Beginners Guide To Cleaning Your Camera Sensor

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  By Michael Moodie
Beginners Guide To Cleaning Your Camera Sensor

Most photographers like myself shiver at the idea of trying to clean their sensors. Not that it looks difficult but at the same time you’re so scared that you might damage your expensive lens or camera. My first time cleaning my sensors pretty much had me worried the whole time If I was doing it correctly or I’m about to have to buy some new equipment. Nonetheless, it all worked out quite well and my camera has been performing a lot better since. Of course, there is always the option of carrying your camera to a shop and having some professionals do it. However, if you’re like me and rather learn to do it yourself in the comfort of your own home then this article should be a great help. A lot of photographers are not sure as to why they need to clean their sensors or take it to a professional to be cleaned. Each time you change your lenses, your sensors are exposed and become vulnerable to any dust in the air. If you can recall how many times you change your lens within a week, you can only imagine how much dust has accumulated over some months.

A simple way to know if your sensor needs cleaning is to first adjust your aperture to about f/16 or f/22. You then lower your ISO to avoid any noise being added to your shot. After you’ve done all of this, you should make sure the photograph is being taken against something very bright. So maybe a white wall or even a piece of paper. Also, make sure you gently shake your camera when taking the image so the dust particles can be a bit more evident in the shot. If when you see the image you are able to play a game of connecting the dots then you should clean your sensor asap. I would recommend running this check at least once a month to ensure your camera is putting out its best.

1. Use the Auto Clean Function

Most DSLR cameras have an option in the menu that allows the camera to clean the sensor itself. This option should be easy to navigate on both Canon and Nikon cameras. If you get confused, take a quick look in your owner’s manual and that should take you exactly where you need to be. When this option is selected, the camera basically goes through a series of small vibration to shake the dust off or get it loose. To me, this method isn’t really effective unless it’s done about several times and even then it may not be as clean as you’d hoped. This does, however, give you jump start before you actually start to get it done you so ensure you do this first before you begin.

2. Use Sensor Swabs

There are a few inexpensive but very useful tools you might need before beginning your manual cleaning. These Sensor Swabs are specifically designed to clean the sensor on your camera. They often come with a little bottle of liquid that is used to assist the swabs in getting the job done. Put a drop or two on the swab and slowly clean the sensor in a horizontal direction. Treat this procedure as if it was a mini surgery and you are the lead surgeon. Don’t rush it and be gentle with your patient. After you use a swab to wipe the sensor, you should immediately throw it away and use a different swab if you intend to do some more work. This procedure is fairly easy and shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to do. These kits cost just about $10 to $20 dollars on Amazon and easy to use.

3. Power Up

This part is a bit tricky. If you have an idea how your shutter works, then you know the mirror flaps up and down to capture images onto the sensor. Now you don’t want this to happen while cleaning the sensor as this could cause some damage so it is recommended that you have a fully charged battery and set your camera’s exposure to Bulb. This should give you ample time to clean your sensor without causing any damage. After you’ve completed this step, run another test again to see if you’ve gotten everything off the sensor and pleased with the results. If not, repeat these steps again and after the second or third run your sensor should be sparkling and your images crystal clear.

If after this article you are still a bit terrified to clean your sensor. Make a quick visit to your closest camera store or repair shop. Otherwise, I hope this article has been a great help in getting your sensors sparkly clean and producing some even better quality images. Until next time, thank you for stopping by!

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Michael Moodie is a Freelance Photographer and Photojournalist. He Enjoys Lifestyle Photography and Traveling while doing all things creative!

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