Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cleaning your camera's sensor

Probably one of the scariest things for a person who spent their life-savings on a camera, is cleaning the sensor.  I know that I was terrified at first.  I had to turn off my music in my apartment, and barely even touched the sensor with the swab.  In reality, it's no where near as bad or risky as you think it is.  But you can never be too careful, and it would be a TRAGEDY if you damaged your sensor!

The sensor lies hidden behind the mirror in your camera, and can only be accessed with mirror lock-up mode, or when the shutter button has been clicked.  You will need to remove your lens before performing a sensor cleaning.

This is the sensor outside of the camera.

Here are a couple tools you will need before you begin.

-Sensor Swab that matches your sensor size. I use Vswabs by Visible Dust
-Sensor cleaning solution (I use Visible Dusts Sensor Clean Product)
-Sensor Loupe with sensor pen (not necessary, though very helpful!) I use this kit by SensorKlear
-Sensor Blower (Not necessary, but a great option for a real quick fix in the field)

Here's how you should do this:

1. If you have a loupe, use this first, and see if you can use the sensorpen to eliminate the dust.
2. If the dust is really stuck on, prepare your swab by following directions on the size of package.  Usually apply 2-3 drops of fluid about half way up the swab.
3. Bend the swab below the head to get a better angle, and make sure the damp part of the swab will make contact.
4. Place your camera in mirror lock-up mode, which should be a setting somewhere in your menus.  If you don't have it (I didn't with my old camera) either use a remote trigger to hold the shutter open until your done, or put camera on a 30 second exposure and get the swab out of there well before it closes.  If you don't get it out in time you could seriously damage your camera.
5. Gently rub swab in the same direction on sensor to remove all spots.  Use the dry side after the wet side to help get the fluid off the sensor after the spots/dust is gone.
6. Re-inspect with loupe (if you have one)

7.Close the shutter.  If in mirror lock-up mode turn camera off to close the shutter.
8. Put lens back on with camera turned off and tilted downward (always do this when changing lenses to help reduce dust exposure on sensor).

That's it!  It seems like a lot but will only take a minute or so once you've done it a few times.  Just remember to be gentle, on not have your shutter close with the swab in the camera.  Make sure you have a full battery when cleaning so it doesn't close shutter mid clean due to power failure.

Disclaimer:  If you do damage your sensor, I am not responsible!  It's your own choice to do this by yourself.  

That's the BUZZ for Today!  Please check back soon for more


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