APS-C (1.6x crop)
EOS 7D, 7D Mark II, 10D, 20D, 20Da, 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D, 60Da, 70D, 77D, 80D, 100D, 200D, 300D, 350D, 400D, 450D, 500D, 550D, 600D, 650D, 700D, 750D, 760D, 800D, 1000D, 1100D, 1200D, 1300D, M, M2, M3, M5, M6, M10, M100, D30, D60
APS-H (1.3x crop)
EOS 1D, 1D Mark II, 1D Mark II N, 1D Mark III, 1D Mark IV
Full frame (x1.0)
EOS-1D X, 1D X Mark II, 1Ds, 1Ds Mark II, 1Ds Mark III, 5D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 5D Mark IV, 5DS, 5DS R, 6D, 6D Mark II
Stage two: Dry cleaning
Dry cleaning removes dust that has been attracted to the sensor’s filter by static electricity. It cleans the most easily removable dust particles from the sensor’s filter. Regular dry cleaning can help alleviate the need for wet cleaning by removing dust before it becomes stickier and harder to budge. It also removes dust that could scratch the sensor filter at the wet cleaning stage. Dry cleaning can be done with either a tool called Dust-Aid Platinum or a specially designed statically charged sensor cleaning brush. We favour the Dust-Aid Platinum approach.
The first method uses a sensor brush. You can’t use any brush to clean the sensor – it has to be one specially designed for the job. Sensor brushes are ultra-clean, they are the precise size for the sensor and have a static charge to attract the dust onto the bristles.
1 Clean the brush with a blast of air from a can of compressed air. This cleans the bristles and gives them a charge of static electricity. (There are also brushes that come with a battery powered air blower so that compressed air isn’t needed.) NEVER blow compressed air directly inside the camera body, as it can damage the mechanisms.
2 Activate the Sensor cleaning function on the camera menu to raise the mirror and open the shutter. See Sensor cleaning function for details on how to do this (previous page).
3 Sweep the brush once across the sensor filter to remove loose dust. You can also use a smaller brush to clean just part of the sensor. Remove the brush from the camera body when you have finished.
4 Turn the camera off. This automatically lowers the mirror and closes the shutter so that the camera is ready for use.
For specific dust spots you can also try a SpeckGRABBER. This useful tool has a soft washable pad on its tip with a high adhesion surface. It's ideal when you only have one or two specks of dust on your sensor filter as it is small and you can be precise with its placement.
We use a tool called ‘Dust-Aid Platinum’ to dry clean the sensor filter. It looks little like a white flagpole and has a silicone pad at the bottom. The idea is to gently press the ‘sticky’ silicone pad onto the sensor filter to remove dust.
1 Clean the silicone pad by pressing it onto a fresh cleaning strip.
2 Activate the Sensor cleaning function in the camera menu to raise the mirror and open the shutter. See Sensor cleaning function for details on how to do this.
3 Gently press the silicone pad down onto the sensor filter. You need to this four times on an APS-C size sensor, once in each corner, to cover the entire filter. On a full frame camera you will have to do it a few more times to cover the whole area. Remove the tool pad from the camera body when you have finished.
4 Turn the camera off. This automatically lowers the mirror and closes the shutter.
Stage three: Wet cleaning
Wet cleaning is the process of using a swab and cleaning fluid to remove dust from the sensor filter. If the sensor filter hasn’t been cleaned for a long time it may be necessary to follow this process of wet cleaning two or three times, disposing of the swab at the end of each clean.
It’s important to use a cleaning fluid that evaporates quickly to avoid leaving residue on the sensor filter, and to ensure that the liquid won’t seep behind the filter. We use Eclipse cleaning fluid and plastic sensor filter cleaning swabs. One end of the swab is covered in lint-free micro fibre cloth for cleaning the sensor filter.
1 Remove the swab from its packaging.
Always use a fresh swab each time. Put several drops of cleaning fluid on its tip.
2 Insert the swab carefully into the camera body, making sure you don’t touch the sides of the chamber. Delicately place the swab at one end of the sensor filter. Gently flexing the swab, slowly draw it across the filter from one side to the other. Flip the swab over, and run the other side of the swab over the filter in the opposite direction. Now dispose of the swab. Do not reuse it as there is now dust on the micro fibre cloth.
In our tests
We tested the dry and wet cleaning procedure on the sensor filter of an EOS 350D. The 350D doesn’t have the EOS Integrated Cleaning System and the camera sensor filter had never previously been cleaned.
Top right We photographed a piece of white paper at f22 to see how much dust was on the sensor filter. This image shows the result after applying Auto Levels in Photoshop CS.
Right After dry cleaning, the sensor filter is already much cleaner.
Bottom right After wet cleaning, the sensor filter is virtually free of dust.
After using a blower bulb, the next step to cleaning the sensor filter should ALWAYS be dry cleaning. It is essential that you remove any loose dust particles by dry cleaning before you commence with the wet cleaning, otherwise there is a danger that you could drag dust particles across the sensor filter with the wet swab and cause some damage.
In many cases you will find that dry cleaning removes all the problem dust particles and you don’t need to move on to wet cleaning.
Don’t become a dust obsessive. It is not essential to clean the sensor everytime you use your camera. Particles of dust which show up in a white paper text may not be noticeable in general photography – and there is always the opportunity to remove dust marks from images at the computer processing stage.
Many of the tools you can obtain for cleaning your sensor are sized specifically for your EOS camera. This means that you only need to sweep the brush or swab across the surface of the sensor filter once, reducing the duration of contact with the sensor.
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