Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Article on Cleaning your sensor by Brenda Tharp!

Keeping your Digital Sensor Clean

Dust is the Digital Photographer's enemy, I'm convinced. Simply changing lenses isn't as safe as it used to be with film cameras. But here's a few tips to help you minimize the dust-bunny buildup in your camera.

1. Always turn off the camera before changing lenses. When your camera is on, the charge across the sensor will draw dust like a magnet. If possible, wait a few seconds for the charge to dissipate. This is tough, when you are shooting fast action or moments, but when possible, it's a great habit to get into.

2. Turn your camera downward when changing lenses to minimize things falling into the camera's cavity.

3. Keep the back element and the mount of your lenses as clean as possible to keep from transferring more dust to the camera body.

When does it become necessary to clean the sensor? Do this test. Point your camera up at a blue sky, set it for infinity focus, and shoot at f16. Download that image into the computer, open it in Photoshop or Elements, enlarge it to 100 percent, and you will see the amount of dust and stuff you have on your sensor.

Everyone has their limits. For me, I'd rather not spend time spotting out the dust in the solid areas of my pictures on the computer. To keep that to a minimum, I've used a hurricane bulb blower on a regular basis - every day and sometimes more frequently when I was in dusty conditions. The blower really did an OK job for the light dust, but it wouldn't get it all and I was always worried I'd hit the sensor with the tip of the blower.

That's when Visible Dust's Sensor Brush came to the rescue. The original Sensor Brush is designed to be used with canned air. You spray the brush with the canned air and it charges the ions so when you carefully brush it across the sensor, it picks up the dust, rather than just moving it around. It's fantastic!

However, since many photographers travel, canned air is not easy to get at the destination. So Visible Dust developed the Sensor Brush SD, a brush that gets its charge from spinning. It runs off AAA batteries and is a full size brush. If you want to travel even lighter, their newest product, the Arctic Butterfly, also runs off batteries and is a smaller version of the Sensor Brush SD. The Arctic Butterfly is designed for light dust. But for me, heading to Egypt in January, I'm sticking with the SD version to be sure I'll get all the dust out.

Out, Out, Darn Spots!

When a little dust is not the issue, but you have spots to remove, Visible Dust again comes to the rescue. Using their Sensor Clean liquid with swabs, you can get rid of those stubborn spots. This has been a scary thing for many people, but it's really not difficult and worth the timesaving and moneysaving aspects of shipping the camera in for service.

So if you are dealing with dust on the sensor that is visible and annoying, use the tips above to help minimize it, and consider Visible Dust's products to eliminate the rest of it. There are other products on the market, but most of my professional colleagues and I are happy with Visible Dust's product line. For more information visit

Posted by Brenda Tharp at November 29, 2005 12:47 AM


Great information Brenda....thanks

Posted by: Donna Cuic at November 29, 2005 07:52 AM

You're welcome, Donna - thanks for taking the time to read the blog!

Posted by: Brenda Tharp at November 30, 2005 09:35 AM

I too had problems with digital dust bunnies. I read MANY on-line articles on the problem and here was my solution.
I bought 91% pure isopropyl alcohol, sterile bandages, and a thin narrow kitchen spatula. After cutting the spatula to the correct width I wrapped a bandage around it and secured it with tape. I then applied a few drops of alcohol and swiped the sensor. It took me three tries to get all of that grime off.

Posted by: Danette at February 23, 2006 02:10 PM

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