Sequence viewing > Index - Cameras - lenses - optics - Resource provided by Lloyd Godman -© Lloyd Godman

Cleaning a CCD Sensor

You may find over a period of time, that when you change the lens dust gets into the CCD surface– whereas small Compact cameras with a single lens are sealed from the dust. it can be very tricky to clean a DSLR -  to get it done professionally costs about $35 – which is the safest and best way – however $35 a clean can as you might put it clean you out of $

As dust tends to fall downwards, If you can change the lens holding the lens in a lower position than the body – if you have a lens brush and dust it off just before you change it – you will find you can reduce the dust problem. On the other had if you hold the body with the opening facing upwards to place the lens on – you will find there is more chance of dust falling into the body.


You need a special swab that you can get from a camera shop – if you use other cleaning devices like a normal camels hair blower brush, you can ruin the sensor . Use the swab once and then discard it.

First  open the shutter on B and hold it open with the lens off which lets  you in to the chamber - do this with new batteries or with the camera plugged into the power  - if the shutter closes because the batteries fail you will have a disaster. You need good light so you can see what is happening - and you must only clean the sensor – some cameras have a fine grease around the outside of the ccd and you can end up dragging this onto the sensor .
Swipe the swab along the ccd in a smooth direct action without too much pressure – let it pick up the dust rather than wipe it off


If you see a black spot in the same spot of the frame on every image then you will have to get it cleaned. Were it is easy to clean the dust from the chamber with a film camera, it can be much trickier with digital. The temptation is to use a brush or a blower brush that works fine for film cameras. Do not use a brush of any sort to clean the ccd – usually the bristles are too coarse.


I also use a thing tube attached to a vacuum cleaner hose. You can buy special fittings from an electronics store, like Dick Smith Electronics – But you can also use some tape to do the same job. The first thing to remember is the CCD sensor is very delicate and can easily be damaged which will mean that the damage can show on every image you take. Around the edge of the sensor is a fine grease which you don not want to move onto the sensor.
Take the lens off the camera so you can get access to the chamber. You need to set the camera onto a shutter speed of B or T and leave it open indefinably, so use a cable release and lock it open. – you don’t want the shutter to close while the tube is inside.

Most manufacturers recommend that you do this with the camera on mains power as you do not want the shutter to close when the pipe is inside, however a new set of batteries will do the job.

Gently lower the tube down into the chamber but DO NOT touch the CCD sensor - use good light and make sure there is a gap between the sensor and the tube.


This should suck out any dust. If there is still dust there you may need to get it cleaned professionally, which can be relatively expensive.

Mouse over

Let the vacuum do the work – it will remove all the dust except for those particles that are stuck to the sensor – which can only be removed with the swab.
This will also allow you to suck up any dust inside the chamber an on the mirror.





comments on this resource