How to Keep Your Camera’s Sensor Clean

Today’s Post by Jason Anderson, Canon Blogger photo by Joe Farace

Dust on your camera’s sensor can be a pain in the you-know-what! Having to spend extra time at the computer, using Photoshop’s Clone Stamp tool to fix dust spots and endlessly clicking through photos to edit dust can be a royal pain. There are methods and kits available to clean your sensor and get rid of that dust but why not avoid it entirely? How…

1. Avoid changing lenses in the field. Dust can enter your camera from any uncontrolled area and the place where you have the least control is in the field. I’ve seen folks change lenses outdoors and it’s certainly not going to damage your camera or sensor but anything that opens your sensor to ambient air also exposes it to dust. Wanna know how much dust is in the air? Turn on a flashlight in the dark! We oooh and ahhh over beautiful sunbeams in photos but what you’re seeing is sunlight bouncing off dust particles in the air!

Mercedes SLK at Red Rocks

2. Point the camera down. If you must change your lens in the field because you only have one camera body (like me) don’t let gravity help! When swapping lenses, point our camera downwards so dust is less likely to settle on your sensor. It take’s a bit of practice, because you’re swapping a lens blind but this just speaks to the principle of knowing your gear!

3. Be quick. Many times I see photographers think of swapping that wide-angle lens for a zoom, prime or other lens. They take the lens off, cap the lens, put it in the camera bag, pull out the other lens, uncap it, and then mount it to the camera. Meanwhile, the camera sensor has been exposed for 60 seconds or longer. That’s a long time to be exposed to the elements. I do it the opposite way. I take the destination lens out, uncap it, and position it next to my camera. Then in one motion unlock the lens on-camera, twist it off, and put the new lens on. Cap the old lens, put in camera bag, and the sensor was only exposed for about 3 seconds!

4.  Use a dust bag. In some environments, there is dust everywhere. I’ve shot on beaches in South Carolina, dusty conditions in Colorado and Mexico, and places where the amount of dust in the air was nasty. For situations like that, consider using a dust bag; here’s a changing bag that Joe found on Amazon. The idea here is to insert your camera and the new lens into a bag where there’s no dust and swap out lenses. Caveat: Just by inserting a camera and lens inside one of these bags, you’re already introducing dust, so the “clean” environment theory is blown away.

5. Cap the camera. Lots of people forget that their cameras come with a body cap so that when there’s no lens attached, you can put the cap in place to protect dust from jumping on the sensor. I usually have a lens mounted and at the ready but if you are not deft enough with your hands to remove a lens and attach a new one, the camera cap is a great interim step.


Follow Jason Anderson on www.canonblogger.com where he serves up tips, tricks, tutorials, articles, and reviews.