Camera cleaning advice needed

I have a Canon digital SLR camera (eos 350d) and recently I realised there is dirt somewhere inside it. Some of the photos have dirt on them and when I look through the view finder I can see stuff that shouldn’t be there.

The dirt is not on the lenses as it remains when I switch lenses so it is in the camera somewhere (either the mirror or the CCD I presume.

Cleaning the internals of a dSLR sounds like a daunting prospect to me, should it? Anyone got any good tips on how best to clean it?

9 thoughts on “Camera cleaning advice needed”

  1. Most likely, the issue is dust on the CCD. Since a CCD has a static charge, it actually attracts dust and helps it to adhere.

    The best advice is to ignore the dust for as long as you can bear, because it is rather difficult to remove, and you are likely to be able to do a better job than anyone who you would send it to.

    For enormously more info, see the forums at

  2. In the menu, you can use the “clean” function to pop the mirror up and reveal the sensor. Now you can use a hand-blower to remove some of the larger dust particles on there (you can use compressed air, but you run the risk of some of the liquid propellant making its way onto the sensor).

    If there are still particles on there, getting it cleaned professionally is about EUR30-40

    Another option is to use a sensor brush from, which is a microfine brush that you ‘charge’ to attract dust from the sensor. But these are rather expensive (EUR80 or so). But the price makes sense if you’re going to need to clean it often.

    Personally, I went with the air blower and managed to get rid of most of the “problem” dust particles off the sensor. Still thinking about getting it professionally done though – don’t think I’m ready to brush it myself just yet.

  3. I’ve had the same issue with my Nikon D70 and I wouldn’t be afraid of cleaning it, so long as you take care in doing so. If you pop off the lense, take a look to see its not on either piece of glass inside the camera (either the main mirror as you look at it, or the one directly above it, 9 times out of 10 its gonna be hiding in there. An anti-static cloth or an air blower is the easiest option if you’re confident you’re not going to scratch the glass. have some real cheap (affordable) cleaning kits that are handy to keep in your bag. If you have a lot of lenses to flick between (more than one anyway) you’re likely to come across the odd patch of dust or hair straying in there. Hell if you’re still worried, get it cleaned instore somewhere, if it goes pear shaped you’ve someone to blame but if you’re happy to reach on it and dig out at piece of dust then go for it!

  4. Hey Tom

    I was in Switzerland with you, thanks for the great feedback, and interesting discussion.

    I have the same camera with the same problem. It is caused by a spec of dust on the sensor. I strongly suggest that you contact Canon locally who can refer you to thier service centre, who will clean the sensor while you wait (15 minutes) and free. If they determine that the camera needs a service, they will also do this free, but will need the camera for longer.

    Note: under no circumstances try to do this yourself.

  5. Gavin, thanks a million for the advice – the only problem on that front is that there is no Canon service centre in Ireland! You see, Ireland has a population of 4.4 million people – less than one tenth the population you have in South Africa! To get to a Canon service centre I would have to fly to the UK.

    Milan, Johnke and Ken, thanks for the advice – I’m not sure I am any further along though!!!

  6. Hey with the obvious disclaimer that it’s not my fault if you break it, I’d highly recommend cleaning your own sensor. I clean my own at least once a week as I do many frequent lens changes shooting only with primes.

    You can get sensor swabs and use a methanol solution to easily clean your sensor in sensor cleaning mode.

    here’s a link to B&H

  7. Thanks for that Thomas,

    unfortunately, B&H require international customers to:

    upon completing your on-line order, you must fax or e-mail a copy of both sides of your credit card to…

    Ummm, I don’t think so guys.

    However, Just Limited in the UK sell the same products and will ship to Ireland, yah!

  8. Gavin – a thought occurs to me. If Microsoft South Africa were to invite me down to speak about Web 2.0 or some related topic, I could drop into the nearest Canon service centre while I was there.


  9. He he – now that’s a real possibility. Although the time it would take to do that may just frustrate you 😉

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