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SLR changing to DSLR? read this first!

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Posted on 28 Jan 2013 15:49:50 GMT
PhilD says:
I remember all the hype when DSLRs first came out about sensors getting dirty. There were stories of pros having to clean their sensors regularly. I was dreading the whole nightmare. I still own and use my Canon D30 from 2001 which has never had its sensor cleaned.

I know nothing about the camera manufacturing process, but I'm guessing its probably a static electricity filled environment, so any lapse in sterility could easily lead to contamination.

Enjoy your D5100 & D5200 if you go ahead and upgrade. I have a D3100. Its superb.

Posted on 28 Jan 2013 18:16:10 GMT
That's something that slipped under my radar - I was an avid SLR user up to about '95 and work and family commitments saw the hobby suspended. I did get a couple of compact digitals but they were so limited, and my time was still pressured. It was only when I got a fairly good bridge camera, the canon SX10, when my hobby and time to practice it, rekindled. The SX10 if you knew it, had the same flip and tilt lcd screen as the D5100 / 5200. I used the canon for a couple of years and then felt ready for a DSLR. At the time the choice was a Nikon D3000 or the new D3100, and then the D5000 was announced. I went the extra bit, as it had a similar lcd, but cannot say I was really happy with it due to the screen being hinged underneath the camera - it made it cumbersome and nowhere near as useful. (I do a lot of tripod based close up shots, often at low level, so the screen flipped out to one side and facing upwards, is ideal, of course, in live view.

The D5100 has a larger, sharper, and more manouverable lcd so upgrading for me was a no brainer. I now get what I had with the canon sx10 but with a much better quality, sharper, result, and of course, in RAW.

So you can imagine how peeved I was to find an immovable dust spot stuck on the sensor... worse, I thought it had ingressed since purchase, meaning even with my very careful regime of lens changing etc, I still let in some dust.

In a funny way, it is just as well it was (presumably) on the sensor before I bought it. At least it has meant that, since removal, the camera sensor has remained 100% clean.

The move to the D5200 is not certain, yet, but I do see a huge difference between the images from the 5000 to the 5100, a jump from 12 to 16 Mpx, so to get up to 23 Mpx from 16 will presumably offer the same kind of improvement.

I am also hankering after that nice sigma 105mm macro lens, so my decision will depend on what I am using the camera for, at the time the savings have built up sufficiently for a purchase. It will be one or the other, as both would be too expensive at this point.

Thanks for the update, I had no idea that sensors 'could' get dirty until I got this problem, I had assumed they were protected somehow.

Posted on 29 Jan 2013 22:55:17 GMT
Zelazowa says:
I've read through most of this forum and am not at all surprised it's gone on for so long.
There is an inherent flaw with a DSLR where the sensor is liable to attract dust.
The sensor is the b all and end all of digital photography and if it is likely to attract dust or damage which then shows up on every single photo there is clearly a design flaw with all DSLRs.

Posted on 29 Jan 2013 23:34:38 GMT
PhilD says:
Actually when I read through the whole thread (ok I admit, only most of it, I do have a life, kinda), the impression I got was that most people DON'T have much of an issue with dust. A good proportion of the posts are from one person who does. My D30 is 12 years old, I regularly change between my selection of lenses, with no particular precautions taken, and have never seen a dust speck. Same story with my 10D & my Nikon D3100. And my Nex-5 come to that. I do, however, regularly get dust spots on my 35mm negatives which need to be carefully cleaned off. Design flaw?

Posted on 30 Jan 2013 08:10:17 GMT
Hi PhilD

I guess you mean me - as I did start it and needed to qualify the original post as new comments were posted by other contributors. However, as stated in my most recent posts, I am now of the opinion that the - impossible to remove - spot on my D5100's sensor occured in production, and not as a result of handling or lens changing issues.

I have the benefit of a year's ownership and use of the camera, and despite frequent lens changes and the occasional test shot of a light wall with flash at f22 no further spots have appeared on the images

Posted on 30 Jan 2013 10:23:34 GMT
PhilD says:
Ross my comments were absolutely not a criticism of you, your posts or the number of posts you posted; I was challenging another opinion expressed; that most people have a problem with dust and that DSLRs have a design flaw. Apologies if I caused any offence.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013 10:44:55 GMT
I've been a photographer for 38 years, and have a thing about clean lenses and film / sensor plane. I use the 'Arctic Butterfly' model of the Canadian 'Visible Dust' static brush to remove the odd bits of dust on the sensor of my Canon 5D mk2. It works a treat, and only cost 30, which is what a camera store will charge you to do exactly the same thing. Avoid wet swabs like the plague, as these leave coatings on the sensor you can't get off.

People need to remember two things; first, that all the electronics in a DSLR cause a positive static charge to the sensor, which naturally attracts dust. Secondly, you can't rely on any 'auto sensor cleaning' method; all this does is to vibrate any dust off the sensor, but stays in the space between sensor and lens, which is where the mirror also is.

I get that many people have dust problems, but I'm amazed at all the fuss and number of posts. Just find a dry, safe, non-scratching method that works, and use it when you have to. End of story.

