Friday, February 25, 2011

Ten Biggest Safari Mistakes and Lessons...Number Four

Learn how to clean the sensor in your camera...

I have always been really careful changing lenses. But  having big hands and being somewhat klutzy, I have always been a little paranoid about the inside of a camera, so probably like most people, I learned how to clean inside the camera with a little dust blower and figured that would be sufficient. I figured that inevitably I would have to take the camera in to be professionally cleaned, but in the meantime, I felt I was pretty good not rocking the boat. Last year I went up north to photograph polar bears. I hadn't realized it before, but I had quite a few spots of dust on the sensor. Now when you are photographing normal things with colour, you likely won't notice (as I didn't) that there are any problems. When it comes to photographing subjects that are white on white however, the imperfections show up.
This picture of a red panda is a good example of what dust spots do. Look in the top
right hand corner of the picture. They aren't difficult to remove in light room or
photoshop. They are just annoying and time consuming. I would rather just have
a clean sensor than to waste time removing what shouldn't be there in the first place.

My advice? Check your sensor before you go on safari. Take a picture of something white, then enlarge that picture and look for dust spots. They will show themselves more easily on a white background. 

Did you find dust? Whether or not you did or didn't, you should go to the local photography store and buy some lens and sensor cleaning supplies. They are expensive, but inexpensive compared to the price of your cameras and safaris! 

Visible Dust has great products designed to carefully clean your sensor. I highly recommend them.

In regards to cleaning the sensor, I simply referred to video's that I found on you tube such as the one linked here. I found them to be informative, easy to follow and I successfully removed my dust issues. 

My one tip before cleaning a sensor is to use a butterfly dust remover first. I prefer that over using a blower as a blower just blows dust from one corner of your sensor to another where as the butterfly creates a charged environment that actually attracts the dust to the gentle bristles of the butterfly. Please note that I am not a professional sensor cleaner. The guy in this video is. I really don't want to be held accountable for your sensor successes or failures. I'm merely pointing you in the right direction. I believe that a sensor cleaning kit should be in your camera bag for every safari. Especially the dusty ones! If you find yourself in India or Africa and you find dust on your sensor, you had better know how to get it off, because there aren't any camera repair shops in the bush.

Well, now we're down to number three. Oh, so many things for me to learn the hard way. Until next time...


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