4 December 2011

DSLR Sensor cleaning

I have decided that it is a time to clean the sensor in my Pentax *istDS DSLR camera after five years of its active use. The dirty sensor causes you to spend more time on raw photos processing, as you have to remove these spots to make the photo look great. I followed the cleaning manual described by photograper Pavel Kosenko in his blog. It appeared much easier that I expected - just 40 minutes of patience and persistence.

On the picture below I intentionally increased the contrast and colour temperature to make the dust on the sensor more apparent (dark spots on the sky).

To see if your sensor is clean, you need to make a picture of white or light colored surface indoors, a wall for instance. Set the high aperture value (e.g. F22) which will make the shutter speed low enough (assuming that you are indoors), so that will have one second or so to wave the camera up and down while the shutter is open.

The cleaning process is quite fascinating - you have to remove the lens, set camera into sensor cleaning mode, blow the dust with the blower, quickly clean the sensor, attach the lens back and test what you have done to see how much left. I applied two drops of Eclipse fluid to the prepared wipe (Eclipse E2 mentioned in Pavel's post has been discontinued, and basic Eclipse cleaning fluid now has the same features and suitable for all sensor types). The prepared wipe has to be moved along the sensor surface single direction only and this has to be done only once. The wipe needs to be discareded after each move in order not to scratch the sensor with the dust which has stuck to it. I have done the test after one or two passes each direction and started over again and again. In total I needed about 15 wipes to make my sensor clean.

Please be very careful! If you decide to clean the camera sensor yourself, you are doing it at your own risk. If you are not sure about what you are doing - use the professional service.

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