Anyone who uses a camera is going to know how horrible sensor dust is. There is nothing worse than going out to get an image, just to discover when you get it on the computer that it is full of spots from your sensor.
Take a look at the following image, the one on the left is a long exposure of Airey’s Inlet lighthouse. I took so many photos that day, and it wasn’t until I saw them on the computer that I saw all the spots from the sensor. The one on the right was done in Camera Raw, you click on the spot removal brush in the top menu and then press Visualize Spots. It certainly showed how many there were.
The reality for me was that none of the images were worth using. It would take hours to get rid of all the spots, if it was possible. I knew the first thing I had to do when I got home was get my sensor cleaned. I did that, but it cost $99 to do. They say you should do it ever 6 months, though it does depend on your camera, how often you use it, and for me I probably should get it done every 3 to 4 months. So I am looking at $300 to $400 a year to keep my sensor relatively clean. To me, that is too much. I have been looking for an alternative ever since, which pretty much means cleaning it myself.
Cleaning your Sensor
Cleaning your sensor can be scary. It is very expensive to repair if you get it wrong. It is important to know what you are doing, and make sure the products you get will not damage it. So I spent some time one day researching how to clean my sensor and what products to use. I had thought that I would end up with swabs and a liquid cleaner, but in the end I found something new, a Sensor Gel Stick from Eyelead, that you can purchase from Photography Life. So I ordered one.
Sensor Gel Stick
When you unpack it the container that holds it looks like this,
When you open it,
It looks a bit scary, but apparently very easy to use. Though, when I read the review it says make sure you watch the video on the the Photography Life website first before you use it.
It was very good advice and I suggest that if anyone is going to purchase it, that is exactly what you should do. It doesn’t work the same way as other sensor cleaners. This one you don’t drag over the sensor.
I watched the video this morning and so I wouldn’t ruin my sensor, have to make sure it is okay, I tried it on my old D300s first. The sensor wasn’t that dirty after being cleaned when it fixed recently when my daughter dropped it, but I did get some spots off it, though it took a few attempts.
Next, it was time to try it on the Nikon D800. I knew the the sensor was very dirty and could do with a good clean. You can see how many spots it had.
Again, it was taking forever, and several attempts to get it clean. Then I wondered if it was because we have been having some cold weather, and since it is gel, maybe the cold is making it less effective. So I put the stick, with the cover on it, in my hand for a while to see if I could warm it up a little, then I tried again.
I had a lot more success when it was a little warmer. I think you have to be careful with how you warm it up, but it is better when it is.
The sensor still isn’t 100% clean, but a lot better than it was. Now that I have the gel stick, I will use it more often and make sure my sensor doesn’t get that dirty again.
When you do research on this you will find that people have purchased some and have ruined their sensors. Apparently there is a knock off one from China and it isn’t good. You have to make sure you buy it from the right place and get the real one. I was told that Photography Life was the best place to purchase.
Though I wonder how many people who have wrecked their sensors have done it because they didn’t read the instructions properly, or watch the video.
Anytime you are doing anything to your sensor, you have to be so careful.
I like it, I think. It was fairly easy to use, though I think I would wait for warmer weather to try it again. I know to most parts of the world it isn’t as cold here, but still cold enough. I will continue trying it and see how I go.