When you go out to take pictures with your camera you always have to do a review of all the equipment the day before. You have to check the cards, look at the charge of the batteries and, of course, clean lenses and sensor. It is part of the obligations of a photographer. Today we are going to see how to have all the parts of our camera pristine without making large outlays or useless savagery.
Hygiene is essential even in the world of photography. Also, even if you are the most careful person, dirt will always make an appearance when we least expect it. A dusty sensor and lens will always be evident in the best shot of the session.
Usually, we will not see the dust motes with the naked eye on our sensor; neither in our target. They will always be there, crouching until we close the diaphragm and show themselves in all their splendor in areas with light and uniform colors, such as blue or overcast skies.
The dirt on the lenses will make our photographs appear flat, without contrast, and with the light areas blurred by the accumulation of dust or grease. Dust specks on the sensor, however, cause smudges on photos. They are easily recognized as rings when we contrast the image to the maximum.
How to avoid staining them
It is impossible to keep both elements clean, so it’s important to learn how to clean them properly. And fundamentally, dirty them as little as possible.
It’s easy to keep things clean:
- Take them whenever you can with a lid.
- Never touch the surface with your fingers.
- Always use the lens hood (filters only reduce image quality).
- Make sure the transport bag is always clean.
There is no perfect method (unless you own a micro four thirds camera, of course) to not smear the sensor. The static caused by electricity makes such a feat impossible. The same advice is always given, but I know from experience that it only serves to delay cleaning:
- Change lenses in dust-free areas.
- Always put the camera upside down when changing the lens.
- Change it as little as possible and always with the camera off.
But there will always come a day, sooner or later, when we will have to clean both the lenses and the sensor. Let’s see how we do it.
Clean the targets
As I always like to remember, never call an objective a lens. It is a direct mistranslation of ‘lens’. The lenses are the crystals that are part of the optical scheme of the objective. And the ones that get stained are the two at the ends.
I never recommend to my students to use the protective filters that they give us with the objectives or that we buy with all our effort. They protect the lens, but at the cost of losing sharpness, generating internal reflections, changing color and losing a lot of light.
A parasol it will accomplish this mission much more effectively and with far fewer problems. Since they are usually very wide, it is difficult to insert your finger and leave a beautiful fat mark. And to the naughty children it is enough to explain to them that they do not put their hands in there under any circumstances.
To clean the front lens of the objective you don’t have to use any liquid, you don’t have to disassemble anything and you don’t have to do a race. If unfortunately we see that the dirt is inside, we have no choice but to send it to the technical service so that the cleaning is successful and we do not spoil the objective. But it is an extreme case.
The best complement to clean the front lens of an objective it’s a microfiber cloth. There’s nothing like a good eyeglass cloth. And we must avoid, except in extreme cases, cleaning with the shirt we are wearing… Maybe it is sweaty, for example.
It should not be forgotten either that most current lenses have a thin layer that repels fat. My advice is don’t test if it works or not. In these cases you have to trust.
What we can find over time is dust on the surface, both on the front and rear lenses. To remove it, I follow these steps since time immemorial (there were reels and everything):
Giottos Rocket-air – Pressure Air Cleaner for Cameras and Camcorders (Black)
- Sit down and place the camera and lens on a clean table, without a thousand scattered things.
- Place, next to the camera with the lens, a good air bubbler, the microfiber cloth and the lens and mount caps.
- Remove the lens, close the camera mount with its lid and squeeze the air bulb a couple of times to make sure there is no dust inside.
- Then blow on the lens to remove larger dust specks.
- We take the microfiber cloth out of its cover (you won’t have it in the air, right?).
- We begin to remove the dust starting from the center of the lens and we move, with circular movements, towards the end.
- There is no need to over-tighten, or use liquids, or anything like that.
- In a moment you will have the objective clean.
- The inner lens is very unlikely to be dirty, but if your lens is wide angle it may be flush with the mount. The procedure is identical.
Clean the sensor of our cameras without dying trying
It can be said that it is one of the most recurrent topics on the internet. How to clean the sensor? Can it be cleaned? ‘The dangers of cleaning the sensor’, ‘Cleaning the sensor is bad’… I have been with digital cameras for many years and have tried everything.
The best advice is to take it to the technical service and have a specialist clean it for you.. But if you know how to crack an egg, without leaving traces of the shell in the pan, you can easily do it yourself at home. And what is always said, if you do what you are going to read, it will always be at your own risk.
The sensor is delicate, but absolutely nothing happens to touch it with due caution. I’ve tried swabs, rubber bands, liquids… The most practical and economical thing is, plain and simple, the famous 3M Scotch Magic 810 tape.
3M Scotch Magic 810 19mm x 33mm – Adhesive Tape (Transparent), 1 unit
I have the sticks with isopropyl alcohol (which evaporates without leaving a trace), the rubber stick that sticks to the sensor, but the one that has given me the best result has always been the famous tape. The important thing is to always follow the steps that I am going to put below:
- We prepare everything on a dust-free table. It would be ideal to do it in a humid room like the bathroom or kitchen.
- On the table we have 3M Scotch Magic 810 tape on hand along with a swab for the ears or a rubber tip for the touch screens, the air bulb, and the lens and mount caps.
- We should only do it with the camera battery fully charged.
- Before starting, we will open the tape, take a piece and paste it on the screen of a mobile phone to check that it does not leave traces, that it is not an imitation or that it is not in poor condition.
- We remove the lens and store it properly, with its caps on.
- We turn on the camera, look for the mode Cleaning and we activate it.
- Two things will happen, the sensor will vibrate to shake off the dust and it will remain fixed until we turn off the camera. This step is essential so as not to spoil anything.
- We put the camera upside down (gravity helps) and blow with the air bulb to try to remove the dust inside. Please do not touch the sensor with the tip.
- We place the camera on the table with the sensor in sight.
- Now we cut a long piece of tape, enough to be able to join the ends and without touching the area that we are going to glue to the sensor.
- We position it carefully on the sensor and let it stick. With the stick or the rubber we press slightly so that it sticks.
- We peel it off carefully (without abruptness) and repeat the steps until the entire sensor is covered. As always it depends on the size (we may have to count it for sensors smaller than an FF). You only have to stick it to the sensor, never to another part of the camera.
- We turn off the camera so that the sensor recovers its position.
There is no faster, easier and more effective method on the market. Really. If you take it to the technical service, it will surely be better, but this solution is perfect. There are few things so simple in the life of a photographer that offer a better result for so little money.
So if you look brave enough, your photos are full of specks and you want to improve the sharpness of your photos and avoid spots everywhere, now you know how you can do it without spending a lot of money. And with perfect results, as long as you follow all the steps, at your own risk, yes.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism