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SLR changing to DSLR? read this first!

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Showing 151-175 of 222 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 16:30:36 BDT
gabriel says:
Ross, it was on the rear element of a Canon 18-55mm kit zoom. It looked hair shaped but I suspect it was some other foreign object. The lens was stopped down to F11+ at the widest 18mm setting. I cleaned the glass and the lens is fine again.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 18:55:58 BDT
Thanks Gabriel,

So you could clearly see it then? makes sense, the distance from the sensor is vast, on a scale compared to dust being right on top of the filter in front of the sensor, it's like being next door, and being three miles away.

This is why you can very very rarely actually see any dust on the sensor, it takes something laughably small to cause the problem - and since it is so small, and thus, invisible, you can only use a blower and logic out where it is. As the lens 'reverses' the image, top to bottom, and left to right, from the way we see it in the viewfinder, a spot near the top right corner would, when cleaning the sensor, actuallly be in the bottom left... etc etc! even if you cant see it, at least you know where to point the blower. (even if it doesnt work!).

Dust on the rear element causing this, I too have not heard of it but, you've had it happen which tells us to check everywhere if marks appear in images. I guess the 18mm wide setting helped to show it up too.

We're going to get a lot of this with the increase in resolution that's happening right now, the new Nikon D3200 at 24 Mp for example. My D5100 showed up some dust, while the previous D5000 never seemed to have the problem, those being >16Mp and >12Mp respectively.

I think the time has come to stop accepting things 'the way they are' and put increasing pressure on manufacturers to do something about it. We can clean a lens, a sensor is a different animal, especially when the manual tells you NOT to touch it. If that does or does not invalidate the warranty is a moot point, what's important is, its risky on several levels, when it should be a thing of the past, via better design.

Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday, I'm off early tomorrow to hopefully get some sunrise over Gower images, but the forecasts are conflicting so I don't know if I'll get the weather for it yet. Up at 4.30am to check!


Thanks again Gabriel, the more of us who come off the shelf and bring the dust issue into the open, the sooner we'll see manufacturers make some serious effort to end it.


Posted on 4 Jun 2012 20:16:43 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2012 20:20:30 BDT
gabriel says:
The rear element of a kit lens like the Canon is tiny. Although I couldn't see the object initially, when I examined it closely there was a 'twirly' shaped piece of dirt which matched the image artifact precisely. Although it was very small, as a proportion of the element it was significant enough to show on the left hand side of each photograph. It wasn't completely in focus but close enough to see its exact shape. As I said, once I cleaned the back of the lens it stopped appearing in the picture.

I understood that dirt on the rear of a lens is always more detrimental than the front, which makes sense when you realise a photograph can be taken through a section of railing and not be apparent if the camera is close and aperture wide enough, but I'd never encountered a defined object on a lens showing up before, which suggests everything from the back element to the sensor needs to be clinically clean. It certainly has implications for the way we treat lenses off the camera. It was on a 550D BTW.

Posted on 21 Jun 2012 17:07:02 BDT
I have to say the amount of baseless conjecture and misinformation in this thread since I last checked it astounds me.

And Ross keeps going on about the same design flaw.

Here's a thought; if your idea for a sealed mirror box is so great, why not try and patent it and sell it to one of the big camera manufacturers? Better yet, why not design your own camera.

There are some fairly fundamental flaws in the sealed mirror box concept, that people have pointed out here and others have taken great joy in ignoring and yet you continue to insist that your idea is the best ever.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2012 18:20:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Jun 2012 18:21:24 BDT
Hi AM,
Ross would have a job patenting something which Sigma have already used.
I am surprised that this has gone on for over 150 posts though.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2012 18:24:53 BDT


My goodness, what vitriole, whatever provoked that?

Please focus on the next few sentences as they are my fundamental argument.

The sensor attracts dust - fact. (misinformation?)

Some dust cannot be removed by mere blowing action - fact. (misinformation?)

Some new design is needed so that dust can't get to the sensor - fact.

