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Cleaning of the photo sensor on a DSLR:

Digital SLR's are fantastic to use compared to film, but there is (at least) one area where the film SLR's benefit over DSLR's: Dust on the sensor. Most of us users of a digital SLR have seen this problem with dark spots on the images. There are several methods of removing this dust, but it does not have to cost too much. I found the procedure below some time ago (don't remember where), and I have used this method many times on different cameras with great success.

Note: I take absolutely no resposibility if you try this cleaning method and destroy the sensor. Try it at you own risk!

Find a brush that fits the job
On top of the photosensor there is a protecting glass (you don't touch the sensor itself but the protecting glass on top of the sensor. Usually it's very difficult to scratch glass, and this is the same with the protecting glass over the sensor. I use a fine brush and test it on a filter prior to the cleaning to see if it makes any scratches or leave any grease on the filer. If the brush does not make any scratches to the filter, it will not harm the glass on top of the sensor either. A filter (as in the picture below) is nice to use as a test as you may brush over the edges and eventually clean the brush before using it on the camera. First time a use a new brush, I brush over the edge on the filter and on the filter itself appr. 100-200 times to be very sure that the brush is clean and that it makes no scratches on the glass.

Test the brush to see if it makes any scratches
A brush as in the picture may be bought in most of the photoshops. This one has a blower too, but you may also use a makeup brush at appr. 8-10mm width.
Cleaning of the sensor
* Before you start, take a picture of a white sheet of paper in good light to see the " before and after " result of the test. Use a small aperture (f/22) and set the shutter speed manually to get a normal exposure.

* Check the picture on the computer to see where the spots are (remember the image is mirrored compared to when looking at the sensor).

* Check that the battery on the camera is fully loaded before you activate the "sensor cleaning" menu.

* It is advisable to point the camera a bit downwards to prevent any dust falling into the area with the sensor.

* If you have a brush with a blower, press the blower a couple of times to get rid of any dust on the brush itself.

* Read the manual for your camera to see the procedure for sensor cleaning.

* Clean the sensor according to the first picuture you took as a reference.

* Put the lens back on, take a new picture of the white sheet, and check it on the computer. If you are lucky, the spots are gone. If not, repeat the procedure again until you have removed all the spots.

Below are some examples from the first time I used this method cleaning the sensor

This is how the image looked like before cleaning

First cleaning was not 100%

Getting better

After the last cleaning and Ok
Note! I take no responsibility if you follow this procedure and destroy anything in you camera (so don't blame it on me)!
I have done this cleaning may times on a Canon 350D, 20D, 30D and a 5D with very good results. Normally I use a 50mm lens for the test.
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Last updated 26.11.06