Clean your sensors D3 owners

I found out the hard way that the D3, while the best digital camera I have owned, needs to be cleaned routinly like I never did with my other digicams.

I leaned this lesson after spending an extra hour spot cleaning over 85 images after a recent job. Consider this your wake up call…

I never bothered, or worried I should say, if I had cleaned my sensor or not on my D2X, or D1X, or D70, or…. you get the idea. I am a pretty careful shooter and don’t leave my stuff out in the open or camera bodies without lenses attatched, so I guess I have become lazy in the cleaning of sensors even though I have had to do it every now and then.

Enter the D3. Those days have changed. After a recent trip to my pro store, West Photo in Mpls, I was talking with one of the rental workers and he gave me a quick eductaional lesson… start cleaning your D3 sensor, often and frequently. He said that they are seeing a huge increase in the amount of time shooters are having to spend to clean these bad boys compared to older models. Why I am not sure, but it is something we are all going to have to do. Those of you who are already in the routine, luck you. Those of us who were not, START!

One thing that is making it difficult is the fact that the D3 doesn’t have a gutter of dead space around the pixel rim… in other words, when you clean the sensor, if you don’t get all the gunk off it you will see it all around the edge of the image frame. Here is an example:

(view larger image)

What you are looking at is the basic dirt test

  • shoot a shot at a blank white wall out of focus so nothing of detail is visible
  • open the shot in PS and do a Adjustmet/Auto Contrast
  • view what a mess it is inside there…

The simple steps in doing this haven’t changed really since day one, blow out the sensor first, NOT WITH CANNED AIR but a bulb type. Then turn on the clean sensor setting in the menu and do your sensor swabbing with pad and cleaner. I have found that after the swab part I go back and hit it again with the air just to get any debris that might have fallen during the cleaning.

The message here is that for those of us who got lazy on this in the past it is time to get reacquainted with the cleaning steps and add them in to both our maintenance routine and our billing one… at $45.00 for a box of 12 swab tips, this is a cost that is going to have to get added into the bill and passed on to the customer as just part of doing the job.

Remember, you can spend the time now or you can spend the time behind the computer spotting… ha haha.

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