Pro Tips 1: How to Keep Your Digital Sensor Clean

BetterPhoto Instructors Share Their Insights, Thoughts, and Experiences

by Kerry Drager

One of the annoying "features" of digital SLR cameras is the seeming ease in which the sensor gets dirty. Sure, you can clone dark specks out of a sky with your image-editing program, but it's often easier to practice good prevention measures. Following are tips and techniques from BetterPhoto's instructors, all experienced professionals:

The Extra Large Giottos Blower Bulb
© Peter K Burian
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Peter Burian:
The key to keeping a sensor clean is to be a fanatic about cleanliness. I frequently vaccum my camera bag to eliminate as much dust as possible, and take maximum care when changing lenses. It's at lens change time that most dust enters a DSLR camera so it's important to do so quickly, preferably in an environment without blowing dust. Frankly, prevention is preferable to the solution.

Kerry Drager:
I turn off the camera and point it straight down when changing lenses. And I try to change lenses as fast as possible. I use the biggest blower bulb that I've found - the largest size Giottos - in order to blow off the back glass of the lens and to blow any specks dust out of the mirror/shutter area inside the camera. I avoid switching lenses outdoors if it’s windy or dusty - and, instead, go inside my car or a building ... Of course, if the light is getting great or the subject is moving fast, then I’ll keep my back to the wind, hunch over, change lenses, hope for the best, and start shooting! :-)

Paul Gero:
I'm vigilant about changing lenses quickly and watching the direction of the wind when I am changing lenses. I try to use my body to shield the lens mount area. Using zoom lenses helps because it means having to change lenses less frequently. But there are times when I need the speed of primes and do have to change lenses, obviously.

William Neill:
I turn off the camera when I change lenses. That's about it. Honestly, I am seriously lazy about this task and pay for it with lots of cloning.

Ibarionex Perello:
Before each shoot, I use my Giottos Rocket Blower to clean the inside of the mirror box and sensor.

Rob Sheppard:
I never leave a lens off the camera body for more than the time it takes to put a new one on. I am cautious about changing lenses in dusty conditions. I keep the camera body and lens clean. I keep my camera bag clean (I actually vacuum it out if conditions are bad). Finally, one of my digital SLRs is an Olympus E-330 and the Olympus dust removal system is excellent.

Simon Stafford:
Here are my thoughts on helping to prevent dust settling on the surface of the low-pass filter:

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