Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This Wednesday's Project--Clean DSLR Sensor

OK, first of all, to all you other geeks out there, do this at your own risk.  I am not responsible for your work...With that said, let's get geeky!

I love photography.  I love capturing moments that would otherwise slip away forgotten forever.  It is a passion of mine.  One thing that I don't like is sensor dust.  Sensor dust shows up as those noticeable dots when you shoot a beautiful clear blue sky.  Nothing can ruin your picture faster than dust on your sensor.  Sure, you could fix this in post processing with Photoshop's healing brush, but time is money, and we are all about saving money and time, and whatever...let's get to it!!!

First, here is a "save the date" picture I took for this stunning young lady I know.  Great theme right?  They are getting married on 5/29, so the two football junkies line up posed in front of the field goal, perfect shot and BAM!!!!!!   Sensor dust!@!@!@!@!   WHAT???? More post processing!?!

sensor dust
Sensor dust shows up as dots in the sky!
One way to fix it is to push your Bleached Bypass version of another photo.

Isn't beautiful, no sensor dust. Fixed with Photoshop....too much work!

Well, the lovely bride to be really wants the Lucas Art sculpted version.  Well to prevent this form happening again, you are going to have to get your sensor cleaned.

I use a Nikon D40 DLSR for most of my shooting.  I use a lot of really old manual lenses and change them out often.  So I am going to be getting lots of dust in there.  I could take it and get it cleaned several times a year, but that gets expensive and I don't like to be without my camera. So I went out and purchased some sensor cleaning tools.  I purchased these at  They are very reasonable.

Sensor cleaning tools

First, let's try to blow out the dust with the Rocket Blaster!  You need to go into your settings on your camera and set the mode to mirror lockup or sensor clean.  After you push the shutter, the mirror will stay up and the shutter will stay open until you turn the camera off.  It is very important that you have a fully charged battery, you don't want your shutter closing on your tools, it will ruin your shutter and that will be costly in time and money.

camera sensor exposed
The mirror is in the lockup position.  That funky looking thing in the middle
is the camera sensor.  The flash makes it look like that.   It really just looks kind of blue.
That can't be me that dripped pizza sauce to the left.  DO NOT EAT PIZZA WHILE CLEANING YOUR

With the mirror and shutter out of the way, send some blast of air over the sensor.  Now the instructions state to hold your camera body upside down to be sure that any loose dust is handled by gravity and falls out of the camera.

blowing out sensor dust
Holding the camera body upside down and blowing out with the
Rocket tool.  Calm down ladies!!!  Those manly hands are taken!

When you are satisfied you blasted enough, turn the camera off and put the lens back on.  Now go out and take a picture of the sky.  Do you see any dust?  Well, I do....
still see some sensor dust
Still see some sensor dust

Next, let's try the lens pen. Now this is scary!!!  You actually have to touch the pen to the sensor to clean it.  Go through the mirror lockup we just discussed again.  Now with your sensor exposed, swipe the sensor with the lens pen.  I gave mine a blast with the rocket blaster a few more times too.

Using the Lens Pen
Using the Lens Pen

Now turn your camera off and put it all back together.  Take another picture of the sky.  Is that any better?   Some, but still a little dust.

Still a little bit of dust
Still a little bit of dust

So I used the Lens Pen a second time.  This time paying attention making sure I covered the whole sensor with the Lens Pen.  Then I blew it out one more time and put it all back together.  The directions to say to blow it out after using the Lens Pen. Finally, most of the sensor dust seems to be gone!

Most of the dust is gone...
Most of the dust is gone...

I have to say that I am very pleased with this purchase.  Major amounts of dust removed in my opinion. I think a combination of these two tools will help you keep your sensor dust at bay.  The best part of it is that they are reusable.  The Lens Pen claims you get up to 500 uses out of it. So for about $20 for both tools, I am able to clean my sensor approximately 500 times. Remember, be very careful doing this.  One slip up and it will be a very costly mistake.  Keep your battery fully charged while doing this....If you feel like for any reason you can't do this, please respect your camera and take it in to get cleaned at your local camera shop.

Remember, save money and stay geeky!

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