Making Sense of Sensor Cleaning – Part 2 (or the benefit of camera insurance)
Disclaimer: I am recounting only my experience and not endorsing any form of sensor cleaning through this posting. You take full responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading my ramblings…
This is a continuation of my previous post on sensor cleaning from three weeks ago. I will start off by saying it didn’t go the way I expected, but in the end turned out as a pleasant surprise.
As mentioned in the previous post I had purchased a VisibleDust m4/3 sensor cleaning kit and used it to try and clean the blemish on the sensor of my GX8 which was causing all sorts of problems when the lens was stopped down. Although this kit appears to be adequate for general dust removal, the blemish I had seemed very stubborn. I used all the swabs and solution in the kit and had a beautifully clean sensor – apart from the bit I wanted to clean! So, I am now thinking it may be sensor damage, although it doesn’t look like a scratch under a magnifier. My last-ditch attempt was to think big and go the route of using Pec Pads and Eclipse solution, that someone on fineartamerica had suggested, so that I could try more than four attempts at sensor cleaning before running out of pads or solution again! The new products duly arrived from Amazon and I carefully removed a 4” x 4” Pec Pad, cut it into a strip and then folded it over the end of one of the plastic swabs from the earlier kit (having first removed the original pad, obviously) and fastened it with a piece of tape to the handle. I repeated the cleaning process with the new Eclipse liquid and it did a great job, but still couldn’t budge the mark! In desperation I tried this 5 or 6 more times and it seemed to be having no impact whatsoever. The mark didn’t get any smaller so I finally resigned myself to having to send the camera for repair.
As I was mumbling to myself about the likely cost of this and trying to figure out how the sensor got damaged I suddenly recalled that I took out Squaretrade accidental damage insurance when I bought the camera 6 months ago. Well done great pre-senile memory! Ironically, this is not something I would normally do, so perhaps it’s not surprising I had “forgotten”.
Amazingly I found the details buried in my gmail, completed a claim form online and the same day I received confirmation that the claim is good and a return label. Over the weekend I found a suitable box and packed up my beloved camera with charger and battery and sent it off. I didn’t expect to hear anything for several weeks and then thought I’d be in for a fight. So, imagine my surprise when I returned from work last night, only 5 days after shipping it back, to find a brand new GX8 sent to me straight from B&H Cameras!
Now I am a very happy photog again 🙂
So, what are the lessons I have learned from this rambling episode?
- Sensor cleaning is nothing to be scared of, as long as you are methodical, careful, and clean.
- Pec Pads and Eclipse solution work as well or better than a cleaning kit and will do a great job for general cleaning a sensor of minor dust at a lower cost. (They can also be used on lenses too)
- SquareTrade insurance is a great value product for your camera, especially if you buy it in conjunction with your camera purchase through Amazon (which makes it about half the cost of their own website).