How to Remove Camera Sensor Dust with Lightroom

Among the most irritating issues photographers are periodically forced to deal with are those revolving around dust. Whether it works its way onto the camera’s inner sensor or happens upon the outer lens, even the smallest bit of debris can be incredibly distracting when it manages to work its way into a photograph. What’s more, with an abundance of dust particles floating about in the atmosphere, it’s virtually impossible to prevent dust from infiltrating images from time to time, despite the intensive measures we may take to protect our gear.

The silver lining in this persistent battle? As the following tutorial courtesy of Sleeklens┬ádemonstrates, cleaning up a file after the fact doesn’t have to be a difficult, time consuming chore thanks to the recent innovations of Adobe Lightroom:

More often than not, there’s more dust and grime lurking in the details of a file than initially meets the eye. Sometimes, blemishes and spots can be hidden in the shadows and colors of a complex composition. Revealing the dust, however, can be incredibly simple.

To start, take a photo of a simple monochrome subject, such as a clear blue sky or a bare, white wall. By doing this, you expose the dust without providing it a place to hide within the frame. Once you’ve imported the image into Lightroom, cleaning it up only requires the use of the spot removal tool. The tool itself has both cloning and healing capabilities. While both modes can adequately brush away imperfections, the heal brush often blends well and creates more desirable results in the simplistic images necessary to properly identify hidden dust.

Blending with the spot removal, eliminating problem areas is accomplished by sampling clean, blemish-free areas of the image and super imposing them over each individual spot. To further simplify the task of touching up, converting the image to a posterized, minimalistic black and white view can further reveal problem areas. This can be done almost instantaneously by going into the “visualize spots” view, which can be found in the bottom panel of the program while engaging with spot removal.

visualize spot feature

Though spot removal may seem like a tedious task, the end result is well worth the trouble it takes to make the necessary corrections. Not only do filters on Lightroom reveal where exactly our gear may need a little bit of extra attention and touching up, simple, intuitive tools make the job of wiping out existing dust—and subsequently making images the best they can be—virtually painless.

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