Deep Green Photography

Sensor Cleaning -- How To Video Link

UncategorizedGreg BascoComment

I get a lot of queries about cleaning the digital camera sensor, and many people on tours can be quite freaked out at the prospect of doing this themselves. In fact, I have had quite a few people on tours who will try to stick with one lens in order to keep from exposing the sensor to dust during a lens change. Now you want to be careful with your equipment but in my view, sensor dust is overhyped. For one, most DSLR cameras now have automatic sensor cleaning, which appears to be a big help in keeping sensors free of dust. And second, cleaning sensors is actually not that hard. You want to be careful of course, but it's not that big a deal. This morning I came across the video below, which outlines the cleaning steps they take in house at This is the exact approach I've always followed so it's nice to see that I'm doing what the pros do! There is no one right method, and the exact products people use may vary (for instance, I happen not to use the Arctic Butterfly but rather a similar product by a different manufacturer) but I hope this video will take some of the mystery out of cleaning your sensor.

Click here to view the video at

If you shoot a lot, travel frequently, and/or live far from a good camera shop, I think it's worth it to learn how to clean your sensors yourself. If you have a good camera store nearby and prefer to take it in to them, by all means do so. Just keep in mind that they will be using pretty much the same techniques you would use at home.

And if you do get some dust in your images, cloning the spots out is not that hard. The spots show up mostly in areas of smooth color (e.g., blue skies) and on images taken at higher apertures (usually f11 and up). In Lightroom, Photoshop, or Elements just use the clone or heal brush on the dust spots, and they will disappear quickly. There are two features in Lightroom (the program I use for the majority of my digital workflow) that I particularly like. First, the clone and heal tool allows you to define precisely which area of the image will be used to clone or heal. That is, you can pick the source area quite easily. Second, if you have a series of images with the same composition, the dust will be in the same places. You can clone the dust spots out on one image, then select the others and sync the dust spot cloning to all of them rather than having to work on each image separately. Note that this only works if the images have the exact same alignment.

Cheers, Greg

Please feel free to comment and let people know what products you prefer when cleaning your DSLR sensors.

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Gregory Basco

Greg Basco is a resident Costa Rican professional photographer and environmentalist. He is a BBC/Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice prizewinner, and his photos have been published by National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, and Newsweek.