At first I could ignore them. A couple of vague spots might show up in the clouds on a wide shot or were hidden inside darker images. I could always clone them away if they were noticeable. But then you get a beauty mark a la Marilyn Monroe on an old street vendor’s nose and you have to be honest with yourself: Your camera needs a cleaning.
You take a blower to the lenses, the mirror, and, with beads of terror-sweat on your brow, your sensor. But the black marks remain. You’re going to have to make physical contact with that sensor. A dry brush? A wet cleaning with swabs? Google that and see if the warnings and stern discouragement don’t give you night terrors.
Back home I’d have to shell out $50USD for a complete cleaning at my local professional camera store. But I am not back in the US. I am at the “other home” – Bangkok. Having been here for extended periods since 2006, I am fully aware of the inconsistency of customer service and sometimes a lack of accountability. “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing righ– Hang on! I just got an invite on my phone to play Cookie Run on LINE.” Was I going to drop off an expensive camera and gamble? Or was a DIY cleaning project the bigger gamble?
Photographer Steve Muse’s experience with the Canon Service Center in Bangkok didn’t exactly boost my confidence in getting the locals to do it.
But in the end, I chickened out. Tales of the risks of lubricants inside the camera body streaking the sensor glass and damning me to eternal hell were the last straw. So where in Thailand could I get my camera sensor cleaned?
In Bangkok, Nik (Nikon Thailand) got some kind remarks from a couple of blogs as did Sunny Cameras (also a Nikon specialist). But then I read a forum comment by photographer Lee Craker about going many times to a really reliable shop in Bangkok. I emailed him and he sent me to AV Camera.
I walked in and could tell right away this wasn’t one of those shopping-mall showrooms where here-today-gone-tomorrow employees can’t even explain basic features or you can get them to agree to just about anything. “So this is the new model with the flux capacitor and Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, right?”
Not this place. AV Camera had geek written all over it. The boss was right there at his desk and took care of us immediately. He said it would take 30 minutes.
Wait, that’s it? I leave it here, grab some noodles, and it’s done? “Come back in an hour; it’s better.” OK. Done deal. Er, how much? “150.” I turned to Tip to make sure I heard that correctly. 150 baht? ($5) “Yes. If you want we can give a complete cleaning of the all the rest of the body. Another 150 baht.” Hell yes. An hour later we came back, the camera was ready, we took some shots of the sky, and all the little black spots were gone. And the camera body looked as if it were just out of the box (I am a very bad boy when it comes to keeping that thing clean, so that was also no small accomplishment).
So there you have it. Best price you’re going to find I think in anywhere (other than free) and a pro shop with a reputation to uphold. You can’t even get disposable cleaning swabs for 150. So leave it to the pros on this one, go to AV Camera for sensor cleaning in Bangkok.
Another plus: it is easy to get to. Take the BTS SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin station. Come down to Charoen Krung Road (New Road) and go north on the left side of the street. At the alley right before the Robinson’s Department Store, turn left. AV Camera is just 10 meters in on the left.
1 Charoenkrung 50
+66 (0) 2237-1041-2