Well, not really but it was bad.  Looking at a recent landscape shoot at 100% I could clearly see dust spot after dust spot.  I pulled up the healing brush and started fixing the spots and counting as I went.  I stopped counting at about 20!  And keep in mind, you can’t see the spots except in the very lightest part of the frame such as the sky.  I’ll bet there was close to 100 dust spots on my sensor!

A fact of the digital life and DSLRs is that EVERYONE will have at least some dust spots on EVERY IMAGE.  There’s no avoiding this.  If you haven’t noticed them it doesn’t mean they’re not there, it probably means you just haven’t looked close enough.  Dust spots are most easy to see when shooting at smaller apertures (F8-F22+) and when you have a light sky where the dust spots stand out the most.  A ‘light’ well exposed sky, not a blown out white sky where you won’t see anything.

Below is a crop of a ‘few’ dust spots:

I’m not a dust fanatic.  Many are.  If I need to change my lens I’m certainly mindful of my environment, but unless I’m in a really dusty/dirty environment I go ahead and change my lens anyway.  I don’t rush myself either.  I’d rather have a dust spot than a broken lens.  Every time I change my lens, whether indoors or outdoors, I KNOW another small piece of dust is getting inside the camera (probably many) and that one or some of them may land on the sensor

I’m not a dust fanatic.  Many are.  If I need to change my lens I’m certainly mindful of my environment, but unless I’m in a really dusty/dirty environment I go ahead and change my lens anyway.  I don’t rush myself either.  I’d rather have a dust spot than a broken lens.  Every time I change my lens, whether indoors or outdoors, I KNOW another small piece of dust is getting inside the camera (probably many) and that one or some of them may land on the sensor.

The rest sticks to the mirror, focus screen, and mirror box interior.  This is a prime reason many who clean their own sensors get very frustrated.  They clean the sensor, it’s clean, but the next day it has dust spots again and you didn’t even change a lens!  Dust is merely moving around on the inside and relocating.  A proper professional cleaning means not only cleaning the sensor, but cleaning the mirror/sensor box inside as well.

Cleaning your own sensor is possible.  The equipment and techniques to do so would be the topic of an in-depth Learning Topic.  I think it’s a good thing to know how to clean your own gear, especially if you work in the field away from a service center for any length of time.  However, cleaning your sensor takes specific equipment and technique so I caution you not to take this topic too lightly.

I have my own sensor cleaning equipment and for years I cleaned my own sensor and insides.   Then I discovered that Bangkok is host to a factory Canon Service Center with very good well trained technicians.  I use about $10 USD’s worth of disposable sensor swabs and wipes during a single cleaning if I do it myself.  The Canon Service Center professionally cleans my sensor, mirror, focus screen, prism, mirror box, camera exterior, updates to the latest firmware, exterior cleaning, and runs diagnostics for baht 535!  CPS (Canon Professional Services) members receive an additional 30% discount.  This is an increase from last years baht 400, but still not a lot more than the equipment to do it yourself (assuming you have lots of experience, otherwise you’ll go through many more swabs/supplies).  And they’ll often do it while you wait!

When I make the trip downtown to the service center I usually take along a lens or two to get cleaned as well.  They’ll clean, adjust the AF, and check out the lens for the same fee of baht 535.  They even clean the filters to look like new.  When you bring more than a single piece of equipment they might ask you to come pick it up a few hours later or the next morning.  Be reasonable in your expectations.

I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Bangkok’s Canon Service Center.  They’ve done repairs, cleaning, and adjustments for me for years.  They’re professional, prompt, and very fair priced.  Even the English level of the service desk and technicians is much better than what you’d expect.

Give them a visit next time you have a morning or afternoon off.

Canon Service Center Bangkok

10th Fl., 179/34-45 Bangkok City tower South Sathorn road, Thungmahamek Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Tel. (66) 0-2344-9888
Fax. (66) 0-2344-9861

Until next week..
 

UPDATE, WHOA HOLD THE HORSES!!!

I used my newly cleaned Professional Canon DSLR on a shoot the other day and I was stunned to see so many defects in the images!  Looking closer I could see where the number of dust spots on my sensor had multiplied by a factor of 3-4x during the “cleaning.”  There were also some big pieces of debris on the sensor.

 

The picture below is well exposed image of the sky, shot at F11, which allows you to easily see dust spots and other debris or any foreign matter on the sensor.   You can’t see these spots at this small size, so know that each red star marks the location of a dust or debris spot.  93 spots  

The picture below is well exposed image of the sky, shot at F11, which allows you to easily see dust spots and other debris or any foreign matter on the sensor.   You can’t see these spots at this small size, so know that each red star marks the location of a dust or debris spot.  93 spots!

I took the camera back into the Canon Service Center, spoke with the supervisor, and in no uncertain terms explained just how wrong this is.  She was very cooperative and promised to have my entire camera gone over and read for me tomorrow morning.  We’ll see.  I’ll update this blog when I get my camera back.

Update:

When I went to pick up the camera the service center supervisor, a Mr. Soonthorn Kaweepati, proceeded to talk down to me like I was an idiot.  He told me dust could have been on the camera lens, drifted in when I put the lens on, and so forth.   Sure, this happens.  But it would not happen 93 times from having a perfectly clean sensor to putting a single lens on (the one they cleaned at the same time) unless I was standing in a sand storm!

