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Giottos Rocket Blower

Another of the basic essentials that should be found in all camera bags.

Dust on the sensor, the bain of all DSLR users out there. Of course you can photoshop it out later but keeping your sensor as clean as possible in the first place is more useful. Enter the GRB, a fast and effective non-contact tool to keep your sensor dust free…

The Giottos Rocket Blower

The Giottos Rocket Blower

Purchase: Available in the UK from many shops including Warehouse Express and HERE and if you live in America from B&H PHOTO, HERE.

Non-contact cleaning
Cleaning the sensor seems a bit of a scary prospect for many people, and to an extent, myself included. Of course if you do it right, using fluids and tools like the Arctic butterfly can be the ultimate in getting your sensor dust free…I have, however heard many horror stories of things going wrong with these methods, and in fact was witness to my friend cleaning his D3 with an Arctic butterfly when we were on the Isle of Skye for a week. Somehow, the bristles picked up a spot of grease from somewhere inside the camera and the next thing he knew there were marks all over the sensor which required a lot of delicate and time consuming cleaning with fluid! My favourite cleaning method, therefore, is the non-contact variety and the GRB is the only tool I’ll use for the job.

Quick and simple cleaning

Quick and simple cleaning

Although it’s effectively just a bit of rubber, the Giottos has a couple of nice design features. Firstly the detachable air nozzle is designed to not suck dust back in to itself, which is handy as the last thing you want to do is blow a freshly collected gang of dust particles in to your camera, but secondly it’s designed in such a way that when you squeeze the main body, the nozzle doesn’t bend around all over the place making it easy to direct where the blast of air will go. I’ve used cheaper blowers in the past and giving a squeeze would have the nozzle flopping about all over the place making them unsuitable for use with the nozzle inserted inside the camera, close to the sensor…which is of course, exactly where you need it to be.

They also come in several sizes, small (5.3″), medium (6.6″) and large (7.5″). I use the large one as it shifts the most air about but the small one would be good for travelling if you really want to cut down on space.

Is it effective?
Sure it may have some clever design touches and look like a little bomb (I still half expect airport security to ask what it is when my bag gets x-rayed) but all that really matters is, does it clean your sensor well?

I’ll answer that by telling you my experience of using them…I use the GRB after every day out with my camera’s where I have taken a lens off (even the D300 with it’s in built sensor cleaning, which in my opinion doesn’t do that much) and that includes using my camera’s in the wind, on beaches, in fields etc and so far I’ve never had any major ‘dust bunny’ problems. In the last year and a half I think my D3 has had one clean with fluid and that’s it! And it’s not like I just don’t mind photoshopping dust out of images and have a low tolerance because I don’t, and the less photoshopping the better. A quick blow out with the Rocket Blower usually does a fine job, just remember to hold the camera facing down whilst your cleaning so the dust can fall out and no more and go in. *please note, the camera was off in these photo’s as I wasn’t actually doing a sensor clean, just a mirror clean – also be aware that you should make sure you are either doing a sensor clean using a fully charged battery or running off a mains supply to ensure your mirror doesn’t flip back down whlst cleaning. Care should always be taken to not touch the inside of the camera with the nozzle*

Quick and simple cleaning

Quick and simple cleaning

Of course I take care when changing lenses when I can, and will shield the camera from the direction of the wind and do my changes as quick as is safely possible. To an extent I may have just been lucky and not had any really stubborn dust so far…as I know there will be times that a simple blast of air won’t help for some people with stubborn spots…but, given the very cheap cost of the Giottos (less than £10/$15 for the largest one) and the effectiveness that they can have for that cheap outlay I can’t recommend them enough as a first step in keeping your sensor clean.

Thinking of buying?
If you live in the UK the Gittos Rocket Blower can be purchased from many shops including Warehouse Express and HERE

And, if you live in America you can purchase the GRB HERE, FROM B&H PHOTO.

About the author

Richard Peters is a Surrey based professional wildlife photographer, Nikon Ambassador, and one of the few British photographers to receive the accolade of European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He is known for a style that often favours dramatic use of light, runs wildlife photography workshops and, from camera clubs to big industry events, holds talks about his work.

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