Camera Cleaning Equipment Gadgets Hardware Milestones Photography Reviews Tech Talk Utilities

Cleaning My Sensor

Clean Me Please!
Clean Me Please!

I have had my Canon XTi since 2007, and all during this time, I have used numerous tools to dust out the sensor chamber, including my old spray paint brush and compressor.

But lately, the dust monsters have really taken a toil on my productivity, only increasing my touch-up skills, and it was during my processing of some foggy morning pictures, that I knew, something had to be done.

Turning to my online connections on Facebook and Google+, I asked the question if anyone had done their own sensor cleaning, and if they had any tips, suggestions.

While waiting for responses, I started my own research, with a reference page, as well as reading various reviews on Amazon, Adorama and B&H Photo.

A great place to start, is, which has a lot of comprehensive information on various tools and techniques.

After reading various pages, I knew that I needed 1) a very careful “Dry” cleaning; and if that did not work, 2) a “Wet” cleaning with swabs, and the two main vendors to look at were VisibleDust and Photographic Solutions.

What am I looking for?

I searched the internet for what it would cost me to get my camera Professionally cleaned, and although prices varied, be prepared to spend $60+ per cleaning, and being without your camera for a period of time, and in some cases, not as clean as you hoped (or paid for).

So, I am looking for a “Beginner” kit that can offer me both a Dry and Wet sensor cleaning option that does not cost a great deal.

As my daughter says, I’m cheap…

I like to think frugal…


The VisibleDust systems are very cool looking and many different options to suit your needs, and I almost purchased their Christmas Special, but after reading some of the reviews on Amazon, I became very hesitant.

Photographic Solutions

According to Photographic Solutions, they actually worked with NASA to develop the BrushOff system, and is endorsed by most of the major camera manufacturers.

They offer two different “Digital Survival Kits“: Basic and Professional.

The Basic offers the same basics as the VisibleDust Christmas Special, but one still needed a brush, and with that additional cost, the price for the two systems is about equal.

The Professional version offers a Brush, Magnifying Glass and Air Blower, all in a nice nylon pouch for around $125.00 USD.


I recently upgrade my Adorama account to a VIP status (what ever that means), and was eager to see if this might affect my order in any way.

On Wednesday, December 26th, I placed my order for the “Photographic Solutions Pro Digital Survival Eclipse Kit #2” and opted for the 3-5 Business Day shipping for an added  $3.95, and figured I would see my package early next week, just in time for the new year!

Saturday (30th), the snow is still falling, and my son and I, are finally finishing the plowing of the driveway by hand, and in checking the mailbox, I was very pleased to see a package from Adorama!

I know what I get to play with tonight!


Finally, around 11PM Saturday night, the house is quiet, and I am able to unpack and examine my new toys.

Knowing that I wanted to start with a dry cleaning, I once again reviewed the BrushOff video provided on the Photographic Solutions website.

Note 01 – In the video, the instructor mentions an ECLIPSE packet that comes with each brush. This is NOT true for this Kit. Instead you have to create your own using a “PEC*PAD with ECLIPSE Optic Cleaner” –

“Be sure your fingers do not touch any of the PAD that will come in contact with the unique and patented fiber materials. If the brush should become contaminated, simple saturate a PEC*PAD with ECLIPSE Optic Cleaner and gently wipe the bristles. Air dry for a few seconds and replace protective cap being sure cap itself has not become contaminated. To further protect the BRUSHOFF fibers, they are fully retractable into the handle when not in use and a protective cap is also supplied.” – BRUSHOFF Information

Note 02 – The video suggests placing a PEC*PAD on clean area, so I placed mine on top of the Sensor Swab box, and then added a couple of drops of ECLIPSE Optic Cleaner.

Almost immediately, the ink from the box began to leach through the pad.

I should have known better.

I ended up using folded over white paper, and will seek a better setup.

Into the Chamber

I used the included magnifying glass to first look at what I was getting into.

I was pleasantly surprised to see, that it included a working LED light, and a magnification that was useful!

Using the magnifying glass, I could easily see some dust, and first used the included small Giotto Rocket Blower, and checked again.

I could still see some dust, so I decided to take the more dramatic measure of using the BrushOff.

I very carefully whipped the sensor a couple of times, blew with the Rocket, and then checked with the magnifying glass again, again.

The dust appeared to be moving, but not off the sensor.

Attaching the provided grounding wire, I ‘charged’ the brush, while tapping it firmly, and returned to cleaning the sensor.

This time, there did seem to be a difference.

Preliminary Testing

After the sensor cleaning, I took a couple of test shoots in my office, but the lighting at midnight is not really a good test.

What I could see, gave me encouragement.

I really need to get out, shoot some landscapes at f22, and then see the results.

