Sensor Cleaning Update with a Surprise! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Sensor Cleaning Update with a Surprise!

Sensor Cleaning Update with a Surprise!

On my recent trip to Midway I left my sensor cleaning kit at home to save a few ounces in my luggage; in retrospect, this was a bad move. 🙂 And I had had some nasty sensor dust on my EOS-1D Mark IV EOS-1D Mark IV bodies is micro-adjusted for the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens–both the 1.4X III TC and the 2X III teleconverter require separate micro-adjustments, and my other Mark IV is micro-adjusted for my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II–and again, both the 1.4X III and the 2X III teleconverter require separate micro-adjustments.)

To about the Lens Align Mark II and to read the tutorial on how to micro-adjust your lenses and cameras, click here.

I any case I spent a lot of time cleaning dust bunnies off my best Midway images. One of the first things that I did when I got home was to clean the sensor on my 70-200 2.8 Mark IV. The first step of course was to find my sensor cleaning kit. Try as I might, I could not find it. Jim–who helps me find everything–is not here on the weekends so I grabbed a brand new Delkin Sensor Scope, a Giotto’s Super Rocket Blower, and a Lens Pen Combo Kit from stock. When I opened the Sensor Scope I had a pleasant surprise. First off the Sensor Scope now comes in a neat, zippered, protective pouch. And in instead of having to press and hold a flat switch to keep the light on, you now press an on-off button; press it once and the lamp stays on. (Do remember to turn the lamp off when you are done.) Best of all, the lamp is brighter.

Next I followed the detailed instructions as per the sensor cleaning guide that we send to everyone who purchases a Lens Pen Combo Kit from us. To the letter. After the first cleaning I had eliminated 99% of the dust spots. Note: there are a lot more dust spots in the image than you can see in the before JPEG above. Those are the big ones. There were dozens more smaller ones; I call those f/22 dust bunnies as they are evident only when you have worked at tiny apertures and then only when you blow the image up to 100% in Photoshop. And they are much softer/fainter/less noticeable than the big ones. It took me six more cleanings (ten minutes total) to achieve f/22 perfection and even then there was one tiny, faint dust spot in the top left corner that I could not eliminate…. The idea is to get the sensor a lot cleaner than it was when you began.

The procedure that we use and recommend is simple and safe. Thousands of folks have adapted our method with great results and a perfect safety record. We offer a complete package with all of the sensor cleaning gear that I use here.

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This Laysan Albatross image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens and the
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at +1 2/3 stops off the sky: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. (Early morning light.)

I tried hard to get at least a strip of the lagoon in the image to add interest. The waves in the distance are breaking on the reef that surrounds the atoll. Working with a camera with a clean sensor is a pleasure as you do not waste time during image optimization having to clean dust spots. I use the Spot Healing Brush to clean dust spots from uniform areas. For complete details and lots more check out our Digital Basics File.

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #371

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #371 is on-line now and can be accessed here.



Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear mentioned in today’s post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
2X III teleconverter. The new 2X III TC is sharper than the older 2X II version.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Leve.l You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am on a tripod and not using flash.
Delkin Sensor Scope. This cool, indispensable device allows you to see sensor dust so that you know where to clean.
Lens Pen Combo Kit. The answer to your sensor cleaning problems. Use the small pen on your sensor, the larger one on your lenses and teleconverters.
Giotto’s Super Rocket Blower. Don’t waste your time with smaller versions; you need to power of this large blower to clean your sensor successfully.

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gear bag with each order over $50.

9 comments to Sensor Cleaning Update with a Surprise!

  • The page for the Lens Pen Combo Kit says this: “folks who own cameras with vibration reduction sensors are advised to contact the manufacturer with regards to using a Lens Pen for cleaning their sensors.”

    I’m assuming you believe it is safe for Canon bodies with sensor cleaning mechanism (which as I understand it uses a vibration technique), as you are promoting it here in the context of cleaning your 1DMkIV, which has that technology.

    I’m mainly asking to find out if you are 1) talking about some other kind of “vibration reduction sensors” of which I am unaware or 2) covering your bases. 🙂

    I would like to purchase the combo, but not if it isn’t safe for my 1DMkIII. I already have the blower and a loupe w/ light, along with a SensorKlear pen. I’m not sure about the SensorKlear, and am primarily planning to purchase your combo for the detailed instructions alone. 🙂 My sensor is horribly filthy at f/22…


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      As you surmised the Lens Pen method that we use is perfectly safe for all Canon lenses. 🙂

  • avatar Garry Helzer


    You are right! I hadn’t tried it in years–don’t know what I was thinking.

  • avatar Melvin Grey (UK)

    Thanks for correcting the ‘typo’ Artie, put it down to a ‘senior moment’ and not checking before sending! I agree the Mk1V is very reliable and I am very pleased with mine, after the Mk111 fiasco. However, particularly when travelling to such fantastic locations, I always like to cover all possible eventualities. ‘Glad to hear you are recovering well from your op.

  • avatar Garry Helzer


    The two lens pens in the combo kit, which I bought some years ago, don’t work on my Mark III 1Ds. The geometry inside the camera is such that the pens cannot reach the entire large sensor. Lenspen offers a special pen for sensors (SensorKlear II) that does work. You might consider adding it to the sensor cleaning products you carry.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Garry, The smaller Lens Pen, as per our instructions, works perfectly well on the the MIII 1Ds so I am not sure what you are referring to…. I have tried the SensorKlear II and do not like it at all.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Except that that would be “swapping.” 🙂

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    You are correct sir. Good thing that my MIV bodies are so reliable 🙂

  • avatar Melvin Grey (UK)

    With the Lens Align system and your tutorial it doesn’t take too long to micro-adjust a lens or lens/TC combo so, if you are lucky enough to have TWO Mk 1V bodies, why not M Adj. your lenses on both bodies then if, heaven forbid, you damage or have a tech. problem with one body you can carry on swopping lenses knowing that they are all working to optimum performance.