Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pentax Sensor Swabs (Asia only?)

Hong Kong Digital Vision Blog has pictures of the Pentax "Imagesensor Cleaning Kit" (sic), only available in Asia with any regularity). I've wanted to get my hands on one of these for ages, because they seem to be easier and cheaper than Sensor Swabs. You get way more reuse for the $39.95 US price. Importantly, there isn't a proprietary cleaning solution to wet the stamp tool.

In North America, selling these Pentax branded kits would be like condoning to the average consumer that poking around your camera's sensor is easy and safe for kids of all ages. Which is not true, it requires a really steady hand. That's probably why it's not something you can buy over the counter (aka. non-import). Overall, we westerners don't exactly have a good reputation as consumers who take care of their electronic belongings.

I feel we should be able to buy it here, and not be treated like kids with sticky fingers, but I'll bet the void of branded swabs has something to do with a cost evaluation of how much money Pentax, Nikon, and Canon would spend supporting these kits in the U.S., given all they've learned about impatient Americans gumming up their cameras through years of customer care phone conversations. I can just imagine what the average support call would be like:
Caller: "I followed the instructions with the sensor cleaner and now my camera won't work!"
Tech: "Sir, did you really read the instructions and take all the listed precautions?"
Caller: "Well, no. But listen. I'm an adult who clean ears with a Q-Tip, and I haven't made myself deaf yet. I can drive a car. I can use sharp cutlery. I'm not an imbecile. What kind of a fool can't use a little plastic swab? Your product intentionally broke my camera, not me!"
Tech: "Sir, you're saying an inanimate plastic swab, designed to help you, defied all logical convention and directed malice against your camera and attacked the sensor? Yeah, uh, I've heard that one before."
Caller: "Exactly. So you admit the sensor swab is capable of evil! I'll see you in court!"
Still, I want one. Santa, I promise I won't poke my camera's eye out. 

Links: YouTube video demonstrating how it works (on a Nikon with the same sensor size), DC Watch Impress's Review of the kit .

Link: Hong Kong Digital Vision Blog


Séamuis said...

I'm 99.999% positive that I have seen the Pentax sensor swab kits available here in the US. In fact if I remember correctly I nearly bought one not all that long ago.... I never did though. (I still have dust on my sensor.)

Sid Sarkar said...

I'm based in the UK and bought one of these kits off eBay, new, from a UK based supplier. My K100D is definitely better for it! The procedure is not for the faint hearted; the very detailed instructions are full of warnings e.g maximum pressure to apply to the sensor with the cleaning stick is no more than what you do when you half-press the shutter release... folk who just jab the shutter release indelicately when capturing images need not apply!

creezy said...

It's easier as the Sensor Swabs? Don't get this one. The procedure seems to be much more complex.

Michael said...

I'm not saying anything negative about Sensor Swabs. They ARE easy to use, and you can buy what you need for about $20. That makes them pretty accessible and essentially the first choice for many people.

However, compared to the Pentax stamp tool, I think the swabs need more explaining for novices because they involve a non-reusable tool (you have to get the right size) and a chemical liquid (you have to use Eclipse or E2, depending on your sensor coating). The Pentax stamp is a one size fits all tool for any DSLR camera and it has just one sort of cleaning pad (that isn't used directly on the camera). So, the Sensor Swab product matrix (pec pads, solutions, various sized swabs, brushes) is more a complex family. I think that makes the Pentax stamp an easier system to understand.

I recommend having both, especially if you have stubborn "welded on" dust.

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