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I took my camera to the beach (stupid idea) and after I was back home, I realized I had a single grain of sand in my view finder. The good news, is that its not in the lens or on any of the pictures (so not on the main mirror).

Now I don't really know enough about DSLR cameras to know what I need to clean or what the proper way is to clean it. How can I clean the view finder mirror to get rid of the tiny grain of sand off of it and what is the proper procedure for doing so?

  • If you're seeing it in the viewfinder, it can still be on the main mirror. Have you looked at it? – ElendilTheTall Jul 23 '14 at 8:02
  • @ElendilTheTall I haven't taken a close look at the main mirror no, sorta scared something else will fly into it while I'm looking – aman207 Jul 23 '14 at 14:56
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    Unless you work in a sand blasting workshop that is highly unlikely. Just take the lens off in a relatively dust free room and you will be fine. It's certainly a hell of a lot safer than fiddling with the viewfinder internals. – ElendilTheTall Jul 23 '14 at 15:33
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The two main places the sand could be is on your mirror or on your focus screen. I'd suggest using a bulb blower (e.g., RocketBlower), and not physically touching anything in the camera (e.g., using a brush or microfiber or something). Whatever you do, don't use canned air. Simply taking the lens off the camera will show you the mirror. The focus screen is the "ceiling" of the camera chamber. Basically hold the camera face down, so anything you shift with a few puffs will fall down and out of the camera, rather than getting shoved around somewhere else. This sensor-cleaning video from LensRentals demonstrates using a blower (around 0:27). Obviously, you don't want to be in the sensor cleaning mode and exposing the sensor when you try to puff your sand grain out. :)

Or you can just live with the dot in your viewfinder. I did that after failing to remove the specks and scratching my focus screen :(. Until years later when I had to bring my XT in to Canon Irvine for a busted power board, at which time they replaced my focus screen for free (still had to pay for the powerboard replacement, though).

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Either if the grain of sand is on the view finder or on the sensor, it might help to try to clean the camera. A tool I found particularly helpful in recent years was the “blower” which can be found in different shapes and colours from different manufacturers. Using it, you should be able to clean either with a soft air blow.

If you don't feel safe about fiddling with your camera in a way you do not think you are supposed to, it might be better to give it to a camera shop—many, if not most of them offer (sensor) cleaning for DSLRs for an affordable price.

As ElendilTheTall already mentioned in his comment: Don't worry too much about polluting your camera even more. Just make sure you are in a well-lit (so you can see the dust and grains) room without too much wind around and you should be safe.

Step 3 in this guide: Canon sensor cleaning: remove dust in 4 steps shows the tool I was referring to earlier. Although the guide is aimed at Canon users, most of the steps apply to Nikon—or any DSLR cameras for that matter—as well.

  • If the particle is visible through the view finder it is not on the sensor of a DSLR. – user50888 Oct 17 '17 at 17:24
  • @benrudgers I know—that’s why I wrote “Either if the grain of sand is on the view finder or on the sensor, it might help to try to clean the camera”. Because it’s true in both cases. The link I provided just so happens to be about sensor cleaning, but I just added it for referring to the “blower”. – PattaFeuFeu Oct 18 '17 at 14:19

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