Sensor dust is inevitable, and it shows up on your photos, so you need be able to detect and remove it.
You’ve probably seen these dots on your camera before, and you may not even know where they come from. They appear like little black marks, and are most visible at narrow apertures.
How to Check for Camera Sensor Dust
This is the best way to check for sensor dust.
Put your camera in manual mode, narrow the aperture down to the likes of f/16-22, and set the shutter speed to around about 1 second.
Then find a clean patch of wall, and take a photo.
As the photo is being captured, move the camera down the wall. This way the wall will blur, removing any marks. All you’re left with is the dust on your sensor.
Everyone go and check your camera. I’ll wait.
Dusty, wasn’t it?
This method produces the best results, and ensures that you don’t add any more dust in the process. If you were to open up your shutter and check for dust that way, you may do more harm then good.
How to Clean your Camera’s Sensor Dust
This is actually a little bit harder than you may think. Unfortunately, the sensor has a static charge which attracts dust, so once it’s on there, it can be hard to get off.
First, some things your should never do.
- Never blow on your sensor to remove dust. There is moisture in your breath.
- Don’t use cans of compressed air. They can produce moisture too.
- Don’t use your finger or and household implement to try and touch the sensor. (I’m looking at you cottonbuds).
Most cameras have a feature to clean your sensor, and I know my Canon cleans the sensor every time I turn it off. This is pretty useless. It’s not going to do a very good job, and it won’t remove the dust, just move it around.
Buy a Giottos Rocket Blower, and blow that dust into obvilion.
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Go into your camera’s menu and look the option to manually clean the sensor. This will lift up the shutter for you, so that you can get to it, and blow away that dust.
I honestly believe that a Giottos Rocket Blower is an essential item in every camera bag. Not perfect, sure. But it is great for most occasions.
Seek professional help.
Call in on independent camera shops in your area, and you’ll find someone who can clean your camera for you. Try to find someone who will do it in house, as you don’t want to wait for days/weeks. I actually met a guy in a coffee shop and he did it there and then for me.
I asked in a local photography group on Facebook if anyone knew someone who could clean camera sensors, and I arranged to have mine cleaned with one of the members later that week. And it only cost me £15. Bargain.
This will produce the best results as you’re guaranteed a clean sensor, and they will thoroughly check it for you.
Buy a professional kit, and do it yourself.
When I say professional kit, I’m talking about a wet kit, and some fancy apparatus. I don’t recommended this to most people, because if you don’t know what you’re doing, you may only make the situation worse.
If you’re going to use a pro kit, I would suggest learning how to use it first. You don’t want to damage your camera.
A popular kit is the Digital Survival Kit. It’s pretty basic, but it will do the job. If you take good care to not infect your camera’s sensor, then this will likely suffice. It did for me.
If you want to use a full kit though, then I recommend the Delkin Devices SensorScope Cleaning System. It comes with a sensor vacuum, and a magnifier to inspect for any dust. It’s the best kit you could expect to use at home, and there’s a guide to help you to use it correctly.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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