No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to get the hang of "wet cleaning" my sensor. After my last two attempts, I had to take my camera to APS (Authorized Photo Service) to get my sensor properly cleaned. While I highly recommend APS for any Nikon service or repair, I would rather not deal with the inconvenience of getting my camera there or pay to have my sensor cleaned if it's not absolutely necessary.
My most recent 23 day road trip included two photos sessions in Antelope Canyon. As many photographers know, the slot canyons are very dusty. What makes it worse is that the Navajo guides like to throw sand and dust into the air to accentuate the light beams.
Obviously, my sensor was going to require a good cleaning after this long trip--especially since I tend to change lenses frequently in the field. Here's how my sensor looked when I returned home from the trip:
The above photo shows my sensor at f/16 with the dust spots highlighted in white. An effective way to view sensor spots is to shoot something that's bright white (like a blank white page on my computer monitor). Then, bring the image into Lightroom and activate the cloning tool (upper right). From there, the "Visualize Spots" feature appears at the bottom left of the image. Check that box and move the slider to the right to see the spots more clearly.
While this sensor is clearly dirty, it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be! But, it needed cleaning. And, it required more than an air blower or sensor brush is capable of accomplishing.
My days of wet cleaning the sensor are probably over. So, I decided to try a new product called the Sensor Gel Stick. Click here to view the product along with an instructional video. While it's not cheap at $50, it would be a bargain if it works!
After a few minutes of cleaning my sensor with the Sensor Gel Stick, here's my sensor now at the same camera settings:
That's the cleanest my sensor has been since I last returned from APS. I'm a happy photographer!