How to Check Your Sensor for Dust

I usually live in a shallow depth of field world shooting sports, and just about anything else for that matter. This weekend I went downtown to shoot some skylines and HDR, and boy did I find some dust bunnies in my post processing. Above about f/5.6, I could notice some dust in my images, and especially when processing HDR images at f/16, those pesky circles were everywhere!

I wanted to check to see just how bad it was before I cleaned my sensor, so I did a little google search for the best way to see the dust and oil. Since this was the first time cleaning my sensor myself, I wanted to be able to see everything. Here is what I found to work the best:

  • Aperture at f/22,
  • Shutter speed at 1-2 sec,
  • ISO 100,
  • Manual focus, and made sure the shot was out of focus: this is the secret to only seeing the dust spots,
  • Aimed my camera it at a blank notepad file on my computer screen, i.e. totally fill the screen, and
  • Move the camera around a little while taking the shot.

And Boy were there a lot of spots!

I chose to clean my own sensor for the first time using a Giottos Rocket Air Blower, V-Swabs, and Eclipse solution, which was a little nerve racking after reading the potential risks. But I wanted a clean sensor now!

If you do not want to take that risk, and want a professional to clean it for you, you can either send it in to the manufacturer, or use Professional Camera Repair on Richmond. They will charge ~$65 for a sensor clean, and a little more for a complete tune up with a faster turnaround than sending in your camera to the manufacturer.

So, check your sensor before you go out to save your time in post processing.

Dee Zunker