Some folks may not be into all the sprays and solutions that come with wet cleaning a camera sensor. If that's you, this dry method might be right up your alley.
Sensor cleaning is no picnic, but someone has to do it. If you send it away to your camera's manufacturer, great! You'll have to fork over some bills and wait a while to get your gear back, but you can rest easy knowing that your camera is in good hands—and if it's not, you won't be responsible for paying for the damages. However, for those of you Wild Wild West types out there who are interested in cleaning your own sensors, there are several methods that are commonly used, but in this video, Mathieu Stern shows you how to not only detect smudges and spots on your sensor but also how to clean them using a gel stick.
I'm sure when some of you read "gel stick" you immediately started having waking nightmares of pushing a goopy, sticky pad down onto a precious, fragile sensor and pulling up with all of your might, the goo stretching like cheese on a 1987 TMNT pizza until it snaps, taking the sensor coating with it.
I get it. I'd be afraid, too.
However, many filmmakers who aren't keen on wet cleaning have been using gel sticks for years to get dust and dirt off of their sensors and see great results. I will say, though, that there have been cases in which the gel strips parts of the sensor coating, which could be due to misuse of the product (pushing down too hard), defective coating (Canon apparently had issues with this on the 5D), or maybe that just happens sometimes, in which case, get ready to pay the high price of repairs. (Somewhere in the ballpark $1500 should do it.)
So, clean at your own risk. I personally would never want my clumsy mitts to come anywhere near my camera sensor. That baby goes back to the manufacturer. If you do want to give this a try, understand that while gel sticks are great for picking up dirt and dust, they're no match for grease and grime—you'll have to bust out the wet swabs for that.
What is your experience using gel sticks to clean your camera sensor? Let us know down in the comments.