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Customer Discussions > Photography forum

Basic cleaning kit and methods question

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 21, 2012 7:37:51 AM PST
I finally got my t3i and I want to pick up a good cleaning kit if any exist, I am trying to save money but don't want to be cheap with something so expensive and I figured someone must make a package with good items like the lens pen with a glydos air blower. I haven't looked much into anything so I am not sure of what I truly do and don't need. Aside from the cleaning do a lot of people pick up body protectors and screen protectors for these? I always leave my phone bare.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 4:57:24 PM PST
T. Campbell says:
The goal is to not have to clean... when I remove a lens I lay the body in a position so that nothing can fall into the sensor body while I swap lenses and cap the lenses for storage.

The camera has it's own self-cleaning mode (the camera actually has two filter in front of the sensor. The front filter vibrates via piezoelectric effect. Point the camera downward as it does this so that any dust that it shakes loose will fall toward the ground.

As for cleaning materials... I have several different things and I use them in a specific order.

1) Let the camera self-clean and see if that takes care of the problem. You may need to remove the lens and point the camera toward the ground so any dust will fall "out" of the camera rather than just transferring from one area of the sensor body to another (because it has no way to get out.)

2) I use the hand-squeeze blower to puff any dust off the sensor (you have to put the camera into manual cleaning mode to open the shutter and expose the filter).

3) I use the soft-brush on a lenspen to sweep anything off that didn't come off via #1 or 2.

4) If none of that worked, I inspect the sensor using a sensor-scope (basically a big magnifying glass) and inspect the sensor to determine what it is that would come off via methods 1 through 3. I just want to make sure I'm not about to drag something nasty across the filter when I perform this next step. I use "Eclipse" brand cleaning solution (a fairly pure methanol based cleaning solution which evaporates VERY quickly and leaves no residue.) A few drops of that onto a "Sensor Swab" (both made by "Photographic Solutions") will take care of just about anything. The swabs are basically flexible plastic spatulas which are wrapped in a lint-free cleaning cloth. Your camera has an APS-C size sensor so it'd use a "Type 2" size Sensor Swab (type 1 is for APS-H size sensors and type 3 is for full-frame sensors.)

I use similar techniques to clean optics. But since the lenses are curved you may need regular Pec Pads. Again... that's just for stubborn stuff. Most things will come clean without it. I keep very soft "clean" microfiber clean cloths in the camera bag.

The lens optics are fairly durable. You don't need to be paranoid that the slightest mistake will scratch them and ruin your shots... I'm just careful to make sure I'm not about to drag some chunk of debris across the surface of the glass that *would* be capable of scratching it by checking the lens and the cloth first.

Posted on Nov 22, 2012 6:49:48 AM PST
Michael C says:
The Canon self-cleaning system is designed to be used with the camera level (like it would be on a tripod for landscape mode). There is a dust trap designed into the system located just below the low pass filter that vibrates to shake the dust off of the filter and into the trap. In most real world situations I would think leaving the lens on and using the system as designed would do better than opening up the camera and allowing potentially as much fine dust in, due to Brownian motion and the unfiltered air going through your hand squeezed blower, as what you are blowing out. When the light box and/or sensor need to be blown out you should do so in a "clean room" environment using a regulated source of filtered compressed air (not canned air that contains chemical contaminants) or, ideally, pure nitrogen. Pointing the camera down in this situation is recommended. I always blow out the light box (viewfinder screen, mirror, etc.) thoroughly prior to opening the shutter to clean the sensor. The ONLY thing that should EVER physically touch your sensor is a manufacturer approved swab such as those made by Photographic Solutions. Photographic Solutions, who is also the maker of Pec Pads, warns that even Pec Pads are not made for use on sensors. The bristles of a brush such as the one on a lenspen, while great for cleaning lens surfaces, can scratch the fluorine coating on the low pass filter in front of your camera's sensor. When using a brush to clean a lens it is always a good idea to blow air across the bristles from the side first to kick as much dust out of the bristles as possible.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2012 7:25:09 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 22, 2012 7:28:52 AM PST
Michael C says:
Basically what you need are:
1) A good squeeze bulb air blower such as Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster Large - Black
2) Optical quality microfiber cleaning cloths like the 3M Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth, Color May Vary, 1 Count. Be careful of buying ones marketed for household cleaning as they may include chemicals that will leave a residue. Use several times until you can see dirt and residue on them, then discard and replace. Be aware they will not shed the dust you wipe away with them, but the dust that they hold can scratch what you are trying to clean.
3) A lens cleaning brush such as the Giottos CL1310 Retractable 2-Position Goat Hair Brush or the LensPen NLP-1. The Nikon versions are also made by LensPen, but there are many inferior "counterfeit" versions out there as well.
4) Sensor cleaning swabs, fluid, and Pec pads. Included in the Digital Survival KIT - Sensor Swab Type 2 (w/Eclipse). You can also buy swabs, pads and fluid individually. The case is nice to get to keep things organized, then replenish with bulk pads, fluid and swabs. Be sure to get the correct size swabs for your sensor size.

