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DIY: Cleaning Your Camera Sensor

Published: 28/08/2019
By: Brandon

If you're anything like me, the thought of cleaning your own sensor is enough to give you an anxiety attack. This somewhat menial task seems to torment beginners and professionals alike. After an epic failed attempt at cleaning the sensor on one of my D750s and almost ruining it, I've never been comfortable trying again. I came across a great video today from Garey Gomez on how to clean your own sensor. I wish I would have seen this a few years ago but better late than never I guess!

Check it out.

Garey Gomez is an architectural photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a three-time PFRE Photographer of the Month, and the creator of the Mastering Real Estate Photography tutorial series.

9 comments on “DIY: Cleaning Your Camera Sensor”

  1. I use VSGO cleaning kits off of Amazon. They cost about $15. I have cleaned several types of cameras (A7Rii, a6500, BlackMagic Pocket 4k) and it has always worked fine. Although, a few times, I had to use about 6 swabs to do the job. (Never reuse them. One pass, then throw it away. 6 passes takes 6 swabs.) It's not that hard to do. You can't send your camera in for cleaning every time a piece of dust gets on your sensor!!!

  2. I use mostly my Nikon D7200 and twice in the last few months I had to clean the sensor because of dust spots. Anyone else have similar issues with the D7200? The camera is always in its bag so I am not sure how this is happening? I use a VSGO kit as well bought on Amazone (very cheap) and it works fine. Its easy to fix those dust spots with Lightroom but will add time to the post processing flow...

  3. I'm currently using 2 Nikon D750s for daily work, with 5 shutter replacements between the 2 of them, a few drops and dings, and well over a million clicks. I'm pretty much looking for an excuse for a new camera, so I figure that if I am going to clean my own sensor, a camera worth a couple hundred bucks is a good starting place.

    First I use the Rocket blower with the camera pointing at the ground so the dust falls out. Next I use the Ilead Gelstick and go in a pattern, covering the whole sensor twice. Finally, I bought a cushioned pad called a sensor sweep. The guy that sells these (I'm almost out and he is out of business) is Peter Gregg and he advocates fogging the sensor with your breath, and using the sensor sweep to wipe it like you are washing a window, basically. I am too nervous to breathe on it, but I will hold it, very briefly, over my morning hot coffee, and then use the sensor stick.

    I have done several tests shooting a blurred white wall at f16, before and after, and the cleaning approach seems to work like a charm.

    However, if I buy a new Nikon D850, I will probably stop self-cleaning.

  4. @Rom The biggest factor that introduces dust to sensors is changing lenses. That is the way it gets into the camera. Whether it hits the sensor, or sticks to the walls, who knows. For that reason, I rarely change lenses. I run around with 5 camera bodies most of the time, each has a different lens, that does something different with regard to RE work. And there are some variations in the bodies too.

    A7ii 16-35 2.8 GM - This is the interior workhorse
    a6500 10-18 This is the lightweight exterior workhorse for the elevated pole
    A7rii 12-24G This is for rooms with high ceilings, and it's the video goto, and for commercial hi-res work
    A7 70-300 Medium range zoom for exterior stuff
    Nikon D610 Sigma 150-600 long range zoom for wildlife or shooting a house from across the canyon. The great thing about Nikon is that they are probably the best at managing noise levels. When you shoot a long slow lens, you are going to have to use higher ISO's, which requires a system that handles noise well.

    ^^That is called Dust Prevention.^^

    However, they all get cleaned by me once a year anyway, because dust spots are unavoidable. I use the Delkin Devices Sensor Scope system.

  5. I recommend CPS Platinum if you shoot Canon. You get 10 cleanings a year, prepaid overnight delivery and same day turn. Send it out Monday am, back Tues pm. F-a-s-t. Easy.

  6. This is a subject that had always scared me, until I saw a you tube video on using Eclipse Optic cleaning fluid, PEC pads and or Sensor swabs Ultra, which comes in 3 different sizes.
    After watching the video, I ordered the three items, sat down at a table with mt camera and sensor exposed. I then prayed that I wouldn't scratch my sensor.
    I made sure my work area was clean, and no fans blowing. I used my rocket air blaster to blow any dust off the sensor. opened one of the sensor swabs (#2 for my Nikon and Fuji cropped sensor). on one side of the swab, I placed 2 drops of the eclipse liquid on one side of the swab,and dragged the moist side across the sensor. without lifting the swab, drag the swab back using the dry side. remove the swab and replace the lens. I was amazed at how wonderful it worked. it is recommended to only use the swabs once and toss them. but I did try using it twice on another camera, which worked, but not recommended.
    I keep the used swab, but throw away the cloth and re cover it with a PEC PAD, which is almost exactly what is use on the swab, and is a lot cheaper to re use.
    I am very careful when I change lenses. I try to be in a place where there is no wind or dirt, and I keep the camera pointing down, use my air bulb blower, when I change lenses. but its almost impossible to stop it, unless, as Kelvin mentioned, don't change lenses. I have the same issues when shooting portraits on the beach. I carry two cameras with lenses mounted. its the last place you want to change your lenses!
    Until a company creates the perfect architectural camera with a fixed lens that would be equal to a 15-35 lens with no chance of dust, we have to keep cleaning our sensors.
    I wish I could send them out for cleaning as David mentioned (and I have had Fuji do it a few times) but there are times when I'm out in the country, on vacation, or a place where I need to clean the sensor ASAP, and don't have the time to outsource it.

  7. When I went to WPPI earlier this year, I saw booths providing free sensor cleaning sponsored by the camera manufacturers. Makes me wish I had brought my camera with me. It could be worthwhile to bring you camera body with you to the bigger shows in case cleaning is offered.

    I do clean my own sensors most of the time, but I would rather have somebody else that does it all of the time do it for me. Nearly all of the time I can use a blower to get rid of the dust. It's rare I have something too sticky to blow off. I change lenses as fast as I can. I keep the rear end of the lenses clean so they aren't introducing dust that can be electrostatically attracted to the sensor. On a long exposure, that could be a big problem. If it's really mucky outside, I just won't change lenses. Most jobs aren't worth it. I have two bodies so if I'm photographing an event where I want a telephoto and a wide/normal lens, I'll equip each body with the appropriate lens. I'll also make sure their date/time settings are calibrated so I can organize the images by time if I need to.

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