The Arctic Butterfly

About a month and a half ago I noticed that there was visible dust on most the images that I was shooting with my aging Canon 5D. 1 As days past I noticed that the problem was actually very pronounced.

I removed the lens and flipped the mirror up. Using a Rocket Blower I blew the sensor as clean as I could and tried again. Now the problem was noticeably worse. I tried several more times to blow it clean, but nothing worked.

I really didn’t want to clean the sensor myself. I knew that it was a fragile piece of the camera — I just wanted someone else to clean it.

A few people on Twitter suggested that I give Sensor Swabs a go. I was told they were easy to use. I promptly wen to Amazon to order, but couldn’t get the cleaning solution component before the weekend (no Prime) and I wanted to work on the cleaning before the weekend.

I called a local photo store (Glazer’s they rock) to see if they would clean the sensor. The sales rep said no, but they sold stuff to clean it — and again — it was easy.

Ok I thought let’s clean it myself. I never make it home in time to get to Glazer’s so I stopped by a local camera store near my office: Robi’s.

After talking with the two sales associates they did their job and sold me a much more expensive cleaning solution: The Arctic Butterfly.

What actually sold me was that the Butterfly is a statically charged brush instead of a swab and solution that you wipe across the sensor. This seemed like less risky solution — so I bought one.

The two sales associates said that if it didn’t do the trick I should send the camera somewhere to be cleaned — likely whatever would not come off would be really stuck. My fear was that I would have to do just that: send in the camera.

I used the Arctic Butterfly twice on the camera sensor and then reassembled the camera. Boom it was perfectly clean.

I’m not saying the sensor was better. I am saying the sensor was dust free — like new.

The best part is that the Butterfly is completely reusable — unlike the Sensor Swabs. It is also one size fits all and is something you can easily stash in your camera bag.

I don’t know how the Sensor Swabs work, but I do know that this method worked fantastically for me. I highly recommend that you get one of these for your camera kit if you are a dSLR shooter.

At some point your sensor will get a speck of dust on it that will annoy the crap out of you.

Buy It Here

Buy it from Amazon and I get a small kick back.


I also used this to clean out the viewfinder — which is a bit tricky to get apart. After cleaning that my camera now looks completely dust free.

  1. I saying aging because the camera is circa 2003. I do not saying aging because the camera is not up to today’s standards. I still very much love this camera.
Originally posted for members on: December 6, 2011
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