Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I have got my gear ready for a long holiday in next month, but I'm pretty much confused when it comes to having the right tools for cleaning a sensor.

The typical procedure I have experienced from videos:

  1. Clean the camera so there's no nasty dust/dirt left on it, before cleaning sensor.
  2. Remove sensor cap and face camera downwards, and blow into the sensor.
  3. With shutter deactivated clean the chamber with a small swiper (and some fluid)
  4. Activate shutter and blow (with a blower) into the camera sensor once again.
  5. Either clean the sensor with a swapper or a special duster.
  6. Deactivate shutter and enjoy the camera once again.

With the hope of not making this question too commercial I'm restricted to only being able to buy visibledust from my local camera shop, so I would really appreciate recommendations that somewhat exist in their product portfolio.

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Hi there, what are the reasons for you wishing to clean the sensor? are you seeing a degradation in your images or are you wanting to do this as a precautionary measure before you travel? –  Chanstarco Jul 9 '12 at 14:33
    
Its primarily for future maintenance and just in case something unimaginable should occur when i change lenses often. –  JavaCake Jul 9 '12 at 14:37
    
Don't blow into your sensor, unless you want to deposit saliva and bits of lunch onto it. –  Poldie Jul 9 '12 at 15:13
    
@Poldie, unless i use a blower for that purpose. –  JavaCake Jul 9 '12 at 15:18
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1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've had the VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly 724 Travel Kit for two years by now, and it has been enough for my needs. I do change lenses often, including outdoors if needed, but I don't dust and wash my gear on purpose. The kit is available in two sizes, full-frame and "1.6 crop"; 1.5 crop APS-C sensors should also use the 1.6 version.

When starting to clean, make sure the air and working surface is reasonably clean (but not windy) so you won't get new dust into the body. Clean outside of the camera with the same spirit in mind.

As I've understood, blowing is more of a emergency workaround than a proper cleaning routine. You will get the dust moving, but you won't have much control over where it lands, and those places could be harder to reach. But maybe it's just me and my memories from childhood when my mum didn't think much of my cleaning-by-blowing-dust-away attempts. So my advice is to skip blowing in your planned routine and save it for the day you're out of town without cleaning kit and need to buy a quick weapon against an evil dust bunny.

Charge the brush by giving a quick spin, stop the motor. Set your camera into cleaning mode - so its mirror is up and shutter open, lens removed. Brush over the sensor (avoid hitting inside walls of the camera with your brush, they're greasy).

Attach a lens to the camera and take a test picture of an even light-colored surface, out-of-focus, slightly overexposed, with a narrow aperture. Look at the image on a larger screen; if there are still dust spots, you'll also need wet cleaning. Usually the brush will be good enough, but perhaps not first time.

Put a drop or two of the cleaning liquid on a swab. Set the camera into cleaning mode again. Wipe the swab once over the whole sensor, no back-and-forth scrubbing. If needed, repeat the wipe in the same direction.

Take a test shot again, hopefully the sensor is clean now but you might need another wet round. When studying the test image, pay attention to its corners - perhaps you'll need to use one of the corner swabs. So far, I've never had to.

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