Clean your sen­sor

See­ing spots on your shots? Rod Law­ton shows you to keep your cam­era’s imag­ing sen­sor squeaky clean us­ing a Len­spen Sen­sorKlear kit

NPhoto - - Contents -

It’s a del­i­cate job in a sen­si­tive area – don’t try it with­out tak­ing our ad­vice!

The great thing about dig­i­tal SLRs is that you can swap lenses. But this has a down­side: re­mov­ing a lens in­evitably leaves the sen­sor ex­posed to dust and other de­bris in the at­mos­phere.

‘Sen­sor dust’ is most no­tice­able when you’re shoot­ing at smaller aper­tures, such as f/16 or f/22, and when there are large, de­tail-free ex­panses in the frame, such as the sky. They usu­ally take the form of dark, dif­fuse dots, and they’re in the same place in ev­ery im­age – that’s when you know your sen­sor needs clean­ing.

Use­fully, all mod­ern Nikon D-SLRs have an au­to­matic sen­sor-clean­ing func­tion built in. By de­fault, this is car­ried out when you switch the cam­era on or off, al­though press­ing one of the but­tons on the cam­era will im­me­di­ately stop it. Us­ing the cam­era’s ‘Clean im­age sen­sor’ menu op­tion en­ables you to trig­ger the sen­sor-clean­ing rou­tine at any time.

The process works by vi­brat­ing a fil­ter in front of the sen­sor at a very high fre­quency in order to shake any dust loose. This is fine for what you might call ‘loose’ or ‘dry’ dust, but it’s not the only type of de­bris that can be de­posited on the sen­sor. You can also get ‘sticky dust’ and minute drops of oil that are not so easy to shift, and this is where you’ll need sen­sor clean­ing ac­ces­sories.

There are many op­tions avail­able, rang­ing from a sim­ple blower brush for dis­lodg­ing loose par­ti­cles to a com­plete ‘wet clean­ing’ kit for re­mov­ing stub­born smears and welded-on de­tri­tus. Wet clean­ing should al­ways be used as a last re­sort, as there’s quite a knack to it and you can of­ten leave the sen­sor in a worse state than when you started! It may also in­val­i­date your cam­era war­ranty.

Here, though, we’ll show you a more pre­cise method of clean­ing your cam­era’s sen­sor. You may have seen Len­spen lens clean­ers, but we’re go­ing to use one of the com­pany’s Sen­sorKlear kits (£74/$90). In ad­di­tion to a car­bon-tipped pen for re­mov­ing dirt, the kit also con­tains a sen­sor loupe. This handy de­vice makes it much eas­ier to see dust on the sen­sor than with the naked eye alone, and once you’ve used one you’ll find it hard to clean the sen­sor any other way.

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