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Methods for cleaning loose bits from the sensor

Hold camera mouth down when puffing with air.Among the many products available for dealing with loose particles, there are three tools which I use daily with all sensor cleaning jobs.

They are: Giotto’s Rocket Air™ puffer, a German D-SLR™ Brush, and Dust-Aid’s Platinum Wand!

Of the three, my favourite is Dust-Aid’s Platinum Wand. However, they all have their individual strength, and are my chosen weapons for initial cleaning.

The Giotto puffer is made from quality rubber that does not expel bits (unlike low cost types). It is ‘hand operated’ and easy to control with gentle puffs.

Use the Air Puffer to gently puff out bits, whilst holding the camera with the mouth downwards.

Cleaning the sensor with the D-SLR BrushThe D-SLR Sensor Brush, and most other sensor brush brands, feature very fine hairs or filaments.

They work, not so much by sweeping, but by the use of static attraction.
A static charge is induced into the filaments by strong blasts of dry air.

With the shutter open in sensor cleaning mode, the ‘charged’ brush is now gently passed across the sensor. The filaments barely touch the surface, while the static charge does its job of picking up loose particles.

A drawback of the brush method is that the bristles are easily contaminated, resulting in smears being deposited on the sensor surface. Wet cleaning is then necessary to remove the smears.

For this reason I favour the safe Dust-Aid Platinum wand for removing loose and static particles.

The Dust-Aid Platinum Wand has a special, finely textured silicone pad at the end of a small pole.

The silicone material is slightly sticky, and, when gently stamping the surface of the sensor, loose bits stick to the pad and then lifted away.

This make initial cleaning very fast and very simple. It is an ideal tool to carry along for quick removal of particles that appear spontaneously.

All tools, whatever the type, must be clean to be effective. The brush must be washed at slightest contamination and the pad on the Platinum Wand must also be cleaned when accidentally contaminated.

Let’s look closer at the Platinum cleaner >>

Loose or stuck particles - what to clean first ..

Most spots on the sensor are specks of dust that settle or float around on the surface.
Others are due to sticky particles, such as pollen, organic bits, and occasionally oils from the mechanism. These tend to get stuck in one spot.

Loose particles should ALWAYS be cleaned first!

The more bits that can be removed by the simple brush and air methods, the less chance there is of causing damage to the sensor filter surface.

If loose bits are not removed before more physical methods are used, there’s a risk that sharp bits may be dragged across the sensor, possibly scratching it.

Do not make the mistake of using the low cost puffers with a brush attached - this type will deposit more bits than it ever removes.
I have had to clean many sensors where smears have been left on the surface by this type of the brush.

Canned compressed air should not be used. The reason is that propellants used are easily expelled.
This will definitely smear the sensor and may even end up below the sensor filter, which will be expensive to clean.

Only use dry clean air, such as available with the Giotto puffer and other sources of dry filtered air.