Vswabs & Eclipse fluid.
    Shoot a 2 second or so exposure at F22 (or whatever) at a plain wall whilst moving the camera. Spots will clearly show up on screen. If you have to up contrast or clarity to see them, leave them.
    Don't think you will get the sensor spotless, at least for some time, and expect to go through a few swabs first time.
    The first time you attempt to clean the sensor it will probably come out worse than you started, persevere, you'll get it right in the end.
     
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  10. AtlanticAerialworX

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    Just so we are all on the same page here. The X5 sensor is 'sealed' behind a thin piece of uv plastic. So if you have dust on the uv plastic when you look into it then you are lucky and it is easy to clean...if you truly have dust on the sensor there is no way to get in behind that sheet of uv plastic to clean it off. I have had this happen and it requires you to send it back to dji where they will charge you for a new camera and gimbal which happened to us
     
    #10 AtlanticAerialworX, Mar 13, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  11. NickU

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    The X5 and X5S are a step back in time when you're used to modern self cleaning sensors :( .

    Easiest way I've found to clean the sensor if you've any dust bunnies is simply to use something like Visible Dust's Arctic Butterfly. Nice n easy, no messy wet cleaning to do. - Gave up on using Eclipse fluid years back when I got a sensor loupe and the arctic butterfly kit (it had brushes for different size sensors). It seems like a lot to pay for a Whirly brushy thingy, but it works incredibly well :cool:.

    I'd recommend finding a sensor loupe too, makes spotting the location of dust much easier, and makes it quick to check if you've managed to clean everything off. Only problem is they tend to be designed for the larger DSLR's and so the loupes focal point isn't in the right place - you need to hold it out from the X5 a bit.
     
  12. pixl45

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    I had bad luck with the Arctic Butterfly -- it seemed to just push dust around, without picking it up. The static charge when the camera (in this case a Canon 5D Mk I) powered up would just suck the dust back onto the sensor. I found that properly single stroking the sensor using the proper sized Sensor Swab and fluid was the only method that worked.

    The fact that this is even a discussion now -- all interchangeable lens cameras have had sensor cleaning for at least 8 years -- shows that in some areas DJI engineering really needs improvement. Perhaps their acquisition of Hasselblad will create improvements in camera tech.
     
  13. NickU

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    The only issues I've had with the butterfly where with larger dust bunnies, and then I simply brushed it upside down so they effectively ended up on the brush thanks to gravity.

    But, I do have the full sized brushes for different sensor sizes, not just the little butterfly one. Might make a difference.

    And yeah, hopefully they'll add a self clean function in.... it is a loooong step back without it,
     
  14. Casey53

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    I too had bad luck with the Arctic Butterfly. Pushed dirt around to edges. Another matter was the bristles picked up some oil or grease somewhere inside the DSLR and smeared the sensor. Eclipse and some swab pads were the only way to get rid of that. I also had one of those gel tipped pens and it left a small spot everywhere I dabbed it so another round of Eclipse and swab pads. A blower bulb might be a better solution than the brush.
     
  15. NickU

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    Get a new brush. there's no shutter or mirror mechanism in the X5/X5S to create any oil/grease.

    One downside to eclipse, as a liquid it's hard to travel with these days.
     
  16. AtlanticAerialworX

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    The x5/x5s sensors are sealed. When you look into the camera without the lens on you will see the thing piece of glass that is roughly 5mm above the sensor itself. If you have actual dust on the sensor then it is a faulty seal and dji will swap out the camera if still under warranty. otherwise it is safe to clean the glass if dust is on it without the precautions you would normally take when cleaning a sensor.