Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring cleaning in one sweep!

A few days ago I decided to clean my camera sensor, I have a Nikon D90 and it has a automatic cleaning system. But as usual I'm skeptical about automagic functions and as I suspected there is a dust build up on the sensor anyway. Sure it's better than nothing but by using a fairly cheap air blower it's possible to remove almost any dust specs or hairs, and it only takes seconds.

A few month after I bought the D90 I got a stubborn speck on the sensor, it's not really visible using normal f-numbers but when using f-numbers above 16 it starts to show. Read somewhere that pollen is among the worst things you can get inside the camera and it can really stick to the low-pass filter that covers the sensor. I suppose that was what I managed to get.

Well, back to the cleaning, while using the blower I tried to get some extra oomph out of it and in the process I managed to strike the tip of the plastic pipe against the filter and thus making a clearly visible, fat smear on it!!! This was way worse than a small speck of dust or pollen. :(

Took a few shots but could really not see any effects on the photos but just knowing that there was a smudge on the low pass filter made me restless and being neurotic about my camera gear I could not let it be.

Started to look for info about how to clean it and it ended up with me ordering Visible dust Vswab Ultra MXD-100 (Fabric) Sensor Cleaning Swab from Scandinavian photo including Visible Dust Sensor Clean. The swabs costed a whopping 316:- Sek for twelve swabs but the 8ml bottle of sensor clean liquid took the grand price with 180:- Sek! If I calculated correctly it ended up with a litre price of 22500:- Sek! Must be up and in pair with the price for ink, for ink jet printers.
Got the stuff in the mail today and this evening I decided I'd give it a try, first I watched the instuction video on youtube from

Wish I had a Nikon D3 but I had to settle to clean the sensor on my D90. Slightly nervous I opened the wrapping of one swab, dropped three (perhaps four) precious drops of sensor cleaning liquid on it, closed the bottle and went to business. Did as on the instruction video and it was done!

This is how it looked before the swabbing, 15sec exposure, f/32, ISO 100.
After (same camera settings):
This is a shot before the swab but with f10, as one can see the massive amount of dust and specs is barely visible.
First (not test) shot with clean sensor. =)
The dust is on the bike not the sensor. ;)

The result speaks for it self, all the specs and smears I could see with my bare eyes is gone and so is the weight on my mind! Despite the price it was well worth it, now I still got 11 swabs I can use the next time the blower is inadequate to get rid of the dirt.


  1. But the liquid turns into burning acid three days after opening the bottle, so you must buy a new one.

    You can clean my EOS 300D if you get bored, I've never done that. ;D

  2. Probably something like that! :)

    Sure, if you dare to hand over your camera to me I can clean it for you. You still use it?!

    Why not try a test shot at f22 (or what's the smallest aperture on you lens)? ;)

  3. No need for test shots, I have several visible specks regardless of aperture...

    I still use it from time to time, when I want to take photos instead of snaps.