Canon’s Big Anti-Dust Technology Lie

Canon's Big Anti-Dust Technology Lie

Full-Frame, Dust-Free Images. Updated EOS Integrated Cleaning System specifically designed to work with a full-frame sensor. Canon’s Integrated Cleaning system includes a cleaning unit designed specifically for the EOS 5D Mark II’s full-frame CMOS sensor. The camera’s low-pass filter even has a new fluorine coating upon its surface to help repel dust. Dust that makes it past the EOS 5D Mark II’s sensor cleaning system is easily removed in post processing using DPP software’s Dust Detection Delete function, which can remove dust spots automatically from single or multiple image files

– Canon marketingspeak on their Canon 5D Mark II Camera

One of the things that pisses me off to no end is how *horrible* a job the Canon 5D Mark II does at dealing with dust on my sensor. I struggled with dust on my sensor with my old 5D so I was super happy initially to learn that the new 5D Mark II had anti-dust technology built in. Except that Canon’s so called anti-dust technology with the 5D Mark II is utter crap and pure marketing speak bull shit. The image above is an image of mine taken from a trip a few weeks ago to Miami. My 5D Mark II is less than a year old and this is the type of dust I am seeing on my images. I’d encourage you to look at this image full size here. How is this even remotely acceptable?

Granted I use my camera heavily, but I can count over *40* different dust specs on the image above.

Frankly I can tell no difference between the dust on the sensor of my 5D M2 and my old 5D without so called “anti-dust” technology. Whatever the case, for Canon to prominently advertise the 5D Mark II camera as having an anti-dust feature is false advertising in my opinion.

I posted about my horrible experience with the 5D M2 and dust over at Buzz here.

Ed Fladung suggested in that post that I give the Arctic Butterfly brush a try to remove the dust on my sensor. So I ordered one of these brushes from B&H for $112. Hopefully this helps me. I can’t see how anything could make my 5D M2 much worse in terms of dust though.

24 Replies to “Canon’s Big Anti-Dust Technology Lie”

  1. Thomas, my experience has been quite the opposite of yours. Before I shot my 5D2 I used a 5D, and that camera was appropriately notorious for collecting dust. I generally cleaned it once a month or a bit more.

    When I got the 5D2 I wasn’t really expecting much improvement – I tended to regard the dust removal systems as gimmicks. However, I was surprised to find that, for me at least, the 5D2 system works and works quite well. I’ve shot well over 12,000 frames on mine and perhaps as many as 15,000. I change lenses regularly, and I don’t hesitate to do so in wind and dust. (Last week I spent five days in Death Valley…)

    I have yet to need to clean to sensor glass in the old way – e.g. with the blower, brush, etc. I do get the occasional spot but most of them move after an on/off cycle, and the few that don’t are easily fixed in post with a few seconds work in ACR.

    Sorry that your experience has been bad, but mine has been much better with the 5D2 than it was on the 5D.

    Take care,


  2. Thomas,
    I’ve a whole bunch of Canon APC bodies, including the 400D and 40D, along with the 30D, which has no built in sensor cleaning.

    I can easily say that the 5DII is my filthiest camera, and that even after a wet clean, it will attract dirt no end. It simply hovers up dust. I have random hairs coming in and out of shots, even after blowing with a Rocket Blower.

    Somehow the other cameras, even the 30D, just don’t get as dirty as this.

  3. I’ve not had any issues at all with my 5d-II – my 1ds3 mark 3 is more dirty though.

    I guess it goes to show that it’s only a dust resistant feature 🙁

    wonder how the different types of contaminants stick to sensors – must vary a lot depending on the environment used I guess?

  4. I had awful dust on my original 5D. I felt like I had to clean it every couple of weeks. But my 5DmkII has been a dream. I bought it shortly after launch and I’ve only had to clean it once. So I’ve had the opposite experience as you.

    I bought the arctic butterfly, and didn’t care for it. I once made the mistake of touching the bristles, and got finger oil on them, which then transferred to the sensor. I had to go back to the old sensor swab method to fix it, which is a hassle but I’ve gotten pretty good with it over the years.

    I do, however, like the sensor loupe made by visible dust (the arctic butterfly people). It’s perfect for helping you figure out where the dust is on your sensor that you might have missed otherwise.

  5. sensor dust is more frustrating than dust spots on negatives in a wet darkroom. I find the Nikon system to be superior to any others, but still get dust on my sensor because I change lenses frequently and even with a changing strategy devised to reduce the sensor exposure, it still happens. The arctic butterfly is a solution, and so far I’ve never had to use a swab with a solution to clean my sensor. But then again, I’m a Nikon user…… Just sayin’……….

  6. My 5DII has been dust-free. Tons of shooting and with no special care given to lens swaps out on the street. The system is terrific and works great. Perhaps yours is defective?

  7. I’m a huge fan so I hope you don’t take this the wrong way or I’m going to be in big trouble: Having photowalked with you a couple of times and been given the privilege of borrowing some of your lenses (14mm here and 135mm here I know you aren’t, um, the most fastidious person when it comes to keeping your equipment clean. 🙂 And…you swap lenses constantly which is bound to create more dust issues than in more mainstream usage. I was somewhat taken aback by your comments calling out Canon and am hoping you contacted them to discuss. I’ve never interpreted their marketing materials as guaranteeing zero dust on your sensor. Heck, even the marketing quote you pull out has a backup plan for when dust does get on your sensor.