Updates to follow…


It is still to early to make a definitive conclusion, but I have learned, it is not as hard as one might think, as long as you are very careful.

I also learned several new ways to clean my camera’s sensors, which should also carry forward into future cameras. There alone saving on time and money associated with Professional cleanings, and my costs moving forward should be relatively low since I now have some base equipment, which should last for years.

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Camera Equipment Gadgets Hardware HDR Long Exposure Photography Reviews Tips

TripodClamps for iTouch – Review RAP-B-121-UN7U Cell Phone Clamp

Abandoned Paper Mill Reflections hdr 09
Abandoned Paper Mill Reflections hdr 09

When I originally wrote my research review, and posted it on Google+, one of the companies that I heard from was, and they suggested that I take a look at their Model RAP-B-121-UN7U Cell Phone Clamp on their website.

After reviewing the information, we exchanged a few more comments on Google+, about my concern for the iPod slipping from the four fingers of the clamp, and I was reassured that the rubber and the tension from the string grips would be sufficient.

So I ordered a unit, and several days later, my box arrived, and I quickly put the unit together and on my tripod for testing in my office.

Interestingly enough, I did allow my kids (8g & 6b) to play with the clamp and my iTouch, while connected to my camera, and I did not see any real reason to worry if the iTouch was slipping, even as my kids removed and replaced the iTouch, several times. I did this to try to judge the grip strength.

They could do it, but not easily.

Testing on Land – Completed and qualified

My next test was going to be over some water, on a little damn spillway near me.

This was my first time carrying my tripod while the clamp was attached, and it became quickly apparent, that it was there.

At first, there was now only one way I could carry the tripod on my shoulder, without the unit poking me in the head or shoulder, and while climbing through the brush, it was another item that did get caught in the branches as I walked around.

Another thing that I wanted to check, while over water, was how easy it was to trigger the camera from the iDevice, and not cause any additional movement further up the tripod.

Yes, I tried this on land, but there is something about being over water, and about to trigger a 15+ minute series of exposures.

One already has to worry about the water rushing around the tripod legs causing vibrations.

I was happy to find, that the clamp did not seem to transmit any additional moment, and the iDevice seems to be more sensitive than I had realized!

120912 Marsh Creek Spillway bw 07 - (3) Stops [32-259 seconds] f22 ISO 100
120912 Marsh Creek Spillway bw 07 – (3) Stops [32-259 seconds] f22 ISO 100
Testing over Water – Completed and qualified


If you are interested in a way to attach your iTouch to a Tripod, I would definitely invite you to take a look at this offering.

I am also still looking for a water-proof case for my iTouch, and the Clamp seems to have enough extra ‘reach’ that I will not have to by another mount.

Even though I did run into some issues while first working with this Clamp, that seemed more about me, learning how to best work with new equipment, then the function of the clamp, and I offer the following “Notes to Self”…

Notes to self

  • Carry clamp in a vest pocket while walking/exploring
  • Attach clamp prior to going over water
  • Keep iDevice in a pocket till needed

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Blogging Camera Equipment Gadgets Photography Tech Talk Thoughts Utilities

Searching for the Remote

No, I am not searching for the TV Remote, this time…

But a for a new Remote for my photography work.

Back when I first purchased my Canon XTi in 2007, I also purchased both the
Remote Switch RS-60E3 and Wireless Remote Controller RC-1, and have used them various times over the years, but after seeing a couple of recent Posts on Facebook and Google+, the thoughts of looking for something new has begun.

In reading the Posts, I was also left with what kind? A dedicated stand-alone unit or connected to my iPod Touch, and did I want to be able to program the unit?

Dedicated Stand-alone

The first article that I read was on Stand-alone units, “6 top remote releases tested and rated” on that got me thinking about upgrading my old Canon Remote Switch RS-60E3.

In reading the article, the Hähnel Giga T Pro II Remote Control is the top pick, and has a video on YouTube showing one the various features, and runs about $100 USD form various outlets.

Mobile connectivity

In my daily reading, I also spotted a Google+ post in which the author announced that they had just received their TriggerHappy, and was excited to try it out.

In following the thread, I was also made aware of the Triggertrap Mobile combination, so my researching began.

Making the Connection

In the case of the Hähnel Giga T Pro II, there are two parts, the wireless transmitter and the receiver that sits on the camera. The unit easily does remote triggering, interval, and long exposures, but does lack any direct HDR functionality.

With both TriggerHappy and Triggertrap, you need cable from the camera to the Control device (iOS (or Android)), and there is a significant range in price for cables.


To connect my iPod Touch, the cables from TriggerHappy (E3) would cost $49.95, while the Triggertrap’s would require two different cables, a Triggertrap Mobile Dongle ($9.99) and a CL-E3 Camera Cable ($9.99). The easy price winner is Triggertrap.


