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Photography: Cleaning your digital camera

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Get into the habit of taking care of your equipment: that way, you will avoid any nasty surprises! And even better, it will last longer!

1. Must-have care and maintenance equipment

  • microfibre cloths
  • 1 dust blower
  • 1 soft-haired brush
  • 1 can of compressed air
  • 1 digital sensor cleaning kit (SLRs only)

Focus on: Paper handkerchiefs

  • Can be used to absorb moisture or liquids that have sprayed on to the camera body or lens barrel
  • Never use to clean the eyepiece or front lens as they are highly abrasive and will damage the fragile lens coating.

2. Cleaning an SLR body

  • Whenever your camera has been subject to use in an extreme environment, remove any dust from the camera body using compressed air (hold the can upright).
  • The best way to remove spots of grease is to use a damp sponge or microfibre cloth.
  • Cleaning the sensor: while many SLRs are fitted with anti-dust mechanisms, these have their limitations. Before proceeding any further, ensure your battery is fully charged. Then look through your camera menus to find the manual cleaning option, which will expose the SLR's mirror.

Follow the instructions, which will depend on the specific cleaning system in question. If you are unsure about performing the cleaning yourself, a camera specialist will be happy to provide this service!

To combat greasy dust:

pre-saturated swabs for cleaning the sensor.  - cleaning kits with spatula tools for wet-cleaning (with cleaner liquid included)

For dry dust:

use a dust blower (available from pharmacies) with the reflex chamber pointing downwards to release any dust. Do not touch the sensor while blowing. Sensor cleaning swabs. Compressed air canisters suitable for blowing or vacuuming any dust off the lens. Special dust removal styluses for removing dust from the corners.

3. Lens cleaning

  • Barrel and buttons: use a compressed air canister
  • Glass: ideally use a dust blower or brush, but whatever you do, avoid using dry (and cold) compressed air.
  • Electrical contacts: use a microfibre cloth soaked in alcohol.
  • Front lens: remove persistent stains using a slightly damp microfibre cloth.


Remember: even the thinnest layer of dust will have an impact on image quality. But there is no point in going crazy over a single speck of dust.