Do you ever take photos and find strange spots or smudges appearing on your images? If you find yourself wondering what these are, you’re not alone! A common issue among photographers who use interchangeable lenses, these black spots & smudges are caused by tiny particles of dust and dirt sticking to the image sensor; and is a good indication that your camera’s sensor is in need of a clean!
Does my camera need cleaning?
Finding out if your camera’s sensor has dust on it is easy. Take a photo of the sky or a plain white piece of paper and look to see if there are dark dots. To combat an issue like this, more modern cameras nowadays have incorporated an automatic sensor clean function, however, this can sometimes not be sufficient enough which is why cleaning your camera’s sensor is important. It is a meticulous task that nearly every photographer has to deal with.
Should I see a professional for a camera clean?
Taking your camera to get professionally cleaned might seem like the easiest option, but be prepared to spend upwards of $75, not to mention being without your camera for at least 24hours. Most photographers want to be able to clean their sensor whenever they need to and want to be able to do it promptly. It can be a tedious process but once you know how to clean your sensor, not only will it be more convenient but it will also save you time and money.
What to do before cleaning your camera’s sensor
1. Make sure you have a fully charged battery!
Before you begin cleaning your camera’s sensor, it’s really important to make sure you have a fully charged battery. If the battery runs out, the mirror will slap down and you’ll have to deal with a costly repair!
2. Turn the cameras auto-clean mode on
If your camera has an auto-clean mode you should try that first before cleaning the sensor to see if it makes a difference in removing any dust. Some cameras do this automatically when turned on or off but it is worth trying first.
3. Keep your space clean. Keep your camera body clean.
This probably goes without saying, but make sure the area where you’re going to clean is as tidy and as dust-free as possible. This also means cleaning your camera’s outer body before you move on cleaning the inside, as more dust and dirt particles can enter the sensor.
4. Assemble all the required tools.
You don’t want to start the cleaning process and then realize that you don’t have all your tools. The main pieces of equipment you will need is an air blower, cleaning solution and swabs. If you don’t own a complete camera cleaning kit yet, you can check out our cleaning kits here.
How to dry clean your camera’s sensor
If you found the auto-clean mode on your camera didn’t work, then it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty detail of cleaning.
1. The first thing you need to do is look for the menu option to manually clean your camera’s sensor. If you can’t find this option, check your camera manual.
2. Once you select this mode, you will hear the mirror inside lock back and reveal the sensor.
3. You want to hold the camera upside down so the LCD screen is facing the ceiling.
4. Grabbing a manual air blower (you can purchase these on their own or in a kit that is explained below) you want to blow air into the camera onto the sensor. You need to be very careful that you DONT touch the sensor with the tip of the blower as this can cause damage.
5. After a few bursts of air, you can then turn off the camera and replace the lens. Take a test shot to see if this has worked. If you can still see dark spots, then you may need to try out the ‘wet’ clean method.
How to wet clean your camera’s sensor
If you weren’t able to get off all the dust or dirt using the air blower, then it’s time to try out the wet cleaning method on your sensor.
1. Remove the lens and set the camera on a surface so the screen is facing the floor.
2. Select the manual cleaning option again to lock up the mirror.
3. Remove a swab from your kit, we recommend the VSGO DSLR Sensor Cleaning Kit. This is because it comes with an air blower, a sensor cleaner, cleaning swaps and dustless finger stalls. But if you already have an air blower, then you can get the VisibleDust Sensor Clean Kit which comes with just the solution and swabs.
4. Add however many drops the instructions from your solution says to the swab. Two is usually the perfect amount as you don’t want to oversaturate the swab. This can leave streaks on your sensor.
5. Place the swab onto one end of the sensor. With little force, lightly move it across the sensor to clean off any remaining dirt. When you get to the other end, turn the swab over and repeat the process.
6. You can now turn off your camera, replace the lens, turn it on and take another test shot to examine for any more dust. If you see any particles left behind, then you will need to repeat the process until all are removed. Make sure to use a clean swap from your kit every time.
7. If you see liquid streaks on the sensor then it means you used too much of the solution. You will need to wait a couple of minutes and then repeat the method but with less solution.
Congratulations, you now have a clean camera sensor! When done properly with the right equipment, it becomes a simple and straightforward process. It can be daunting at first, but you will become a pro in no time and your wallet will thank you for it!
Want to read about the new Canon EOS R3 camera and Telephoto Lenses? Click here!