There is more than one way for cleaning your camera sensor. However, it can easily happen that you make some mistakes when cleaning it, which can do your sensor harm in the long run. In this video, Michael The Maven talks about some of the most common mistakes people make. He also teaches you how to fix them, and proposes some effective methods for sensor cleaning.
The number one mistake you might be making comes even before cleaning your sensor. Think about how you change lenses on your camera. Is the sensor faced upwards or downwards? If it’s faced upwards, it gathers more dust particles, so this is something to avoid. Always face the sensor downwards when you’re swapping lenses.
Another mistake is not checking your sensor for dust particles prior to shooting. It can happen that you go on a shoot only to come back with photos and see that there are specs of dust to clean in post. To save yourself time and effort, check your sensor before the shoot. Take a photo of the bright sky with f/22 and you’ll clearly see the specs of dust if there are any. Then take the lens off and clean your sensor, and only now you’re good to go.
Dos and don’ts of sensor cleaning
When you’re changing lenses or cleaning the sensor, make sure to do it in an environment that isn’t windy, to avoid the sensor collecting even more dust.
If you don’t have proper tools, you may be tempted to blow away the dust particles simply by blowing on the sensor. Don’t do that, as some spittle may end up on the sensor.
Don’t use compresses air on the sensor. The gas that’s used to compress air often has some residue, and it will stay on your sensor, making things even worse.
Don’t use a lens pen on your sensor, considering that it contains gentle abrasive that might damage the sensor beyond repair. Also, don’t use the lint brush on the sensor, as it could add even more dust to it.
If you’re using a dust blower, make sure you use it the right way. Face the camera down and then blow off the dust of the sensor.
Finally, Michael warns you not to use sharp objects anywhere near your sensor. It sounds like a no-brainer, but he apparently knows some people who tried grabbing dust off their sensor with tweezers.
Some tools for cleaning the sensor
To help him see the dust particles better, Michael uses a Carson SM-44 4.5x SensorMag Magnifier. However, it’s designed for DSLRs, so you will not be able to focus on dust particles if you shoot mirrorless. A 3D-printed adapter might help in this case. It allows you to use a Carson 5x magnifier on any mirrorless camera.
Most of the time, Michael uses DustAid Platinum for dry cleaning of the sensor. He recommends DustAid Dust Wand Kit for wet cleaning, but he generally avoids it. The problem with wet cleaning is that you can sometimes create streaks, so you need another swab to remove them.
Personally, I still haven’t had the courage to clean my camera sensor on my own. I’m clumsy and I’m always afraid that I’ll mess something up. Lucky for me, I haven’t had the D7000 for a long time, so it’s still not critical. But the old D3000 could use a good sensor cleaning. : )
How do you clean your camera sensor? Do you have any tips and product recommendations to share?