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April 24, 2013
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The wellness of your camera sensor

Wed Apr 24, 2013, 12:36 AM
How many of you remove the sensor dust from your digital camera's sensor on a regular basis? Sometimes, services can be expensive or you just don't have time to take your cameras to be checked and cleaned whenever it needs to. 
Here are some tips on how you can spot the dust on your camera sensor effectively and how to remove it.

:bulletred: Checking your sensor.


               Shooting the test image

  • Start off by setting your ISO to the lowest (normal) range, for example 100 for Canon and 200 for Nikon;
  • The test shot has to be completely out of focus, so go ahead and manual focus to infinity on a piece of paper OR to close focus for the sky;
  • Now it's time to set the aperture. It's usually okay to set your aperture at f/22, that way all the spots are well defined and ready to lift off! :devil:
  • What lens to use? Usually something like a telephoto lens will do;
  • RAW or JPEG? Either of them is okay, as long as you set your JPEG at the highest quality and file size;
  • Shoot your test image.

              Post processing the test image

  • Open your image in an image editor (e.g. photoshop, GIMP);

       1 by DianaGrigore

  • Desaturate it by going to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate or by hitting Ctrl+Shift+U for windows or Command+Shift+U for mac. You may see some spots at this point.

       2 by DianaGrigore

  • Go ahead and make a levels adjustment layer above your background image  ( you can find it either by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels, either by clicking the black and white circle icon at the Layers panel)

  • Next, let's increase the contrast by bringing in the two end sliders to meet the ends of the peak from the histogram (which represents the tonal gradient that you have captured within your image)

                                          4 by DianaGrigore

      :bulletred: This is how the image looks after increasing the contrast:

      3 by DianaGrigore  
              
         :bulletred: And a 50% zoom of the image:
  
                             Mg 3093 by DianaGrigore


:bulletred: Cleaning your sensor


  1. Important! Make sure you have a fully charged battery. You don't want to run out of battery while you're cleaning your sensor, you may damage it and the expenses are pretty high.
  2. Find the item in your camera menu that flips up the mirror and lets you access the sensor;
  3. Lay the camera down on a table and don't touch anything as you clean;
  4. You may want to use an air blower to remove the dust on the sensor; 
  5. Do not use canned air;
  6. The image a lens projects onto the sensor is upside-down, and when the camera processes the image it is flipped right side up. So what you saw in your image has been flipped.

After that, shoot another test image and compare it with the other one to see if the spots have diminished. Sometimes they won't and that is pretty tricky because you'll have to use a special sensor-cleaning brush or swabs or solvents in order to remove the spots that still linger on the sensor.

:bulletred: Final tips and tricks


- Take this matter seriously and be prepared when cleaning your sensor; you don't want to damage it and later pay for an expensive repair.
- Be sure to read the directions of the products you use very carefully. 
- The products you use need to be kept very clean.


The cleaning process can be tedious, but you don't always know that when you send your camera to be cleaned it will be done in detail, with sufficient attention. And even if you do, you can always check it after it was done.
Good dust hunting! :heart:


Tips & tricks on how to keep your camera sensor clean and ready to shoot!
Add a Comment:
 
