What's the definitive position on E-M5 sensor cleaning?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by pdk42, May 3, 2013.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Googling for information on sensor cleaning on the OMD only seems to produce endless threads from a variety of forums, none of which seem to be conclusive on the question as to whether wet cleaning by the owner is safe - especially in relation to the IBIS. Has anyone got reliable answers to these questions:

    - Is the sensor locked in some way when the camera is turned off?

    - Has anyone cleaned the sensor and caused damage to the IBIS? If so, was the camera turned on or off at the time?

    - Has anyone cleaned the sensor regularly with no apparent ill-effects? Likewise, has this been done with the camera on or off? Were there any specific techniques or tools/products used?

    - Has anyone had their OMD cleaned professionally by a 3rd party other than Olympus? If so, do you know if they used any particular 'trick'?

    - Has anyone used Olympus to clean the camera outside warranty? If so, was there a charge and how much?

    Sorry for so many questions - just trying to get to definitive position!
  2. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    Olympus has made it pretty clear that you cannot clean the OM-D sensor without returning it to the factory where they can lock it down for servicing. It remains floating at all times and can be damaged by poking around at it without the proper fixtures to hold it still.

    Perhaps the next generation of 5 Axis IBIS will have a positively locked park position so it can be cleaned more readily.
  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Ah, so Oly has some special fixtures then? Wonder if they make them available to 3rd party repairers? Wonder how it works? - maybe some rectangle that holds the sensor at the edges? Would need to be pretty thin to ensure the whole sensor is cleaned I guess.
  4. FrayAdjacent

    FrayAdjacent Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 5, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Real Name:
    This is the one thing that chaps my bee-hind about the EM-5. You can't clean the sensor yourself... and the darn shutter is open all the time! Take off your lens to swap it, your sensor is exposed to the elements. Sure, the shutter is likely not airtight, but it's a lot better than the NOTHING sitting in front of it.

    I would like to be able to close the shutter on power-down and leave it closed when not in active use. PREVENTING the need to clean it would be a really good idea when you can't clean it yourself.
  5. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I don't see any easy way to mechanically restrain the sensor. More likely the camera is put into a service mode and uses IBIS to stabilize the sensor. The camera can be configured to turn on, and keep on, the IBIS so long as the shutter is depressed half way. Since this works with any lens mounted, it should also work with no lens mounted. Just work quick and careful. I use a lens pen for cleaning sensors and it's quick and dry.

    FWIW, most of the sticky crud that winds up on a sensor comes from inside the body (DSLRs). The dry dust is very effectively shaken off by the self cleaning circuitry. Unlike years of using a DSLR, where I had to check and clean the sensor all the time, I've hardly ever done it with mirrorless cameras.
  6. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Real Name:
    So what do people do? Can you blow it out safely with a rocket blower?
  7. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    It's annoying. If the E-P5 has the same 5-axis stabilization system (as is rumored), it will have the same problem.

    Certainly. The problem comes when you actually touch the sensor with something (e.g. a cleaning pad) because it's not locked down.
  8. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Real Name:
    Thanks. I had no idea this was an issue. Good to know before I tried to clean in myself.

  9. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Are you all finding it necessary to clean the sensor?

    I am changing lenses quite a bit in the field and just haven't run into dust, pollen, etc. on my E-P3 or E-M5 sensor. Either the dust cleaning is really effective (e.g. vibrates more because of IBIS mechanism), RAW processing is somehow hiding dust spots, smaller sensor/mount, or I am just getting lucky so far.

    I can't say the same for a NEX-7 or Pentax K-01, where I have come home to find spots during PP and had to be more aggressive to get spots off the sensor with rocket blower, multiple cleaning cycles, etc.
  10. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Real Name:
    This has been exactly my experience too, so far. I sometimes change lenses 3-4 times during a shooting in less than "laboratory clean" environments (e.g. clubs). I (almost...) always use a blower and try to protect both the camera and the back element of the lens as much as possible from dust and debris.

