Cleaning your Camera's Sensor with Swabs and Cleaning Fluid
These notes describe how to use any of our sensor cleaning swabs and fluids to clean the sensor in a DSLR or Compact System Camera (CSC). Our swabs are clean-room manufactured cleaning tools designed to clean the delicate CCD or CMOS sensor inside a DSLR or CSC. Unlike compact digital cameras, these cameras feature removable lenses. In normal everyday use, changing the lens allows dirt and dust to enter the camera, some of which will eventually settle onto the sensor. The result is unsightly spots on images, typically seen against light backgrounds such as skies.
You can easily check if the camera sensor needs cleaning by taking a photograph of a clean light background using a small aperture (typically F16 and above). View the image on a computer monitor and if possible, perform a levels command (In Photoshop). Any contamination will then be revealed.
Before wet cleaning with a swab and solution, always perform a dry clean to remove any dry dust particles. At a mimimum use a blower to dry clean, or use our preferred method with the Dust-Aid Platinum dry cleaning system. The purpose of a dry clean is to ensure that no dust particles can be picked up by the swab when wet cleaning. The dry clean can be considered as a pre-clean prior to wet cleaning. Click here to see our dry cleaning page.
Our cleaning solutions are formulated to evaporate as fast as possible leaving no residue. Eclipse fluid and Gamma fluid are methanol based and are functionally identical. They are excellent at removing greasy spots from the sensor. They are also very effective lens cleaning solutions. Gamma and Eclipse are flammable fluids so should not be packed for air-travel. Our non-flammable cleaners include Beta Fluid and Dust-Aid Ultra Clean, both of these products are excellent lens and sensor cleaners with powerful oil-removing properties and fast evaporation rates.
Note: The cleaning solutions described above must only be used for cleaning the sensor or sensor filter surface and/or the glass parts of your lens/filter. If you need advice on cleaning other parts of your camera equipment, please ask us. We will be happy to help.
WET CLEANING THE SENSOR
To perform a cleaning procedure, it is necessary to open the shutter on the camera to gain access to the sensor. It is essential that you are fully aware of how to open the shutter and keep the shutter open while cleaning the sensor. If the shutter closes while cleaning is taking place the camera will be damaged. Please refer to the camera manufacturer’s instructions on how to open the shutter for cleaning purposes. If you are not 100% confident in this process, please return your camera to the manufacturer for sensor cleaning. Please also refer to cleaning 5-Axis stabilaised sensors in the text below.
Make sure that you are confident in opening and closing the shutter for the cleaning process. Ensure that contaminating particles cannot fall from your body or clothing into the shutter chamber during the cleaning procedure. Typically, contaminating particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Do not over saturate the swab with solution. 3-5 drops is sufficient. The fluid should evaporate almost immediately after swiping. Practice first until you are confident in the procedure.
*5 Axis Stabilised Sensors
Some modern camera sensors are mounted on a 5-Axis electronic gimbal mechanism to reduce camera shake. These sensors move from side to side when touched with a swab. Cleaning these sensors should be done as carefully as possible. Use minimum pressure and avoid moving the sensor while cleaning. Some cameras allow the sensor to be ‘locked’ in position for cleaning, in which case more pressure is permitted.
We guarantee that our Alpha Swabs and DSLR Swabs and liquid cleaning solutions will cause no damage to the CCD or CMOS sensor when used in accordance with the instructions provided by the camera manufacturer and our cleaning guides. If it is determined that these products caused physical damage to the sensor, we will reimburse the camera owner for the full cost of repairs upon presentation to us of proof of purchase of the cleaning materials from us. Use of non-approved methods, procedures or products will void this warranty.
CLEANING PROCEDURE – Always dry clean to remove loose dust before using swabs and fluid. See here before continuing.
(1) Check you have the correct size swabs for your model camera. (Click here for details).
(2) Prepare a clean, dust-free area with space for the camera, the swabs and the solution.
(3) Remove the lens from the camera and open the shutter according to the manufacturer’s directions.
(4) Cut open a swab pouch at the handle end. Remove the lid from the solution bottle.
(5) Clean the sensor as illustrated below.
(6) Try not to touch the the sides of the shutter chamber when cleaning. This can dislodge particles onto the sensor
(7) Carefully remove the swab and close the camera shutter.
(8) Refit the lens and test.
(9) Repeat if necessary with a fresh swab. Never reuse a swab.
Review: After wet cleaning the sensor, take another test shot to see how clean the sensor is. If there are only a couple of marks left, consider the cleaning session complete. Avoid using multiple swabs to remove that last elusive spot!
1: Remove the swab from the bag and squeeze 2 – 4 drops of solution onto the end of the swab.
2: Carefully insert the swab into the camera and starting at one end of the sensor.
3: Wipe the swab down the length of the sensor in one direction.
4: Until the whole sensor has been wiped. Note how side B is used for the first wipe.
5: Now lean the swab in the reverse direction.
6: Then wipe back across the sensor.
7: Until the whole sensor has been wiped. Note how side A is used for the second wipe.
Note: Use sufficient pressure during the cleaning action. Insufficient pressure will not produce an effective clean*.
To see our range of wet cleaning products please click here.
To see our range of sensor cleaning kits please click here.
We also stock sensor loupes to help you see your sensor more clearly, you can find them here.
If you need further advice please watch our sensor cleaning video tutorials here.
Just Limited 2021 E&OE