I don't profess to be a camera designer, Nikon (et al) have been doing this for MANY years and you would have thought a bunch of technicians at their product development departments would have realised how serious the problem is, now, and is going to be in the future. I am sure NO ONE wants to have to clean the camera sensor on his/her camera, with the inherent risk of causing serious damage.

A 'sealed camera box' is only a suggestion. If it is fundamentally flawed, I don't understand why Sigma developed it to the point of releasing productin versions of that concept (which I was unaware of at the beginning of this thread).

It is for Nikon to look to themselves to cure this defect, for that is what it is!

Until it becomes possible to clean a sensor, or a sensor sheild of some kind, with no risk of damaging your camera, the situation, to me, highly unacceptable.

Yes! you can remove dust marks using software (camera raw, Nikon NX etc) but that is only a poor fix to a serious flaw in design.

We've reached the point now where some DSLR bodies are costing more than a four year old motor car - quite an investment for a pro, but a very serious investment to a keen hobbyist. To have to accept kit like this, with the built-in dust issue is a situation that cannot go on forever.

I am sorry if I have upset you in some way. Make no mistake, I love photography, and I love my Nikon DSLR, but what I had to go through with this dust contamination problem made me wake up and think seriously about the issues.

There remains contention about Nikon treating the camera warranty as void, IF you clean the sensor yourself, since the manual is VERY specific about it - DO NOT TOUCH THE SENSOR. So where does this leave us?

It leaves us with DSLR's that you should not clean yourself, which can, do, and will at some point, attract sensor dust.

No one should seriously resist a rethink of design to get around the problem - so that we can all 'clean' such dust ingress ourselves, without fear, difficulty, or any potential harm to the camera.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2012 18:33:39 BDT
Quite right Dr G.

Sigma beat me to it, and I geniunely didnt know they had released a range with the concept incorporated - I was very surprised to hear about it.

The number of posts is probably indicative of the interest people have in the issue. Dust is a real and unavoidable issue. One day they'll get it sorted and we'll have to abandon the thread. There is also the possibility that the weather has been so foul this summer that hobbyists are finding the forum interesting, being unable to go out with the gear in this riduculous non stop rain. At least we can't blame Nikon for that!



Posted on 21 Jun 2012 18:41:19 BDT
Graham H says:
I'm surprised it's reached 150 posts too.

The sensor attracts dust - fact. (misinformation?)
The dust can be cleaned off without too much bother - fact (misinformation?)
Most people have bigger things to worry about. - fact (Yup.)

Sorry Ross, couldn't resist it! ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2012 18:55:12 BDT
No problem Mr Hearn :-)

I mostlyl agree with you, and yes, I may be a little over the top about the issue, however, the bit about cleaning the dust off without too much bother - I was two weeks trying with a giottos rocket blower before having to buy a wet cleaning kit, and risking the sensor by cleaning it myself - so, the no bother bit goes out the window as quick as a scalded cat!

We do have bigger things to worry about, but this doesnt change the FACT that Nikon and all the others are flogging gear that you can't or shouldn't clean yourself.

Looking back, I think what hit me the hardest was that I had a D5000 for 18 months and never got a single spec of dust in all that time, using the same lenses, and the same cleaning and lens changing technique - then, three or four weeks into my ownership of the D5100 theres this lovely black blob on every shot, smiling at me. It got bigger as the aperture got smaller, but it was in every shot - and my expectations after having the D5000 trouble free for all that time maybe were too high.

When I came to deal with the problem, thats when it got tricky, the lost warranty, the extra costs, the images spoiled etc.

