Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stress-free DSLR Sensor Cleaning

I've never been afraid of the coming days when I knew I'd have to do some serious dust removal on my D90 sensor despite the many, many, many, many articles on the interwebs on just how delicate a job this is.  So freaking delicate a job that you should pay to send your camera off to have a "pro" do this for you.

Maybe it is because, as a digital engineer who has worked hands-on on outrageously expensive electronic prototypes for fifteen years, I have lost the fear of working on something that cost a mere $800.  (I know that was a terrible sentence, but I don't feel like rewording it.)

For nearly the entire year of 2011, as I languished at home on long-term disability with my back, I kept my eye on certain items on the internet, eBay, Amazon, etc., that I wanted to buy as Christmas presents for my family and myself.

My thoughts were thus, these items that I had identified, would, over the course of the year, be found at a fantastic price somewhere before Christmas.

I was largely successful in this, and sure enough, we had a very "lean" Christmas that was in fact pretty good because of my "great deal" purchases spread throughout the year.

One item that Santa brought me was a Promaster CCD/Cmos Sensor Cleaning Kit.

My electronic sensor cleaner built into the D90 finally was unable to remove several stubborn dust specks that appeared in my shots enough that I was sick of editing them out.

So a couple of days after Christmas, I opened the sensor cleaning kit, read the instructions a couple of times to be clear on the process, and used the little rubber tipped thingamajigs to touch to the D90's sensor and then to touch to a little plastic looking pad in the kit to deposit the offending dust.

I did this enough times to cover the entire surface area of the sensor and used one of my "studio" backdrops for small items (a pale poster boards from Michael's crafts store) and verified quickly that the offending dust specks were, in fact, GONE.

So, if you aren't afraid to clean your own DSLR sensor, and know you don't really need the "wet" type sensor cleaning, I can personally highly recommend the Promaster CCD/Cmos Sensor Cleaning Kit. The link there takes you to the one page instructions with photos so you can see the kit and how easy it is to use.

Doing this yourself only takes a few minutes, literally, and you're done for a while.

This kit is about $35US on Amazon, and I set an ebay search for one and got mine for less than $20, shipped.  If you need it NOW, it's worth the full $35 in my opinion, but patience, and careful internet searching for this kit can get it to you for a good bit cheaper.  Mine just happens to be the Promaster brand, but the same exact kit is also sold under other brand names as well.

About the photo:  As a kid, one of my very favorite Hot Wheels was the Red Baron.  Several years ago, there was a release of larger, more detailed versions of Tom Daniel's custom hot rod designs.  This version of his Red Baron shows the backdrop I use for small items, and nary a dust blob in sight.

I know it's not a great photo, but I have begun my long-avoided reading and experimentation on photographing in a portable studio setup with a multiple wireless flash system.  For a landscape and outdoor photography guy like myself, this is an area of photography that I'm definitely having to learn to crawl, pull up, and walk all over again.  It has been fun so far, but I know I have a long way to go for dramatic lighting.

But this Red Baron photo was so nice and devoid of dust blotches that I was totally excited.