The Trigger Happy Remote App on iTunes is Free, and is currently at v 1.0.2 (8/8/12), while the Triggertrap (v 1.2.0 (8/2/12)) is available in two versions: Free (limited to 3 trigger modes (Cable Release, vibration sensor and time-lapse) and the Full Premium version at $9.99 on iTunes. The winner here is Trigger Happy, how do you beat Free!


Both software applications seem to be able to perform Remote trigger, Bulb, time-lapse, plus HDR captures, which is something that I am very interested in.

When looking at the HDR controls, the TriggerHappy app seems to allow 1/3 step increments, which allows for finer control, while the Triggertrap seems limited to full stops, so the Edge here seems to be TriggerHappy.

The real separation between the two applications seems to be the various triggers that are available, and the edge in this case seems to be Triggertrap with 5 sensors (Sound, Shock/Vibration, Metal/Magnetic), 4 modes (HDR Time-lapse, Distance-lapse, Motion detection, Cable release and Star Trail), as well as Facial Recognition.


I like the wireless concept of the Hähnel Giga T Pro II, but the price and lack of HDR capabilities takes it out of consideration.

A big concern of mine, when looking at both these systems, is having to carry and connect my iPod Touch, which my not seem like allot, but when you are standing in 2-3 of water in a rushing stream/river, it could be an issue. I also have to wonder what to do during the winter, when the iPod might be exposed to colder temperatures.

Update – (8/10/12 @ 23:18) – In a response to my original Post, I have received info on the “RAP-B-121-UN7U The RAM Universal X-Grip Cell Phone Holder and Clamp” by, which looks like a very promising attachment for hold the iPod to my tripod. Thanks Marty Cohen!

The TriggerHappy does seem to support finer exposure controls, with the 1/3 stop settings, but basic HDR exposures should be able to compensate for that, if correctly bracketed.

With all that has been written above, it seems that at this point, the Triggertrap system would be the most versatile and cost efficient purchase, and will be purchased shortly after the posting of this blog entry.

As always, questions and comments are welcome and encouraged!

– Andrew
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Blogging Chester County clouds Equipment Filters Gadgets Lionville Nature Photo Journal Photography Tone Mapping

First Day with ND 3.0 10-stop filter

As part of “Daddy Day Camp”, I took the kids up to Lionville Elementary School to practice their biking riding, in prep for taking off the training wheels.

We first started in the upper play ground, and after parking, I unloaded the bikes, and the kids were gone. I had to coach them a little, but with the follow-up tweaks after Sunday’s outing, both kids were doing much better.

Now I was able to grab my tripod and camera and set up for some shooting.

The wind was rather gusty, and was really nicely formed white clouds against a very deep blue sky, and I had my new filter… Tee hee! wink… wink…

With my first few shots, I felt like a complete amateur, because as I would set one thing that, I’d forget about something else, and the shot would be blown, but I got into a rhythm and finally began to click off some shots.

Most of these pictures were taken at ISO 100 f22 for 30 seconds to 1 minute, the tennis practice image was around 3 second, using the B+W 58mm 3.0 ND MRC 110M Filter.

At one point, I could hear Logan asking me why I was taking pictures of cars, as I set up for my shot looking north on Route 113 with the Devon Rd. intersection in the background.

He was very puzzled, and even more so, when I showed him the pictures later during proofing. The cars just disappeared!

While playing with my new filter, it became very apparent to me, that I was going to need to recalibrate my water shots, and how to do my HDR work with so much potential ghosting issues during processing.

But as they say no gain without pain.

So come back again, and see what new things I’ve done with this new filter of mine!

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Announcements Equipment Filters Gadgets Ideas Photography

Neutral Density 3.0 filter arrived!

Neutral Density 3.0 filter arrived!

On Tuesday (6/6), I finally broke down on ordered a B+W 58mm (MC) #110 (ND 3.0) filter, from B&H Photo, and it just arrived today!

After opening it up, my first word were, “Holy Crap that is dark”!

One can barely see though the thing!

For those that may not know the lingo, a Neutral Density filter is used to reduce the amount of light entering into a camera, there by increasing the length of time for a correct exposure, which can be used for interesting effects!

A quick easy example of this, would be the blurring effect done to moving water.

I do have a set of Tiffen ND filters, that only increase the exposure by 2 stop (0.6), 3 stops (0.9) and 4 stops (1.2), but with this new filter, my range now jumps to 10 stops (3.0) stops!

Another translation, let’s say I have an exposure of 1/500th of a second, not too uncommon during the day time, but with this new filter, the exposure time would now increase to approximately 2 seconds!

Many of my water shoots, are shot in the 1 second range, but now that will increase to a possible 15 minute exposure, which should be very interesting!

Now I have to figure out what to do next!

Any suggestions?

– Andrew
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