A Quick Guide to Cleaning Your Camera Sensor

One of the biggest things to consider when owning a camera is maintenance. Not only do you have to take care of the camera when using and when storing it, but every once in a while you have to perform some maintenance tasks to keep it in tip top shape. Toby Gelston addresses one of the most common actions—cleaning your sensor:

After using your camera for a while you’re going to start to see specks popping up on your photos, especially if you use multiple lenses and frequently change between them. Have no fear, as nine out of ten times these are just dust particles on your sensor, and cleaning it is not as daunting of a task as it seems at first.

Check for Dust on Your Sensor

To check your sensor for blemishes, take a photo of a white sheet or piece of paper at a small aperture setting (e.g. f/22) and a low ISO. Take the photo into Lightroom and use the Visualize Spots setting under the Spot Removal Tool. That should immediately bring all the imperfections into focus.

sensor cleaning cameras dslr

Astrophotography? No, just sensor dust. It’s incredible just how simple it is to clean!

Clean Your DSLR Sensor

First off, if the specks of dust are barely noticeable, there are two things you can try:

  1. Use the camera’s internal sensor cleaning feature. Most DSLRs have this setting, and it’s usually very easy to use.
  2. Use an air pump (which you can find at just about any photography store) and just puff some air on the sensor. Make sure you don’t directly touch the sensor!

blow air onto camera sensor

If this doesn’t work, move on to a specialized sensor cleaning kit. If your kit is similar to Gelston’s, all you have to do is wrap the cleaning cloth to the plastic pick, apply the cleaning solution (just a couple of drops, as per the instructions), then gently brush the sensor. It really is that simple!

sensor clean dslr camera

All gone! The air pump alone managed to do away with most of the spots.

As you can see above, the results are surprising for the amount of effort you put into the cleaning process.

Have you ever cleaned your sensor? What were your results?

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