cleaning camera

Easy Guide to Learn How to Clean A Camera Sensor

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While photographers love their cameras and their work, there is one thing about it that they dread the most. It is cleaning the sensors of a digital camera. Most photographers prefer taking the camera to a camera store to get the sensors cleaned.

However, they charge a fortune for the same, which most photographers do not like to pay for. This is the reason why even though photographers find it cumbersome, they still get down to clean the sensors themselves. To resolve all your troubles, we will tell you how to clean a camera sensor easily. Follow along.

How Do Sensors Get Dirty?

Sensors are crucial for image production in the digital camera. That’s why when you clean the sensors by any technique whatsoever, you should be gentle. If the sensors get scratches or get damaged in any way, it is difficult to repair them, and new ones are extremely expensive.

Since the digital sensors are internal parts of a camera, you would wonder how these sensors get contaminated in the first place. For clicking photographs, a photographer needs to change the lenses of the camera frequently. During the lens replacement, the dust gets inside the camera and contaminates the digital sensors.

Therefore, as a precautionary step, while you are changing the lenses, try and protect the interiors of the camera from any dust or contaminants. Although the dust and other particles are so small that they still manage to get inside the camera, you should make an effort on your part to protect the sensors.

Identifying a Dirty Digital Sensor

When dust accumulates in large quantities on the digital sensors, unusual spots start appearing in the images. However, it is not so easy to identify sensor dust through the images.

You can use the following cues to know if too much dust has accumulated on the digital sensors:

  • Sometimes the viewfinder of the camera shows these unusual spots while the images are still clear.
  • If you use a wide aperture during photography, then you might not see the sensor dust in the images. This is because with a wide aperture, the light is bright enough, and the depth effect is so wide that it moves these tiny dust particles out of focus.
  • You should certainly clean the camera sensors when you start seeing the dust spots in all the images that you click with the camera.
  • If you only see dust particles on the camera’s mirror, then it does not mean that the sensor is also dirty. You can simply remove this dust with air blowers.

Do not touch the mirror sensors or any other internal component of the camera to see whether they are dirty. It can damage them because they are quite fragile and sensitive.

Testing For Sensor Dust

  • If there is too much dust present on the surface of the digital sensor, then on narrowing the camera aperture you will see the dust particles. An f/16 or an f/22 aperture will be suitable.
  • To check whether the camera sensors are dirty or not, try clicking pictures of bright white backgrounds. You can choose a white wall, the skies, or a simple white paper. Before you click the picture, move the camera suddenly so that the background becomes blurred, and only the dust particles remain visible.
  • If you keep the back LCD screen of the camera at a hundred percent brightness, then it can detect any dust particle on the digital sensors. Otherwise, if you want to check the images for the unusual spots, then you can load it on a computer screen where it is easier to identify them.
  • In all the above methods of checking for dust on the digital sensors, keep the ISO of the digital camera at the lowest.

Wet Cleaning a Sensor

As stated before, camera sensors, mirrors, etc. are very sensitive parts. So, before you take the risk of opening the camera and cleaning the sensors yourself, try cleaning the lens with the auto-clean mode of the camera. While it does not remove fine dust particles, you should still try it first. Some cameras do this automatically when you turn the camera on or off.

Remember that the auto clean mode in digital cameras requires a lot of battery power. Thus, start the auto cleaning only when the battery has a full charge. If the process stops midway, it may end up damaging the sensors.

Equipment needed for wet cleaning a sensor:

  • Air blower
  • Sensor loupe – A magnifier that has an LED light that helps in viewing the tiny dust particles.
  • Cleaning swabs
  • Sensor cleaning solution

Steps to clean a camera sensor:

  • Take out the camera lens and place the camera on a table with the LCD screen facing downwards.
  • Turn on the manual cleaning option to lock the camera’s mirror.
  • Start by removing the sensor swab and use an air blower to remove the dust stuck on the swab.
  • Now, put a few drops of the cleanser on the swab. Do not put more than 2-3 drops as they can leave behind streaks on the sensor.
  • Gently place the swab on one side of the sensor. Smoothly move the swab to the other side, cleaning the surface during the movement. Repeat the procedure when you reach the other end of the sensor.
  • Use a loupe to check if all dust is removed from the sensor. Otherwise, take a test shot, as explained before, to ascertain that the dust is removed.
  • If any dust particles are remaining, wet clean the sensor again. Do not reuse the same swab.

How to clean a camera sensor – Conclusion

Follow these steps, and you will end up with a clean camera sensor. It is necessary to ensure that you clean the digital sensors very gently and do not use a lot of cleansers that can make the sensors foggy. In this guide, we taught you how to clean a camera sensor so that you no longer have to spend a hefty amount at the camera store.

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Marco Downs

Marco Downs

Marco Downs is our second founder and he is the creative head of this website. Marco stumbled upon photography only in college when he joined the photography club. His parents could never afford a camera for him as a child and it was in college that he saved up and bought his first camera. He now writes in-depth buyer guides and informational articles to assist the buyers. 
Marco Downs

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