Digital-Dany: Photo: CCD Cleaning

CCD Cleaning - My way

When it comes to CCD cleaning issues much was written. I'll describe the way I keep my D1X clean.

The CCD unit - The CCD in a digital SLR, unlike a point and shoot digital camera, is not sealed from the elements. The CCD in Digital SLRs is usually located behind an Anti aliasing filter. This means that dust seen is actually on the Anti aliasing filter and not on the CCD. The good news are, one doesn't clean the CCD but the filter. The bad news are, it is still possible to harm the camera.

Why is it dirty ?

Lenses are the cause - Every time one changes a lens, one exposes the CCD unit to:

  • Dust from airborne particles.
  • Dust that exists in the lens.
  • Metallic particles from the lens mount, a result of friction.

When to clean the CCD - Every time I see spots in a photo, I know it's time for cleaning.

  • Cleaning
    • First step is to find or make a dust reduced environment. I made myself a cleaning Cage, which should reduce airborne particles falling into the CCD unit.
    • I use lint free gloves!
    • Plug the camera to the mains! Using the EH-4 AC adapter
    • Set the camera to CCD cleaning function #8
    • Remove the mounted lens.
    • Hold the camera with CCD unit facing down (reduce reintroduction of dust).
    • With a blower bulb, remove the main part of dust! I'll recommend caution for those who use Compressed air.
    • Using Eclipse cleaning solution or other 99% isopropyl alcohol (Isopropanol), put a few drops (3-4) of the solution on a lint free pad as "Pec Pad" or Kimberly-Clark Kimwipes wrapped around a plastic tool smaller in size than the CCD. Or, using Sensor Swab (A tad on the expensive side) a pre made Applicator. I use 2 passes for each applicator (Changing the sides) to clean. Start at one side of the CCD, then go the other direction using the back not yet used side of the Applicator. (Right- Left)
    • I use a second pass, in a similar way to the above but Up-Down direction.
  • Checking if it is clean
    • I take a photo of a white wall with no lens mounted. I check the photo on the Camera's LCD for spots. If there are than repeat the cleaning. If none seen, I take the Card to the computer, to further inspect for presence of particles.
  • Reattach Lens
    • If everything is OK, I clean the lens mount and rear element before reattaching the lens to the body.
  • Notes
    • Always use EH-4 AC adapter.
    • Never use bulb settings! One can destroy the Camera
    • If everything fails, send to Nikon.
    • I do not recommend any of the above, nor be liable for any damages. I only describe the way I do it!

Dany Roth

Changed Thu, Mar 7, 2002, DR