There are many situations that virtually every photographer is bound to experience. Having a dusty camera sensor is one of them. It is inevitable. Whether it is as a result of constantly using the camera or it is because of frequently switching between lenses, every photographer experiences the need to get their camera sensor cleaned. In most cases, you don’t have to dismantle your camera to check if its sensor needs cleaning or not. This is because there are often telltales of a dusty camera sensor. Those spots that seem to have come from nowhere and are quite visible in your pictures are indicators that you need to get your camera sensor cleaned.
Well, because they know that is inevitable, most of the companies that manufacture cameras have added a sensor cleaning feature into many of their cameras. The catch, though, is that this feature hardly ever gets the job done effectively. And so, here you are, looking to learn how to clean your camera sensor. You are reading the right post. Here, you will learn how to clean your camera sensor in 2 different ways.
Just in case you are still undecided about getting it cleaned, you should know that the cleaning is totally worth it. It saves you the extra time you would have otherwise spent editing in an attempt to remove those spots. A professional photographer, for example, would greatly benefit from keeping his/her camera sensor clean at all time. Imagine taking hundreds of pictures during a photo shoot with a dusty camera sensor and then having to rely on editing software to keep the photos spotless. Sound quite tasking and in fact, dreadful.
Is it safe to clean your camera sensor by yourself?
Good question because no one wants to take damaging risks when it comes to expensive equipment like a camera. Yes, cleaning your camera sensor by yourself is safe. There are no associated problems as far as you follow the right steps and you apply the right degree of care and caution.
There is always the option of sending it over to professionals to get it cleaned. This method is, however, not without some cons. For starters, except you have more than one camera, you won’t be able to get any work done during the period it’s over there. It is also quite pricey. So, getting it cleaned by yourself is the way to go.
How to tell if your camera sensor needs cleaning?
There are many ways to tell that your camera sensor needs cleaning. The most traditional signs are the dust spots that appear on the images due to dust settling on the sensor. If you take a lot of photos in dusty environments this is probably one of the first things you will notice. Another sign can be bands, or streaking lines appearing in images.
How often should you clean your camera sensor?
There is no specific cleaning interval, but it should be done whenever you start to notice dust spots. This depends on how often and where you shoot. I like to clean mine before every shoot. That way i don’t have to worry about any problems when shooting.
That being said, let’s get right to the core of this article. How to clean your camera sensor!
2 Methods to Get Your Camera Sensor Cleaned
First things first, you have to decide if you want to do dry or wet cleaning. It is, however, advisable for dry cleaning to be the first option. Wet cleaning is a good last resort in the rare case that a dry sensor cleaning is not as effective as you want it to be.
Dry sensor cleaning
It is important to clean your camera sensor with this method in a room that is free of dust, wind, and forms of distraction. The room should also be well lit as you should be able to see the dust on the sensor. All you need to get this done is a rocket blower and a fully charged battery. Here’s how to get it done.
- Remove the lens of the camera
- You would have to lockup the mirror of the camera, hence, the need for a fully charged battery. Doing this would ensure that the mirror stays locked up while the sensor is being cleaned instead of having to use your finger to hold it down. You would find the option for this in your camera menu or you can simply consult the camera’s manual.
- Position the camera in such a way that the sensor faces the ground. This means you would be holding the camera upside down. This would see to it that the dust and other foreign particles fall out.
- Then, point the blower into the camera and gently give it a few squeezes. The air would help to blow away dust particles from the sensor. Make sure to not hold the blower too close to the sensor.
- Once this is done, turn off the camera and then, put the lens back on
- Take test shots to see if there are spots on the pictures or not. If there isn’t, great! Mission accomplished
- If you still notice spots on the pictures, then you may want to repeat the process. If after doing that, there are still spots on the test shots, then you would have to carry out the wet sensor cleaning method.
Wet sensor cleaning
While this has been pegged as the more challenging method, it is pretty effective. With it, you are sure to remove whatever speck of dust there is. You would be needing a sensor cleaning kit. This kit is available from various brands. These kits contain cleaning swabs and cleaning solutions. You should, however, make sure to read the instructions on the kits as it differs across brands. On a general basis, though, here’s how to go about it
- Just like in the dry sensor cleaning, remove the lens from the camera.
- Also, lockup the mirror of the camera
- From the sensor cleaning kit, remove a sensor swab and put about 2-3 drops of the cleaning solution on it. Resist the temptation to put too much solution on the swab just because you think it would give the best results.
- Wait for a minute or two to allow the swab to fully absorb the solution before going on to clean the sensor. You sure don’t want to have the cleaning solution ‘flood’ the sensor as it could damage the camera.
- Now, gently wipe one side of the sensor by gliding the swab across it. Repeat this process for the other side of the sensor.
- To see the results, put off the camera and replace its lens. Then, take a few shots to check for spots on the photos.
- Seeing none means you have successfully cleaned your camera sensor. If you still notice a few spots, no cause for alarm. Simply repeat the process. However, make sure to use a fresh swab. The kits usually come with more than one swab so you are good to go.
Cleaning your camera sensor is no herculean task. You can do it right in the comfort of your clean, dust-free room. You also don’t have to break the bank to get it done. When you take necessary precautions and exercise due diligence while cleaning it, there can only be one outcome. A camera sensor that is as good as new!