Again, incom­pre­hen­si­ble dark spots and blur­ry areas on the cap­tured frames, again it will take longer to process than usu­al … Where did they come from? These are gifts from a dirty matrix or lens. In a col­or­ful image, you may not notice pol­lu­tion, but on a homo­ge­neous back­ground, they will def­i­nite­ly stand out and spoil the pho­to. There is only one way out — to urgent­ly clean the matrix and the lens of the objec­tive.

Pho­to: adorama.com

Why is camera sensor cleaning important?

The sen­sor of every SLR and mir­ror­less cam­era gets dirty, and this hap­pens main­ly when chang­ing lens­es. If the matrix is ​​slight­ly dusty, you won’t even notice it. But as soon as rel­a­tive­ly large for­eign par­ti­cles appear on its sur­face, you will not be able to take your eyes off them in the pic­tures.

This state of affairs does not both­er all pho­tog­ra­phers. Some pre­fer to do noth­ing, at least until a cer­tain point. Grad­u­al­ly, the num­ber of cloudy spots and black dots grows so much that the pho­tog­ra­ph­er faces the ques­tion of urgent­ly clean­ing the matrix on his own or in a spe­cial­ized ser­vice.

You can also remove all defects pro­gram­mat­i­cal­ly — using graph­ic edi­tors (Pho­to­shop, Light­room). This is a work­ing option if you had a pho­to ses­sion and only then, look­ing through the result­ing frames, real­ized that the sen­sor was dirty. But even in this case, it is nec­es­sary to cor­rect the sit­u­a­tion: it will only get worse.

Matrix clean­ing is the most cor­rect solu­tion to the prob­lem. Using spe­cial tools, you can do this in a few min­utes. Or you can take the cam­era to the ser­vice, but you have to pay for the ser­vice and spend time on the road.

Automatic sensor cleaning

Many mod­ern cam­eras have an auto­mat­ic sen­sor clean­ing func­tion. You can run it as need­ed or set it to fire every time the cam­era is turned on or off. If you active­ly use the cam­era, it is bet­ter to choose the sec­ond option.

Auto­mat­ic clean­ing works very sim­ply: dust is shak­en off the sen­sor by vibra­tion. The func­tion is real­ly effec­tive, it pre­vents the matrix from get­ting dirty too quick­ly. Although, if you often shoot and change lens­es, man­u­al clean­ing is still indis­pens­able.

Manual cleaning of the camera matrix: what to buy


Blow­ing the sen­sor with a blow­er helps to quick­ly blow off for­eign par­ti­cles of a suf­fi­cient­ly large frac­tion. On sale there are spe­cial air pears designed for clean­ing matri­ces, but some­times pho­tog­ra­phers buy ordi­nary phar­ma­cy ene­mas in order to save mon­ey. This is per­fect­ly accept­able, but you need to pre­pare the fix­ture before using it. The fact is that the inner walls of phar­ma­cy ene­mas are usu­al­ly cov­ered with tal­cum pow­der. If you blow it on the cam­era sen­sor, it will be dif­fi­cult to clean it. To pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing, pre-rinse the ene­ma inside and dry thor­ough­ly. (it seems eas­i­er to buy an air pear).

An air pear is the eas­i­est, but not the most effec­tive tool for clean­ing the matrix. Pho­to: sparepixels.wordpress.com

Clean­ing the cam­era matrix with air is very sim­ple and takes only a cou­ple of min­utes:

  • Detach the lens from the cam­era.
  • We put the cam­era in the sen­sor clean­ing mode. In it, the mir­ror ris­es and is fixed. There is no need to turn off the cam­era.
  • We turn the cam­era upside down so that the dust blown off does not set­tle back onto the sen­sor.
  • We bring the pear to a dis­tance of 1–2 cm and blow out the air with a sharp squeeze of the hand. The main thing is to clear­ly con­trol the move­ments so that the spout does not lean for­ward at the moment the pear is com­pressed and does not dam­age the matrix. Bet­ter to prac­tice a lit­tle first.

This pro­ce­dure helps to remove only large par­ti­cles. If after three or four purges it was not pos­si­ble to achieve the desired result, a more thor­ough clean­ing is indis­pens­able.


This is a spe­cial device for wip­ing the sen­sor. It got this name because of its appear­ance: well, it real­ly looks like an ordi­nary mop, only very small. Mops are sold indi­vid­u­al­ly or in sets. One clean­ing — one mop. In advanced sit­u­a­tions, two may be required. After clean­ing, the mop is not rec­om­mend­ed to be reused.

Using a mop, you quick­ly and effi­cient­ly clean the matrix from dust and oth­er con­t­a­m­i­nants. Pho­to: dpmag.com

Mops come in dif­fer­ent sizes, but the most com­mon are:

  • 16 mm wide — for clean­ing APS‑C sen­sors,
  • 24 mm wide — for full-for­mat matri­ces.