However, I had said all I had to say about this weeks ago, and only returned to the thread today as Andrew Menage launched a mini-tirade at both myself, and other contributors to the thread.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of all this, we still have cameras AKA dust magnets, lets hope that the problem goes away with innovation on the next range of DSLR's

Sorry Mr H, couldnt resist it :-) (honestly)

Posted on 21 Jun 2012 19:05:32 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jun 2012 09:07:25 BDT
Graham H says:
No worries Ross. We're all pals on here. :-)

(...Besides which it doesn't worry me anyway as I usually use 35mm, which gives me a brand new "sensor" each time I advance a frame)

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2012 19:14:08 BDT
35mm? what is that? about an inch and a three eights? Thats a small camera u got there, is it a minox? were you a secret agent in the 70's?

Bet you loved walking into the villains office in your dinner jacket to hear the words... Mr Bond, I've been expecting you...



Posted on 21 Jun 2012 20:09:29 BDT
Graham H says:
"You expect me to talk?"
"No Mr Bond... I expect you to exposure compensate by + 1.5 stops!"

Posted on 21 Jun 2012 23:44:47 BDT
X says:
Thank you, Andrew, for waking things up a bit. Always inclined to pour rocket fuel on the fire, I don't think I've repeated this for the past 100 posts, give or take 50 posts either way: buy a body from a responsible manufacturer who has the decency to incorporate a cleaning system for the sensor. I can only think of Olympus, but maybe that's just my permanent condition.

Or not.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2012 01:45:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jun 2012 01:46:33 BDT
Hi Ed,
I think all dSLRs have cleaning systems. My Sony cleans on startup and when switched off. However, I don't think that this system will remove all dust/pollen/snot or whatever it is absolutely reliably. To be shaken off the "dust" has to be non adhering. It may even depend on the geology - clay particles are charged for instance. We had far less dust when we lived in the outskirts of London than we do in the Black Country. Then there is humidity. Change lenses on a cold camera in a warm bathroom and who knows what will stick (I haven't actually done that BTW). Then there is wind. Maybe you could attract dust off the sensor by using a charged up balloon?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2012 13:39:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jun 2012 13:39:26 BDT
Canon's cleaning system has always worked well for me. Maybe its just a Nikon issue.

Regarding the technical limitations, Sigma don't have much history of manufacturing cameras an so don't have a limit in a new design the way Canon or Nikon do. The problem with Canon or Nikon in this case is that you have a fixed flange distance and in some cases (Canon EF lenses) lenses extend back into the mirror box space. Both have to support legacy lenses and increasing the distance between the sensor and the lens mount would mean that no current Canon or Nikon would work on your new "super camera". Alternatively you could put something behind the mirror but in front of the shutter, but why would that be any better than behind the shutter? It'd still attract dust and be potentially difficult to clean, same as the existing filter.

Additionally any additional lens or filter in the optical path that would be "easy to clean" would be "easy to damage" either in the cleaning process or in general use, again same as the existing filter. This is at a time where Nikon have actually removed a filter from the sensor on their latest camera.

You could potentially introduce a smaller sensor with the same flange distance allowing for a smaller mirror so that you could fit an extra filter in without clashing with the mirror, but that would come at a time where both Canon and Nikon are trying to increase sensor size.

In short there is no practical way to introduce a magic filter that would work in the way you want, and no guarantee that it would be any better than the existing dust exclusion and dust cleaning systems.

As an engineer I get very fed up of people saying "why don't they do this" without taking the time to investigate why things are the way they are. Additionally, AF Ross has wilfully ignored the suggestions made to him about why his suggestions will never be implemented by one of the "big three" (Sony/Canon/Nikon) in their Digital SLRs.

And AF Ross shouldn't forget that mid-spec SLRs are generally far cheaper now than they ever have. My EOS 7D had a launch price of about $1700 (US) while the first consumer grade digital SLR the Canon EOS D30 had a launch price of $3500 only 12 years ago.

If Digital SLRs are so fundamentally flawed maybe he should go back to 35mm.

Posted on 22 Jun 2012 16:21:53 BDT
X says:
Andrew: Great post.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2012 17:07:25 BDT
Good summation by Andrew.
Can this thread be wrapped up now - I can't believe there can be any more to say.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2012 17:49:52 BDT
I bow to andrew menages latest post and his unrivalled optical and mechanical engineering prowess.

