After I posted my last in-depth video on DSLR sensor cleaning, I decided to create a 5 minute version of DSLR sensor wet cleaning, so that our readers could see how simple the process actually is. I was getting the equipment prepped for Lola’s last photo shoot and while I was in the process of cleaning everything, I thought it might be a good idea to do a short version for the impatient ones out there. This wet cleaning process is easy, because I use ready-to-go tools (sensor swab + fluid) from VisibleDust. It is certainly not a cheap product, given the $3 cost of each swab, but it does a good job of keeping your DSLR sensor clean when compared to other solutions out there. Either way, the below process is much cheaper than sending your camera for $50 or more every time you need the sensor cleaned. As a photographer, you should learn how to do this yourself.
In the video, I mention that you should only use a swab once. You can also use the other side of the swab, but you might end up putting the dust back on the sensor if you don’t keep the swab properly angled. I find that it is best to use swabs once, but you might get better results. When inserting the swab, tilt it horizontally first, so that you do not touch the top and bottom parts of the chamber. Don’t forget to do the same when removing it. You might find some dust specs on the side of the sensor, where you picked up the swab. If those specs do not disturb you, just leave them there. If they do, then you have two choices – either to use corner swabs or a sensor brush to pick up those remaining dust specs. I personally do not worry about them unless the dust particles are huge.
I know that some people will try to reuse the swabs, but I highly recommend NOT to do it. Do not try to wash and dry the swabs either – this particular product is designed for one time use only. Trying to wash and reuse the product might introduce other nasty stuff besides dust on your sensor. You have been warned!
Let me know if you have any questions – below are the three products mentioned in the video:
- Visible Dust Sensor Clean Solution
- Visible Dust Vswab 1.0x for full-frame cameras and Visible Dust Vswab 1.5x for cropped-sensor cameras
- Giottos Rocket Air Blower (Large)
Hi Nasim. We clean sensors on DSLR cameras since 2007. After cleaning thousands of sensors I can say that your method of cleaning is incomplete and in most situations won’t work. I agree with you on using Visible Dust products BUT a rocket blower is something that you should NEVER use in sensor cleaning…why? Sinple, just because you put other dust inside. Why is your method incomplete? At home if you clean very good the floor in the living room but you have not cleaned the floor in the lobby it is most likely that you will again put dirt in the living room when you pass through the uncleaned lobby. So, first you have to clean the internal chamber of the camera, including the focus screen, mirrors and walls. Only after that you can proceed to clean the sensor. If you only clean the internal chamber by using a blower it is most likely that you take the dust from the mirror and put it on the walls…so for the moment the mirror is clean but when the shutter is released most of the dust is back on the mirror (or worse, on the sensor). From experience I can assure you that only passing 1 time over the sensor surface with the wet wipe will NOT take the dust from there (could be also grease instead of dust) and you will have a skrawled sensor surface. As a conclusion, the method you have discribed above is a very small and simple part of the camera sensor cleaning process and it includes an information that is wrong: the use of a blower. Thank you!
It’s not just dust but the film that forms gradually over time on glass and just about everything else exposed to air containing aerosolized crud to which dust seems to stick better than it would to clean glass. When a sensor is out of the camera I’ve found that a microfibre cloth works as well as anything.
Hello sir hope u r doing well.Sir i am facing a problem. i am using d800 but when i shoot with wide angle lens with a high f-number like f14 r f16 i found a lots of dots in the one corner of my frame in every image what should i do for it.There are same number of dots in the same place in my picture.Please reply me as soon as possible.thanks.
I understand you will be (or alrady are) sellin a wet cleaner for the Sony a7. I have just purchased the gel stick from you but, I need to wet clean the sensor, I smeared it or raised the screen suface with a product I should apparently not have used. Would appreciate an update on what you guy recommend.
