I know, I know, this is like open heart surgery for the average camera user, or at least they think it is. I must be honest, this has taken me a while to get comfortable with. Please join me in this video tutorial as I show you how to keep your camera sensor clean by taking simple precautions, as well as cleaning your camera sensor itself if it gets a bit filthy – as they have a tendency of doing over time.
Here is what a dirty sensor looks like:
|Image taken with a dirty camera sensor
Dust and debris enters your camera when you change lenses, most of the time. I say most of the time, because some lower end lenses and camera bodies are not weather proof, which, to me would also imply that small particles of dust can get into the sensor chamber regardless if the lens is attached or not.
How can you tell if you have a dirty sensor? Take an image of a uniform coloured area which low contrast, such as the sky, at your lens’s highest aperture. Most sensor dust and grime remains unnoticeable at wider apertures. Put your camera in Aperture Priority, select the highest f-stop (f16. f22, f32 etc), and take a photo of the sky. You may need to manually focus to infinity if you cannot get a lock on a cloud-less day, or focus on the horizon then re-compose for the sky.
Take your image back to your computer and look at it a 100% magnification. If is riddled with dust and other particles, there are some very easy steps you can take on resolving this problem.
The first step is to ask yourself: “Am I prepared to perform open heart surgery?” No, just kidding, but chances are your local camera store will perform this service for usually under $50 (making you sign a waiver, no doubt). I clean my camera sensor and lenses after each job, so that would quickly add up to thousands of dollars (having two camera bodies I use regularly…).
If you have decided to try this yourself, the first step is to RELAX, and not worry. You are not cleaning the sensor itself. The light sensitive surface of a sensor is behind a protective glass. That is what you are cleaning. A few words of advice, though it is just the glass, that doesn’t mean it’s not fragile. Use caution, and apply minimal force and take the usual precautions you would working with other electronic equipment in terms of grounding yourself.
Work in a clean area. Do work with doors/windows open. The best place I find is inside a bathroom with the doors closed. I stay in there for a few minutes to let the ‘dust settle’. Having a fan turned OFF is also important. You would think the fan helps, but as it draws air into the bathroom, it also sucks in dirty air from under the door…
When opening your camera’s mirror up, and not working on the cleaning process, always turn your camera sensor down, or cover it with the body cap to avoid particles falling in.
I have since relocated my business to the west coast, so for images from this wedding please visit my Vancouver & Lower Mainland Photography Website. Also, this blog used to be at prophotonexus.com, you can now find it at http://arnoldbphotography.blogspot.ca/