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DIY Sensor Cleaning

DIY Sensor Cleaning

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As a user of mirrorless cameras for many years, I know how easy it is for the sensors to become dusty very quickly. This is because they don't have a mirror that conceals the sensor like a DSLR. Yet, it's surprising how many workshop participants I come across who still send their mirrorless cameras away for professional cleaning as soon as they notice dust in their images. If you are one of those people then this article should save you a lot of time and expense!

On average I need to clean my camera sensor every two weeks as I change lenses frequently, so it would be very expensive, not to say impractical, to keep sending my camera away for cleaning. Camera sensors are not as delicate as manufacturers will have you think so with a little care and patience it is very easy to clean it yourself. It takes less than 2 minutes to complete and your sensor will be nice and clean ready for the next outing.

The first thing you need to do is purchase a sensor cleaning kit. There are many options on the market but I personally recommend the type that comes with swabs and cleaning fluid. These are available for less than £20 online or from your local high street camera dealer. they usually come in a pack of 10 swabs and liquid but the liquid lasts a lot longer than the swabs, so I tend to buy just the swabs only in-between, which is a little cheaper. As the swabs come in different sizes, however, it's important to choose the right kit for the size of your camera's sensor (APS-C, Micro Four-Thirds, Full-Frame, Medium Format etc...), so be careful.

This is the one I use which is for my full-frame mirrorless camera.

Cleaning 3

When you're ready to clean your sensor then remove the foil or plastic from the sealed swab and add just two drops onto the swab - equidistant apart. Using too much liquid can create smears so don't use more than this even if it doesn't look much. Now remove the cap from your camera and carefully place the swab at one edge of the sensor. Now with a little pressure wipe one way before wiping back again using the opposite side of the swab without taking it off the sensor at any point. And that's it, just pop the cap back onto your camera and you're ready to go (Just one small point; if you have a camera that has pixel-shift technology you may find that the sensor may wriggle around slightly whilst wiping the sensor - this is normal and nothing to worry about). The swab cannot be re-used as this may scratch the sensor, so be sure to throw it away after one use.

Cleaning 2

If you use a DSLR camera as opposed to a mirrorless camera then the above rules apply to you, too. The only extra step you need to take is to lock up the mirror first to reveal the camera's sensor. Your instruction book should explain how to do this. The reason I mainly mention mirrorless in this article is that they are far more prone to developing dust spots due to the sensor being more exposed when changing lenses.

I hope you found this article useful and if you would like me to cover another photography-related topic please feel free to e-mail me.