There are a few "combo" packages listed on amazon. Most are offered by third party sellers. Some may be good, but many use inferior quality items that do not perform as well as the above mentioned products.

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 6:32:46 AM PST
Thanks everyone! I actually hadn't put much thought at all into actually cleaning the insides, I had only thought about the outside and wanted to find just a simple cheap kit for that. But I am really glad to have all this info it was way more then I expected but info I definitely needed.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 1:29:29 PM PST
T. Campbell says:
For the outside, just dust/wipe it with a lint-free cloth. Any micro-fiber cloth would work. I clean the back screen with the same type of cloth.

The T3i does NOT have a "weather sealed" body. I'd only use a dry-cloth, but if you do get something stubborn I suppose you could lightly moisten a cloth (so that it's only damp... you don't want drips of water working their way into the body through the seams, buttons, and dials.)

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 6:35:44 AM PST
T. Campbell thank you for all the info! I really appreciate you going out of your way to explain all this, this is all sadly stuff I hadn't known and now do. I actually have a question about the two lenses I have and I am guessing this will seem like a very silly question to someone who has as much knowledge as you do on this subject. As of right now I have the t3i which came with the 18-55mm kit lens and I also got the 75-300mm without IS and 55-250mm with IS and they cost very little to get so I figured why not. But now I am wondering if I really would ever have a use for 70-300mm, due to it not having IS and not having that much of a greater distance over the 250mm. I am also planing on getting one of the 50mm pancake when I can find it for under 100, I am swaying towards maybe trying to find a 1.4 if I could get it for $250 or so.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 9:57:42 AM PST
Michael C says:
The EF 75-300 is one of the poorest lenses Canon makes. The low resolution of the early Rebel bodies did not expose its flaws. The much higher resolution of the T3i does, and if you ever go to a full frame body the fact the EF 75-300 will mount while the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS won't mount on a FF body will not be a factor. You'll want to upgrade your glass either way.
I used the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS for a couple of years, mostly with a Rebel XTi and then with a 50D for about 8 months before I was able to replace it with an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS. I got some very good results with it when used outdoors in daylight. The lack of a constant wide aperture for indoors and low light use is why I chose to replace it. The image quality in terms of sharpness, color, and contrast was much better than I expected for a lens in its price range. The smaller light circle needed for a 1.6X crop body allowed the designers to keep the size and weight much lower. The smaller size of the lens elements allowed use of better materials without driving up the cost. Although I've never owned one and have only used them a time or two, the EF 70-300mm IS lenses do not have as good optical quality as the EF-S 55-250 to my eye. They're also larger, heavier, and cost more. They will mount on a FF body, but with the EF 70-200mm f/4L only a couple of hundred more, why would you want to at that point?

As far as comparing the EF 50mm f/1.8 and EF 50mm f/1.4, I own both. The 1.8 gives excellent sharpness at the center, especially for such a cheap lens. The 1.4 is also very sharp in the center and has better sharpness at the edges as well. The 1.4 with eight aperture blades has much smoother bokeh than the 1.8 with 5 blades. The 1.8 does give good bokeh wide open because none of the blades are in the light path at f/1.8, but at any other aperture that leaves the background or foreground out of focus the bokeh can be harsh. The 1.4 has a usable focus ring for manual focus, even when AF is switched on, and a rudimentary distance scale. In order to manually focus the 1.8 you must turn off Auto Focus and twist the very front of the barrel without leaving your fingers visible in the field of view. The 1.8 has no distance scale. The USM on the 1.4 also focuses faster and quieter than the 1.8. The fit and finish of the 1.4 are miles ahead of the 1.8 which is made of lightweight plastic that has a cheap feel. Having said that, I carried an EF 50mm f/1.8 around for years and never wore it out. Now that I have the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM I do find I use it more than I did the 1.8 because of the better ergonomics and ease of use.
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  3
Total posts:  8
Initial post:  Nov 21, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 27, 2012

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