Feeling Brave? Sensor Cleaning with a Gel Stick

Eventually, no matter what camera brand you use, nor what claims manufacturers make about how their cameras prevent it, dust will eventually find its way onto your camera’s sensor.  From then on you’ll see ghost donuts or dots appear on your wonderful images, especially when you print them out in enlarged form.

Photo With Sensor Dust

Photo With Sensor Dust

Although it is not at first apparent, the above photograph was taken with a camera that has dust on its sensor.  We can see it more clearly if we enlarge a portion of the sky (dust spots tend to disappear in busy backgrounds).  Click on the photo to see it in enlarged form and look for the white dots:

Sky Closeup Showing Dust Spots

Sky Closeup Showing Dust Spots

When looking for dust spots, Adobe’s Lightroom 5 allows one to see the image in negative form – that’s when the spots really show up.  As you can see, there are more spots than you might have suspected.

Negative View Showing Spots

Negative View Showing Spots

If the original photo were to be printed, the dots would show up clearly, ruining the print.

If you Google “camera sensor cleaning”  you can find masses of information about the issue, including lots of video clips about how to do it, cleaning products and reviews.  There are also places to which you can send your camera to get someone else to do the cleaning for you.  But, there are many good arguments for why you should learn to do it yourself, perhaps the most persuasive being that sensor dust is a continuing fact of life (like cracks in your vehicle windshield if you frequently drive over sanded roads in the Winter).  Scary as it may seem, it is something one can do safely.

What we want to do is to clean not the sensor, but the cover plate that protects the sensor – it’s the thing that has the dust on it.  When we “clean the sensor”, we never actually touch the sensor, only the protective cover plate.

Now, I’m not going to get into techniques, products and so forth, because there is so much information about it all already on the web.  But there is one product that a number of Bridge Lake Photo Group members have discovered – a gel stick that apparently does an excellent job of picking the dust spot off the cover plate, overcoming the static electrical force that is holding it there (the same force which causes problems when you try to take dust off furniture rather than just moving it around).

Sensor Gel Stick

Sensor Gel Stick

You can see a video showing how it is used at the link above.

If there is enough interest amongst members, perhaps the more experienced (and bravest) of the group can be persuaded to do a quick hands-on demonstration, at one of our meetings, of how to clean your camera’s sensor.

What do you think?  Interested?

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