I’m sorry, but this sort of attitude and a refusal to accept responsibility is very “Thai.”  You see this mindset in most every Thai retail establishment you visit, and it doesn’t stop there.  As a professional I found it extremely insulting.

Anyway, I took my camera home after their second attempt at cleaning and this is what I found on the sensor:

 

See that big tumbleweed looking blob on the left?  I surrounded it with blue stars.  There is a smaller blog to the right surrounded by blue starts. Single red stars mark small dust spots. Totally unacceptable!  The six other small spots I could live with, there will always be a few spots left after a cleaning  

See that big tumbleweed looking blob on the left?  I surrounded it with blue stars.  There is a smaller blog to the right surrounded by blue starts. Single red stars mark small dust spots. Totally unacceptable!  The six other small spots I could live with, there will always be a few spots left after a cleaning.

 

This time instead of beating my head against the wall I sent off an email to Mr. Soonthorn Kaweepati asking him how we should handle this.  It’s been four days and I haven’t heard back yet.  I did get the return receipt I added to the email.  

Dust on the sensor!

This time instead of beating my head against the wall I sent off an email to Mr. Soonthorn Kaweepati asking him how we should handle this.  It’s been four days and I haven’t heard back yet.  I did get the return receipt I added to the email.

UPDATE:

Five days later I received the response as follows:

Dear Mr. Steve,

Thank you for your kind patronage of Canon products.

We regret to learn of your experiences.

Regarding your query about the dust in your camera, please allow me to explain a few points about the cleaning process.  
 
First, it is virtually impossible to remove 100% of the dust in a camera due to the particles that are naturally found in the air. In particular, the cleaning process must be sensitive to the lowpass filter, which cannot be cleaned with chemical solutions and can be easily scratched  

Second, even when cleaning is done in a dust-free environment, it is impossible to avoid dust from the camera’s body,
cap and lens. When the camera is taken apart, dust can get into the mirror box and, if the shutter unit is opened,
dust can also get into the lowpass filter. To avoid this problem, Canon has created Self Sensor Cleaning in its new products.  

Importantly, the “C mos Cleaning and Testing” process follows Canon’s standards, and we always do our best to clean cameras as completely as possible.
 
If you would like to further discuss any matters related to your camera, Please do not hesitate to Contact us.

Last but not least, we greatly appreciate your valuable feedback and  we will  monitor and improve our services for the better.

Best Regards,

Soonthorn Kaweepati
ME-CII Manager
Email:
soonthorn_kaweepati@cmt.canon.co.th
Tel: (662) 344-9999 ext.877 Fax: (662) 344-9999 ext.495                                                                             


My response follows:

 

Dear Mr. Soonthorn Kaweepati –

Thank you for getting back to me.  It’s unfortunate that you took five days to return my email.  My clients would find it unsatisfactory if I took this length of time to return their correspondence.

If you don’t mind let me explain some “points” to you:

  1. I (and everyone else with common sense) knows where dust originates.  It’s probably ironic that the first and only lens I put on the body to take the test images with, was the 70-200/2.8 IS lens I had cleaned at the same time as the body.  The only “dust free environment” is a certified clean room and I understand a common service center not having one available.
  1. Lets stop this nonsense about “acceptable” dust and agree, like I said in my previous email, 5-6 small dust spots would have been “acceptable.”  Big pieces of debris are not.  My sensor had two large pieces of debris on the sensor as you could clearly see in the image I attached.
  1. You did not address the FACT that your service people remove the body dust caps as a matter of routine (every time I’ve been to your service center, which is often) when taking in a camera, and did this as well the last time you delivered the camera to me.  It IS NOT a Canon practice or standard to remove the body dust cap and turn the mirror box up, when returning a camera to the customer.  However, it does seem to be the standard of your particular service center.  This is wrong.  Because you are unwilling to address this, I’ll address this through my CPS representative and Canon headquarters in Japan.
  1. You also didn’t address the body being returned the first time with 93 dust spots.  Surely even a complete layman would know the sensor was not only cleaned “to Canon Standards”, and that the practice of removing the dust cap from the body resulted in 4-5 times as much dust on the sensor than when I brought it in.
  1. Yes, Canon’s “new products” have a very nice self-sensor cleaning feature.  I look forward to enjoying this feature when I feel it’s necessary to replace my $8000.00 USD professional Canon body.  Some of my other Canon bodies already have this.  However, all of my Canon bodies will require a service center level cleaning on occasion and I don’t want to have a concern that my local service center is inept and without the necessary experience.
  1. It would be nice (for a change) to find a professional attitude in Thailand which allows for the company in question to admit error, apologize, and rectify the problem without taking issue with the customers knowledge or experience.  As a professional photographer who has been using and teaching the use of DSLRs for over a decade I find this insulting.  It’s obvious the sensor wasn’t cleaned properly the 1st time, nor was it acceptable the 2nd time.  It’s also obvious your service staff practice unprofessional habits (removing the dust caps before and after cleaning and leaving the mirror box exposed to your waiting area for long periods of time) which need corrected.  Why not just say so and correct the problems?   Why compound the problem by ignoring the issues?
  1. Because you seem unwilling to accept responsibility for an unacceptable service or anything else I mentioned, I’ll forward our correspondence to my CPS representative and Canon headquarters in Japan, to give Canon a chance to correct the problem.  I feel this is the right thing to do.

Thank you.  If you have any further questions or feedback I’ll be glad to discuss the matter with you.
 

Mr. Steve