Friday, May 3, 2013

Easy and Effective Sensor Cleaning: Firefly + LensPen

I'm back home from the hospital, getting better everyday.  Thanks for all the well wishes.  I wouldn't have recovered as quickly without them.

This is a follow up post to my test of the Firefly DSC-2000 sensor cleaner.  In that post, we saw that the Firefly significantly diminished the spots on the sensor, but many spots remained.  In this post, I show how the Firefly is complemented by the Lenspen SensorKlear.  The combination is very easy to use and is very effective.


Here is a baseline shot of the Nikon D7000, a camera with a reputation for being prone to dust spots (some say oil spots, although I'm not convinced that the spots are oil).  This was at f/45.

D7000 baseline

I then cleaned the sensor with the Firefly:

D7000 firefly

There is not a lot of difference compared to the baseline shot.  However, please recall that I had just recently cleaned the D7000 with the Firefly (see this post), therefore most of the spots that could have been removed by the Firefly were already gone.  This time, I'd like to show the additional effect of the LensPen.

Looking at the sensor I could not see the spots even with the lighted loupe.  Because the spots were too small to be seen, I just rubbed the Lenspen lightly several times across the sensor surface (actually the AA filter) to try to remove the spots.  I was trying to rely on the friction of the repeated rubbing rather than pressure (I am concerned that using too much pressure can damage the sensor).  Here is the result.

d7000 lenspen2

The LensPen was able to remove most of the remaining spots.


I did a similar test with the Fuji S5.   Here is how the S5 looked after cleaning with the Firefly (f/45).

You can see there are many tiny spots around the edges of the frame.  I rubbed the LensPen over the sensor several times and here is how it looks now:


Most of the small spots around the corner were removed by the LensPen, although there are new, larger spots, which I think are spots that came from the LensPen bits that came off.  I did another sweep with the LensPen and some more blowing with the Firefly.  Here is the result at f/45.


Almost all of the spots are gone, and the few that remain are small.


Same test, with the D600 with approximately 10,300 shutter count.  Here is how it looks before cleaning (was cleaned by a blower several times but never wet cleaned).


I used the Firefly first with the mirror down, then with the mirror up (using Mup), then on the sensor surface.  I then used the Lenspen to sweep the remaining dust.  Then again with the Firefly to get rid of debris introduced by the LensPen.  After about 3 attempts at cleaning with the Firefly and LensPen here is how it looks:


  • The Firefly is effective at reducing but not eliminating dust spots.  It is more effective than a blower alone, and is less likely to cause accidental damage to the sensor.
  • The LensPen is effective at removing the tiniest spots but sometimes introduces new spots of its own.  These additional spots can be removed through the Firefly.
  • The Firefly and Lenspen combination performs very well and is a lot easier to use than the wet cleaning method.  However, if I were on a budget I would choose just the LensPen and a Giottos blower (large).
  • The disadvantage of the LensPen is that it requires contact with the sensor, and therefore in theory voids your sensor's warranty.  That's why I haven't used it with my D600 yet.  But when the warranty is over, I know what to use for cleaning it.  UPDATE: D600 results shown.
  • For cameras with sensor-based stabilization please check with the manufacturer before using the LensPen or any other contact-based sensor-cleaning method.