Thanks Chris Calderbank
Thank you! I finally got brave and cleaned my own image sensor. Two passes and no dust bunnies or oil spots. I live overseas and sending my camera in for cleaning was just not feasible. And now I have a beautiful clear sensor.
You can check out my photos of Ecuador at NotYourAverageAmerican.com if you’re interested. I’ll be posting more sky shots soon :)
I would not recommend blowing metallic particles from the lens mount into the chamber/mirror. You are much better off wiping the area with a polyester tip swab. You do not want to get a microscopic bit of metal on the CCD and then wipe it unless you want to scratch the CCD (cover/filter).
You need to make sure the test shot is out of focus and you can move the camera to blur the image. taking a photo of the sky is another option.
Inspecting your work on the camera’s display is a joke. Take a raw or the largest size jpg and view it in Photoshop at 300%.
Hi this is the second time i’ve tried to clean my sensor , this time i’ve bought the eyelead dust-sticking bar from you guys.
First let me tell you I think blowing air around your lens mount is just retarded
this is the second time i’ve attempted this being even more careful this time….I know a lot of people recommend this, but for me each times I ended up with particules of dust everywhere on my mirror etc , only this times I got dust particules that I can see trough my view finder and that I cant even remove anymore . those doesnt affect my shots but still bothers me a lot while looking trough the viewfinder….
Second, I’ve past my dust sticking bar multiples times on my d7000 and theres is still spots that I cant remove at all I’m even wondering if those were there before I’ve blown dust with my rocket blower everywhere Inside my camera …
This is very, very frustrating especially, when you are very gentle and do everything you’ve been told on websites etc…
so how do I remove those dust particules that are not on my sensor, not on my mirror and not anywhere that I can see except trough my view finder ! … thanks Giotto rocket air
Thanks a lot both for the website I’ve become a constant reader of, and for the current video on “How to wet clean DSLR sensor”. I have just bought D600. 200 test shots have been enough for the notorious oil/dust spots to start appearing. Damn! My question is: How safe is it to wet clean the D600 sensor (the low-pass filter, actually)? I wouldn’t hesitate cleaning it myself after watching your video tutorials. However, there’ve been quite a few warnings from some on-line “dslr experts” about the potential danger of that procedure. I want to believe / make sure it’s not as risky as some suggest. Please, advise. Thank you, Nasim!
I should also add if after a good cleaning there are a few small lupine stragglers, I will make a test shot at f/11.0 to see if they are actually going to be visible at more normal f-stops – if they are not, I will ofter call it “good enough”.
Also note that with most variable zoom lenses, the highest f-stop values are at the long end of the zoom; my 24-85 kit that came with my D600 closes down to f/29.0 at 85mm. At that small aperture you will almost always be able to find something. Sometimes if I am going off to a job (I shoot properties), I will make an f/29.0 test and f/11.0 test and just to have confidence in the state of my gear.
Also, I luckily seem to have a D600 that behaves quite normally with respect to dust – in a way the whole issue has been good for me, because I have become a little more vigilant than I used to be about the cleaness of my camera sensors, and as you say, the cleaning routine is not at all difficult to learn how to do – in minutes.
Hi Nasim …
What I do:
– take a reference shot first to see if I actually have a problem (once you learn how to do it it only takes seconds)
– if the sensor indeed looks dirty, I blow the sensor off first … lock mirror as you show, tip camera front facing down, carefully get blower tip into the mirror box about 1/2 way and blow a few times …
– take a second reference shot to see if anything remains that will require a wet cleaning (very often not necessary)
– if necessary wet clean as you demonstrate
– make another test shot to see if I have in fact eliminated the “bunny population” – if you have, you are a certified member of the Elmer Fudd society, a true blue “wabbit” hunter …
the point of blowing off the sensor first and making a test shot is that you don’t want to drag possibly damaging particles across the sensor, if that can be avoided, and in fact wet cleaning is the step of last resort and often a good “blow” or two will clean the sensor sufficiently