Sensor Cleaning: How to Know It's Time for a Checkup


When was the last time you had your camera checked for sensor cleaning? If you had to think on that, odds are its time to give your sensor a little TLC. As much as we try to avoid it by quickly changing lenses and keeping them clean, dust is a fact of life. It gets sucked into your camera from the focus mechanisms that move parts in and out. It’s important to check if you have any large particles in your camera or on your lenses because it can affect your image quality. Here’s a quick step by step of how tell if your sensor needs a little attention.

How to tell if your sensor needs cleaned

  • Put your camera in Aperture Priority Mode.
  • Change the metering mode to Matrix/Evaluative Metering.
  • Adjust your ISO to the lowest number such as ISO 100 or 200. (Make sure auto ISO is turned off.)
  • Set everything to manual focus
  • Change your aperture to a high number (f/8 or above).
  • Use either the clear blue sky or a plain white paper to photograph. Make sure that the sky or paper fills the whole frame. Make sure the lens is completely out of focus and take a photo.
  • Either view the image on the back of the camera and zoom in. Check from left to right and top to bottom to see if you can find any dark spots or hair lines.
  • If you cannot see any, your sensor is clean. If you do see any, it’s time to clean your sensor!

If your sensor looks dirty, you can try blowing a little air on it with a Rocket Blower to clean it. All you have to do is head to your camera menu, select lock up mirror, and push the shutter to reveal your sensor. Then hold the camera upside down with the lens opening facing the floor. Take your rocket blower and gently blow air into the camera to knock off any of the dust particles on the sensor. Do NOT touch the sensor with the tip of the blower or your fingers as this can damage it. Once you’re finished, hit the shutter to lock your mirror back down. You can watch how its done HERE.

If it’s still looking dirty, I recommend having a service like Canon’s CPS or a local camera shop do a thorough cleaning for you. We’ll be doing a followup soon of how to properly clean your sensor for those who are wanting to try doing it themselves.

What are your tips for keeping a clean sensor? 

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