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Alex Hare Photography

Sensor Grot; A guide to Cleaning
Kit, Caboodle & Reviews

Jan 24th 2017

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I knew my sensor was getting a bit grubby; I was spending more and more time zapping spots in Photoshop but it’s a job I just couldn’t get round to.

That is until this black & white conversion of Summerhouse Hill in Kent.  Sheesh!  That’s a lot of grub; more than I knew was there from looking at my colour images.  Something had to be done…

I do my own sensor cleaning.  It’s cheaper than sending the camera away by Special Delivery and the cost of the cleaning.  It’s not that hard and it’s not that difficult once you give it a try so if you’re unsure hopefully this short guide will help.

The kit I use it all available from various retailers from Warehouse Express to Amazon.  Basically, you need good cleaning fluid (I don't find the vials of Isopropanol based fluid very good-to many smeras...), swabs and a blower.  I also like the cleaning cloth and fluid from Magic Devil for general lens cleaning.  The fluid I have found does a good job is Eclipse Optic cleaning Fluid which you can buy online from places like Amazon and WEX.

MagicDevil make a great value cloth and fluid product that I find as good for cleaning the iMac as I do my lenses.  For the sensor though the smaller vial of methanol which comes with the swabs doesn't seem very good to me and I prefer to use Eclipse fluid.

First off I do a quick overall clean by blowing into the body with the mirror down with the blower and give it a brush out with my cleaning brush.

On my Canon camera I then set it to manual cleaning and it pops the mirror up and out the way.  I give it all another good blow out with the blower before I apply the fluid in a sequence of drops along the length of the swab and then brush left to right across the sensor, flip the swab over and repeat in the same direction.

I then do a test shot of the sky, load this into Adobe Camera Raw (or Lightroom) and whack the Exposure slider up as this will reveal any dark spots against the bright sky.  If anything is left I repeat the process and maybe do an extra wiggle on the areas that have persistent grot on them.  You could use another, clean swab, but I’m a bit tight to I tend to us the same one again.

Apart from time in Photoshop cloning out spots there is always the chance that grub could cause unwanted flare so it’s a good idea to clean annually at the very least.

So for this image, it was the manual method of cleaning in post.  Next time I shoot I should have a clear run from this irritating task.  At least for a while...

If you've enjoyed this article, please consider 'liking' tweeting or sharing it with friends.  This blog is free for anyone to use as an information resource and building an audience is vital to make it viable to continue publishing it.  Please note that if you are unsure about how to clean your csensor or worried you may damage the sensor the best option is to refer to a sensort cleaning professional.

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