James Bartholomew

Posted on 30 Jan 2013 10:45:15 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jan 2013 10:54:32 GMT
G. E. Hearn says:
Blimey Phil, You'd have a hard time causing offence with a mild-mannered observation like that.

If you want to see how 'heated' a discussion can get, check out the original 'Film Vs Digital' thread!

Posted on 30 Jan 2013 10:50:39 GMT

I did go on a bit during the thread, so I was as guilty as anyone, so please don't feel any apology is needed, it really is not, and I was not at all offended, not in the slightest!

I am just glad that in the end, it turned out that the problem I seemed to be cursed with was not an ingress of dust, but something which was much more firmly attached to the sensor surface than that. The wet swab was great, very nervous doing it in fear of causing damage, as you may have read much earlier in the post, but so glad I decided to do it. Now the camera remains clean, and I am learning to use the huge number of features (overkill really) I am a happy bunny indeed. I hope I will be able to afford the D5200 in the autumn. I know I won't see any benefit in full frame enlargements unless I go beyond 20" prints, but in my case, I like to have the extra resolution which allows enlargements from crops of the originals. 23 Mpx should sort that out for me perfectly, as the 16Mp I have does a pretty good job. Not fooling myself, there's not much more to be gained from the upgrade, but I do close up work, sometimes the subject is still small in the frame despite using the right lens and accessories.

Anyway, please don't feel you caused me any worry, far from it, I much prefer to hear posts from people as a wider range of opinions is always helpful, it is how I came to risk cleaning the sensor in the first place, with a great conclusion.

Thanks again,


Posted on 30 Jan 2013 10:56:29 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jan 2013 16:02:38 GMT
G. E. Hearn says:
Plus, it's always nice to buy new toys, isn't it? I'm just running through some James May 'Man Maths' to justify having a Nikon F5. I have absolutely no need for one, as my F90x's and my F100 will produce identical results. But what a cool machine to own! :-)

Posted on 30 Jan 2013 11:08:14 GMT
PhilD says:
Yeah and you have me lusting after one now too........

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013 11:09:53 GMT
Hi Ross,
That thread did go on a bit - But, it seems you have every right to be cross if your Nikon really was sold with a blob on the sensor. By rights they should have cleaned it for you - but I doubt they would admit to sending out a faulty camera.
I've had my sensor cleaned once in 3 years. I haven't seen any problem since, although I don't change lenses that often.

Posted on 30 Jan 2013 11:09:54 GMT
Hi GEH, yes, I agree, there's nothing quite like unpacking a new toy! Sadly, the D5200 has VERY little difference to the D5100 so after two days, I won't have the buzz anymore... ah well!

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013 11:10:30 GMT
Phil, stop! put that credit card away now!


Posted on 30 Jan 2013 11:13:33 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jan 2013 11:14:08 GMT
Dr G A, Hopefully, I won't get the problem again either, but you are right, whatever was stuck on my sensor was really firmly stuck, nothing could shift it, and trust me, before resorting to the swab, everything was tried, at least, everything that is safe to try.

Happy endings though, so that's good. I bet when I get the D5200, guess what will happen!!! :-)



Posted on 31 Jan 2013 16:06:36 GMT
Zelazowa says:
The comparison of a film negative acquiring dust and the operation of a DSLR and its sensor does not hold up.
Check through the other forums to find plenty of quips about cleaning sensors... if I remember plenty of them aimed at Autofocus Ross by contributors to this forum!

You have to come up with something better than a 35mm negative acquiring dust as a "design flaw"! How you personally treat your negatives after you've shot film is up to you.
The film is removed from the camera in its protective canister and developed, producing prints and negatives... the sensor is a permanent, integral part of your DSLR that produces all of your images.
I made no mention of film in my post above.
Well we've all read most of this forum and I bet there isn't one user of a DSLR that isn't now mildly apprehensive when it comes to changing lenses

Are you ready, hey are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip,
To the sound of the beat yeah
Another one attracts the dust
Another one attracts the dust
Another one gone and another one gone
Another one attracts the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one attracts the dust

Apologies to Queen.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 07:12:39 GMT
Neill says:
I set my sensor clean to run on start up and shutdown and the camera only gets switched on when I want to assess a shot or actually shoot. I never use those air enema devices...always turn my cameras face down to remove and replace the lens. If I was going to a really dusty place like a derelict, I would take a large clear zip bag and change lenses carefully in that.

I've only just invested in a hama lens pen but I'm very careful with lenses and lens changes.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 11:34:27 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
The man's back! Hi, Ross.

The other concern you had, and one that subsequently impacted on me, was Adobe and its lack of support of RAW conversion for newer cameras in their earlier versions of Photoshop once they issued the latest upgrade. I use Lightroom 3.6 and felt no real need to upgrade to V.4, but then I replaced my ageing Panasonic FZ38 bridge camera with the FZ200 and found its RAW files were not recognised. I still didn't wish to upgrade to V.4 as I had trialed and purchased another editing programme, Zoner Photo Studio 15 Pro, and which I rather like and now use mainly in preference to Lightroom as it has its own built in development module. And it supports the FZ200 files straight out of the box.

