Field Review: The Arctic Butterfly

Though not a new product at all, VisibleDust’s Arctic Butterfly is still something that photographers may want to keep in their bags as it can prove invaluable to cleaning their camera. Some photographers may prefer their Zeeion Blower for safety reasons, but the Butterfly has served me well over the past year that I’ve used it (I got it at least years Photo Plus) with only minor problems. More after the jump.

The Unit

The unit comes in its own carrying case, which is surrounded by a leather protection case, which is further surrounded by plastic and then finally put into a box. Once you get through all the packaging, you realize that the unit is very standard. What the Arctic Butterfly is is a small pen-like dust remover brush meant to clean the sensor of your camera. In order to ensure that it is clean, the brush spins when the switch is pushed upwards.

It uses one “AAA” battery and specific instructions on how to use it are given. For example, you should never make the brush spin while near the sensor. While that’s common sense to most photographers, you never want to run the risk of smearing the sensor while it is unprotected by the mirror. Brushing your sensor is supposed to be done very slowly and while your camera is held upright above you to ensure that all dust comes out. When it’s all done, you can shoot a white card to ensure that your sensor is dustproof.

Some of them have a built in light to help you see. My unit didn’t have that.

In Use

This unit did wonderfully for me when I had an Olympus E-510. As it was, that sensor always kept clean because of the SSWF. The Artctic Butterfly just kept my sensor cleaner. My only problem was that eventually, the bristles in the brush would bend out of place. This wasn’t a major problem though.

The Butterfly has helped me get sand from the beach out of the sensor, dust, etc. To be fair, there never was much of it to begin with it.

When I got my Canon 5D Mk II, it all changed. I tried cleaning the sensor once and it smeared. After that, I had to get the camera serviced and haven’t used the Arctic Butterfly again. But this was just my one problem. I’ve met and seen lots of other Canon and Nikon photographers use the Butterfly well and with no problems. Perhaps because I used it so sparingly with the Olympus I just forgot how to use that right touch.

Either way, it still is a very good unit at least as a backup to any dust blower you may have besides your lungs (which you should never do).

Who is it For?

Photojournalists/Documentary: Unless you’re venturing out to the deserts of Sudan like my mentor did, you probably don’t need this.

Wildlife Photographers: You’ll probably want this if you’re in harsh terrain like a forest perhaps. Lots of little things can go crawling into your camera when you don’t know it. My friend found a bug in there once when he was switching out lenses. The bug was so tiny he couldn’t even see it.

Enthusiasts: If you use and abuse your camera (and be honest) then get this.

Portrait/Studio Photographers: No need, your studios are so clean anyway. You’ll be fine with the blower.

Wedding Photographers: You’re bound to have a backup body. No real need unless perhaps cake happens to fall on you and your camera while switching out lenses.

Event Photographers: I highly doubt you’ll need it. You should be more worried about someone spilling their drink on you.

Concert Photographers: No way, no practicality in it. Unless of course you’re shooting Woodstock, Warped tour or Ozfest. When outside, you want to prepare for total rowdiness.

Landscape Photographers: You need this. I know many landscape photographers shoot film, but the ones that shoot digital may really appreciate how extra clean it can make your camera. And that’s a good feeling.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.