An $8 Item Every Photographer Should Own
Ever taken a photo only to find dust and small hair particles on your sensor. It can be quite aggravating. Here is a quick and easy way to clean up your sensor and only spend $8 doing it.
Cleaning your sensor can be a delicate process. If you have never done it before I’d highly recommend sending it in to a trained professional that knows what they are doing. One bad move and “Wowza!” that sensor is history. The frustrating part is that it costs $50+ to have any one clean the camera sensor. So what do we do when that annoying dust particle or small hair decides to hangout out there?
Here is one effective and simple cleaning process that can knock out a good amount of any little creatures on your sensor. If after doing this you are still having dust issues, then a full sensor cleaning with swabs might be required. But before dropping the money on that this is the option I use to clean things up and as you’ll see it works fantastic.
1. Check your sensor for dust. Easiest way I have found to do this is to put up a bright white background on your monitor. Put your camera on Aperture Priority Mode (AV) – dial in the narrowest aperture you can – for instance F22. Set your ISO to a low number (100 for example). The camera should be giving you a pretty slow shutter speed. Now point your camera at the white background on your monitor and press the shutter button as you quickly rotate the camera. The idea is that you want to blur everything, thereby making it more obvious where the dust particles are on your camera sensors. Here is an example of the one I did this morning while pointing it at my white desktop on my computer. You will notice my logo was on my desktop is blurred because I rotated the camera quickly as I shot the picture. Notice all the dust, hairs and other little creatures on my sensor.
2. If your sensor shows it needs to be cleaned like mine does then pick yourself up a Giotto Rocket Blower. They run about $8. Once you got your rocket blower in hand go find yourself a clean environment, preferably indoors, and turn off any fans nearby to keep dust down.
3. Take your lens off and look in the menu of your camera for a setting to clean the sensor. On the Canon menu it says “Sensor Cleaning” then when you select it it gives you 3 options. You’ll want to choose the one that says “Clean Manually.” When you do that, you’ll hear the mirror of your camera flip up and lock into place. At this point you’ll be able to see the camera sensor. Don’t touch it. The sensor is extremely delicate and you could cause a costly repair if you touch it incorrectly.
4. Now while holding your camera turn it so the opening (where your lens once was and your sensor exposed) is facing down. Take your Rocket-Air blower and blast a few nice blows of air in the hole, being careful not to insert the blower to far (it would be devastating if you hit your sensor).
5. Reattach lens and shoot another shot at your bright white background on your monitor again doing the same as you did in step 1. Hopefully you’ll see an improvement. If there are still a number of dust particles – then that means you are going to need a more intensive cleaning which at that point you might consider taking it in and having it cleaned for you. I have cleaned my own sensor using sensor swabs but it is not something I feel comfortable trying to teach.
Here is my second shot after blowing off the sensor.
You can notice it made a huge improvement. I hope this was useful. Often cleaning a sensor takes no more than shooting some clean air up there to blow the dust off. It’s not 100% effective, but it’s a cheap, quick and easy solution most of the time.