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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DPP Solutions: Defeating Dust

What you need to know about cleaning your sensor

This Article Features Photo Zoom

4) Dot Line Hurricane Blower
The Delkin SensorScope is a 5x magnifier with a self-contained light that allows you to get a close-up look at your camera’s imager. Careful inspection lets you find dust concentrations easily and helps you avoid unnecessary cleaning. The SensorScope is available separately or in a kit that includes the Delkin SensorVac, a miniature vacuum that gently swallows up the dust instead of blowing it around, plus a set of unique, double-sided wands that can be used to wipe stubborn particles from the imager’s surface and a bottle of quick-drying, alcohol-free SensorSolution liquid cleaner.

Out, Damned Spot!
There are times when a blower or vacuum isn’t quite enough, but sending the camera in for service (and being without it for several days or even a few weeks) is impractical. That’s when more diligent action is required. However, digital camera sensors are very delicate and are easily damaged. Scratch the low-pass filter, and you’ve voided your warranty. And replacement can cost as much as a new camera.

A person with normal hand-eye coordination can safely clean the camera’s imager if he or she exercises reasonable caution, carefully follows the directions and uses a suitable product. Needless to say, never take a swipe at a CCD with a common cotton swab dipped in eyeglass cleaner. And if you can’t make instant coffee without spilling something, you should probably get someone to help you. But it all starts with the right product.

VisibleDust products are used by world-famous IC chip manufacturers—and the folks who maintain one of the world’s most important astronomical telescopes. They’re also used by many repair subcontractors who handle the routine “clean this CCD” assignments from the major camera makers—at least, that’s what the major independent camera repair shops tell them. That’s because the products they offer are the highest quality available combined with the most advance technology. For example, every brush they sell is individually inspected with a microscope before it’s delivered for use.

Because VisibleDust approaches sensor cleaning as true scientists would, they produce products that attack dust at the atomic level. For example, the VisibleDust Zeeion blower looks like a conventional bulb-type blower, but it’s made from a new silicone compound called Silicone RX. This material generates more negative ions than positive ions. The negative charge helps eliminate dust and electrostatic charges from the anti-static-coated sensor surface. This technique is referred to as a “passive and selective ionization.” It may sound complicated, but the blower is easy to use and is still the safest way to manually clean a sensor.

5) Dust-Aid Dust-Wand Kit
The Arctic Butterfly SD800 Professional Kit, also from VisibleDust, comes complete with an assortment of brushes for every purpose, including an APS-C-sized sensor brush, an angled mirror (or focusing screen) brush and two larger brushes, plus the popular Arctic Butterfly 724. The battery-powered handle spins the brush to clean it and prepare it for use. Once prepped, cleaning the imager is just a matter of gently wiping the brush tip lightly over the surface to collect the dust.

Dust that refuses to yield to a blower or brush requires wet treatment. Dust-Aid calls this “welded-on dust” and offers the Dust-Wand Kit as a remedy. The kit includes everything you need to assemble a wand-like swab (in one of three common sizes) and a cleaning liquid that’s nonflammable, nonalcohol and evaporates fast without leaving a residue. The kit is packaged in an easy-to-stow carrying case and is good for 50 cleanings.

From Dot Line comes the DL-0410 Hurricane Blower, a durable cleaning device that’s compact and perfect for travel, with a small suction cup on the bottom that allows it to stand upright. One squeeze produces a strong puff that safely blasts contaminants from mirrors, focusing screens and imagers. The narrow neck has a flexible tip that’s designed to prevent it from damaging your camera’s innards. It’s also great for quickly removing the dust that sometimes collects around the camera’s knobs and dials.

Delkin Devices
(800) 637-8087
Dot Line
(818) 700-9997
Dust-Aid (OmegaSatter)
(410) 374-3250
(877) 999-9404


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