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Cleaning your camera sensor for the first time can be a scary thing! But the fact of the matter is that it’s not as scary as many people make it out to be. Indeed if you get the chance to watch a professional sensor your camera, they’re pretty stress-free and just get on with the job, and while there is a (mostly!) good level of care, they’re not carrying on as if they’re performing open-heart surgery.
Yes, our cameras are our babies. But they’re also tools and despite what we may think, they can handle a little bit of hard work and a good cleaning, too. In this article, I’m going to tell you about my experience cleaning my own sensors and using the VSGO sensor cleaning kit.
The first time I ever tried cleaning my own sensor was on my new Canon 5D MarkII. I remember being super nervous and thinking that I was going to cause some irreversible damage!
Well, as it happens, I managed to put a big streak of cleaning fluid on the sensor and when I took a test shot I was horrified. I thought I’d scratched the sensor right down the middle! So I did a little bit of Googling to find that almost all modern sensors have some sort of protective layer in front of them to protect them from fools like me! I added a tiny dot of cleaning fluid, did it again and my sensor was sparkly and clean!
It is scary, but it’s not hard to effectively clean your own sensor.
I’ve used other sensor cleaning kits before. They worked fine, but they were just bigger and bulkier than this simple VSGO kit so I left them at home. With the VSGO sensor cleaning kit, I chuck a couple of swabs and a little bottle of cleaning fluid in my camera bag and I’m always ready should the need arise.
I’ve put together this quick video to show you the exact procedure I use with these VSGO cleaning swabs, take a look!
As you can see in the video above, it’s easy to see the bigger dust spots, they’re sitting there waiting to be wiped away. Many people like the idea of blowing those right off, but I prefer not to do that. I don’t like the idea of blowing the bigger bits of dust off of my sensor and straight into the shutter box or sensor cavity to blow around at a later date and make your sensor clean mostly invalid! Kinda like driving through a car wash that’s just had its washy bits coated in dirt, no thanks.
In my few months of testing the VSGO cleaning system, I’ve found that with most camera sensors, you will only need one VSGO brush with a wipe from left to right. Then one more back from right to left using the opposite side of the brush and you’re done. But there have been one or two sensors that have required a couple of extra wipes!
When you’re out taking photographs and you close down your aperture (bigger f-number, for those of you that are newer to photography) for a deeper depth-of-field, you may notice little dark smudges, particularly around the edge of your photographs. Those cheeky little things are dust spots on the sensor (unless you had a pack of rabid pigeons flying around you looking for chips!)
They’re not very obvious when you’re taking a photograph with a shallow depth of field, and many photographers are prone to using our lenses as wide as they will go for the most part, so it’s not an issue. But from time to time, given the right situation, you will notice them.
In the photo below, I’ve bumped up the Contrast and Clarity in Lightroom to make the little smudge stand out a bit – pretty sure you’ll spot them!
My experience with the VSGO sensor cleaning kit was a very positive one and I have a couple of swabs and a bottle of cleaning fluid in both of my camera bags. (Thanks to Jeff at ProTog in Melbourne for telling me about these kits!) There is no downside to buying and having the VSGO cleaning kit with you, so I award it five out of five stars!
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