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Cleaning the sensor on my camera - Doing the job myself !

mvheystmvheyst Member
edited December 2013 in general photography
This article of Neil refers:

Cleaning your camera’s sensor

About a year ago, I tried cleaning my camera's censor, and I made a mess of it !

After using a D300 for a year, I had one large spot and several very small spots on the censor. As I like doing thing myself, I tried to clean the censor of my camera. I tried to follow the instructions provided with the eclipse as good as possible, but the results wasn't what I was hoping for !

First I used a Giotto blower, holding the camera with the censor facing the ground.

I used the eclipse liquid and censor swabs. I used drops of eclipse on a swab, swiping the censor once from left to right; turing the swab over; and wiping it once from right to left. I tried it with 4 different swabs, and each time the results got worse than before.

The initial spots were hard to notice, but the resulting mess is obvious:


My local Nikon repair centre cleaned the censor, and made a much better job of it.

Here is an instructional video from Eclipse:

I tried using the eclipse and censor swabs on a filter, and it made streaks.

I want to clean the censors of my cameras, but I am afraid to try it again.
What method does a Nikon repair center use to clean a censor?


For interest sake:

This is one of the Official Nikon Japanese Only video instruction on how to clean your sensor. This video assumes you are using the Nikon Pro Cleaning Kit which this video came with.



  • mvheyst: those spots looks like a dust particals, not spots on sensor. Sensor spots are more like round shape and looks like round transparent spots. You did not mention any air blowing, so I suggest you use air blower and blow air a couple of times from sensor. Be sure you have camera turned upside down so the dust can fall out.
    I had the same problems at first time, then I realised that I am just driving dust all over the sensor with each wet swab, even if it was clean one. Than I used air blower and things worked out.
    So my suggestion is:

    - air blow a lot.
    - clean with wet sensor swab once each side, but same direction
    - check camera if it is OK (on computer)
    - if not, repeat air blow once again.

    That is my procedure and it works. At least so far. :)
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited November 2011
    sasko1: Thanks for the response. I used a large Giotto Rocket Blower, but it appeared if it blew more dust onto the censor, compared to what it removed.

    The initial problem was mainly a round "semi-transparent" circle, only noticable on certain photographs.

    I store the blower in a plastic bag, to protect it from dust. As I worked with strong spotlights, I noted there is dust in the air. Dust in the air must be a problem for all.

    After swiping the censor with the eclipse & censor swab, I noted all these marks. It almost appears if the swabs are giving off lint, and making streaks.

    I tried the eclipse and sensor swabs on a UV filter and I noted the results of swiping a filter. You get streaks on the filter, and it looks bad. If the same is happening on the censor, i am not surprised with the results.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited November 2011
    After you use the swab, try just using a completely dry one, I used to do that with my Canon 5D which did not have auto sensor cleaning and it worked for me.

    One thing, do *not* saturate the swab, that's the main reason for more streaky, just one drop of cleaner on the very end leading edge of swab.

    Do not try to keep swiping it, you only keep getting it more streaky. One reasonably firm pass on one side of swab, then the other, I also did not do the recommended wipe one way then the other, I wiped the same way, just flipping the swab over. Then I used a completely dry one immediately. Used to get it clean 99.5% of the time first go.

    As you already noticed using the cleaner on a filter, it will not dry completely clean, that's why you also then rub it with a dry cloth after cleaning. On filter, not on sensor :)

    Here is a site for you to read, start with Intro, and work your way down the list, Method, Precautions, etc.


