Sunday 8 March 2009

Gear we use and abuse-Dust Busting

There is nothing worse than spending a day shooting birds in flight or something with a plain background only to find when you download the images that they are peppered with dust and you then have to spend hours of extra processing to remove them,Most cameras these days come with a dust shaker on the sensor to help remove the problem (except Nikon D3/X) but it doesn't do the job completely and there will be times when you need to do something about it, My Canon 1DMK3 came new with dust on the sensor and rather than send it back and wait for a new one or even send it straight in for a service (first canon service gives a free sensor clean) i had to decide how i was going to remove the dust myself,There are many options on the market today but the main ones are to use a blower which can blow more dust onto the sensor,Wet wipes with Eclipse fluid which will help not just remove dust but also oil/grease spots that may come off of a new shutter and a small device called an Arctic Butterfly,This is my chosen method of dealing with dust on the sensor,Its very simple to use if you obey a couple of rules,Firstly only every clean your sensor with a newly fully recharged battery,If the shutter comes down when you are working in there its going to be expensive to replace, Secondly only clean your sensor in a relatively clean envirnoment-i go outside on a still day(dont want pollen on the sensor) and when using the device NEVER SPIN IT INSIDE THE CHAMBER, So with a fresh battery you need to go into the menu on your camera and find the open shutter for cleaning mode,Spin the butterfly 3 times for a few seconds to charge the bristles and then press the shutter button to open the camera up.Keeping the opening downwards carefully put the brush onto the sensor and lightly brush from one side to the other,Once you made a sweep take the brush out and give it a spin then go back in and repeat until the sensor is completely covered,I do this in both directions,Make sure that you do not touch the sides of the sensor with the brush as you may drag oil/grease onto the sensor which will then need a wet clean,Once you are happy that you have covered all the sensor put the cap back onto the camera and turn it off then turn it back on and you will hear the shutter close and the job is done, To check to see if the sensor is clean set your camera to F22 and take a picture of a clear sky and down load the image,any dust spots should be obvious,There are a few different brushes in the range,I use the Arctic Butterfly 724, Its a great tool if you travel as there are aircraft friendly unlike having to carry fluids with you and if you are Safari you can quickly clean you sensor each evening saving lots of time cleaning the images up when you return, I have been using one of these devices for a couple of years and i highly recommend them,Available at most Good shops,If you go to the Visible Dust web site there are training video's showing exactly how to use them


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