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How to Clean Your DSLR Camera

Keeping your camera gear clean not only prolongs the life of the camera and lens, it keeps your images free from dirt and dust that can impair the quality of your image. Some photographers often give their gear the ‘once over’, however over time particles of dust, sand and so on build up on and in the camera. You may find that dark spots start to appear on your images as a result of this dirt build up. Fortunately there are products that allow you maintain and minimise dirt so you can achieve maximum image quality. Here is a BASIC OVERVIEW

How to Clean Your DSLR Camera

1 x DSLR Camera

1 x Sensor Swab

1 x Microfiber cloth

1 x Air Blower

1 x Remote shutter cable(for cameras without mirror lock-up settings)

Note: Cleaning your camera digital sensor can be a risky project for most photographers, incorrectly cleaning may make your images worse than before and damaging the sensor can be irreversible. If you do not want to take this risk camera repair centres can professionally clean your gear.


1. To clean your camera for optimal use and image quality remove the lens or body cap from the camera so you have access to the interior of the camera. There will be three parts of the camera that may need cleaning.

2. To evaluate if your camera needs its mirror or viewfinder cleaned, point the camera at a clean white wall (no lens attached – yes, everything will be blurry). If you can see (through the viewfinder) a build of dust and dirt then either the viewfinder or the mirror need a clean. While these parts don’t affect the end result of your photograph, the dirt will be affecting what you see through the optical viewfinder.

3. The mirror is the most obvious part of the camera's internals, it sits at a 45 degree angle in the centre of the body and looks like a mirror! This mirror directs light towards the focus screen. The focus screen is above the mirror and sitting flat. It looks like a diffused piece of plastic. To remove any dirt from the mirror we will use the micro-fiber cloth. It is preferable that you wrap the cloth around a small instrument such as a wooden paddle stick which will prevent you needing to put your fingers in the camera. This will give you more control and visibility to clean inside the camera. To clean the cameras mirror try to tip the camera forwards as far as possible, this way if dirt falls off the mirror it will fall out of the camera and not further into it. Gently wipe the mirror up and down to remove any particles of dust. To see your progress, point the camera at a white wall again, you should see an improvement from the last time you did this. Repeat the process for the focus screen. The focus screen is above the mirror and generally looks like a small diffused piece of glass, only clean this part of the camera if it is required.

5. The other internal part of a camera that may require cleaning is the image sensor. If you notice small marks appearing in the same place on every one of your photos this is most likely the result of a dirty image sensor. If you decide to clean your image sensor, place your camera on a table so that the lens mount is facing up as you look down on it. At this point in time the mirror of the camera is preventing you from accessing the image sensor, some cameras have a mirror lock-up setting. If your camera has this setting enable it and press the shutter button to expose the image sensor.

6. If your camera does not have this function, ideally you should connect a remote control with a shutter lock. For cameras without mirror lock up you will need to attach your remote to the camera and change the settings to bulb, usually indicated as “B”. This function allows you to take a photo as long as the shutter release is pressed down. It is important that the mirror does not come back down while we are working on the sensor. This would definitely cause problems. Press the remote button into the lock position to keep the mirror up and give you access to the image sensor.

8. Remove one of your sensor swabs from the packet. Align the length of the sensor swab with the the sensor; you will notice the swab is the same width of the image sensor. Place the swab at one end of the image sensor pressing gently but firm. In one sweeping motion move the swab across the image sensor until your reach the other side. You will have cleaned the sensor in this one action. While this may seem like a simple manoeuvre it requires very good concentration and precision.

9. Once you have removed the swab release the shutter so that the mirror flips back down. The inside of you camera should now be clean. Reattach your lens or camera body cap and give it a wipe down with your microfiber cloth.

10. Finally use your air blower to get into any small areas a cleaning cloth could not.

11. With this complete you should not have to do a thorough clean like this for a while, however it is always good to clean the camera and lens externally as much as possible.



How to clean your sensor using a Lenspen



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