It seems we will, therefore, never, ever, (thats right folks, not ever) have a camera with changeable lenses which can be easily kept clean. Time for another hobby methinks? seems to me some people are letting the big two manufacturers off the hook far to easily.

There MUST be some way of dealing with this issue, and Nikon are never shy to introduce (yet) another range of lenses forcing more £££'s from us.

AM may be right about entry level and prosumer models regarding pricing levels, then tells us how the D800E has had it's AA filter removed (sounds irish that, do they fit it, then scratch their bums and think, oh, hold on, lets remove it?)

I dont see the D800E as being a prosumer model, since you need the FX lenses to back it up - but STILL you have a sensor OPEN to the environment, and in that respect the normal D800 right down to the D3000 are all on the same bus.

The D5100 (and the D5000 I owned previously) both had SENSOR CLEANING built in! but for some reason, the problem I experienced was not solved by either that system, nor many happy hours spent by an open shutter, blowing gale force air at the sensor courtesy of a Giottos Rocket blower, so it was hobsons choice, clean the sensor or live with the fault. At the time I reallly wished there was some barrier such as a glass filter, just in front of the mirror, which could be cleaned safely and easily with a lenspen brush, a blower, or microfibre lens cloth, but there wasn't... and they call that engineering?

(they do actually).

Enjoy the weekend folks,

Ross. ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2012 17:54:53 BDT
Hi Ross,
Have you contacted Nikon to ask them why they don't take this problem more seriously?
You never know.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2012 19:03:14 BDT
Hi Dr G.,

As it happens, I have written to them to ask them to clarify the warranty position IF I clean the sensor (carefully, the same method their own service centre uses).

I did append a bit of a moan about the poor design to that message. It was dated March 14th 2012 - still holding my breath, so far, it seems my message has gone to the same place Glen Miller is visiting.

To be honest with you, this is what I expected. Once the cash is in the till, no one reallly cares these days unless you have the law behind you.

Maybe this thread, and a few like it around the world, may get their attention eventually, and someone will wake up and say, is this true, our cameras are vulnerable....!!!! get me the Director of Design and Engineering and bring me my samurai sword, NOW!

Until then, it's a wet swab carefully used, as and when, for us mere mortals.

I wonder if anyone else has spoken / written to Nikon (or Canon) on this issue?

Best regards,


In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2012 00:54:16 BDT
Hi Ross,
That's poor.

Posted on 27 Jun 2012 08:40:58 BDT
Hello Group.

Interesting discussion on cleaning sensors.

Knowing horror stories of residue on sensors from liquid smears, I always used a Giottos blower brush until I bought a Visible Dust Arctic butterfly (blue, no light, £30). i use it every couple of months as a preventative measure and am always free of residual dust.

Many of the Canon 'L' lenses for my 5DmkII have rubber seal rings on the mount, though I don't know how effective this is. Statistically, sensor dust is in direct proportion to the number of lens changes, so images from my Leica M8 have more spots and I clean it more often.

Lens bags help (esp. on little Leica lenses), as do dedicated wipe cloths of different sizes. Best material is a kind of soft natural cotton rather than the thin silky Pentax wipes. I use different cloths for cleaning lenses, glasses and my computer screen.

Here's a link to the Visible Dust people.

Keep it clean :-)

James Bartholomew

Posted on 27 Jun 2012 09:06:40 BDT
Thanks James, that's interesting, and true, statistically the more you change lenses the more likely you are to get the problem. Thing is, dust is indiscriminate, and can strike a brand new camera on the first change - and sadly, I include even taking the camera body out of the box for the very first time and fitting a lens.

Someone else earlier in the thread suggested the Arctic Dust gadget, but there were some very negative reviews (on Amazon) from buyers who had trouble with it, so that put me completely off the idea.

