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Cleaning Your Digital SLR’s Sensor (Canon 20D)

Posted by Matt on August 29th, 2007 filed in Advanced Tips, Camera Care

One of the main issues with digital photography is when you get dust specks on your CCD sensor. These show up as small, dark marks in your photos that don’t move from image to image (if they were specks of dust on your lens then they would tend to move between shots).

To check whether you have dust on your sensor, simple open your aperture up to as full as it will go then point your camera at a white wall and fire off a shot. Then download the image to your computer. You might also find that running the shot through Photoshop and auto-adjusting levels increases the contrast. You can see an example of these dust specks below.

To clean your sensor of these dust specks is a risky process – if you scratch your sensor then it’s expensive to replace. That said, after a while the volume of dust will out-weight the value of having a digital camera in the first place. Personally I use the Copper Hill Sensor Sweep kit and it works pretty darn well. The large lumps of dust or whatever that had been there were fully gone after two sweeps, although there are still some slight specks that I suspect are moisture – so at some point I’ll need to go to the next level and get the full alcohol kit. Or invest in one of the newer Canon digital SLRs (such as the imminent Canon 40D) that have in-built cleaning mechanisms.

All this cleaning is a stressful process, the thought of doing the wrong thing at any moment and trashing a $1000+ camera body is less than enticing. Copper Hill’s tutorials were helpful in that regard to ease my concerns. I still managed to do something weird though, as my mirror kept snapping up repeatedly after I put the lens back on. Luckily it is easily fixed – just turn your camera off and on again.

Anyway, for those of you who are braver souls than most – why not try and take the ‘Canon 20D infrared conversion‘ approach to sensor cleaning… let me know how you get on.

Disclaimer: You clean your camera sensor at your own risk. I cannot accept responsibility for any damage you may cause after reading this article!

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