cleaning sensor dust - CCD

cleaning sensor dust - CCD, blue, burning man, camera, camera sensor, ccd sensor, dirty, dslr, image sensor, sensor brush, sensor swabs, visible dust

Playa dust on my DSLR Camera CCD sensor, ouch!

This is a sensor test photo that i took at Burning Man 2008.­

I have never seen as much dust on my sensor.­ Good thing I know how to clean a CCD sensor :)

To do a DSLR Camera CCD sensor test photo:

- Use a long lens /­ telephoto zoom (it will work better than with a wide angle)
- Set in A mode with the diaphragm (aperture) closed to the maximum (i.­e.­ maximum F-value, F32)
- Set the camera to manual focus and make it completely out of focus, so if you see a dot on the test shot, it will be dust (and not a bird in the sky!)
- Shoot the sky or something uniform and featureless (like a sheet of white paper)

To clean, I recommend a Giottos Rocket air blower to remove the bulk of the dust, then you can use the wet sensor swabs (with 100% pure methanol optical solution, also called methylic alcohol) to remove sticky particles that don't go with the air blower, if necessary.­

When blowing the dust with an air blower, hold the camera with the face down, so that the sensor is up.­ this way the dislodged dust will fall away from the sensor, rather than falling back on it.­ Doing this does help.­ Also, try to not touch the sensor with the blower.­ If you touch it, it probably won't damage your sensor, but it might let a mark that would require being cleaned using swabs and methanol.­

In many cases, the sensor can be cleaned completely with just the air blower.­ If that does not work because there are some very sticky particles on your sensor, then proceed with the wet swabs.­

Don't put more than a couple of drops of methanol on the swab, otherwise it would be too wet and leave deposit marks on the sensor.­ You will have to clean several times before getting a clean sensor, especially the first time.­ To clean, you must sweep the swab on the sensor from side to side.­ For best results, the width of the swab should the exact width of your sensor, so that you only need one sweep.­ Swabs made by Visible Dust.­ are excellent quality, I use those.­ After sweeping, put back the lens and do a test shot, then zoom on the image and check if there is still dust.­ usually the dust is located near the corners or near the edges.­ if you see dust, repeat the process.­

Camera sensor cleaning was painful at the beginning, it took me one hour to get all the dust OFF the first time.­ But now i can do it in two of three iterations, and it takes 10 min or so, and I am no the least nervous about doing it on my expensive camera.­

Also, remember that if you have dust on your DSLR sensor, it will probably not show on your photos if you shoot with maximum apperture (i.­e.­ minimum F value, e.­g.­ F2.­8 or F3.­5).­ So if you have dust on the sensor and must continue to shoot with the dust, remember to shoot in A-mode (apperture priority) and use maximum apperture, i.­e.­ use the minimum F value of your lens.­

Dry-cleaning the sensor with rotating brushes charged with static electricity will work only with the dry, non-sticky particles on the sensor.­ But it will not cleanup sticky or greasy particles.­ Those can only be removed with a wet swab.­ So even if you get one of those dry cleaning brushes (e.­g.­ Arctic Butterfly), sometimes you will still need to use the wet swabs.­

NEVER ever use a spray can to blow away the dust inside the camera.­ The very cold gas out of the air-can would cause irreparable damage (micro-cracks) to your sensor.­

There are other CCD cleaning options available, but that's what I use and it works well for me.­ Or you can pay a professional to do it, but it usually takes several days and it's not cheap, and this is not always possible if you travel.­ So you'd better learn how to do it yourself.­

Photo taken at the Burning Man 2008 festival (Black Rock Desert, Nevada).­

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Burning Man Burning Man 2008
Black Rock City, Nevada, USA