Clean­ing the cam­era sen­sor with a mop is car­ried out as fol­lows:

  • We drip a spe­cial liq­uid onto the brush (often sold in a set with mops).
  • We bring the mop to the edge of the matrix and press it, but not too hard.
  • With a smooth move­ment, con­trol­ling and main­tain­ing pres­sure, we draw to the oppo­site edge of the sen­sor.
  • With­out tear­ing off the mop, we walk in the oppo­site direc­tion, also with lit­tle effort.


This is an alter­na­tive to a mop, unlike it, you do not need to buy a spe­cial liq­uid sep­a­rate­ly for a pen­cil. It is easy to use and also quite effec­tive. The clean­ing process is ele­men­tary: we apply a pen­cil to the cen­ter of the matrix and make rota­tion­al move­ments, grad­u­al­ly expand­ing the treat­ed area and mov­ing from the mid­dle to the edges. At the very end, the cor­ners are cleaned. On the body of the pen­cil, clos­er to the tip, there is a bend of about 30–35 ° — it is need­ed for con­ve­nience.

The sen­sor clean­ing pen is dif­fer­ent from the one for the lens, although they work the same way. At the end of the pen­cil is a tri­an­gu­lar graphite-coat­ed tip. Lens pen­cils, on the oth­er hand, have a round­ed tip, so they won’t remove dirt from the cor­ners of the sen­sor. Pho­to: lensrentals.com

After clean­ing, you need to put on the cap and rotate it around the axis by 180 ° to remove col­lect­ed dust from the tip. For begin­ners, it is eas­i­er to use a pen­cil, although the mop is unri­valed in terms of effi­cien­cy and speed of clean­ing.

How to keep the matrix clean

To clean the cam­era sen­sor as lit­tle as pos­si­ble:

  • turn off the cam­era when chang­ing lens­es;
  • do not leave the cam­era for a long time with­out a lens;
  • keep the plug on the back of the lens and the bay­o­net cap clean;
  • Do not change the lens in dusty areas or out­doors in windy con­di­tions.

Proper and safe camera lens cleaning

The cam­era lens gets dirty much faster and eas­i­er than the sen­sor. There are dif­fer­ent devices for clean­ing optics: nap­kins, pen­cils, brush­es, spe­cial liq­uids. We will not ana­lyze them sep­a­rate­ly, but rather con­sid­er ways to remove the most com­mon con­t­a­m­i­nants.


Dust is an insid­i­ous form of lens con­t­a­m­i­na­tion. To many, it will seem insignif­i­cant and eas­i­ly elim­i­nat­ed, but it is not. The lens may be cov­ered with dust from micro­scop­ic glass frag­ments and oth­er hard par­ti­cles, which, if not prop­er­ly removed, will inevitably scratch the sur­face.

The lens can be wiped with a cot­ton swab, but care­ful­ly so that no lint remains. Pho­to: studiobinder.com

First of all, blow the lens with an air bulb. A direct­ed air jet will remove the largest par­ti­cles. With the rem­nants (espe­cial­ly around the edges), a soft brush will cope. Just don’t try to blow on the lens, as droplets of sali­va are much more dif­fi­cult to remove than almost harm­less dry dust.

Water drops

When shoot­ing out­doors, it is good to use UV fil­ters. They addi­tion­al­ly pro­tect the lens of the lens from splash­es from foun­tains, rain­drops and more. Clean­ing, and even more so replac­ing the noz­zle is much eas­i­er than optics. The main thing is to be care­ful when clean­ing.

You will need a microfiber cloth, with which you need to wipe the sur­face in a cir­cu­lar motion. The soft fab­ric will absorb the liq­uid and leave no streaks. Final­ly, light­ly pol­ish the lens with the dry side of the tis­sue.

In the process of shoot­ing, quick­ly remove drops of water from the lens with­out leav­ing streaks, a clean soft microfiber cloth will help. Pho­to: openaircinema.us

When con­den­sa­tion has formed on the lens, do not rush to wipe it off if you can wait a bit. He him­self will dis­ap­pear, and com­plete­ly with­out a trace. No time — wipe the optics with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.

If drops of water or oth­er liq­uid have dried up, use an optics clean­ing solu­tion and a tis­sue.

Oil stains and fingerprints

These are the most com­plex con­t­a­m­i­nants, the removal of which requires a spe­cial approach. Before eras­ing such stains, pre­pare the sur­face by clean­ing it from dust. Blow off micro­scop­ic par­ti­cles with an air bulb, and then work with a soft brush. Only after that, apply a spe­cial alco­hol-con­tain­ing agent to the nap­kin and clean the lens in a cir­cu­lar motion. At the end, light­ly pol­ish the glass with microfiber, but with­out fanati­cism.

The lens and the matrix are those ele­ments of the cam­era for which crys­tal clear­ness is impor­tant. If you do not fol­low this, the qual­i­ty and expres­sive­ness of the pic­tures will inevitably decrease. The main thing is to be very care­ful when clean­ing the sen­sor and lens so as not to scratch or oth­er­wise dam­age them.