So how often do you check your sensor for dirt and dust? I bet most of you would answer never! It’s really important and saves you editing time. I suggest you do so before every shoot. Never take it for granted that the sensor looks clean based upon the last shot you’ve taken. The subject matter can hide many dust spots within the image that you only become aware of when the conditions are just right.
Here’s an example of what can happen to your sensor when you’re not paying attention. The picture below shows dark spots in the blue sky. A prime example of a dirty camera sensor.
How to test your camera for sensor dust
If your camera has dust on its sensor, you can quickly spot it by doing this simple test:
Set your camera on Aperture Priority Mode.
Set your metering mode to Matrix/Evaluative Metering.
Set your camera ISO to the lowest number such as ISO 100 or 200.
Turn off Auto ISO.
Set your aperture to the largest number available for your lens by rotating the camera dial. For example, the minimum aperture on a Canon 50mm f/1.2 is f/16, so, I would set my aperture to f/16.
Turn off Auto Focus
Find a sheet of plain white paper, zoom in all the way so that the paper fits the whole frame, then make sure that the lens is completely out of focus and take a picture. Make sure that your focus is way off (completely out of focus) – that way only dust particles will be visible.
Now download the image to your computer, and view the image, be sure to zoom in and scroll from left to right and top to bottom all over the image and see if you can find any dark spots.
If you cannot see any, your sensor is clean. If you see dark spots like in the example below, then your sensor has dust on it.
What to do if you see spots?
Sometimes you need a rocket! Enter the Giottos Rocket-Air Blower! Sometimes the sensor is just covered with loose dust bunnies or loose debris. Sometimes all you need is a simple blow out. The Giottos Rocket-Air Blowers are the highest quality hand blowers on the market. The Rocket-air blower series are made from non-toxic, natural and environmentally-friendly rubber, resistant to both high and low temperatures and also tear-proof. They are very powerful and easy to use. It has an air valve to prevent it from breathing in dust and blows out a powerful stream of air to blow dust away, making cleaning lenses, cameras and filters a breeze. Rocket-Air blows off dust particles, even those clinging to items from static electricity.
If your camera has a mirror, you’ll need to lock-it up the mirror to expose the sensor before attempting to blow-out the debri. Enter camera is different so consult your cameras manufacturers manual on how to lock up the mirror.
Important note! When blowing out your camera for debri, always point the camera downward. This way any debri blow loose falls to the ground and not back in the camera.
Retest your camera sensor for dirt and dust. If clear, your done! Happy Shooting!
If your sensor still shows dirt and dust spots. It’s time to bring the heavy equipment! Don’t worry, it’s easy and only takes a few minutes. First thing your going to need is sensor cleaning swabs and sensor cleaning solution. I recommend using SENSOR SWAB® ULTRA. I’ve provided a video on how to clean a sensor below. The whole process is really very simple.
SENSOR SWAB® ULTRA is designed for cleaning CCD AND CMOS sensors as well as any other delicate or hard to reach optical and imaging surfaces.
Clean room manufactured and sealed, these swabs are the ultimate in purity. Sensor Swab ULTRA is more absorbent and does not shed or leave fibers behind – it is available in three different sizes.
Eclipse and Aeroclipse are guaranteed safe for all sensors.
*NOTE THAT APS-C SENSORS ARE NOT ALL THE SAME SIZE ! This is why we may be recommending a different size swab for two different cameras, both using APS-C sensors. Or, we may recommend two different sizes for the same camera so you can choose in which direction you prefer to swab and which size leaves less uncovered area.
Canon cameras using the Type 1 (20mm) Sensor Swab Ultra.
EOS-1D Mark II
EOS-1D Mark II N
EOS-1D Mark III
EOS-1D Mark IV
Rebel SL1 / SL2 200D
EOS 300 up to & including 750D includes XTi (400D) & T2i (550D)
Canon cameras using the Type 2 (17mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
EOS 100D/SL1 up to & including 700D
EOS 7D; M II
EOS 10D, 20D, 30D, 40D;50D, 60D, 70D,80D
Canon cameras using the Type 3 (24mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
EOS 5D / 5Ds / 5Dsr /5Dr
EOS 5D Mk II, 5D Mk III, Mk IV
EOS 6D; 6D Mark II
EOS-1Ds, 1DS Mark II, 1DS Mark III
EOS-1DX, EOS-1D X Mark II
Fuji cameras using the Type 1 (20mm) Sensor Swab Ultra.
Finepix S1, S2, S3, S5 Pro
Fuji cameras using the Type 2 (17mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
Fujifilm X-E2; X-A3
Fujifilm X-T1 / X-T2 / X-T3 / X-T10
Fuji cameras using the Type 3 (24mm) Sensor Swab Ultra.
Fujifilm X-H1 / X-T2 / X-T3 / X-T20
LEICA cameras using the Type 1 (20mm) Sensor Swab Ultra.
LEICA cameras using the Type 2 (17mm) Sensor Swab Ultra CL*
LEICA cameras using the Type 3 (24mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
Leica CL* , M9, M-10, M-Mono 246, M-E 220, M 240, M 262, SL 601, Leica T , Leica X,X-U
NIKON cameras using the Type 1 (20mm) Sensor Swab Ultra.
NIKON cameras using the Type 2 (17mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
D1, D100, D1H, D1X, D200, D2H, D2Hs
D40/40X/50/60/70/70s, D80, D90, D3000/3100/3200, D5000,
D5100, 5200, 5300, 5500,
D7000, 7100, 7200, 7500
NIKON cameras, including DX & FX models using the Type 3 (24mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
Z7, Z6, D500 (23.5mm sensor, 24mm swab recommended)
Df, D3/D3s, D3X, D4, D4s, D5
D600, D610, D700/750, D800/800e/ D810, D850; D7500 J1, S1, V1, V3
OLYMPUS cameras using the Type 2 (17mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
E1, E3, E5, E30, E300, E330, E400, 410, 420, 450
E500, 510, 520, E600, 620,
PEN E – all 4/3 models
PEN F – all 4/3 models
OM-D E-M10, E-M10 ii
OM-D E-M5; OM-D E-M5 II
OM-D E-M10 III
PANASONIC cameras using the Type 2 (17mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
DMC-GF1, GF2, GF3, GF5, GF6
DMC-G1, G2, G3, G5, G6, G7
DMC-GX1, GX7, GX8
DMC-GH1, GH2, GH3, GH4, GH5
SONY: USE ECLIPSE OR AEROCLIPSE FOR ALL SONY DSLR’S.
SONY cameras using the Type 2 (17mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
SLT A33,/35/37/55/57/58/65/77/77 ii
A5000, A5100, A6000, A6300, A6500
SONY cameras using the Type 3 (24mm) Sensor Swab Ultra
A9; A99, A850, A900, A6500
A7/R; A7/R ii; A7/r iii; A7/S ii – USE EXTREME CARE with floating sensor. Lock it down prior to cleaning. Eclipse is preferred liquid. Aeroclipse is perfectly okay but designed for those needing to fly with a cleaner that is non-flammable.