How To Clean Dust Off Your DSLR Sensor: Sensor Gel Stick
Over time every DSLR will collect dust on its CMOS or CCD sensor; there really isn’t anyway around it. Cleaning your own camera’s sensor with liquid wipes or other wet processes has always been a bit risky. Luckily the Sensor Gel Stick is a safe and easy product that top manufacturers like Leica, Nikon, and Canon have been using in their own factories for years. Now YOU can use it too!
Our good friend Nasim Mansurov at Photographylife.com called me up a few days ago and told me he was now the sole US distributor of the most revolutionary sensor cleaning product on the market. I have to admit, I’ve always been too scared to clean my own sensors. Trying to figure out which specific sensor cleaning swab to purchase has always made me question if we should even be cleaning our sensors in the first place. Maybe this is a task meant to be left for the true professionals.
Nasim laid all my worries to rest when he told me that this Sensor Gel Stick was the easiest and safest way to clean your sensor. Not only that, but professional camera manufacturers like Leica, Nikon, and Canon actually use this exact product in their own factories.
Being pretty handy myself, I asked, “If this is the exact same product being used to clean my sensor when I ship it to Nikon, then why in the world can I not do this myself?” Well I decided to clean my first sensor today on one of my own DSLR cameras….and I committed to it all live on video.
Here are the full res examples showing the dust spots on my Nikon D300s sensor before cleaning and after cleaning with the Sensor Gel Stick:
As you can see in the examples, my D300s camera was filthy. I bought this camera back in 2009 when it first came out. My Nikon D300s has now since been retired to only wedding photobooth duty. Since my photobooth setup uses studio lights, I’m often shooting at smaller apertures like f10 or f16. As you can imagine, these specks of dust can cause all sorts of editing problems when you have hundreds of photobooth photos with white backgrounds. As soon as I received the Sensor Gel Stick, I knew this was the first camera to test to see how clean I could get the sensor. The results are pretty amazing especially considering much of this dust has probably been on the sensor for years!
After having great success with a few of the D300s cameras laying around the Fstoppers office, I decided to see how much dust was on my year old Nikon D600 camera. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about how dirty the D600 sensor can get and obviously there is also that notorious “oil stain” issue that many claim was the reason for the Nikon D610 release. To my surprise my Nikon D600 camera was even dirtier than my 5 year old D300s camera! Having become a pro sensor cleaning in just 20 minutes, I decided it was time to up the ante and clean one of my work horse cameras. You can see the results of the Nikon D600 below.
NOTE: AFTER INVESTIGATING THIS A BIT MORE, I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND CLEANING THE MIRROR WITH THIS DEVICE. SEE MY RESPONSE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW: After cleaning a handful of Nikon D300s, D600, and D800 cameras, I thought maybe this Sensor Gel Stick would help me clean the mirror and viewfinder on my older Nikon D300s cameras. After five years of heavy use, it was pretty embarrassing to look through the viewfienders of these crop sensor cameras. There was dust, dirt, and grime all over the viewfinder. As expected, the Gel Stick did a great job removing all the mess and restoring my oldest cameras to “like new” condition.
All in all, I have to say Lee and I were extremely impressed with this product. Cleaning a sensor used to seem scary as hell but now I would have no reservation cleaning any camera with a digital sensor in it. Obviously I do not have experience with how long each stick will last or how many pieces of sticky paper I might go through in a year (I’ll probably only clean my cameras once or twice a year), but at $40 this thing is totally worth it.
If you have any questions or concerns, leave them in the comments below as I’m sure Nasim can answer a lot of the technical aspects of the Sensor Gel Stick better than I can. Also feel free to post your before and after images. I’m curious if anyone has a dirtier sensor than I did and how well it cleans up after the process.