October 23rd, 2012, 07:17 AM
Dust on Sensor and How to Avoid it
Micro Four Thirds cameras protect the sensor with an anti-dust mechanism that was originally developed and patented by Olympus for use in their Four Thirds DSLR range. It has a proven track record and is widely acknowledged as being the best and most effective dust reduction system, bar none. However, even this system is not 100% infallible and there is a fair chance that most users will encounter a stubborn spot of foreign matter that refuses to budge from the sensor at some point during prolonged use.
There are, however, a number of ways to minimize this risk.
Firstly, always turn the camera off when changing lenses. This will help reduce any static charge on the sensor, which attracts dust in the first place. Also, it means that when you switch the camera back on the Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF) will activate, shaking any newly acquired dust from the sensor (or, more accurately, from the filter in front of the sensor).
When removing a lens always use your body to shield the camera from the wind and keep the lens throat pointing down for the whole time that the lens is removed. Have the replacement lens ready with rear cap loosened to minimize the time that the sensor is exposed. Keep the rear elements of your lenses clean to avoid transporting dust into the camera body. If a stubborn spec becomes apparent after changing lenses, turn the camera off and on several times to activate the SSWF – it might just do the job.
With care, your sensor can remain effectively dust free for a very long time. Doubters will always say there is probably dust present but you just can’t see it. My reaction is, if I can’t see it I don’t care! I’ve used an Olympus E-3 regularly and with constant lens changing for over 4 years; before that an E-500 and an E-510. More recently I’ve used an E-PL1, E-P3 and E-M5. I can’t really count the E-PL1, however, as I used it with a kit zoom and never changed lenses. The others, however, have all had regular lens changes, particularly the E-3 over an extended period of time. I’ve never, ever, been aware of dust on a sensor or had any cause to clean one.
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akkers, barry13, chonbhoy, dhazeghi, Harvey Melvin Richards, LeoS, marklikesit, nuclearboy, pictor, Roger, Zeus1
October 23rd, 2012, 07:35 AM
I didn't know that my Panasonic gx1 had an anti dust mechanism. Thanks for the info!
Originally Posted by goldenlight
October 23rd, 2012, 08:14 AM
Yes, it uses the same SSWF as Olympus.
Originally Posted by akkers
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October 24th, 2012, 03:44 PM
This is an important point. Most of the dust on the sensor is irrelevant as it's invisible on most images. The extra-thick AA filter glass on 4/3 sensors helps with that too, as do the reasons to avoid going past f/8 in most cases.
Originally Posted by goldenlight
E-M5 | E-PM2 | mZD 12-40/2.8 | mZD 12-50/3.5-6.3 | P 14-42/3.5-5.6 II | P 45-150/4.0-5.6 | P 14/2.5 | P 20/1.7 | PL 25/1.4 | mZD 45/1.8
The following member thanks dhazeghi for this post:
October 24th, 2012, 05:59 PM
I would also add that exposing one's camera to sudden changes in temperature or humidity can cause existing dust to become "welded" to the sensor and making it MUCH harder to remove. You will know this has happened when the dust specs on your images have faint rings around them.
Walking outside of a dry air conditioned house into wet rainy conditions is one way to make this happen. Having cleaned sensors on Nikon DX & FX bodies, I know what laborious and expensive PITA it is. The materials are costly, the workflow painstaking and there's no guarantee that you won't simply rearrange that accumulated crap from one side of the sensor to the other. Seriously
I have not had reason to clean the sensor on my GX1 yet, thank God.
A good method of determining how much crud has accumulated on one's camera sensor is to take a photo of a white background using a wide angle lens, small aperture (f/22) and manual focus. A tripod is also a must. Open the image in Photoshop and examine the results after running "Auto Levels". Expect to be shocked.
The smaller m43s bodies and the GX1 in particular have some advantage over larger cameras in that they will fit into a 2-3 gallon zip lock bag with ease. Found in most grocery stores, I keep a fresh one of these bags with my camera gear and they make for a cheap and effective way to change lenses in dusty or sandy environments. Not a perfect solution but it does help.
There's a wealth of of products and info on cleaning sensors online. If you fancy building ships in a bottle, then you'll probably enjoy cleaning your own sensor. Otherwise, it might be better to have it done professionally.
Last edited by apbtlvr; October 24th, 2012 at 05:59 PM.
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October 24th, 2012, 06:17 PM
OM-D EM-1 ~ OM-D EM-5+HLD-6 ~ G5 ~ 7-14mm ~ 12-35mm ~ 35-100mm ~ 100-300mm ~ 45mm/1.8 ~ 75mm/1.8
Retired or gone but not forgotten (partial): Panasonic GX1 GF1 ~ Nikon D700 D300 D200 D100 F4 F3 F2 F FM3a FM2T FTn ~ Leica M8 M6 M5 M4 M3 M2 CL ~ Leica R6 R5 R4 ~ Fuji X100S ~ Epson RD-1 ~ LX7 LX5 LX3
The following member thanks jnewell for this post:
October 25th, 2012, 02:06 AM
I've never had a camera with interchangeable lenses that doesn't get dust on the sensor at some time or other. The G5 is no exception. It just depends how much it worries you. Me: if I get a single speck, I'm sensor cleaning, but that's just me.
since August 2012.
Bodies: G3, G5, GH3
Native: S7.5, P7-14, P12-35, P14, PL25, O45, P35-100
Legacy: Zuiko 28/2.8, 50/1.8, 135/3.5
October 25th, 2012, 03:02 AM
February 8th, 2013, 06:36 PM
i think i have plenty of dust on my sensor, do i need to send it back to panasonic for cleaning?
February 8th, 2013, 08:50 PM
That's one option, or if you feel confident you can buy a cleaning kit and attempt it yourself or if you have a good local camera store they may be able to do it for you or arrange for it to be done.
Originally Posted by rossi46
Personally, I've never cleaned a sensor (never needed to) and I wouldn't feel confident. I certainly couldn't advise you how to do it but some of the Canon and Nikon users on here could probably help.
If you do send it to Panasonic it might be worth enquiring the price of a full service.
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