How to clean the sensor on a mirrorless camera | Lesson | Photo, video, optics


In mirrorless cameras, unlike DSLRs, the matrix is ​​​​not covered by a mirror. In terms of cleaning the matrix, this is both a plus and a minus. The upside is that mirrorless is easier to clean — no need to lift the mirror and worry about hitting it in the process. The downside is that you need to clean the mirrorless matrix more often.

How to Prepare for Cleaning a Mirrorless Sensor

Cleaning the sensor of a mirrorless camera from dust

How to clean the mirrorless sensor from stains

Why do mirrorless cameras need to be cleaned more often than DSLRs? For the same reason: the matrix is ​​not covered by a mirror. Therefore, with each lens change, there is a chance to collect dust on the sensor. And if you are not very lucky — then spots. For example, they are formed if small splashes of rain enter the chamber.

You can, of course, save the equipment:

  • always lower the camera with the sensor down when changing the lens;
  • do not change lenses in rain or wind or, in principle, do not shoot in such weather;
  • avoid beaches and dusty places.

But, whatever one may say, if you actively shoot, sooner or later the matrix will become dirty and it will have to be cleaned.

If the matrix looks like this, it definitely needs to be cleaned / Photo: Alisa Smirnova, Fotosklad.Expert

Many photographers are afraid to clean the sensor themselves and take the camera to the service. This is a good option if such a procedure is not too expensive and there is a service in the city. But if you live in the provinces and shoot, for example, with Fujifilm, you will have to send the camera to Moscow or St. Petersburg for service. And it will take two or three weeks. In this case, it makes sense to clean the matrix yourself.

How do you know when it’s time to clean the sensor of a mirrorless camera? The main sign: spots on the sensor began to interfere with your work. If you began to notice that dots or spots appear in the same places in the pictures, then it’s definitely time.

Dirt on the sensor is usually more noticeable at closed apertures / imagemaven.com

How to Prepare for Cleaning a Mirrorless Sensor

Before cleaning the mirrorless sensor, you need to prepare the space: vacuum around the desktop and in all cracks, collect dust with a damp cloth. If there are animals in the house, you need to approach this issue even more carefully. Otherwise, during the cleaning process, there is a chance to collect even more dust and wool than it was originally there.

We will be cleaning the Fujifilm X-T20 sensor. Now she looks like this:

There is dust, and a stain from dried water and, probably, wool / Photo: Alisa Smirnova, Photosklad.Expert

To get such a complete picture of the dirt on the matrix, let’s take a test shot. We close the aperture as much as possible (we have this value of 22), fix the ISO at a value of 200-400 so that noise does not interfere, switch to manual focus mode and photograph the ceiling. Or something else of the same color.

Cleaning the sensor of a mirrorless camera from dust

The first thing to do is to check if your camera has an automatic sensor cleaning feature. It can either be configured to fire every time the camera is turned off, or manually triggered before from time to time. It is definitely worth running it before you start cleaning the camera manually.

Automatic cleaning occurs due to high-frequency vibration. It can shake off small dust particles from the matrix, but it cannot cope with large dust particles or moisture stains.

Next, we need a pear to blow off the dust. Important! You need a pear for photographic equipment; you cannot use an analogue from a pharmacy. In silicone pears from a pharmacy, there is often talcum powder inside. If it gets on the matrix, it will be difficult to clean it out of there. A specialized blower can be purchased at a photography store either on its own or in a set with other cleaning accessories.

We remove the lens from the camera, put it with the sensor up on a hard surface or hold it in our hand. And gently blow off the dust from the matrix without touching it with the tip of the pear / Photo: Alisa Smirnova, Photosklad.Expert

Cleaning with a blower helps with small contaminants (from dust and hair) or can be the first step in cleaning the sensor of a mirrorless camera. Instead of a pear, you can use a compressed air cylinder.

Do not skip the step of cleaning the matrix with a pear and immediately proceed to work with a cleaning pencil or mops. If there is dust, it must first be blown off. If you start to run a mop or pencil over small particles of dust on the sensor, you can get scratches.

How to clean the mirrorless sensor from stains

After you have blown the camera matrix with a pear, you can proceed to contact cleaning. One of the most common tools for this is a special Lenspen SensorKlear pencil for cleaning matrices. Please note that this brand produces pencils for cleaning optics and filters. These are different tools, we need them specifically for matrices.

The cap of the pencil contains a special cleaning compound. It is worth scrolling the pencil several times in it before starting work.

Another important point: if your mirrorless camera has matrix stabilization, you will have to clean the camera with it turned on. Otherwise, the matrix will hang out. In this case, it is important to ensure that you do not accidentally press the trigger with your finger. If the shutter falls on the pencil, it will most likely break. And repairing the shutter is an expensive pleasure.

If you have a stabilized sensor and your camera has an electronic shutter feature (most modern mirrorless cameras have it), it’s best to switch to it. In this mode, even if you accidentally press the shutter, nothing bad will happen.

So, take a cleaning pencil in your hands and gently wipe the matrix with it.

It is convenient to clean the corners of the sensor with a triangular-shaped nozzle, the head is slightly bent / Photo: Alisa Smirnova, Fotosklad.Expert

Manufacturers of cleaning pencils promise that the tool can withstand up to 50 uses. In fact, the longer you use the pencil, the worse it will clean the sensor.

An alternative to cleaning pencils are cleaning mops. They also do a good job with persistent stains on the matrix. Mops are usually sold in packs of 10. Consumption: one mop — one cleaning.

Mops are dry and wet. Complete with dry ones, there is usually a bottle of cleaning agent, which you need to apply on the mop yourself / Photo: Alisa Smirnova, Fotosklad.Expert

Mops are available in different sizes to fit matrices of different sizes. For example:

— for full-frame cameras — FST SS-24 KIT;

— for crop — Set FST SS-16 KIT;

– for micro 4/3 — FST SS-12 KIT.

Ideally, the width of the squeegee should match the width of the sensor.

Carefully put the mop on the sensor and, pressing it to the surface of the matrix, draw it. It is not necessary to press hard on the mop. In the process, it may bend slightly, but not much. We carry out a mop from one edge to another, and back. Everything, the matrix is ​​cleaned. Throw away the mop, it’s disposable. If any dirt remains on the sensor, it is better to take a new one.

After cleaning with a damp mop, there should be no streaks on the matrix. But if there are, you can gently wipe the sensor with a dry mop / Photo: Alisa Smirnova, Fotosklad.Expert

Important! Each mop manufacturer may have its own characteristics. Before cleaning, read the instructions on the package.

After you have cleaned the sensor, you can return the lens to its place and take another test shot. Here’s what we got:

The matrix has become noticeably cleaner, although it cannot be said that the result is ideal. But such pollution has little effect on shooting / Photo: Alisa Smirnova, Fotosklad.Expert

If dirt remains on the matrix, you can either repeat the procedures, or simply leave everything as it is. Dirt, as in the image above, does not interfere with the shooting too much. Especially if you work a lot at open apertures.

And one more thing: if you cleaned the sensor of a mirrorless camera, and there is still a lot of dirt on the test shot, arm yourself with lens tissue and pears and clean the front and rear lenses of the lens. Dust and wool on them also affects the overall picture.


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