    I personally can't understand it when people with DSLRs tell me they have to clean their sensors once a month or so (and shooting/changing lenses much less often than I do). Either the self-cleaning mechanism in their cameras is crap, or they really don't pay any attention, or at least some of the spots are actually oil from the mirror mechanism. This is a known problem with the D600 for example, but it may be an issue with many other cameras as well.
  11. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    I cleaned my E-P1 sensor once when I bought it used (subsequently owned it for two years), my GH1 once (bought refurbed, owned for two years and counting), never touched my E-PL1 (used, owned for one year), or E-M5 yet (new, owned for one year and counting).
  12. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I haven't had to wet clean my E-M5 sensor yet. I don't even carry a blower as part of my kit unless I'm away for a long period of time. When I'm just out for a day, the self-clean seems to work great.

    I've had situations where I cycle the camera on and off (cleaning process takes place) and then unmount my lens to find some dust on the rear element because the camera cleaned it off the sensor. I would then just blow it away (my own breath), change lens. It's great!

    It'd be nice to be able to do the cleaning yourself, or at a shop that does sensor cleaning. But I think it's more of a serious thing that would only need to be done in the worst case scenario. I haven't gotten into that situation yet.

    I change my lenses outside, sometimes in windy conditions.
  13. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    - Has anyone cleaned the sensor regularly with no apparent ill-effects? Likewise, has this been done with the camera on or off? Were there any specific techniques or tools/products used?

    Yes. I did with EM5 turned off and I used prefabricated sensor swabs with Eclipse Lens Cleaner. The sensor moves if you push down on it hard. The camera didn't need cleaning. Just wanted to see what happens.

    Here's dust on my EPL1 showing up at F11. I've cleaned it twice since 2010.

    Attached Files:

  14. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    Well, have never needed to clean any of my 4/3 sensors, going back to my E-300.

    As for changing lenses, you should always turn off the power when changing lenses because the sensor generates static when the power is on.

    Those of you concerned about the sensor being exposed all the time don't change lenses into the wind...point the camera down.

    As for the comment about being upset that the shutter isn't closed when off/normally, the shutter is fragile, and they were concerned since the shutter is now so far forward and not protected by a mirror, they were concerned that people would damage the shutter when changing lenses, since it would be possible to bump the shutter removing the lens.
  15. briloop

    briloop Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    Mount Juliet, TN
    That's what I did.
  16. auryn

    auryn Mu-43 Regular

    May 5, 2013
    I have the PL5 and had dust stuck to the sensor. Rang Olympus and was told I needed to bring the camera in. Good thing I was in driving distance so drove into the Sydney office.

    Took a few mins for the lady tech to come back with it clean. She said there was saliva on it too (from me trying to blow the dust out lol).

    Didn't cost anything but the lady said next time I'll have to pay to get it cleaned even though it's still in warranty. Not good news for Olympus owners.
  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    You know, these two points might indicate that the risk of self-cleaning is not high. If the lab clean was completed in a matter of minutes it probably means there's no fancy equipment needed and HarryS's experience seems to indicate that (at least on a sample of 1!), gentle cleaning does not cause immediate calamity.

    I think it's odd that there's so little hard information out on the Internet about OMD sensor cleaning - esp since there are a lot of these cameras around and that many, many photographers do wet-cleaning on their gear. I hear what people are saying about how good the Oly sensor shaker is, but I can't believe it's going to fix every possible dust infestation. I know on my 5dii that I used to clean it 2-3 times a year and that even then visible dust would appear between cleans.

    For the moment mine is fairly clean (not perfectly clean) but I can see the need for a wet clean at some point.
  18. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Oh - HarryS - can you elaborate on what you mean by 'push down on it hard'? And when you say the sensor moves, does it move much, and in what directions?
  19. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    Does the E-PL5 have the same sensor cleaning restrictions (since it supposedly has the same sensor)?
  20. owczi

    owczi nareteV 34-uM

    Same sensor but not the same IS mechanism; should be OK.