Sensor Dust

One disadvantage of DSLR cameras is sensor dust. The sensor is the film of digital photography and is exposed to the air every time the lens is changed. Some newer DSLRs have a self-cleaning sensor. On these models, the filter right in front of the sensor vibrates to shake off the dust. My Nikon D80’s sensor is not self-cleaning so I recently purchased the Giotto Rocket Blower pictured above.

The sharpie is there to give you an idea of scale. This isn’t your father’s dust removal system. The force of the blower is several times greater than the cheap little finger blower that comes with common cleaning kits. In addition to power, it also has a valve on the bottom that prevents air intake (and dust intake) from the tip. This way the dust is not being sucked up and blown back out with each squeeze. So how does one get to the sensor? On my D80 there is something called mirror lock. As long as a fresh battery is installed and there is no lens, enabling mirror lock will cause the mirror to lock in the up position. The shutter opens and remains open until the camera is turned off before which time the Rocket Blower is used to blow the dust off.

An example of before and after is below. The frequency and darkness of the particles is clearly greater in the first image. As you can see, the Rocket Blower did not get all of the dust. I’ll have to go back and do it again until the image is relatively clear. If you want to create a reference photo for your DSLR just stop down the aperture to about f/11 or so and take a photo of a blank white sheet of paper or flat white wall. Then, open your file in photoshop and add a levels adjustment layer. When you set levels to auto you will find that the dust particles pop.

I bought a book at Borders today (my favorite place to be) called The History of Photography. It caught my eye because it is published by the folks at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA.org) in NYC. As you may know from a recent post, I just came back from there and MoMA was the highlight of the trip for me. More on this book once I get further into it. Ciao for now.


1 Response to “Sensor Dust”

  1. 1 DO
    January 31, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    YAWN!!!!! Boring…..


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