    Manufacturer's In House Cleaning Methods:

    * Canon - Blower and a Kimwipe, held by tweezers. They do not like to use fluid but when necessary they use either 90% isopropyl alcohol or a 50/50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and Windex.
    * Fuji - Photographic Solutions Sensor Swabs™ and Eclipse™
    * Kodak - Photographic Solutions Sensor Swabs™ and Eclipse™
    * Leica - Photographic Solutions Sensor Swabs™ and Eclipse™
    * Nikon - A commercial grade lens tissue wrapped around a chopstick style piece of wood with medical grade methanol. Several forums have posts where readers have been to Nikon Service outside the USA and reported seeing the technicians using Sensors Swabs and Eclipse.
    * Olympus - A Kimwipe held by tweezers and Olympus Proprietary Solution (dries quickly without streaks and is bio-degradable).
    * Pentax - A special lint free cloth (provided from Japan) folded into a small square and held with a pair of tweezers as a swab moistened with a freon derivative.
    * Sigma - Uses a special vacuum cleaner that was provided by Japan.
    * Sony - Uses Sensor Swabs™ and Eclipse™ by Photographic Solutions.

  • I didn't completely read through all the responses, but I noticed in your listed procedure you went from left to right then right to left. NO!!! Always go the same direction from side to side. If you switch directions you can drag debris back onto the sensor and redeposit it. I've had very good luck with sensor cleaning in this manner, on some very dirty cameras too!

    Good luck!
  • HI,

    I have cleaned the sensor on my D300 multiple times without a hitch. But I have never used or needed to use a wet swab. I have used the Artic Butterfly by Visible Dust which is a dry brush that electrostaticly charges by whirling. One slow swipe and the dust is gone. Never failed me. I would definitely try this before using anything wet on your sensor.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited November 2011
    Trev, MCAldridge & Richard (dalbyimages).

    Thanks for your responses and sharing your experience with me.

    I am curious which material caused the "dust" or "spots" on my sensor. Is it just dust, or is it "sticky stuff" like pollen? If it is just "dust", I assume an "Artic Butterfly" Brush will wipe the dust away. There will then be no need to use any liquid on the censor. I assume it will be the same as wiping loose dust of filter of a camera.

    From the response of Richard, it doesn't appears if he has problems with "sticky stuff", like pollen. Will the Artic Butterfly remove pollen as well?


    MCAldridge, thanks for informing me you don't swipe the censor both ways. I followed the instructions of eclipse, and they tell you to swipe in both directions. On the video below the photograph, you will note they swipe in 2 directions. I followed the instructions of the manufacturer.


    Trev, thanks for giving info on the "Manufacturer's In House Cleaning Methods". They will use the cheapest possible method to clean sensors in workshops, resulting in acceptable results.

    When I clean a lens filter, I do one of the following:

    a) Wipe the filter with the brush at the back of a LensPen to remove any loose dust. If wiping the dust give acceptable results, I stop here.

    b) If there is fingerprints, salt from shooting near the ocean, or any other rubbish on the filter I brush off access dirt, and wipe the filter with a Moist Wipe made for Spectacle lenses. It works like a dream. If there are any small streaks, I remove them with a lenspen. I can look at the filter under a strong spotlight to find any remaining problems.

    But, there is often small dust spots on the lens after it was cleaned (using liquid), and you need to brush it away. Therefore I assume there may also be dust spots on a sensor after it was cleaned using eclipse.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited November 2011
    Due to the problem I experienced, I take my cameras to Nikon for lens cleaning, but I keen on learning from your experiences. It shouldn't be a problem to clean my camera's sensors.

    When I am on a trip, and there is no camera repair shop nearby, I should be able to clean the sensor myself.

    Should I rather buy an Artic Butterfy, or should I rather keep trying with the Eclipse?

    More Info on Artic Butterfly:

    Herewith another video on using eclipse:

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    sasko1 said: those spots looks like a dust particals, not spots on sensor.
    What would the difference be ?
  • Neil vN said: sasko1 said: those spots looks like a dust particals, not spots on sensor.
    What would the difference be ?

    Did not see your question Neil. Sorry.

    I am bit clumsy with my english. :) What I meant to say was that those spots does not look like wet/oil spots which are stuck on sensor but like dust particals which can be blown away with dust blower. But i think mvheyst got it right. :)
  • You are all brave. I have bad luck so I won't touch mine. It get's done when it goes in for CPS service or I take it to a local camera repair store a few times a year.
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