    FWIW, dust issues on my Canon 5D Mark II have been much, much less than my 10D — non-existent in over a year of use.

  8. Why did you pay $112 at B&H when you already know that you could get it for $69 at Amazon and one of your readers already commented that even that was a high price?!!

  9. Charlie. Point very well taken. I’m very rough and very hard on my gear and certainly *not* fastidious. I don’t use lens cap covers or filters on my lenses at all for instance. 🙂

    Still, I guess I’d just expect more from anti-dust technology than over 40 different dust specks on a sensor. I could probably live with 2 or 3 or 5 even. But when it gets to look like the image above it just feels unacceptable to me, no matter how heavy a user I might be.

    When Canon markets the camera so prominently with this as a feature I just feel that no matter how hard i use the gear or how much I switch lenses that it should/could do at least a little bit better than it’s doing. I’m certainly not expecting zero dust. But the image above to me is unacceptable.

    I’d contact Canon but haven’t had a very good experience working with their people. I think my last 5 emails or so to their PR folks have been ignored, so that avenue feels like a waste of time. I think they’re pissed at me because I criticized it when their lawyers sent a takedown notice to a Canon parody blog a few years back and I criticized them over that.

  10. Anonymous. The $69 brush was not the product that Ed was actually recommending. He seems to have had good experience with the $112 brush so I thought I’d try that one instead. It was more his personal recommendation than anything that prompted me to try that avenue. We’ll see how that works. 🙂

    I’d *happily* pay $112 to be rid of this dust problem if it actually works.

  11. I’ve got an acquaintance who knows someone at Canon and is going to bring this to their attention. It’s in their best interest to engage with you and I hope they do. Best wishes on the Arctic Butterfly solution but based on this comment over on Google Buzz it’s not going to be the magic bullet: “Thomas Hawk – Tom, even after using sensor swabs and methanol I have dust that simply can’t be cleaned away.”

  12. Buy a Panasonic DMC G1. I own it now over a year and it was under very heavy use… up to now no single dust particle showing up in the pictures….

  13. Forgot to tell that I have to clean my EOS 1D Mk III and EOS 1Ds Mk III every month or so…

  14. If you tried cleaning with methanol and can’t get it clean then using a brush seems optimistic. It would either need to be quite stiff and probably scratcch the sensor, or else equiped with special insect feet trained to grab dirt and pull it off.

    I reckon the capabilities of the brush are more likely to be lies that the Canon cleaning system, but I wish you good luck an a non-scratched sensor.

  15. I’m not sure if the sensor cleaning system in my 5d mkii is better than my old non-sensor cleaning equipped body but I have only cleaned it once in 2 months so I suspect it’s doing something. You have a lot of dust, no question about it, but from the comment thread it appears that your habits are more to blame than the camera, but your point about 40 dust specks is pretty valid too.

    I haven’t tried yet but there is the dust delete data feature in the menu, might be something to take advantage of between cleanings.

  16. 2 questions:

    I know for my baby Nikon D40, the solution to dust is a computeral one: Nikon’s proprietary software finds the dust and erases it on import. I don’t know anyone who actually does this- its slow. Does the 5DMk2 have something built in for this or is it supposed to be a software thing?

    You have LINEAR dust?! (top right corner) I thought you use those eclipse wipes every week!

  17. I bought a 5DMkII a few week backs and I realized coming back from a trip to SFO that my pictures had dust-speckle. I don’t remember my 20D getting dirty so fast, and it does not have a sensor cleaning system.

    Arctic Butterfly remain my main tool for cleaning.

    (I don’t change lenses more often than before).

  18. I shoot commercial and landscape work with the 5D2 and have changed lenses in the field hundreds of times in the past year and have NOT ONCE needed to clean using my VD Arctic Butterfly. So far I have two persistent spots that are easily handled by the camera’s dust-delete image magic. None of my other Canon bodies’ cleaning systems worked half this good. You may have gotten a dud.

  19. Hi All. I’ve had similar experience to Thomas. Basically how good or bad you feel about the 5D mkii ‘s dust resistence depends a lot on what lenses and apertures you use. I shoot a lot of macro, with the MP-E 65mm, and every little speck of dust shows up from f/2.8 all the way to the maximum f/16 on that lens. Canon’s ethanol clean doesn’t get rid of everything, and time and time again after a $50 clean, despite a 90% drop in spots initially, it doesn’t take long for them to come back. The 5d mk ii sensor shake technology is a *joke*. I firmly believe that the higher electrical consumption of the sensor serves to build up sufficient static to undermine this system on the 5D mk ii. It appeared to work quite well on my 40D, but not on this one. I’ve found the Taklon Brush and Blower technique (I also have an Arctic Butterfly) quite effective, and safe to use to shift dust from the centre to the edges, unfortunately I can never get rid of it completely, only move it out of centre stage, as it were. I am sure that many people will simply not see dust with their standard lenses at moderate apertures, f/2.8 .. f/11, but for macro lenses, it is a lot of work to get rid of all the spots.

  20. Hello Thomas,
    How did the $112 brush work out for you? I’m curious to see if it is worth the money. Did it work?

Comments are closed.