Cheap and easy way to clean a DSLR camera’s sensor

Do your pictures have mysterious spots that aren’t supposed to be there? Are you sick of keeping cleaning the lens and they still don’t disappear? Don’t worry, it’s fixable. It’s just small specks of dust that have crept into the camera’s sensor.

There are many ways to clean the sensor. After googling about that you might realise that most of them require splash out for expensive special products, which is what professionals will probably recommend you. Since I’m not a professional, I’ll tell you my experience doing that without spending too much money and using things you can find at home.

1. What you need

  • A blower. I used an empty plastic-made perfume bottle I already had at home. Just make sure what you use is clean and there’s no trace of liquid in it.
  • Cotton swabs. You can also buy special ones which have the size of the sensor, but the usual ones will do.
  • Isopropyl alcohol. You can get it at any pharmacy. It’s not expensive, the only problem is that you will have to buy a big bottle of which you will use just a few drops.
  • Delicacy and patience, a lot of patience.

2. Checking the dust

The first thing you might want to do is check that the spots don’t come from dust on the lens, so clean it up first to determine if the problem comes from inside the camera or
not. To do that, you only need to take a photo of a uniform surface such as a paper.
Use the smallest diaphragm aperture possible. The smaller it is, the more dust you will capture. Load it to your computer and you will easily see the dust, if it is there. You can also try to vary the contrast or brightness with Photoshop to see it more clearly. If you see the spots, keep reading.

3. Preparing the camera

Choose a good indoor place with a clean environment, and make sure you have enough
battery. Among the camera settings, you will find a cleaning sensor mode option. It keeps the mirror up so that the sensor is exposed to you and turns off the charge to the sensor so that it doesn’t act like a magnet to dust, as it usually does.
The sensor is the device that converts the optical image to an electronic signal in digital cameras. It’s located at the bottom of the camera, behind the mirror. While the cleaning mode is activated, you need to keep your camera on. Remove the lens and let’s start.

4. Blowing the dust

Hold the camera facing down and blow air to the sensor using the blower. You should first blow some times to the air to eliminate any dust in it, and then do it to the sensor, several times. When you finish, turn off the camera and the sensor cleaning mode will be disabled.

Now you can take another photo and check if the dust has been removed. If you don’t see any spots, you were lucky; you had easy dust and your sensor cleaning operation is completed. If not, you can do it once more, and once more…And if still, the spots remain there, you should continue to step 5.

5. Removing the stuck dust

Time to start with the wet cleaning mode. Enable the sensor cleaning mode again and place the camera on a flat surface so that the sensor faces to you. Take a cotton swab with one or two drops of the isopropyl alcohol (you need it damp, not soaked) and wipe the sensor from the center to the edges. Then take a dry one and do the same to remove the remaining liquid. This liquid dries quickly, so if you have used the right amount of it, it shouldn’t be difficult to leave no trace of the cotton swab trajectory. If you see it, keep drying it with more swabs.

Despite what you touch doing that is not the sensor itself but a protective filter, you need to be delicate. Don’t press too much with the swabs.

Once you are done, you can turn off the camera again, take more photos and check again. You’ll need to take patience and repeat the operation as many times as our enemy the dust wants us to. Sooner or later, after one hour or four, after cleaning it once or hundreds of times, you’ll get something like that: (Please tell me you don’t see any spot)

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