:iconmiontre:
miontre Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
:( I just found quite a bit of stuff on my sensor!! I never even changed my lens :crying:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013
I know! I'm scared to look at mine now :giggle:
Reply
:iconnunocanha:
NunoCanha Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Excellent tip.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!:thumbsup:
Reply
:iconkaz-d:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Such a fantastic article :)
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
:heart:
Reply
:iconcsp-media:
csp-media Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013  Professional Photographer
Canned air is compressed, and like most gases, it cools significantly when it expands (released from the can), which causes condensation. I use a simple, inexpsensive ear bulb syringe, available at any drug store or grocery store. I make sure it's clean and dry, and squeezing it results in short bursts of ambient air (uncompressed). I never let the nozzle touch the sensor.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
Canned air is not good for this, I would never it for that. There are air blowers at the drug store, too. And they're actually bigger and sometimes better than the regular air blowers that you get for a more expensive price from camera shops.
:)
Reply
:iconregularjane:
regularjane Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for the tips...I attempted to clean my sensor on an old camera of mine a few years ago and it did the trick for a bit and the greasy stains seemed to disappear for a while :)
I had my current cameras sensor cleaned professionally and the guys there told me that humidity is the one of the main causes of these stains...
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
Yeah, there may be many factors that conclude in a dirty sensor. It depends on the owner and what kind of photography one does.
:devcrouchycreature: said in a comment below about humidity and what happens.
It's all those little things that you don't think of, but they actually require a few minutes in order to keep it safe and clean :)
Reply
:iconphostructor:
Phostructor Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013
There is a good reason it costs a significant amount to have your sensor professionally cleaned: It is all too easy to PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR SENSOR!!!! I learned the hard way*.

It is also easier to simply shoot in B&W for the test. Out of focus at your smallest aperture will definitely show any spots. If you try to clean it yourself, it is just as likely you'll make it worse. When you open the shutter and lay the camera on its back you invite dust to fall right in. Using a blower often just moves dust around, without removing it. There is the inevitable temptation to move the blower nozzle inside the camera, which is obviously a bad idea. If there are a few tiny spots you can see only when you test the camera you can usually ignore them. You'll never notice them. IF you do shoot some blue sky once in a while, revealing a small spot, just Photoshop it and go on about your life! At all costs, never touch your sensor with anything. No brush, no professional 'kit' you bought online will do the job safely.

This is just one man's opinion, but if I never hold another camera funeral it will be too soon!

*I do suggest you take a test shot just before you hand it over the tech, and compare it immediately afterward - if they scratch the sensor you want some compensation - check the terms of their repair service.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
You're completely right, this article is meant to make its readers realize that the sensor is very important and should not be taken lightly. I talked more about checking the sensor, because that's easy to do and it doesn't take much time, and then take it to the tech people if there's something to clean.
:)
Thanks for sharing your story, I hope more people will read it. :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconphostructor:
Phostructor Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
:iconthumbsupplz: I appreciate you gracious response. In acknowledgement of World Wide Pinhole Photography day, I should note that the dust specs that drove me to try to clean my sensor came about because I made a body-cap pinhole for my DSLR, which not only revealed the dust , but allowed more in! I think every time the mirror flipped up and down it drew in a tiny amount of air, which carried dust into my camera. We live and learn. (If we are lucky!)

The body-cap pinhole Mark II uses a piece of glass from an old slide inside it. Dust No More!
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2013
:thumbsup:
Reply
:iconbwphotographry:
BWPhotographry Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013  Professional Photographer
I Agree i will just pay to take my camera to get it cleaned by a pro i wont touch my sensor
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
I don't think anyone would want to touch their sensor :P
Reply
:iconbwphotographry:
BWPhotographry Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013  Professional Photographer
haha you no what i meant....
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
I know, I know :)
Reply
:iconastrikos:
Astrikos Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013   General Artist
Well written! :clap:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
Thank you, `Infinite-Heart!:heart:
Reply
:iconastrikos:
Astrikos Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013   General Artist
:huggle:
Reply
:iconiamoret:
iAmoret Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Unfortunately this cannot be done to my over-glorified point-and-shoot, but still a very informative article! :thumbsup:;)
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
Well, it's always good to know, for the future!:giggle: Thank you!:thumbsup:
Reply
:iconcouchycreature:
CouchyCreature Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
After experiencing a fungal bloom on my cmos sensor, I'll add this little tip for sensor health...

Keep your camera in a low humidity environment. If needs be, store it in a closed container with Silica Gel (that can be recharged in an oven). The actual cost to replace your sensor can be almost as much as a new camera body.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
It's always good to check the sensor at least, if you don't want to clean it by yourself. As long as you can take good care of the sensor, the costs are reduced and you don't have to wake up in one morning and discover your sensor broken when you need it the most :)
Nice tip with the Silica Gel container. I'll remember that ;)
Reply
:iconcouchycreature:
CouchyCreature Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:)thanks.

