Step 1: The Swarm of Flies
I knew dust was becoming a serious matter for my dslr, but I took this shot for curiosity during my last travel on mountains, you can imagine my astonishment when I've seen a swarm of flies around the sky in my picture!
Step 2: The Ingredients
If you decide to go through the diy way you'll need a few tools:
- a phial of ethyl ether
- some paper tissue free from silicone to clean optical glass
- a dropper
- a lancet handle
- a plastic card like a credit card
Step 3: The Main Tool
The back side of the spatula will be inserted in the lancet handle, so cut it of the right shape.
To check if ethyl ether will dissolve the card, pour some solvent in a little container (a glass one, or use the same cap of the ethyl ether phial) and let the spatula submersed for half minute, then rub it on a clean glass to see if it leaves some remains. The glass should remain very reflective.
You have to be very careful to not let the liquid going into the nipple of the dropper, because since it's made of rubber, it will dirty the solvent and then your sensor!
Step 4: Moping Up
Pay attention to not touch the paper too much with your fingers, and not touch it at all when solvent is applied, because it will dissolve finger oil and deposit it on the sensor.
The lenses cleaning tissue should be enough soft to avoid scratching the surface of the sensor. Indeed the outer layer is a very hard plate, which could be possibly scratched by a metal dust grain, but not by the paper sheet.
Step 5: Reveal Your Heart
Cleaning the sensor by yourself is not difficult, but it needs a lot of perseverance. You have to pay great attention to some rules to avoid permanently ruining your DSLR, nevertheless the danger to lose your beloved camera is always present. For this reason I suggest you to test the process on an old camera body, and anyway don't make it on an expensive new camera, where the cost of the professional service would not be high compared to the camera value.
My lovely 40D is old enough to take the risk, and I've already cleaned a DSLR sensor a pair of times to feel pretty confident.
Step 6: The Solvent
After dunking the tool in the solvent, you see that paper absorbs a quantity of liquid. That quantity varies depending of the number of paper layers you used on the squeegee. I used two layers and it seems good to me, with that setup I usually wait about 5 seconds to let the excess of liquid evaporating, then with the tissue still wet, I proceed with the cleaning pass.
Step 7: The Pass
- make the pass at the right time, when the paper is wet but no drop could fall down
- move the squeegee from one side to the opposite one as in the picture, in a single constant movement
- try to reach the far end, which should be a very thin area out of the sensor active zone
- after one pass turn the spatula, dunk it, and make the same with the opposite side of paper, this will avoid that dust grains scratch the surface
- after these two transits change paper stripe and make it again, until you're satisfied with the results
Step 8: Pride Yourself!
As usual, set the highest value for aperture, point on an uniform surface, take the shot and check dark spots with the 100% zoom level on the display. If you notice something bad, keep in mind that image is specular, so if the dust grain is at top right of the picture, go looking at the lower left corner on the sensor.
My final image is not perfect, I'll work on the sensor again when I'll have time, but of course it's much better compared to the flies swarm of step 1! ;-)