Reviewing a made in China, Knock-off Sensor Gel Stick
Having had a few opportunities to shoot more landscapes than I typically do, over the past few weeks, has resulted in me both using much smaller apertures than I usually would and the growing awareness that I am possibly the owner of one of the dirtiest DSLR sensors on the plant (dust spots are more visible when small apertures are used). This reminded me of a video tutorial I watched recently over at fstoppers.com about the Sensor Gel Stick and how effective they found it.
Through a quick search of Ebay and being the frugal photographer that I am, I noticed the $50 Sensor Gel Stick could be had for mere $10 dollars. For a knock-off version at least. Searching a number of online sources I couldn’t find any reviews about how the knock-off compared to the real thing, other than a brief comment on a forum saying that the gel would leave a film on your sensor. This had also been a concern of the Patrick over at fstoppers, but the real sensor Gel Stick had proven not to leave any residue.
Weighing in all this evidence, and the fact the knock-off was only $10, I decided to buy it and review in the same manner fstoppers reviewed the original.
Just like the real Sensor Gel Stick, the non-branded ebay version came in a silver tin with a firm foam interior. The tin was plain and did not come in a box. The stick itself looked to be made of the same white plastic and also came with seven tape-like strips for cleaning the gel tip after it has been used. Moreover, it appeared to have the same cover to keep the tip of the gel stick clean as the original.
The one big difference, besides not coming in the same box, was that the knock-off stick had a semi-transparent whitish tip compared to the blueish one of the original. This did worry me a little, as it made it seem more likely that the tips were not made of the same material and that my recently purchased version may actually leave behind the residue that one photography forum member claimed “will ruin your sensor.”
The First Test: Dust on an ND Filter
In his video, Patrick of fstoppers, used a ND filter covered in dust and with a fingerprint to test out how effective the Gel Stick is. Following their method I took out my own Fotoga 77mm ND filter, smushed my thumb into it and rubbed the lint and dust off the cushions of my sofa on to it. I was now the proud owner of both the dirtiest sensor and ND filter in the world!
Using the ebay sensor gel stick I began to dap the dust, dirt and thumbprint on the ND filter. The dust and oil from the print were quickly and easily removed. Unfortunately, my concerns about the gel proved true.The made in China, ebay Knock-off Sensor Gel Stick does in fact leave behind quite a noticeable residue. The good news? The film was easily removed from my ND filter using a lens cloth, although I wouldn’t suggest wiping your sensor with a cloth of any type.
Though it looks the real deal and does remove dust, I believe using a cheap Ebay Sensor Gel Stick Knock-off on your camera’s sensor would likely result in leaving behind a residue. I strongly recommend that you avoid using the made in China, Ebay Knock-off Sensor Gel Stick at all cost, as it would most probably destroy your camera!
Though I’ve often been impressed with the quality of some the knock-off or non-branded camera accessories I’ve purchased, in this case if your heart is set on Gel Stick you’ll need to dish out $50 dollars for the real thing. Alternatively, there are a number of other wet and dry solutions for cleaning your sensor. Personally, I’ve ordered a dry cleaning solution the Sensorklear II from Lenspen as an alternative solution. I’ll be sure to write a follow up review when I’ve tested the product.