Callum McInerney-Riley tests a range of items dedicated to cleaning your camerau2019s sensor
Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly
The Arctic Butterfly is effectively a cleaning brush, but with a difference. It uses Super Charged Fibre (SCF) technology, which basically means that the bristles contain a small electrical charge, though you don’t need to worry about this damaging your camera. The electrostatic charge attracts any dust or small particles, so they can be removed with just a light brushing of your sensor.
Once done, a built-in motor spins the brush head round rapidly, propelling dust away and helping regenerate the electrostatic charge, leaving it clean and ready to use again. But remember not to spin the bristles while on the camera sensor.
There are a few different versions available, some with LED lights to help you see the sensor clearly. Although they are expensive, they are easy to use and there are no additional accessories required, except two AAA batteries.
Kinetronics SpeckGrabber Pro
On occasions a single piece of dust or hair blights your images. A full sensor clean is a little over the top in these situations, and simply removing the offending particle would suffice. The SpeckGrabber Pro offers a convenient, hassle-free solution for the removal of such things. With a gentle touch, the adhesive tip can lift and remove specks of dirt from the sensor. The tip is washable so it back be used again and again.
A rubberised handle makes the tool easy to use while the supplied case will protect it when packed away in a camera bag. The SpeckGrabber Pro is not ideal for small pieces of dust, but for anything on the sensor that is easily visible to the eye, this product is a perfect ‘quick fix’.
Visible Dust Quasar Sensor Loupe
Another offering from Visible Dust is the Quasar Sensor Loupe. This is designed to be placed over the lens mount of a camera to magnify any dust particles, smudges or other nasties that can cling to the sensor. An impressive 7x magnification is claimed, and seven LED lights are built in, which can be directed to achieve maximum illumination of the sensor.
Once I have cleaned a sensor, I usually take a series of test shots against white paper to ensure I have removed all the dust. Often, there are a few specs of dust that remain, which were missed by the naked eye. The Quasar Sensor Loupe allows you to see even the smallest particles for more precise and easier cleaning. A Mini Quasar Sensor Loupe is also available, priced around £55.
Green Clean Mini Vacuum
Green Clean is renowned for its cleaning products from lens cloths to sensor-cleaning accessories. This Mini Vacuum is designed to suck dust from the sensor and other areas it may gather. Dust removal is achieved without any contact with the sensor, avoiding potential damage. This is great for anybody apprehensive about sensor cleaning with swabs. Although the suction power is quite powerful, this product is specifically designed to remove loose dust particles, so anything more stubborn will need a more thorough cleaning method.
The Mini Vacuum head screws into a canister of compressed air, which can be replaced with a standard screw-thread canister of air should the supplied one run out. A length of polyurethane tubing attaches to a flexible plastic pick-up, which features a trumpeted end. This makes the product very easy to use.
Just Pro Cleaning Kit
Sometimes it’s best to cover all your bases, and this kit from Just is a comprehensive all-in-one solution for kit and sensor cleaning. Crammed into a zip-up pouch measuring 19×12.5cm is a wealth of camera-cleaning equipment, comprising sensor swabs, an anti-static brush, a silicone air blower, an anti-static cloth, a large microfibre cloth, bottle of Eclipse optic cleaning solution and Kinetronics SpeckGrabber.
Being able to keep your cleaning kit in a single place is a real asset – sensor swabs are easy things to lose. Top-ups are available via the Camera Clean website should you run short of any individual item. Although expensive, this is a complete kit with everything you will ever need to clean a sensor. It is a worthy investment for anyone who intends to clean multiple sensors or a single sensor multiple times.
If you are worried about using a liquid near your sensor, then the Dust-Aid Platinum may be the answer. It uses a silicone pad on the end of what is essentially a plastic stick. In use, the rectangular silicone pad is pressed down carefully onto the sensor, and the slightly porous silicon surface will lift and retain any dust or debris.
The silcone pad can then be cleaned by pressing it against one of the kit’s disposable sticky tabs. The very mild adhesive lifts the debris from the pad, without leaving any residue behind. Included in the kit are six cleaning tabs (one per use), and a small travel case to keep the kit neat and tidy, and clean.
Overall, the Dust-Aid Platinum is very simple to use, even for someone who is nervous about removing dust from a sensor themselves.
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