The Digital Photo Guy

dSLR Sensor Cleaning Webinar

by on Jun.01, 2011, under gear, Monday Morning Tips, Webcast, Workshops

Have You Cleaned Your Sensor Lately?

Cleaning a dSLR sensor is like washing dishes, not a fun or glamorous task but necessary. And, like dishes, the longer you put it off, the nastier the job. On Sunday, June 12 at 7PM Pacific Time, I’ll conduct a $3 Webinar to demo cleaning a dSLR sensor. Click HERE to register.

First, let’s clear up a misconception about dust on dSLR sensors. You CANNOT see dust on a sensor through the viewfinder (VF). There is a mirror in front of the sensor at all times except when it flips up (reflexes) to allow light to strike the sensor. The only way to expose the sensor, other than by releasing the shutter, is to place the dSLR into manual sensor cleaning mode (see your manual) which locks the mirror in the UP position. When doing so, be sure to have a freshly charged battery in your camera. Most newer cameras won’t go into sensor clean mode if the battery is low. This avoids the battery expiring and allowing the mirror to fall while a tool is inserted into the camera’s innards. If you see dust through the VF, it is on the VF, most likely the eyepiece although, in some cases, it can get inside the VF.

The photo above illustrates why you want to clean your dSLR sensor. A spot like that on one or two photos is no big deal, one click of the Clone Stamp Tool or Spot Healing Brush and it’s history. But, what about the trip to the Eastern Sierras where you made hundreds of photos, if not thousands, that included wide expanses of clear blue sky with dozens of spots that look as if your cat sneezed on the sensor?

Cleaning your sensor isn’t rocket science but it takes the right tools and technique. There are many sources for the right tools but there are also many Chinese knock-offs so it’s a good idea to buy from a reliable source that also includes specific instructions. I buy all my tools from Artie Morris since I learned this method from Artie. There are two kits on his site. One kit includes a sensor scope and the other doesn’t. I don’t use a sensor scope but I can see the appeal of such a device.

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6 Comments for this entry

  • Marie

    I haven’t gotten around clone stamping out my dust bunnies :-(. I been sick for the past 2 weeks and only yesterday did I feel semi-human again. I only sent out the family snapshots. You will be happy to hear that I didn’t take a ton of pictures as I tend to do when I travel. We spent most of our time with family since our visit was very short. Our only sightseeing was to the the Great Wall at Mutianyu, less touristy. I hope to work on some of the photos this week and get them posted.

    • Lee

      You don’t have to sightsee to make great photos in a place like China. How about some photos of the market or interestng buildings? Glad you’re feeling better.

  • Ellen

    Hi Lee,
    I won’t be near a computer at this time. I hope you get enough interest to do it again or maybe sell the archived webinar afterward.

    • Lee

      Hi Ellen,
      If you want to view the recording, just register but tell me you won’t be there. I’ll send you a link to the video.

  • Marie

    Apparently I didn’t do a very good job of cleaning my sensor before my China trip. My Great Wall photos are plagued with dust spots. Ugh. Perhaps I should take a refresher course.

    • Lee

      Hi Marie,
      Long time, no hear. Other than the dust bunnies on your sensor, I hope you made tons of great images in China. Where can I see them?
      I believe you’re using Artie Morris’ “dry method” of sensor cleaning. Please join us, you can be the “word of experience” who tells others that it’s an easy task.



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