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cleaning your camera’s sensor

There’s a huge variety of tools and devices available on the market to clean your camera’s sensor. I’ve tried a few of them, but always come back to this simple method which is quite thorough.

1. a puff of air to remove dust particles

If your camera allows, you should first try and clean your sensor by activating the self-cleaning vibrating mode to dislodge dust particles.

Now we have to get rid of the dust particles and lint and crap inside the camera’s mirror box, and on the sensor itself.

Even though you might have tried the vibrating sensor self-cleaning mode, it might still be necessary to add a few short, but soft blasts with a blower, such as the Giottos rocket air blaster (Amazon). This will blow out most of the junk inside your camera.

2. sensor swabs to (gently) sweep clean

Next up, we need to dislodge any specs which remain on the sensor and didn’t budge with the puff of air.

Use Eclipse cleaning solution  to very lightly moisten the swab with which you are going to clean your sensor. Just a drop of liquid on the swab and then with a wrist-flick get rid of any moisture droplets. You just want the swab to be barely wet.

There are several sizes of sensor swabs, depending on your camera’s sensor size, whether full-frame, 1.3x crop, or 1.5 / 1.6 crop.

I use the smaller Type 2 sensor swabs to clean my full-frame camera. I find the bigger swabs which are designed to cover your entire sensor, more difficult to manage inside the camera.

3. a carry-everywhere kit

For the times that I need to brush something off my sensor, I also use the Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly.

This is the kit that I keep in my camera bag when I am out on a shoot, just in case I notice some horrible dust particle when I play an image back.

Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly SD800 Cleaning Kit (Amazon)

{ 5 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Kim Nodurft June 10, 2011 at 9:38 am

Neil, you rock!!! You just saved me $250 getting my entire camera cleaned!!! Thank you so much for all the information you so generously share here!


2 Christal Houghtelling May 1, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thanks for this. I have always been to scared to clean my own sensor. But I think I’m going to give it a go.


3 naftoli May 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

thank u neil i have always been scared of going near my sensor and theres such a variety of different products available for sensor cleaning i had no idea where to start, do u clean ur sensors regularly or only once in a blue moon when u c visible dust?


4 Derek April 11, 2013 at 8:06 am

I bought a kit for my D90 a few years ago and cleaned it with no issues. I recently bought a D700 and The sensor is covered with dust. Can I get away with using the same cleaning kit and just swiping a few times or should I buy the full frame swab? Thanks


5 Neil vN December 22, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Just use the same.


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