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Camera Sensor Cleaning

Camera Sensor Cleaning

Ratings: (0)|Views: 65|Likes:
Published by Robert Benson
Digital camera sensor cleaning, if you will excuse the pun, is a "sensitive" matter. It requires patients and understanding of the delicate nature of the sensor itself. Some self-cleaning camera models like some of those made my Canon do a good job of "removing dust" or at least keeping dust from ruining your pictures.

Unfortunately they do more of a job of "hiding" dust than they do removing it. An expensive investment in a camera like the 5D (Canon EOS) can really hit the pocketbook. It would seem like a shame not to take good care of it like the high precision instrument that it is.
Digital camera sensor cleaning, if you will excuse the pun, is a "sensitive" matter. It requires patients and understanding of the delicate nature of the sensor itself. Some self-cleaning camera models like some of those made my Canon do a good job of "removing dust" or at least keeping dust from ruining your pictures.

Unfortunately they do more of a job of "hiding" dust than they do removing it. An expensive investment in a camera like the 5D (Canon EOS) can really hit the pocketbook. It would seem like a shame not to take good care of it like the high precision instrument that it is.

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Published by: Robert Benson on Nov 16, 2008
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06/29/2010

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Camera Sensor Cleaning - The Dos, Don'ts & How TosDigital <b>camera sensor cleaning</b>, if you will excuse the pun, is a"sensitive" matter. It requires patients and understanding of the delicate natureof the sensor itself. Some self-cleaning camera models like some of those made myCanon do a good job of "removing dust" or at least keeping dust from ruining yourpictures.Unfortunately they do more of a job of "hiding" dust than they do removing it. Anexpensive investment in a camera like the 5D (Canon EOS) can really hit thepocketbook. It would seem like a shame not to take good care of it like the highprecision instrument that it is.Digital camera cleaning of parts, like the lens and body are relatively easycompared to the delicate task of cleaning camera sensors. This is why extremecare should be taken at anytime you remove the lens from your camera body. Adamaged sensor would be a costly repair considering some of the middle end modelsof d-SLR come in at around $2,000 to $3000. Even if you only purchased a "pro-sumer" model like a Canon Rebel XTi or a Nikon D40 for around $800 or $900. It'sprobably a sizable investment for you so the best advice is just to be careful.It is highly recommended that you avoid the use of canned compressed air,especially if you are inexperienced. There are chemicals involved that coulddamage the sensor if expelled into the camera. In the past, with film SLRs it wasperfectly acceptable to use the compressed air as the internal nature of thecamera was not as delicate. While there are propellant free compressed productsavailable, I just as soon avoid them myself. I hate to beat a dead horse butsince you spent so much money on your camera, you should treat it as you would anyexpensive investment. While blowing air into the camera housing is quick andeasy, it's not always the best solution and of course, as I have mentioned can bedangerous. Just avoiding compressed air all together would be my advice.If you <b>must</b> use a product like this due to time constraints, etc. Youshould go with a CO2 and nitrogen cartridge based systems that are moisture freebut can be very expensive.There are many products on the market that I recommend and that I myself use. Onecan obtain digital camera cleaning products anywhere that sells cameras or opticalequipment. However, one must be prudent since we are dealing with a largeinvestment of money and don't want to risk damaging our camera just to save a fewdollars on cleaning supplies. There are camera dealers that I myself have been tothat recommend products that I would never use on my camera. It's not theirfault. Generally they want to be helpful but are most often working for a largecorporation and are hourly employees that, while well-meaning, don't have theexperience to dictate how you should handle your $3000 camera.I talked briefly about automatic dust removal systems. While these will help youout of a situation where you get dust in your sensor and don't have the ability toclean it right then and there, these will work fine. The methods used by thecamera are things like vibrating the sensor to "kick" off dust, having a staticcharge around the sensor to attract dust away and in severe cases, the camera willelectronically remove dust from the image itself. This works with a sophisticatedalgorithm inside the electronic brain of the camera that "detects" dust and usesneighboring pixels to fill in those areas. However, before every major shoot thatis important to me and of course, my client, I use the following techniques.So, how should you go about cleaning digital cameras sensors?
 
Step 1: Again, being extremely careful is the best policy.Step 2: You want to use your camera's mirror-lockup function. Consult your ownersmanual for "mirror lockup". This function, as the name implies, will lock themirror up out of the way when you press the shutter release button on your cameraand leave it there until the shutter is pressed again. NOTE: You may choose toplace your camera on "bulb" setting. This allows the cameras mirror to stay upuntil you choose to close it. Please consult your cameras manual to learn how toset a bulb exposure.Step 3: You need to use a lint free wipe, often referred to as a "pec pad" and afast drying cleaning fluid. (For good resources for obtaining these items, pleasevisit http://www.slrdigitalphotographysite.com/camera-sensor-cleaningPec pads are 99.99% lint free pads that are non-abrasive and won't damage orscratch your sensor.The cleaning fluids are generally methanol based, flammable and dangerous so youhave to be careful. Some places won't even ship these items in the mail due toregulations about mailing "hazardous materials". There are some alternatives tothe methanol based products but not as good. Also, if you are going to betraveling by plane with your cleaning fluid, you may have a problem unless it's ina certified safe/non-toxic packaging. In all cases use these products in a well-ventilated area, don't breath the fumes and don't get them on your skin, clothesor any furniture.At this stage you are also going to want to be in a dust-free environment. Asdust free as possible. You don't need to be in a room with a white suit on likethe people who work on computer chips but at the other end of the spectrum, don'tgo outside while it's windy or to your coffee table while the kids are having apillow fight in the room. Bottom line, the best place is probably somewhere likea dining room table while no one else is there and the house is relatively cleanand quiet. There should also be adequate light. You will be able to see the duston the sensor if you reflect an overhead light off it's shiny surface.Step 4: You should obtain either a wooden Popsicle stick or a flexible plasticfork knife, spoon, whatever. It doesn't matter which, because you will be usingthe handle end. You will also need some masking tape.You are going to place the pec pad in your hand and lay the handle into your handon top of it so that the very end of the handle (or Popsicle stick) rests about inthe middle of the pad. You then want to fold the left side of the pad over thehandle, the top down over so that it rests on the top of the left half you justfolded and then bring the right side over to the left and make it tight. (I knowthis sounds confusing so there are pictures available at the site listed above.)Once you have done this you should tape the pec pad near the base (closer to thetop of the utensil's "business end". You want the tape to be far away from thecamera as scotch tape is abrasive and you don't want it to touch the sensor.You want to end up with a flat end of pec pad with a relatively spongy feeling.It has to be soft because you're going to sweep this across your sensor VERYLIGHTLY. You want it flat because you are going to sweep across the sensor fromone side to the next in about 3 to 4 passes, moving over about the width of thepad with each pass, in order to sweep the whole surface. Of course, prior todoing this you should add a couple of drops of the cleaning fluid to the flat tipof the instrument you just made.This should go without saying but NEVER pour the liquid directly into the camera.NEVER push hard on the sensor. Just lightly sweep across it. You are sweepingdust after all and not grinding off nuggets of dirt. VERY, VERY light pressure.

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