No cleaning method, therefore, is the complete solution to the problem, it would seem. I bought a good quality wet cleaning swab kit, and used very carefully (of course) it seemed to work. I have read extensively around this subject and it appears that both Nikon and Canon (can't say I researched beyond these two marques) use the wet swab method if you return your camera for cleaning, so, I won't argue with them, and decided this was probably the best way to go, IF cleaning was needed.

To round this off, it goes full circle and brings me back to my original position, which was, design is the key. Future cameras require more than a vibrating sensor, obviously, as in my Nikon D5100 it clearly did not work, and forced me to find a way to get the sensor clean again.

If somehow the sensor could be a sealed unit, with a cleanable surface some distance above it's own surface, which was safe to touch and clean with the right cleaning tools, we would be in a position where this problem was eliminated.

I had thought that such a barrier, with a cleanable surface (of optical glass etc) would be the solution, and I still think it largely is - because it would be SAFE to clean it. Someone kindly posted a response which told us that dust on the rear lens element of a fairly wide angle lens had a similar appearance on his shots to sensor dust, and after several attempts to clean the sensor, he discovered the problem was on the lens itself. Something to bear in mind. However, the rear lens element, and any 'barrier' of protective glass inside the camera body, would still be user cleanable, with great care of course, and enable us to regularly sort out this issue if and when it arises.

Let's hope the designers eventually wake up and come up with a system which will allow us to do just that, without the risk of damaging one's sensor, or otherwise, the cost and inconvienience (time) of having to post the camera in to them for cleaning.

One day, I'm sure they will acheive it, but for now, it seems we have a like it or lump it mentality at play, so we're in limbo.



Posted on 28 Jan 2013 14:45:43 GMT
PhilD says:
I've used DSLRs since 2001 (long before they had built in sensor cleaning systems) and have never had any problems with dust on the sensor. I don't know why this is the case when others have such a big problem with it. I change lenses on my Nex-5 all the time, sometimes 10 times a day when using my old lenses. Never a single spot.

Posted on 28 Jan 2013 15:17:22 GMT
This is really a reply to PhilD, but as it updates the situation which caused me to post originally, it belongs in the main thread.

Hi PhilD, I am glad you've posted your comments as it gives me an opportunity to update the story I previously posted here. Quite honestly, ever since finding that ONE noticable spot on the sensor of the D5100, virtually right at the beginning, I have never had any recurrence or need to clean the sensor.

I now believe that the spot on my camera sensor was there from the factory production, not as a result of lens changes, as I am always very careful. I owned the camera for approx a month before, while on holiday in Cyprus, I noticed the spot which, on the image, was approx 2/3 from the bottom left corner, and approx 6mm in from the edge. While in Cyprus, when using the camera in very bright daylight sea panoramas, the apeture was probably reaching f16 - f19 etc. Here in the UK at that time (spring) I was getting apertures of 5.6 - 8 due to the much lower light levels.

It was the smaller apertures used in Cyprus which revealed the spot. I assumed it was caused by me, changing lenses, despite taking great care, but in the past year, I have had no repeats of that dust or spot. It was incredibly hard to move, resorting to physical cleaning with pads as described, which make it clear that it was not simply some dust issue.

I have very recently been reading of the Nikon D600 having a problem with dirty sensors on new cameras, so I suspect that something in the production or handling, or assembly of the sensors, and the camera, is causing this problem. You would think, wouldn't you!

To reassure everyone, the D5100 is a stunning camera, it took me a good six months to get completely au fait with it's use, as it is so flexible and adaptable, but if you buy one and find a dust spot, don't panic, follow my cleaning guide and be careful, and all will be well.

I am thinking about changing to the D5200 as I find I am cropping some shots. Tourism and architecural shots in small towns procuces images which can be cut to produce two or even three separate shots, which you don't always see at the time, and the higher resolution would be useful for enargements of sections from the originals. That will be in the Autumn, if it happens at all, but I remain delighted with the D5100 and at the prices they are going for now, there is no excuse if you are tempted.

Thanks again PhilD I wanted to update the topic, your post has given me the impetus.

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