Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Visibledust. My maintenance magic trick.

Last year I racked up over 150,000 accusations on my Nikon D3s. Needless to say thats a heck of a lot of chances for dust particles and other image crapping articles to work their way onto my camera sensor. I tend to switch lenses a lot too. After researching what it would take to have a camera shop clean my sensor I was somewhat happy with the cost, but as soon as I came across horror stories about messed up sensors and negligible cleaning being returned… I began to look elsewhere. Enter Visible Dust.

The Quick

With the tools offered up by visibledust.com you can quickly and easily remove those pesky dust specs from your camera’s sensor. Have something worse than a dust spec? Small hairs, dirt, or (god help you) a smudge? You can still look to visible dust stuff to deep clean your camera sensor back into crap-free shape!

The Build

My experience with the quality of visible dust products has been mixed. I own the Artic Butterfly 724, the full frame sized Sensor Loupe, and I’ve purchased (and used all of) their various sensor cleaning swabs. Most items were of fine quality (sensor loupe, swabs) however the most expensive piece, the Arctic Butteryfly 724, is built on the cheaper end. It works perfectly fine, but feels cheap. Very cheap. It’s not cheap. It’s $120.

The Use

the Arctic Butterfly 724: the key tool in removing your dust specs. it takes two AAA batteries to power an on-board light, and to spin the bristles vigorously before use. the spinning removes dust from the brush and statically charges the bristles. this is the key ingredient to it’s magic. swipe your Arctic Butterfly only once or twice across your sensor (GENTLY) and all the specs cling to it with ease. there’s also a built in LED light that allows you to see what you’re doing.

the Sensor Loupe: this little guy is insanely useful. it basically does what it looks like! place it over your d-slr (set in cleaning mode (make sure you’ve got a full battery charge)) and you can easily see the annoying crap that you probably noticed in many of your “could have been award winning” New Zealand landscapes photos shot at f/16 :)

Cost will vary depending on what you need. the combo kits range from $170 ( Arctic Butterfly + Sensor Loupe) to $270 (Arctic Butterfly + Sensor Loupe + V-Swabs & Liquids). Everything can be purchased ala carte.

 

The Tips

Since i purchased my combo kit many months ago i’ve noticed that visibledust has streamlined their website. I’ve also noticed that they’ve changed some of their product designs a little bit. The new Arctic Butterfly 724 appears to have TWO led lights build into it, while the 788 has just one. I imagine that the overall function of their product is the same so take a look around what they have to offer and leave here knowing that I DO recommend what I’ve used. Visible Dust offer various other products for deep cleaning possibilities. Swabs (custom sizes called V-Swabs) and liquid cleaners combine to swipe away smudges and other residue. You take this step AFTER you’ve used your Arctic brush and still see issues in your photographs.

The Conclusion

I don’t know many photographers that like the idea of cleaning their own sensors. Many will pay big bucks to take their cameras to a pro camera shop and have things tweaked up there. I’m here to tell you… you NO LONGER have to do that for simple sensor cleanings! Over time I’ve found that 90% of the time just using the Arctic Cleaning brush has solved issues I see in photos shot at small apertures.

Make the jump. Stop feeling like a part of you dies each and every time you change a lens. Clean your own sensor.

Summary

Rating

Want a quick and easy way to effectively clean your camera’s sensor? Look no further.

  • Price
    $295 for the kit
  • In my gear bag?
    Mostly
About Sam Hurd

Sam is a professional wedding and editorial photographer based in the Washington DC area. He photographs 40+ weddings a year, press events, commercial portraiture, and regularly hosts workshops in his Baltimore MD studio and around the world. His work has been published internationally including the Wall Street Journal, the NYTimes, and the Washington Post. He's available for commissions worldwide.

Blog Comments

(Show/Post Facebook Comments)

  1. Thanks for the review, I have a little spot I’ve been needing to fix but i didn’t have the guts, looks like I’ll give it a try.

  2. Wow…Never knew this existed. Now I’m going to have to get out and get these bad boys. Thanks for the review Sam.

  3. Thanks for the review – stylish kit!

  4. AWESOME REVIEW. I have bookmarked it andddddd just bought these things. My sensor is so dirty it’s embarrassing.

  5. If you feel this is worth the money, then it’s definitely something I’m going to look at purchasing. Thanks for the review.

  6. awesome! i do believe it’s worth the money. as wedding photographers it’s easy to let sensors get mighty dirty and not really see the effects of it because we’re almost always shooting as wide open as possible. however, it’s still important to keep your gear in as good as shape as possible IMO. Eventually, there will be a point that even shooting wide open you’ll see strange artifacts if there’s enough crap on your sensor.

  7. Bookmarked! I get creeped out even using a blower so if I get in a bad jam I’m coming back here. Thanks Sam.

  8. this still terrifies me, but I’m bookmarking it anyway – I may “practice” on my old rebel :)

  9. Thanks for the review! I might have to get myself these!

  10. Interesting post. Thanks for the tip on these devices! Not sure if I’m ready to go there yet myself, but I’ve bookmarked your post ;-)

  11. Good to know! Thanks for sharing (and being brave enough to try this haha)

  12. great review!! but…I can’t clean my sensor, that’s my grain effect ;)

  13. I feel like people would have panic attacks if they saw my equipment. Haha

  14. Thanks for doing this Sam. Very helpful.

  15. YES!! Awesome post!!

  16. My new AB 788 arrived this morning, and it worked perfectly! Removed piece of dust with one swipe that refused to budge despite auto sensor cleaning and attempts with blower brush. Better than sending away my camera for a sensor clean. Wish I had it on my recent trip – would have saved the big photoshop dust removal job I have ahead of me.

  17. Fantastic review Sam – just FYI, I think you mean’t to say 150,000 “actuations” and not “accusations”. ;-)

  18. It always makes me nervous when I don’t see even one negative comment.

  19. not sure what to tell you about that…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] doing this for nearly two years and not had a single problem. I clean my sensors regularaly using Visible Dust products. You probalby don’t want to do this while laying in mud, but overall just be smart [...]

Facebook Comments

Leave A Comment

*