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A couple of years ago, I decided it was time to face my fears head-on. Since the day I had unboxed my first DSLR I’d fallen victim to all of the various doomsday warnings about the horrors that could befall me if something went wrong while cleaning my sensor. Don’t get me wrong– those warnings are all valid. Messing this up could scratch the sensor, push it out of alignment, or even break it, just to name a few. I’d always figured that if something was going to go wrong, I wanted it to be someone else’s fault– someone who would have to pay to replace the camera or repair the damage. Luckily, I have a great local camera shop that offers sensor cleaning twice a month and does a great job, but I finally got to that “how-hard-can-it-be?” point and decided it was time to learn.
DOOMSDAY WARNING: I would be totally remiss if I didn’t offer my own caution flag. If any part of cleaning your own sensor makes you the slightest bit uncomfortable, you should absolutely not do it. The consequences I mentioned above are only a few of the things that can happen if this delicate task is done incorrectly. There are a lot of products out there to help you clean your sensor, some better than others. You should thoroughly research any product before sticking it into your camera. Also make sure that it comes with clear, easy-to-follow instructions.
The SensorKlear Loupe Kit comes from the same company that manufactures the LensPen–one of my favourite lens-cleaning tools. The sensor-cleaning kit contains three components. The SensorKlear Loupe, the LensPen Hurricane Blower, and the SensorKlear II Pen.
For me, the biggest drawback to most sensor-cleaning products is that you really can’t see what you’re doing. The SensorKlear Loupe changes that, providing an illuminated, magnified view of the sensor. Being able to quickly and easily detect sensor dust not only makes the task of cleaning it easier, but also tells you whether your sensor even needs cleaning at all. There’s no sense sticking anything in your camera unnecessarily. The loupe is also designed with an opening on the side, allowing access for the cleaning tools while maintaining your view of the sensor. The loupe uses two AAA batteries (included) and fits perfectly over the camera opening. Be sure to check your camera’s owner’s manual for instructions on locking the mirror in the “up” position for sensor cleaning.
Chances are you probably already have a similar blower in your gear bag, so I’m not going to take up a lot of your time describing this one. It’s a blower–plain and simple. By now I’m sure you know to not let canned air anywhere near your sensor. The velocity of the air can blow the sensor out of alignment and the chemical propellant can permanently damage its surface. The hand blower is the most basic solution–and perfectly suited to the task–for removing dry dust particles from your sensor.
Sometimes, though, you’re battling more than just dry dust. Every once in a while, sticky particles decide to make your sensor their new home. For those situations, the SensorKlear Pen has worked flawlessly each time I’ve used it. The tip is a smaller version of the LensPen tip and is impregnated with a patented carbon cleaning compound that removes and absorbs the more stubborn dust and other particulates that find their way into cameras and onto sensors. The adjustable angle of the pen works perfectly in conjunction with the loupe, allowing you to use it an angle that doesn’t block your view of the sensor.
As with anything, there is no one perfect solution to the challenge of maintaining a dust-free sensor. For me, though, the quality of the tools, their ease of use, as well as their results, make this kit a great choice if you are ready to start cleaning your own sensor. If you’re already one of the brave ones, share your recommendations in the comments.