In The Desert
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Camera cleaning tools
Where to start?
Of all the tools available to clean your camera the one that is often overlooked is the dust brush! Shown here, it's a simple inexpensive paint brush. It should never be used on your lens elements but is great for removing dust from outside of the camera and lenses. Also shown here is a good quality glass cleaner you can purchase at the eye doctors (Lens Crafters) fairly inexpensively. We'll get into the Visible Dust brushes shown here in the plastic case a little later on.
Cleaning the camera with the dust brush is going to help ensure the longevity of the camera and help to keep dust out of the sensor, viewfinder, and other openings in the camera. It will also help to keep the lens clean. You can use the glass cleaner to clean the LCD and viewfinder. DON'T use regular household glass cleaner like Windex on any of these surfaces. It is too strong and will remove lettering and if your LCD has an anti-glare coating, it will ruin it. All of the above is appropriate for P & S (Point & Shoot) cameras as well as Digital SLR's.
Sensor cleaning for D-SLR's
When it needs to be done?
The best way to tell if your sensor is dirty and requires cleaning is to go outside and take 2 photos. One at f-5.6 like the sample to the right. Next take another photo at f-20 or as close as you can get to that (small aperture). Mouse over the photo on the right to see the one taken at f-20. You'll see 3 dust spots on the sensor. This sensor needs to be cleaned.
Granted photos taken at large apertures won't show the dust spots, but they will only get worst, meaning more of them will show up on the sensor.
WARNING This should only be undertaken if you feel comfortable doing it and above all else follow the instructions supplied by the people at Visible Dust.com Under no circumstances are we responsible for camera damage if you choose to do this. We perform this cleaning process about once a year, as living in the desert makes it impossible to keep from getting dust in your camera when changing lenses. If you are unsure, then send your camera in to the manufacturer to have it cleaned.
Use this info at your own discretion!
Visible Dust's Web Site Once there you'll see a large selection of products for cleaning your sensor. We'll show you how to use a sensor brush (dry method).
Before using the Visible Dust brush it is recommended that you use an AIR spray can to blow off the brush and it also makes the brush static so it will pick up the dust particles. Use only an AIR spray can. Before use, spray the air can holding it level (upright) so none of the propellant liquid comes out of the can. It is important not to get the liquid on the brush or sensor! There are wet cleaning methods (by visible dust and also peck pads), but I don't recommend their use. Once a sensor is stained it'll be hard to remove the stain.
Make one swip across the sensor then remove the brush. Spray the brush again to remove any particles picked up by the brush before making another pass over the sensor. We've used this method successfully many times to remove dust particles from the sensor.
One other important note : Make sure your using an AC adapter to power the camera or a fully charged battery when putting the camera into sensor cleaning mode. If you do not, then the mirror could close unexpectantly on the brush and break your mirror, causing damage that would require an expensive factory repair.
Although sending a camera in for cleaning may cause you to lose the camera for several weeks it will be cleaned correctly with no loss to you. The Visible Dust brushes are expensive so decide for yourself which method is best. If you do send the camera back make sure you record the serial number to assure the return of your camera and not someone elses.
Page 2 Cleaning your lenses
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