Liquid Cleaning

Unfortunately, you'll often encounter really stubborn dust spots that can't be removed with a blast of air or flick of a brush. These spots may be combined with some grease or a liquid that causes them to stick to the sensor filter's surface. In such cases, liquid cleaning with a swab may be necessary. During my first clumsy attempts to clean my own sensor, I accidentally got my blower bulb tip too close to the sensor, and some sort of deposit from the tip of the bulb ended up on the sensor. I panicked until I discovered that liquid cleaning did a good job of removing whatever it was that took up residence on my sensor.

You can make your own swabs out of pieces of plastic (some use fast food restaurant knives, with the tip cut at an angle to the proper size) covered with a soft cloth or Pec-Pad, as shown in Figures 9.9 and 9.10. However, if you've got the bucks to spend, you can't go wrong with good quality commercial sensor cleaning swabs, such as those sold by Photographic Solutions, Inc. (

You want a sturdy swab that won't bend or break so you can apply gentle pressure to the swab as you wipe the sensor surface. Use the swab with methanol (as pure as you can get it, particularly medical grade; other ingredients can leave a residue), or the Eclipse solution also sold by Photographic Solutions. Eclipse is actually quite a bit purer than even medical-grade methanol. A couple drops of solution should be enough, unless you have a spot that's extremely difficult to remove. In that case, you may need to use extra solution on the swab to help "soak" the dirt off.

Figure 9.10 Carefully wrap a Pec-Pad around the swab.

Figure 9.9 You can make your own sensor swab from a plastic knife that's been truncated.

Figure 9.10 Carefully wrap a Pec-Pad around the swab.

Once you overcome your nervousness at touching your T2i's sensor, the process is easy. You'll wipe continuously with the swab in one direction, then flip it over and wipe in the other direction. Figure 9.11 shows a swab being lowered past the lens mount down to the sensor. You need to completely wipe the entire surface; otherwise, you may end up depositing the dust you collect at the far end of your stroke. Wipe; don't rub.

Cleaning Sensor Canon 550d

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  • markus
    What size sensor swab for t2i?
    9 years ago
  • Rezene
    Which eclipse 550d cleaning?
    6 years ago

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