One of the common questions I’m asked during a training session is, “Now that my camera has been converted, can I clean my sensor?” What concerns most people they know that something was done to their camera’s sensor, but they are not entirely sure what.
Yes, the self-cleaning function has been disabled, but the short answer is Yes, you can still clean your sensor.
Will you need to clean your Infrared converted camera more often? That really depends on your shooting conditions. In extreme conditions, like on an African Safari where there is a large number of airborne particulates (dust), yes it will get affected sooner. In other conditions, I can go for much longer periods before I need to clean.
Now if you’re not familiar with how to tell if you need to clean your sensor, let’s take a look at this image.
This is a Super Color image at 590nm. The image itself is nice, but man is this sensor in need of cleaning. Just look at all the … stuff on it. There are dust spots and hair. Remember what I said earlier about Africa? Here’s what I was talking about.
Even after the image is channel swapped they still show.
With a little work in Photoshop, we could hide those dust spots and hair, but this sensor needs to be cleaned.
The thing about sensor cleaning on an Infrared camera is it is just the same as before it was converted. So, if you are comfortable cleaning your sensor, go right ahead.
However, if you are not comfortable cleaning your sensor, I am not suggesting you should undertake this job yourself. There are plenty of places you can take your camera to have the sensor cleaned.
If you are comfortable cleaning your sensor, this next part is for you.
There are several different ways to clean your sensor, and I am not going to go into each method or endorse using a particular product, but I do want to make a couple of suggestions.
1. Only clean your sensor when you have enough time to take your time. This is not something you want to rush through.
2.Invest in a decent sensor scope. This will give you the ability to actually see the spots and other debris on the surface of your sensor.
3.Be gentle. I cannot stress this enough. Brute force is NOT the way to clean a sensor.
Now I want to address this last part head-on. There’s a suggestion floating around that the solution to cleaning your sensor is to just put one lens on your camera and never remove it. From an artistic standpoint that is just dumb. You want to have the ability to use all your lenses with your Infrared converted camera.