Time to Clean Your Sensor

April 30, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Time to Clean Your Sensor*

If it is spring time, it is time to clean the sensor of your DSLR. Spring time means pollen and pollen means dust spots on the sensor of your DSLR. Every flowering plant dumps tons of pollen into the air and that pollen does a couple of things. The first thing it does is pollinate plants, the second thing it does is make everyone sneeze, and the third thing it does is stick to the sensor of any DSLR camera it can find.

SONY DSC

The above photo is marred by dust spots. Many of these dust spots are actually flecks of pollen that are super sticky and have affixed themselves to the sensor of the camera.

Most DSLR cameras have dust reduction systems. These systems work well for run of the mill dust. Pollen is not run of the mill dust. Pollen is big and sticky. Simply using the built in dust reduction systems or a blower is not going to take pollen off of a camera sensor. To remove pollen, the sensor must be cleaned.

Sensor cleaning can be done using a wet method (the method I prefer for extremely sticky pollen) or by using the dry method (sufficient for all but the most sticky pollen).

Before Cleaning


After Cleaning

Before and after photos of a sensor that is covered with pollen and that has subsequently been cleaned using a wet method. The cleaning is not one hundred percent perfect but it is usable. The few small dust specks that remain will not show up at apertures below f22. I had to use an f32 to get them to show up in the after image whereas I used an f22 for the before image.

*Here is the caveat in this essay. I do not recommend that you clean your sensor unless you understand that if something goes wrong you can ruin your camera. I do not recommend that you clean your sensor unless you understand that if something goes wrong you can void the warranty of your camera. I do not recommend that you clean your sensor unless you understand that you can send it to a qualified technician for cleaning and if they muff it up then it is their responsibility. If you still want to clean the sensor yourself then here are some YouTube videos that will be of help.

YouTube Tutorials:

Dry Cleaning of a Sensor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRW9AmDPqr0

Wet Cleaning of a Sensor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi6S3jHA21w

Do's & Don'ts (These guys use some expletives from time to time in their videos. You have been warned.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gouSOlgvQg0


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