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UPDATED: Sunday, 27 September, 2015 16:12

CLEANING THE KODAK FULL FRAME DCS SENSOR

The following is the information I posted on the dpreview.com forum for Kodak DSLR cameras and equipment.

I have now added some images, with appropriate text, to help show what is required.

>>>> The basic cleaning information should also be helpful for cleaning sensors in other DSLR cameras of other makes.


Although I have cleaned the sensor using the method I described* in another post on the Kodak DSLR dpreview.com forum, there still seemed to be one or two bits that refused to be removed, so I decided, for once, to take the camera apart (using the destructions provided by John recently) for a "Factory Clean"

*I have added the relevant information at the bottom of this page (made in an earlier post on the said forum) as could be useful

If you want to take it apart here is the way to do it: First remove the battery from the Camera. Remove the four screws that are on the left and right covers (2 each side). Flip the camera with the lens mount down and remove the top four or five screws (DCS14n has 4) from the Bottom cover. Flip the camera up again and pull the back cover apart from the front cover slowly for about one inch. On the left side you have to disconnect the CMOS Battery connector and on the right bottom side the data flex connector. Keep that connector down with your thumb and pull slowly the back cover up. The back cover is free. After that you have the Imager Board in front of you. *Remove the data flex cable unlocking the connector slowly and the voltage cable. *However, note that on my last clean, when I took some photos, I left those in place as found could have enough flexibility to clean the sensor - as shown in the photos. Unscrew the four screws (you need a VERY small square end screwdrive for this - see how small in the photo!) that hold the Imager Metal plate. This is a good way to clean the imager easy without destroying or scratching the glass plate.

I would mention a couple of differences - at least on the DCS14n

Only 4 screws on the bottom towards back of camera (=those holding bottom of the back cover). Unplugging the two flexible connectors to be able to free the back is a bit tricky so do this carefully and do not use anything like say a screwdriver as that could break the plastic connectors. Once you have detached the back cover, be careful not to pull out the two shaped copper connectors on the right. See photos for more clarity. You will need a cross-head screwdriver - and strangely, one slightly bigger than you would first think, for the 4 screws holding down the Imager Board OR, as I found on second clean, a small square end one per the photo. Have a bit of BluTac on end of the screwdriver as these can easily drop down inside - they are located down inside to start with! Just be careful and work with a good light. They cannot actually drop into the camera at this stage, only under the raised bit of plate on to the board immediately below, so are not trapped as such. If one should drop down (one of mine did) wait until all undone and carefully hold over a small plate and turn the board until the screw(s) drop on to the plate. I did not remove a further flexible connector on the plate as could easily access the sensor just by turning it all over. Was easy to clean - I used a piece of linen handkerchief (clean one, no bogies, of course! ) with a dab of 99.5% Metanol (=Methanol) and I, per normal, vacuumed all before refixing - I have a bung in end of the vacuum cleaner hose, with a ballpoint pen casing in the middle (has small hole through of course) as then get super, easily directed, suction to remove any dust particles. You may also find a decently strong blower may be useful to dislodge any debris before you vacuum but just blowing, without final vacuuming, is not recommended as that just moves muck to another place.

It proved very effective. I did a clean with all re-assembled to ensure no dust inside during reassembly. There were a couple of bits (did a sky-test shot at f22) so repeated the vacuuming, after using a nylon brush charged by whipping the bristles across edge of some card several times to charge with static.

Hope these additional notes help. It was not as difficult as anticipated but you do need to watch those little screws and have the right screwdriver and some BluTac to hand.

Link for John's message in my "cleaning thread" is:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1026&message=38343767

Another regular Kodak DSLR forum contributor - ("bassotto" - or Pazzerello - based in Italy) - posted a different thread where the sensor glass was removed. As that was accompanied by many useful illustrations (and as he kindly offered those illustration to me) I thought it best, as his article was comprehensive, to provide this link so you can access his interesting in-depth article and photos in full:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1026&message=41483638

Inside the DCS14n the covering to the inside, to presumably stop reflections, seems somewhat "shaggy" and clearly can be a source of hairy bits. Despite a good vacuuming, a couple were on the sensor when tested, so I did an extra vacuuming of the sides and may think of perhaps covering those with some self-adhesive velvet material as clearly, the covering is past its best and I reckon will continue to occasionally shed fibres with action of the mirror and shutter mechanisms.

In the end, I wrapped some Sellotape inside-out around a finger (changed it several times - the Sellotape, not the finger before you ask!) and "blotted" all the inside areas and remove about 5 tons of debris - well, OK, I have exaggerated a bit - it was only 4½ tons. As you will see in one photo, I accidentally got a bit of adhesive on the surface of the sensor glass but that cleaned off easily with a drop of Methanol on a clean hanky-panky!

