I try not to do this check if I don’t notice any dirt or dust spec on my photos but its been at least a year since I did one and it was time to find out how bad the dirt was on my sensor; and no surprise, there was an enormous speck of dust (about 3mm, visible to the naked eye. Most dust are not visible when you look at the sensor directly so this is rather serious), no amount of blowing using the blower would get rid of it.
This was never a problem for film as there was no sensor for dirt to get into (technically, the film is the sensor here but it changes every time you take a shot hence you never get enough dirt on it to notice). But with the advent rise of digital sensor replacing film in SLR dust on a sensor have now become a problem (though rather minor).
How does it become a problem? Well for one, if you you have a lot of dirt on your sensor, it tended to show up in your photos as small faded black spots but only at small apertures such as f11 and above (but in my opinion, if you don’t see it in any of your photos then don’t go looking for it. That’s pixel peeping, a very boring and annoying trait that many digital photographers are getting these days which do nothing to improve photography but make it worse.)
Camera makers such as Nikon, Canon, Olympus and Sony all now claim that the build-in self cleaning sensor would prevent or drastically reduce such problems. I’m using a Nikon D700 and dirt still gets onto the sensor, still I never expected it to prevent dust problems.
Anyway back to my problem. Seeing that this was most likely a dust speck that’s been wet welded to my sensor, the only way to fix it was to take it to the many camera shops in Osaka to have it cleaned. Which is the point of today’s article, after searching around Kitamura informed me that there was a Nikon service center in the The Hilton Plaza West right across from the JR osaka station! which was only 5 minutes walk! What luck! The opening photo above show how close the Plaza was to the JR station while the photo here shows the front of the plaza.
The sensor cleaning would take about an hour and because I didn’t have my warranty card with me (tip here, bring your Nikon warranty card if possible as it entitles you to a single free cleaning I think) so I had to pay 1000 yen for the cleaning.
So I had an hour to kill, decided to check the Ohdobashi camera shop nearby (I learned about it from the Nikon staff after I told them I was looking for some ais lenses around Osaka, they recommended I check that shop XD).
After an hour, the camera came back clean as a whistle! They had literally given it a complete makeover and they even gave me a print out to show the before and after cleaning picture of the sensor. The top shot is the before cleaning and the lower shot is the after, notice that tick mark? That’s the welded dirt mark I couldn’t get rid of completely. Best 1000 yen spent yet. I give this Osaka branch 5/5 for prompt service as well as customer care.