Camera Maintenance

Setting sun reflection along the Acadian coast

My camera is now 5 years old and I’ve been very happy with the purchase of this amazing full-frame digital wonder. While not a true professional-grade camera, it has served me well. I had one issue with the mode dial a couple of years ago and had to send it off to the Nikon center for repairs. It came back to me in great shape and I’ve had no problems since then with the functioning of the camera.

I clean the exterior body and lenses regularly, and use the “mirror lock-up” function to gently blow out any dust particles that make their way onto the sensor in the interior of the camera. However, after 5 years, it was obvious that I needed to do more to clean the sensor of dust. My attempts to remove dust using the blower did not get rid of some stubborn, nasty, clinging particles.

Over the past several months, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time in Lightroom removing “dust spots” with the spot removal tool. During this last month, my patience with this process finally reached its boiling point! All indications in my Nikon manual warned against attempting a self-cleaning of the sensor. In my manual, it states “dirt that cannot be removed with a blower can only be removed by Nikon-authorized service personnel.” The last time I sent my camera off for repair weeks went by before it was returned to me. I just did not want to go this route.

Researching online, I found several really good videos by professional photographers that detailed the process of removing these difficult dust particles. While I was nervous about trying this, it seemed simple enough and I ordered one of the recommended full-frame sensor cleaning kits complete with a number of pre-packaged cleaning swabs and a sensor cleaning solution. The kit came with detailed instructions. I resigned myself to the fact that I might damage the sensor and would accept the consequences. But, all indications pointed towards this being a very easy process.

After the first pass with the moistened swab, I took a test photo and loaded it into Lightroom to see if I had been successful in removing all the dust particles. The image was so much better than before but I still noticed several dust spots remaining along the edges of the photo. According to the instructions, a second cleaning was often necessary and I performed an additional pass over the sensor with a new swab.

It was close to sunset by the time I completed the second cleaning so I walked down along the coastline and took a shot of the sunset – with an emphasis on getting as much sky as possible. I loaded the photograph into Lightroom and scanned for dust. For the first time in many months, I had ZERO dust spots that needed manipulation!! 🙂

I am a happy, happy photographer!!

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