So here are the images, which I trust you will find useful to go with the destructions above. it is fairly simply to do this BUT you do need to be careful when removing and replacing the 4 tiny screws holding down the sensor board. Why on Earth they used such small screws is beyond me.

 

Text of my original post as mentioned above:

I put the details in another thread as part of a reply but then thought as that could get lost (especially if anyone later tries a search) it might be helpful to repeat as a separate thread, so hope it proves useful. It all stemmed from the difficulties I found cleaning my sensor, especially the crud in the corners, because the sensor virtually touches the edges of the inside of the camera, not easy to get to them. Here's wot I dun rotted!

I had great difficulty cleaning my sensor on the DCS14n - tried a range of things but it was somewhat crudded when I first got it, as a slightly used, upgraded model at low cost. The main problem was shifting quite a lot of deposited muck at the corners - which are not easy to clean due them being virtually bang next to the internal body.

I finally devised a simple way that has worked brilliantly. I got a pencil with an eraser tipped end and changed that from round to square with a sharp trimming knife. Then I bought an offcut of a thin but nice chamois leather, and cut that into strips around 3/8" wide and 4" long. I could then hold that so the middle (to start with) was wrapped down both sides of the pencil so the middle part covered the rubber end.

Breathing on the sensor (Yes - I know all the warnings but over many years have found that works fine for all optical cleaning, provided one covers one's gob with a layer of cotton - like a handkerchief - to prevent droplets flying all over the place) and cleaned the sensor, moving the strip to get a fresh bit each time. Only took a few goes to get the sensor really clean.

I then (as have found this is essential!) vacuumed the inside of the camera chamber - I have the body of a ballpoint pen inside a bung I made to fit in the end of the vacuum cleaner tubing - the cleaner being tucked outside the door (with door closed as tight to the tubing as possible) so no air rushing about the room. The ballpoint pen body has a central hole which concentrates the suction - I marked it with some red tape so I could ensure the end could not touch the sensor. Obviously, a short length of plastic tubing would be as good.

A relatively quick whizz got all the particles inside the body or on the sensor out of the way, then the shutter was released from its cleaning mode, and the same suction used inside the mirror chamber. That has kept my sensor clean now for over a year, even with changing lenses from time to time.

Hope that helps someone get their sensor clean for almost no cost. The other strips are stored in a plastic bag - the strips being discarded once used. I think the piece of Chamois was about £1 GBP and was about a foot square, made of pieces but ideal for this purpose. One thing to avoid is using artificial chamois and definitely - throw away those awful micro-fibre dust emitting lens things. Just ensure it is genuine Chamois - not one of those dusty artificial offerings! (But please see final additional information)

Blower brushes are often recommended .... BUT NOT by ME in sense of the only solution! They may shift some crud but that means it flies around and settles somewhere else, ready to get back on to the sensor - especially as they become charged when in use, making excellent dust magnets. That's why the vacuuming is so superior. I suppose the blower would be OK used initially, before the Chamois used but always finish with a nice vacuuming. You could do the carpet after as well! That, for the fellahs, gains many Box Brownie points from the ladies.

Additional comments: Since penning the above, I have found another way that works really well, so though would include as could be helpful as an alternative.

I split apart a wooden clothes peg (meaning removed the spring) - the end of one half is about ½" wide and although tapering and thin, still has a certain flatness to the end. I cut about a 4" length x 2" wide (approx values) from a clean linen handkerchief (meaning no scratchy bogies!) and folded the sides in to centre and then folded over again so the end was 4 layers with a width of about ½" to fold around the end of the peg. One can tighten and hold on both sides up the peg, to give a nice firm pad on the end. I used some Metanol (=Methanol) of 99.5% purity - putting a couple of drops into an egg cup so could dab the peg plus the cloth into that, then dabbed it off to reduce the liquid somewehat on a piece of clean office paper. I found that could be worked across and up and down to remove stubborn much off the surface of the sensor (well, the protective glass filter of course on top of the sensor) and that worked fine. Obviously, one should blow or dust off any particles first to ensure no scratching. I used the same piece of cloth (just move slightly) to ensure was clean for each pass and all worked well.

A final wipe with a fresh bit of cloth as described - without any liquid polished the surface nicely. Then followed with a vacuuming as described. You may also find a nice artists nylon soft brush (not any expensive ones) works fine to ensure no bits on the surface. Just vacuum the ends of the brush and then flick it for about half a minute to and fro rapidly on edge of a stout piece of card (i.e. not able to hold a static charge) and that charges the nylon bristles which will then, on one pass, pick up any loose dust. Vacuum the brush later before storing in a clean plastic bag. Then finish with a quick vacuum - above surface of the sensor and after doing the other interior parts of course.


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