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How to check your SLR for sensor dust
I am cant help but smile when I hear of photographers refusing to change lenses for fear of getting sensor dust. Most SLRs come from the factories with sensor dust already and even if they didn’t, there will always be a significant amount generated with use.
The first time a new SLR user learns about sensor dust is when they are inspecting a number of photographs and notice a small black blur on many of the photos, but not all. This confuses many photographers, and the first thing they do is inspect the lens, then the view finder, yet find nothing. Shrugging their shoulders, the hypothesize it was a “random piece of dirt on the lens now gone” and continue shooting.
Then it happens again. The second time most of them are stunned. In addition to attempting to photoshop the little specs from each picture, the prospect of actually opening the camera, flipping the mirror out of the way and cleaning the sensor is terrifying, I know because I learned this lesson in exactly that order.
Sensor dust happens- no matter what. Sensors are easy and safe to clean. Be brave, you can do it!
This is how you check your camera sensor:
1. Put the widest angle lens you have on your SLR.
2. Switch to Aperture priority, say f22-f29
3. Take a picture of the sky.
4. In photoshop, smash your levels into your histogram. This will make all the darks very dark.
5. Any sensor dust will be apparent.
There are a number of kits you can get to clean your sensor. I use Dust-Aid which works wonderfully, and usually I clean my sensors before each wedding (which can be every week if needed).
If proper steps arent taken to keep your sensors clean, dust will show up when you least expect it. It usually appears on photos taken with very small apertures, or certain colored backgrounds. Cleaning your sensor is much easier than cleaning say....1500 pictures. :)
This is a cloud image right out of the camera...no photoshop. Even after looking closely, you cant really see it.
This is the same shot after moving my levels into the histogram to increase contrast.
Sensor dust is now easily visible. Time to clean!