Cleaning Your Camera’s Sensor in Bangkok

At first I could ignore them. A couple of vague spots might show up in the clouds on a wide shot or were hidden inside darker images. I could always clone them away if they were noticeable. But then you get a beauty mark a la Marilyn Monroe on an old street vendor’s nose and you have to be honest with yourself: Your camera needs a cleaning.

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it... OK, maybe a FLOCK of birds. (Heightened contrast and cropped for full shocking effect)
Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it… OK, maybe a FLOCK of birds. (Heightened contrast and cropped for full shocking effect. I am a horrible slob and this public self-humiliation is my penance.)

You take a blower to the lenses, the mirror, and, with beads of terror-sweat on your brow, your sensor. But the black marks remain. You’re going to have to make physical contact with that sensor. A dry brush? A wet cleaning with swabs? Google that and see if the warnings and stern discouragement don’t give you night terrors.

Back home I’d have to shell out $50USD for a complete cleaning at my local professional camera store. But I am not back in the US. I am at the “other home” ā€“ Bangkok. Having been here for extended periods since 2006, I am fully aware of the inconsistency of customer service and sometimes a lack of accountability. “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing righ– Hang on! I just got an invite on my phone to play Cookie Run on LINE.” Was I going to drop off an expensive camera and gamble? Or was a DIY cleaning project the bigger gamble?

Photographer Steve Muse’s experience with the Canon Service Center in Bangkok didn’t exactly boost my confidence in getting the locals to do it.

But Moose Peterson makes cleaning a sensor look pretty harmless if you’re careful, and Kai and Lok at DigitalRev show you what NOT to do. (funny)

'Seriously, dear, that's exactly where Marilyn Monroe would have worn that!' The Black (Sensor Spot) Plague in Prague.
Seriously, dear, that’s exactly where Marilyn Monroe would have worn that! The Black (Sensor Spot) Plague in Prague.

But in the end, I chickened out. Tales of the risks of lubricants inside the camera body streaking the sensor glass and damning me to eternal hell were the last straw. So where in Thailand could I get my camera sensor cleaned?

In Bangkok, Nik (Nikon Thailand) got some kind remarks from a couple of blogs as did Sunny Cameras (also a Nikon specialist). But then I read a forum comment by photographer Lee Craker about going many times to a really reliable shop in Bangkok. I emailed him and he sent me to AV Camera.

I walked in and could tell right away this wasn’t one of those shopping-mall showrooms where here-today-gone-tomorrow employees can’t even explain basic features or you can get them to agree to just about anything. “So this is the new model with the flux capacitor and Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, right?”

Not this place. AV Camera had geek written all over it. The boss was right there at his desk and took care of us immediately. He said it would take 30 minutes.

Wait, that’s it? I leave it here, grab some noodles, and it’s done? “Come back in an hour; it’s better.” OK. Done deal. Er, how much? “150.” I turned to Tip to make sure I heard that correctly. 150 baht? ($5) “Yes. If you want we can give a complete cleaning of the all the rest of the body. Another 150 baht.” Hell yes. An hour later we came back, the camera was ready, we took some shots of the sky, and all the little black spots were gone. And the camera body looked as if it were just out of the box (I am a very bad boy when it comes to keeping that thing clean, so that was also no small accomplishment).

So there you have it. Best price you’re going to find I think in anywhere (other than free) and a pro shop with a reputation to uphold. You can’t even get disposable cleaning swabs for 150. So leave it to the pros on this one, go to AV Camera for sensor cleaning in Bangkok.

Another plus: it is easy to get to. Take the BTS SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin station. Come down to Charoen Krung Road (New Road) and go north on the left side of the street. At the alley right before the Robinson’s Department Store, turn left. AV Camera is just 10 meters in on the left.

AV Camera
1 Charoenkrung 50
Charoenkrung Road
Bangrak, Bangkok
+66 (0) 2237-1041-2

Kevin Revolinski

Author, travel writer/photographer, world traveler. Writes about travel, hiking, camping, paddling, and craft beer.

11 thoughts on “Cleaning Your Camera’s Sensor in Bangkok

  • So….next time you go to Bangkok, can you take my camera with you? No, wait, that won’t be for 6 months and then I won’t have my camera for 4 months…..never mind. šŸ™‚

  • Thanks for the Tip, Kevin.

    I went there today with my old 300D to have the sensor cleaned. As you said the owner was there, and his very attractive daughter spoke to me. Unfortunately the price for the cleaning went up. It’s not 150B anymore but 300 (at least that’s what they told me). Still good deal though!

  • Went there yesterday for a sensor cd lean, yes 300 baht and 1 hour for something that cost me $99 and a week of waiting back in Sydney.
    Thanks for the recco.

  • Will go there today to get my 6D sensor cleaned. Price had gone further up…full frame sensor is now THB 600 and one hour waiting.

  • Thanks for the info! I got this done today and it was 300 THB for the sensor and whole body cleaning. I got there at opening (11am) and it was ready by 2.30, so it gave me a chance to have a look around Charoen Krung Rd as I haven’t been down there in a while.

    I have an Olympus Pen EP-3 so I was happy to see the Olympus signs on the front window. My camera has taken a beating as I usually have it hanging around my neck while motorbiking on country roads. I can’t believe how clean it is now.

  • Thanks for writing this helpful article.
    I took my full frame camera there today and they cleaned the entire camera and lens for 500 Baht. For an additional 100 baht they disassemble d and cleaned my circular polarizer, which had moisture between the two elements.

    I brought my equipment in at 11:00 (their opening time) and picked it up at 2pm.

    Thanks again.

    • Iā€™m in Bangkok just now and really needed a sensor cleaning. So I googled for tips an found your article. After reading it, and realising I EAs near by, I lifted my eyes from my phone and looked straight on the Av Camera store… whats the ods?! Now Iā€™m waiting to see the result. The price is now 400 for full frame (6D). Thanks for your article.

  • David J

    “FotoFile” in MBK & Central-Bang Na (3rd fl) willo clean your sensor for free. I had messed mine up trying to do it myself, ended up with bad streaking and still hadn’t gotten all the mildew off. The tech at FotoFile spent about 20 minutes cleaning not only the sensor but the camera itself. Sensor is now crystal clear and the camera looks new.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.