What’s that spot? – DSLR Cleaning

DSLR Cleaning

DSLR Cleaning

I just had an email from a student of mine who has started to notice some blurs and spots on her images.  She’s cleaned her camera lens and her filters – where can this dirt be?

Well the fact of the matter is that there are tiny specs of dust inside her camera on the actual camera sensor.  A DSLR’s sensor or CCD is an electromagnetic device and because of this, dust particulars are easily attracted to it.  It’s a bit like the way dust attracts itself to your TV screen like a magnet – same concept.

Does my DSLR need Cleaning?

If you want to see if your camera has sensor dust try the following:

Set your camera’s aperture to f22 in the Aperture Priority mode.

Then take a few shots of a plain white piece of paper or if you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements take a picture of a blank white canvas on your computer screen.

The result will look something like this:

DSLR Cleaning Sensor Dust

DSLR Cleaning Sensor Dust

Ugh! Black spots! that’s one dirty sensor!

The can be removed in Photoshop but it really is a pain to do lots of shots like this.

What you need is a little sensor cleaning!

DSLR Cleaning Tips

The problem is that cleaning this sensor can be a tricky job one and having been in the business, I never recommend doing it yourself.   In my opinion, unless you are very confident and know precisely what it is you are attempting, leave this job to the professionals.  Find your local camera service centre and ask for a service quotation which should include sensor cleaning.  Then shop around till you find the best deal.

The best thing you can do is try to avoid this problem in the first place.

  • Keep your camera body attached to a lens at all time.  There is no need to separate the lens from the body unless your are changing lenses.
  • When you are changing lenses do it as swiftly as possible and try not to do it in very dusty/sandy windy environments
  • Store your camera in a specific camera kit bag link
  • Vacuum out the inside of the bag on a regular basis
  • If you do have to get your camera senor cleaned try and go to a local service centre where possible so that you can have a faster turn around time than mailing off your camera body back to the manufacturer.

If you are interested in cleaning your sensor yourself this is a really great website which goes through the procedure step by step.

Be warned though this is not my recommendation and if you mess up your sensor – bye bye warranty and sometimes byebye camera….

Best idea – keep it clean people!

Happy snapping


Image thanks to  petar_c http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceklic_petar/1208075186/

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Carpet Cleaning Alley Atlanta - October 24, 2010

hey whats is the best way to photograph watches, I cant seem to get my reflection off the watch when shooting head first and always a glare comming off the chrystal

Ingrid Owens - November 2, 2010

Watches are tricky! Are you using a light tent?

Gita Nurani - November 7, 2010

Nice tips and nice info

montebello water damage - January 4, 2011

I dont speak on many websites that i come across but WE felt I couldn’t pass by the opportunity with this. Nice post. I can only wonder what you will really be writing in tomorrow.

Chastidyi Parrott - January 18, 2011

Thanks so much for this excellent post! I was wondering what to do about those specks, and this was very helpful. 🙂

Mary Lynne Ashley - February 1, 2011

Thank goodness the newer DSLRs have built in sensor cleaning! My Nikon D300 has a feature to do it automatically, but I take my Nikon D2X to a camera repair shop to get the dust spots removed, and it runs close to a hundred bucks these days! When I got my first DSLR and noticed the dust spots I made the mistake of taking off the lens and trying to blow them out! That resulted in a whole bunch more spots, making my camera completely unusable until I was able to get it cleaned again. But there is no way I’m going to risk it and do this job myself.

Ingrid Owens - February 3, 2011

It’s definitely a risky business tackling the job yourself Mary Lynne! Thanks for your comment 🙂

Bryan Grant Photography - March 16, 2011

you can also shoot against the sky to see the spots. tip… dont blow on it
spit is much harder to get off

Yucel - August 22, 2011

Even taking precautions, if one shoots enough, sensors get dirty…

First time with me was with sea salt. Made it worst by staining the sensor with a pressurized aerosol made for electronic devises, yikes!

An authorized Nikon repair guy had a back log and clued me into the products to use and enough instruction to help me out of my mess.

Method involves using Eclipse solution, Sensor Swabs, and gentle air blasts from Giotto Rocket, see details here: http://glamourphotography.co/?p=3346

It’s nice having learned how to confidently and safely clean my sensor when required.

Ingrid - August 22, 2011

Thanks for that Yucel!

ella - March 28, 2012

what about the old non digital camera. I just did a job favor for a huge poet festival, and when I got it into photosmart studio, zillions of white spots, taking forever to clean up. Is that in the camera, and do you think I could clean my camera myself. Its a Canon Elan. Would like to upgrade, but not financially possible now. Thanks

Ingrid - June 25, 2012

Ella – White spots are on the negative when scanning so check your scanner and negs. Usually dust inside the camera shows itself as black dots on the image although you could give your camera a quick blast with some canned air. 35mm film cameras are fairly easy to clean. Hope that helps!

gracie - January 17, 2013

Hi I wonder if you can help me. I have my Nikon D3100 with an 18-55mm lens. Lately I have been shooting at night and whenever I took a picture like a beach at night, I can see white spots on the image. It’s too many that it’s pain in the neck if you will use photoshop to remove it. My husband says it is a moisture but I really want a concrete answer and a way to remove it. Please help thanks!

Ingrid - January 20, 2013

It’s really difficult to say without seeing an image Gracie. Feel free to email me a pic so I can take a look for you ingrid (at) camerashy (dot)info Chances are if it’s something on the sensor it’s going to need a professional cleaning – I wouldn’t recommend touching it yourself. Send me a pic so I can give you a more accurate opinion. Thanks!

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