DSLR Camera Sensor Cleaning Kit
Posted: 3 January 2013
My D7000 DSLR camera sensor has needed to be cleaned for sometime. I even mentioned that in my ISS-Moon transit transit report. The camera has a built-in sensor cleaner (shaker) but it is not effective for some dust that sticks to the sensor. I suspect that most of this dust has entered the camera body while attaching various telescope adapters to the camera body and mounting the camera on the telescope. I recently received a Lenspen SensorKlear Digital SLR Camera Sensor Cleaning Kit with Lenspen, Blower & Loupe plus Carrying Bag ($80 USD):
The kit comes with one sheet of instructions, a "Hurricane" air bulb blower, a sensor cleaning Lenspen, and the SensorKlear Loupe:
The Loupe has 8 bright LEDs and a 6X magnifying lens to allow you to easily see dust on the sensor. (Earlier models of the Loupe had 4 LEDs.) Two AAA batteries are included to power the LEDs. A soft cloth case is also included to hold the Loupe and Lenspen. There is a cutout on the side of the Loupe to allow you to insert the Lenspen to clean the sensor. The Loupe has caps on both ends to keep its magnifying lens clean.
So, how do you know your camera sensor needs cleaning? Sometimes you can detect the dust in photos, but not always. For example, this photo shows a white surface and does not show any dust:
The photo above was taken at f/3.5. But this next photo of the same surface, taken at f/22, shows a lot of spots, which is from the dust on the sensor:
This dust also shows up in astrophotographs, depending on the exposure settings used.
You can also use the Loupe to see if your sensor is clean. You uncap it, turn on the LEDs, and place the Loupe on the camera body in place of the camera lens.
Not mentioned in the manual is that you can change the focus on the sensor for your particular camera. You do this by rotating the magnifying lens. I had to rotate it about 1" outward to achieve focus, as seen here with the Loupe on my D7000 DSLR:
The photo above also shows the cutout, as well as one of the illuminated LEDs. This photo below shows what the view of the sensor looks like through the Loupe. The photo is slightly off-center but some of the dust on the sensor can be seen as small grey dots.
Using the Loupe I could easily see the dust on the sensor that were showing up in my photos. I first used the air blower to remove what dust could be blown off the sensor. That worked for some of the larger pieces, but several small pieces remained. So, it would be necessary to use the Lenspen to remove these "sticky" dust particles.
As strongly and rightly mentioned in camera manuals and online, there is a risk of damaging the sensor by touching it. If you mess up, the sensor can be scratched, making it necessary to send your camera to a repair shop. If you don't feel safe doing this sensor cleaning yourself, save yourself some worry and send the camera in for a professional cleaning. I felt confident I could do this myself, so I proceeded. I have used a Lenspen in the past on some of my eyepieces. It did an admiral job of removing dust particles. The Lenspen included with the Kit has an adjustable head so that you can change the angle to best get at the dust. I inserted the Lenspen through the opening of the Loupe and, per the instructions, I touched each piece of visible dust with the edge of the cleaning surface. It uses static electricity to pick up the dust particle. This operation was a little worrisome as you have no good 3D, or depth perception, while looking through the Loupe with one eye. But by moving the Lenspen inside the camera very slowly, I could remove the dust. I had to rotate the Loupe a couple of times to get the opening properly positioned so that I could get to all portions of the sensor. Once the dust was removed with the Lenspen, I used the blower to do a final cleaning. How well did my first sensor cleaning attempt do? This is an "after" photo of the white surface, f/22:
Yes, I got most of the dust but I also added something. So back once more with the blower and Lenspen, with this result:
At this point, I decided I had removed enough of the dust to stop risking damage to the sensor. I know that more dust will collect on the sensor, so I'll be back cleaning again at some future time. But now that I have some experience, albeit brief, I know that I can safely remove dust from my D7000 DSLR sensor.
This model of the SensorKlear Loupe supports most (possibly all) DSLR cameras and Four-Thirds digital cameras. The Loupe is lightweight plastic but seems sturdy enough. The only thing I worried about (beside touching the sensor) was that the Loupe just sits loosely on the camera lens opening and can be easily knocked off. But other than that, the Lenspen SensorKlear Loupe Kit is a nice addition to my camera gadget bag.
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