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Sensor cleaning on the cheap

Leif 12 722
27 Nov 2005 1:30AM
The following link might be of interest:


It describes how to clean a sensor using a cheap nylon brush and a blower. I tried this with a 3/8" artists brush (~4), washed in isopropyl alcohol and then soapy water. I used a Giotto rocket air blower to charge the brush (canned air is wasteful) and then gave the sensor a light brush It worked a treat.

Why waste money on overpriced products?

Also, if you need to use fluid based cleaning (due to stuck on dirt) then check out Copperhill's cleaning products which are cheaper than many.


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agoreira 14 6.0k Wales
27 Nov 2005 3:14AM
Was just reading the Spedgraphic catalogue, and there their "Visible Dust" brush on it's own costs 67!!! But if anyone wants one, it's quicker than sending to Canada for it.
Mitzi 12 1.0k
27 Nov 2005 3:32AM
Leif - an excellent site and a good article! I must admit that dust in the camera is one of my fears with interchangeable lenses. One must not be obsessional but a good safe job is what is needed and I don't think very expensive equipment is required.
Leif 12 722
27 Nov 2005 8:23AM
One word of caution though: don't use the blower directly on the sensor just in case there's grit in the air stream.

abwhitt: Yes I too looked at the Speed Graphic catalogue and fell off my chair with astonishment at the prices.

ARI 15 515 United Kingdom
27 Nov 2005 9:47AM
For info, I have used the Gioto bulb to blow off dust on a 20D sensor, holding the camera body, throat facing down at campsites in Africa and worked well. Of course mking sure that within the tent, the air was still as can be with the flaps zipped up.
Mitzi 12 1.0k
27 Nov 2005 1:21PM

The above would seem to be a good site! They seem to know what they are talking about. I suspect there is a lot of 'conmanship' with sensor cleaning.
Mitzi 12 1.0k
28 Nov 2005 12:12PM
I do find the idea of sensor dust quite worrying. Is it just obsessionals who are bothered or is there a real problem? The costs of constantly removing dust seem punitive!
Westers 13 3.9k 1 Burkina Faso
28 Nov 2005 12:26PM
It's only dust sitting on a piece of material protecting the actual sensor. What's to worry about?

Cleaning the sensor is no more of a chore than cleaning your lenses - i.e, you don't do it that often.
elowes 13 2.8k United Kingdom
28 Nov 2005 12:29PM
Minor dust is often only visible in plain areas of the image when stopping down to F11-22. Marks can easily removed in PS and cleaning may not be worth while.

Larger debris can be removed with care using several different kits and I leave you to chose. I keep pointing out that one is recommended in a review on this site and has proven effective when I have used it.

I would not recommend using any fluid to clean a sensor unless the product is warrented to do the job. Isopol Alcohol can (will) leave drying marks if used direcly on sensors and on lenses, even in small qualtities.

Cheap blower brushes will more than likely inject dust into the camera cavity.
Mitzi 12 1.0k
28 Nov 2005 12:41PM
Elowes - I'm sure you're right. I quite like the idea of an electrostatic brush but they seem to be very pricey. Rubbing the sensor with any kind of liquid would not seem to be a good idea. A simple rubber bulb style blower - no brush - might be useful?
Leif 12 722
29 Nov 2005 4:09AM
Mitzi: "I quite like the idea of an electrostatic brush but they seem to be very pricey."

Then make your own using an artists brush (which is in fact what Visible Dust et al sell) or if you lack confidence, try Copperhill. He sells them for not unreasonable prices and I think he includes a convenient case. It's not unreasonable to sell ready cleaned brushes for a small markup, but some companies such as Visible Dust are taking the Mickey. They use pseudo-scientific bull to persuade us that their brush is made from special materials rather than ordinary nylon. Snake oil anyone?

Although cleaning an artists brush is tedious, once its done the cleaning of the sensor really is easy. The link I gave explains how to clean the brush and how to make absolutely sure that it is clean. However, you need an an old filter, which you then clean, which isn't so hard to do with lens cleaning tissues and lens cleaning fluid (or isopropyl alcohol from Maplins). I suspect a microscope slide would do just as well.

Leif 12 722
29 Nov 2005 4:12AM
"Isopol Alcohol can (will) leave drying marks if used direcly on sensors and on lenses, even in small qualtities."

I don't advise anyone to try isopropyl alcohol on a sensor (though I would have no problems doing it myself) but it is fine for cleaning lenses. The trick is to use high purity stuff and moisten the lens tissue or cotton wool, not the lens. It's easy to practice on an old filter.

I dount that fluid is needed to clean a sensor unless you've done something daft like sneeze on it!

conrad 13 10.9k 116
29 Nov 2005 4:12AM
The electrostatic brushes are not that expensive at all, it just depends on where you buy them. See example on eBay.

Leif 12 722
29 Nov 2005 10:45AM
Conrad: Excellent. The ebay link also explains why artists brushes need cleaning. I think I would have tried the ebay brushes had I not already purchased and prepared a brush. I think I would still do the filter test to check that the brushes are indeed clean as claimed. It only takes one person to get finger grease on the bristles. Leif
Mitzi 12 1.0k
29 Nov 2005 1:15PM
Excellent posts! eBay looks good and the price is right.

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