As I still wished to continue to use Lightroom for some applications, I found a work-around, and this will be the answer for you if you haven't in the interim succombed to Adobe's blackmail and upgraded. I did post a discussion, but it doesn't seem to have been widely spotted. So here it is: use DNG. I downloaded the free converter and once done, you will notice there are several file conversion versions to choose from and each is designed for a specific version of Photoshop. I selected the one suitable for my version of Lightroom and converted my FZ200 files and, hey presto, they open in 3.6!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 11:35:48 GMT
Hi Neal, I do much the same as you do to protect from dust ingress. always point the body down and have the lens cap loosened on the replacement lens for swift changes, always avoid dusty or windy places, but I don't have a bag for changing - I tend to jump into the car, or a cafe etc. In cold weather this is a good chance to get out of it for a while. In remote areas this is not possible so I try to stick to one lens if in that situation, in my case the 18-105 VR which yeilds very satisfactory results.

My 'dust' problem, however, seems 99.9% certain to be something which was on the sensor before it arrived from the factory. No matter how strenuously the sensor was blown with my Giottos Rocket, the 'dust' remained. Only a clean with a wet swab (you'll have to delve way back in the thread for my description of use) did the trick in the end. I am very happy to confirm that since that one time, I have not observed ANY ingress of dust to the sensor, despite quite a few lens changes. This bears out my conclusion that it was factory fitted dust, and not caused by the user.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 11:41:55 GMT
Hi Mr B! how are you?

I did manage to buy a used copy of adobe cs5.5 quite reasonably, which covers the D5100 I use, but guess what.... if I upgrade to the D5200, I am going to have to buy CS6... the 5.5 ACR upgrades have now ended and do not include the D5200.

It is blackmail, there is no other way to say it. I have noted your advice, thanks for that, and when I have managed the D5200 upgrade, I will try the DNG convertor.

Does it permit you to open the RAW files in ACR after conversion, or are they converted to JPEG's

If converted to JPEG's does the DNG software allow fine tuning such as can be done in ACR - before the conversion is done? (eg, fill light, exposure, vibrance, sharpening, clarity, cropping, straightening etc etc).

When you have ten mins I'd appreciate the heads up on it.

Take care & thanks for the welcome back,


In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 12:02:02 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
Hello, Ross. I'm very well, thank you. Hope the same is true for you.

The DNG software is only a RAW file converter. It does nothing else.

I don't use ACR but I gather it is virtually the same engine as lightroom. The DNG conversion simply creates another RAW file from your camera's RAW file, so you play with it to your heart's content doing all the digital fine tuning in CS as you would normally.

I found the DNG file is slightly larger and I don't think it is pure imagination, but the DNG converted files look as if they may be slightly better. I tell myself this can't be so, but it may be the larger file size producing a larger image, it simply looks better. You have an option where to save the DNG file in your library, I went for the one that plonks it adjacent to the original file. As Zoner opens both, it is easy to compare.

The reason I like Zoner is I can directly save the RAW images I've worked on to jpeg, TIFF, xjr, etc without having to export them to another programme. I find this very welcome.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 12:05:29 GMT
PhilD says:
Zelazowa I think you need to look up 'irony' in the dictionary. And possibly 'parody' too. No, I don't think dust on film is a design flaw, any more than I think dust on a sensor is a design flaw.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 12:07:38 GMT
PhilD says:
I was taking the p*ss, see.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 12:43:13 GMT
Thanks TJ that seems perfect for me, I can convert the D5200 to a 'standard' raw file so that I can continue to use my CS5.5 ACR.

Why don't you try using the ACR in Lightroom, I gather it is very similar to the one in Photoshop and I always fine tune RAW's in it prior to going into Photoshop with them. As you probably know, a RAW is a completely untouched digital negative, with no sharpening, colour adjustment, or other improvements imposed by the camera, as such RAW files tend to be bland, unsharp, and lacking in vibrance. What you see on the camera LCD is a jpeg version of the stored RAW file, which is why they always appear a bit naff when opened in ACR initially.

Thanks for that, I will try it as soon as I have saved the sheckles for the new camera. If things go wrong, I remain very happy with the D5100 and as I said, apart from quicker focus and more resolution, theres not much else to gain.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 23:52:41 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
Ross, "why don't I try using the ACR in Lightroom"? Unless I am missing something, I don't understand what you are trying to tell me. Lightroom is a stand-alone RAW converter programme, which I believe ACR also is, and so I don't quite see how I could use ACR within it. It's ACR OR Lightroom, not a combination of both. I've never used ACR but I believe the workflow is the same.

I'm not sure if it is the same opening a RAW file in ACR as it is in Lightroom. RAW images do not display as you describe them in Lightroom; LR displays a RAW image very close in detail to a jpeg, not the sort of bland, unsharp and lacking in vibrance that you say you get with ACR. Perhaps this is a design difference.
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Initial post:  14 May 2012
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