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Sensor Cleaning and IBIS


For most users of X-Series cameras, do-it-yourself sensor cleaning with blowers, sticky sticks or swabs is a matter of course. However, things can get a little bit tricky if your camera has IBIS.

by Rico Pfirstinger

Sooner or later, cameras with interchangeable lenses get dust or dirt on the sensor. When the built-in sensor-cleaning function (SET UP > USER SETTING > SENSOR CLEANING > OK) doesn’t help, you can clean the sensor by yourself.

If you leave your camera’s sensor exposed, it will soon collect dust and spots from dried fluids.

Popular Sensor Cleaning Options

  • Touchless cleaning involves using a blower, like the Giottos Rocket Air Blaster, to rid the sensor of dust particles. A key feature of such devices is a filter in the intake valve that prevents contaminated (dusty) air from being blown against the sensor.
Caution! Don’t use compressed air from aerosol cans that contain propellants. Particles could hit the sensor like tiny projectiles and damage the protective surface!
  • Tough sensor dirt (like water or oil stains) requires wet cleaning with a sensor swab. They consist of wipers that are wetted with special cleaning fluids. Wipe one side of the swab from left to right over the full width of the sensor, and then from right to left with the other side of the swab. Your X-mount camera requires swabs that match APS-C-sized sensors.

My personal sensor cleaning choice for X-mount cameras: affordable VSGO swabs and cleaning fluid.

Since VSGO swabs aren’t available for medium format sensors, I use swabs and solutions from Visible Dust to clean the sensor of GFX cameras.

Note: There’s a small chance that sensor spots are caused by dust particles enclosed behind the protective surface of the sensor. If some spots simply won’t go away, the camera needs to be serviced by Fujifilm.

The IBIS Dilemma

If your X camera features in-body image stabilization (IBIS), sensor cleaning is a little bit trickier. You want the sensor to be fixated (instead of being a moving part) during the cleaning process. This is only possible when the IBIS locks the sensor in place. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to prepare an IBIS camera like the X-H1, X-T4, X-S10, GFX100, or GFX100S for wet sensor cleaning:

  1. Make sure that the IBIS is turned off by selecting SHOOTING MENU > SHOOTING SETTING > IS MODE > OFF. This setting locks the sensor in place while you are cleaning it.
  2. Select SET UP > BUTTON/DIAL SETTING > SHOOT WITHOUT LENS > OFF. This ensures that you don’t accidently release the shutter while you are cleaning the sensor (which could have disastrous consequences).
  3. Select SET UP > POWER MANAGEMENT > AUTO POWER OFF > OFF. This makes sure that the camera doesn’t automatically power down while you are still cleaning the sensor.
  4. Remove the lens or body cap and clean the sensor as usual. Make sure that the camera is switched ON during the cleaning process.
  5. When you are finished cleaning the sensor, don’t forget to revert the Power Management, Shoot Without Lens, and IBIS settings to their previous operational states.
Note: Keeping the camera turned on during sensor cleaning is an exception that we only make for cameras with IBIS. All other cameras should always be powered down during sensor cleaning!

In the comments to this article, a reader kindly suggested an alternative method for IBIS cameras that can serve as a shortcut:

  1. Turn off the camera, then turn it back on while pressing the DISP/BACK button. This sets the camera’s firmware update mode.
  2. Remove the lens or body cap and clean the sensor as usual. Make sure that the camera remains switched ON in firmware update mode during the cleaning process.
  3. When you are finished cleaning the sensor, simply turn the camera off.

Workshops Are Back!

Please allow me a quick personal note: Due to suffering from personal loss and various associated hardships, it has been almost a year since I have conducted my last Fuji X Secrets online workshop. After this long break, I’m now back with a new online workshop for German-speaking Fujifilm X and GFX series users:

Fuji X Secrets Settings – the ultimate settings workshop for Fujifilm X and GFX

This online workshop will be conducted in German via Zoom. It takes place on September 4, from 2pm to 6:30pm CEST.

Are you looking for the optimal camera settings? Do you want expert explanations why certain settings are beneficial and others aren’t? Then Fuji X Secrets Settings is perfect for you.

Fuji X Secrets Settings is a collaborative online workshop, and it is presented in high-definition via Zoom. This 4-5 hours long workshop will be conducted in German. However, there are plans to also offer this and other Fuji X Secrets workshops in English in the future. Stay tuned!

Click here for more information on this workshop.

Update: There’s now a second date for Fuji X Secrets Settings on September 5. Click here for more information.

In addition to that, we have a Fuji X Secrets RAW online workshop on September 11.

Fuji X Secrets RAW – better images with Fujifilm X cameras and RAW.

This online workshop will be conducted in German via Zoom. It will take place on September 11 from 14:00 to 18:30 CEST.

Fully tailored for Fujifilm users, Fuji X Secrets RAW introduces field-tested tools and methods for the complete photographic workflow – from the best camera settings and ideal exposure to optimal image processing and output.

Click here for more information.

Personal Tutoring

If you don’t want to wait for English workshops or you’d like to enjoy personalized online tutoring that can encompass all Fujifilm-related topics (you choose, mix and match!), you can always book a 1:1 Zoom session with me. It’s only 60 EUR per hour! If you are interested, please drop me a note.

Fuji X Secrets Books

If you are looking for an in-depth book that helps you making the most of your Fujifilm X or GFX camera, please consider my comprehensive Fuji X Secrets book that pretty much covers all cameras with X-Processor Pro and X-Processor 4:

  • Fuji X Secrets book and eBook, English version: click here. Use code XPERT40 on checkout for a 40% discount!
  • Fuji X Secrets book and eBook, German version: click here.

Disclaimer: With the exception of links to my own products and services, all affiliate links in this article are from and for Fujirumors.