Re: Silica Gel. I use one of those big plastic tubs with a lockdown lid and one of these dehumidifiers [link] It has indicators to tell you when the gel needs recharging and that can be done in an oven. At $24.95 it is a lot cheaper than the $600 I would have needed to pay to replace the cmos sensor. I just wish I had thought about it sooner.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
Good tip!:thumbsup:
It went into my bookmarks :)
Reply
:iconvamosver:
vamosver Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I am very lucky to live in a larger city, with some professional photography shops. This shops organise fairs twice a year and they offer free cleaning of any camera sensors. So, if you have a professional shop in your surroundings try to find out, if they have a similar offer. In some shops you can have your sensor cleaned regularly for free, if you buyed your cam in that shop.
It's really worth to have a cleaned sensor and lens. :)
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
It's very good that they're offering a free cleaning of camera sensor(You're lucky!:D)
Yes, it prolongs the life of the camera:)
Reply
:iconeinsilbig:
Einsilbig Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Very useful article, thanks for that.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
I'm glad it was a little helpful! Thank you!:heart:
Reply
:icondragonfly-oli:
dragonfly-oli Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I do also have speckles on my sensor, but I do not dare to try it, because I do not have money to buy a new camera if it fails.
My camera has an built-in auto clean, but some speckles stay there for, let's say forever.
I will visit a local camera store to let it be cleaned professionally. ^^;
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
I check it from time to time, I also have auto-clean built-in, but it depends what kind of speckles are there :)
It's good to take care of the sensor, many people overlook this and the life of the camera is shorter :P
Reply
:icondragonfly-oli:
dragonfly-oli Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
You're completely right. It's probably the most important part of the camera at all. :aww:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013
:nod:
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013
I have auto clean :party: :D
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
I have auto-clean, also :) But it's not enough :D
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
Im super carefull when changing lenses, no dust and quick as possible.. aaaand it helps that ive only done it 3 or 4 times :giggle:
Reply
:iconvamosver:
vamosver Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
That's a real improvement indeed, but does not always help. I have to clean my sensor every 6 months, even having auto-clean.
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
Im lucky ive only ever changed lenses 3 or 4 times so far and im super carefull not to get any dust in there. I guess if i ever change them outdoors then all sorts will get blown inside :D
Reply
:iconvamosver:
vamosver Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
There are million of tutorials on the net (e.g. youtube) on how to change the lens and reduce the risk of getting dust and water in your camera.
I read/saw some but it didn't help to me, as I consider the camera just being a tool: if it gets dirty, I'll clean it (or have it cleaned). Easy as that! :D
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
I think id have mine cleaned for me, i have enough problems cleaning the lense without leaving streaks :rofl: Luckily ive got lense filter protectors on them as they cost more than the camera body! :faint:

My mobile phones dont usually last long, and i dropped my laptop down the stairs a few weeks after geting it :XD: But so far ive been lucky with my camera, i lost the lense cover in long grass after not clipping it back on properly but i found it again after a long search retracing my footsteps :party:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
Well said! :)
Reply
:icontntrekabulator:
tntrekabulator Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013  Professional Photographer
I actually recently had a speck on my sensor that was showing up in my video. So I ended up having to very very gently clean it off :P
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
Yeah, I know how annoying that can be! You never know how much dust is there until you check it :P
Reply
:iconmiontre:
miontre Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Awesome article! :clap: Sadly I can't do this to my point and shoot camera :lol: Nor do I have one of those air blowers :shakefist:

Go forth, with my fave and comment, to chase those giveaways out of the footer! :giggle:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013
Thank you, Amazir! :heart:
Well, you have all the time in the world to get a dslr:) It took long enough before I could get my first one :giggle:
As for the air blower, in our country you can find cheaper ones at the drugstore :lol:
:hug:
Reply
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