Photography Tips: Deal With Camera Sensor Dust

Recently, I had noticed some interesting dim spots that appear in my landscape shots, and they appear at the same place consistently as show below.

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I realized that I faced the common issue that annoys all the interchangeable-lens camera users — there are some dust particles stick on my camera sensor. Camera sensor dust is unavoidable for interchangeable lens camera especially when we have more than one lens to switch between, so it is good for us to know how to deal with the camera sensor dust. Therefore, I decided to compile a quick guide to share with you guys when I’m cleaning my camera, , hope it can give some help to those who need it. The guide consists of two parts:

Identification Steps and Cleaning Steps.

How to Identify the Dust

1. Set Your Lens Aperture to F 11 or Smaller

Set the Aperture to F 11 or Smaller
Set the Aperture to F 11 or Smaller

The dust particle would not show up  itself when the lens is set at widest open like F 1.8, F 2.8 and etc. Set the aperture to F 11 or smaller to get enough depth of field so that the dust on the camera sensor will show up itself.

2. Set to Manual Focus Mode

Set to Manual Focus Mode
Set to Manual Focus Mode

We need to manually defocus  to enlarge the appearance of the dust particle. Why? It works as same theory as you create the bokeh effect by defocusing your background from your subject.

3. Shots at Various Clean White/Sky Blue Background

Camera sensor dust particle will show up as a dim faded spot at the same spot among series of your shots. They are easier to be spotted at the light simple background.

4. Examine the Shots with Your Monitor

Examine the Shots
Examine the Shots

It is easier and faster to examine whether those dim spots occur at the same spot throughout your test shots. Usually 3 -4 shots are enough to determine if there is any dust particle stick on your camera sensor.

5. Repeat the Steps with Second Lens

Lens prone to dust too but dust in the lens rarely (nearly none of them) appear on your image. The steps above are enough to identify if there is any dust particle stick on your camera sensor, but you can always use the second lens to repeat the identification steps above to ensure that the dust spot is caused by your camera sensor (dim spots at the same place) or your lens (dim spots disappear).

Once you identified that the dust particle has sticked on the camera sensor then we can proceed to the cleaning steps below.

How to Clean The Dust

1. Use the Camera Cleaning Mode

Camera Built-in Cleaning Mode
Camera Built-in Cleaning Mode

Decent camera has built-in sensor cleaning mechanism, switch it on manually and then repeat the identification steps above to check if the dust particle is removed or not. If the dust particle still appear on your image, then we have to do the following step to clean it manually.

2. Turn off Your Camera

Electricity charge on the camera sensor can easily attract any dust particle. Turn the camera off before we start the cleaning job.

3. Get an Air Blower

Air Blower
Air Blower

Air blower is an essential accessory for camera system, bigger air blower is better and easier for the cleaning job.

4. Face the Surface Downward

Face the Surface Down
Face the Surface Down

Keep whatever surface that you (your air blower) are blowing face downward otherwise the dust particle might fall back to the surface again.

5. Blow the Rear Lens Cap and Lens Rear Element

Blow the Lens Cap
Remember to Blow the Lens Cap

Most people is not aware of the dust will stuck inside the lens cap too, the dust in the cap might stick to the lens and get into your camera indirectly. Remember to clean both the lens rear element and lens cap, once they are cleaned then place the lens cap onto the lens to prevent any dust particle in the air fall on the surface you just cleaned.

6. Blow the Camera Sensor

Face the Camera Sensor Downward and Blow it
Face the Camera Sensor Downward and Blow it

This should be the last step to do because once it is cleaned then we can immediately attach the cleaned lens back to the camera body. Please take a note here, the blowing process should not take more than few minutes where including blowing the lens cap, lens, and camera sensor, a few blows for each of them is enough.

Repeat the identification steps at part 1 above and you should get a clean image result now.

That’s all for today tips. Let’s enjoy the clean and clear image result again. Thanks for your reading and hope you have benefitted from it.

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Contact me by email: jamesphotography2013@gmail.com

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