How to Clean a DSLR Sensor: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

The concept of cleaning the camera sensor is dreadful for many photographers. It can sound complex but is actually simple. And in today’s guide, you will know how to clean a DSLR sensor.

What is Camera Sensor Dust and What Does it Look Like?

Whenever you change a lens on the gadget, you are exposing the inside to possible dust or dirt contaminants. The user should try to shield the inside of the gadget as much as possible while changing the lens.

And you should not clean the lens in a place that will result in unnecessary dust entering the gadget, like on a windy day or on a sandy beach. But it is not always possible to do this. It is obvious that dust and dirt will enter the gadget and resultantly appear in your captured pictures. But how does sensor dirt appear in pictures? It shows as blurry spots. Here are some things to remember:

  1. You might view dust on the viewfinder, but the dirt won’t show up on pictures, if not invisible.
  2. If you shoot at wide apertures (like f/2.8), the depth of field is big enough to throw the spots out of focus. This makes them quite hard to see.
  3. Try taking a series of images. If you view the same blurry spots in all pictures, it obviously means that the sensor is covered with dust.
  4. Yes, a detailed scene won’t show any dirt. But all other images definitely will.
  5. Even if there is dirt on the sensor mirror, it cannot be captured in images. Use an air blower rather than compressed air to eliminate it.

Do not touch the sensor or the mirror with anything since both are very sensitive and can easily scratch, harm, or mark.

Before You Try to Clean Your Camera Sensor

It is advised to employ your camera auto clean mode if there is one. Some camera models do this automatically when switched off or on, but you should try yourself first too.

Ensure that your camera battery is completely charged because it can switch off during the cleaning process. This will harm the camera sensor if the gadget runs out of power.

The Required Materials

In order to know how to clean a DSLR sensor, you will need the following things:

Sensor loupe

This is an affordable item. It is basically a magnifier with LED lights, enabling you to easily and clearly view the sensor to check for dirt or dust.

Cleaning swabs

These should be lint-free and made for your camera’s particular sensor size.

Flashlight

Alternatively, a headlamp will also work to see the inside of the camera.

Bulb blower

This is for manually puffing dust away with air.

Cleaning solution

This should be designed for your camera sensors.

How to Dry Clean Your Sensor

Follow these instructions to dry clean your DSLR sensor:

  1. Search for a completely wind and dust free area
  2. If your DSLR has no lens and a full battery, go to the menu to manually clean the gadget. Check the manual if you can’t find the option. After choosing this mode, the mirror will lock back and showcase the sensor. You simply need to switch off the gadget to release the mirror back to the original spot.
  3. Hold the gadget upside down until the LCD screen is facing the ceiling. Employ the manual air blower to blow air in the gadget on the sensor. Be very careful to not touch the sensor with the air blower’s tip.
  4. Ideally, do not put the tip of the air blower in the camera, and do not employ compressed air
  5. After some blasts of air, switch off your camera and replace the lens. Take another test shot to check if this has eliminated the dirt or dust.

If the above method is successful in removing dust from the camera sensor, then you are done here. But if there is still some dirt left, then proceed to the next cleaning method.

How to Wet Clean Your Sensor

The following wet cleaning is a foolproof practice:

  1. Take off the lens and put the gadget on a surface with the LCD screen facing the floor.
  2. Choose the manual cleaning method to lock up the mirror on your DSLR. Take off the body cap or lens to reveal the sensor on a mirrorless camera.
  3. Get a sensor cleaning swab and by utilizing the air blower some times, blow air to eliminate any strange pieces of lint that might be stuck on the swab.
  4. Add a few drops of the cleaning solution to the swab tip. Don’t oversaturate the cleaning swab otherwise the camera sensor will have streaks.
  5. With extra care, put the cleaning swab on a sensor’s side and with gentleness, move the cleaning swab across the sensor in a swift motion. On the other side, turn the cleaning swab over and do the action starting from the back side to where you started. Do this in a smooth motion without any harsh force.
  6. Now, take the sensor loupe and inspect the sensor to see if it is clean. If you are doubtful regarding this, switch off the gadget and replace the lens and take another test shot to check for dirt.
  7. In case some dust is still present, you have to repeat the action with a new cleaning swab.

If there are streaks on your camera sensor, it means that you have employed a lot of the cleaning solution. Wait for a few minutes and repeat the procedure with little solution. Generally, two drops are sufficient. This will result in a tidy camera sensor. When done correctly with the proper equipment, it is a streamlined procedure.

Last Words

Although a little challenging the first time you accomplish this task, you won’t have to splurge unnecessarily on repairs.

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