So a few days ago I was looking through my photos and noticed that I had some spots on them.
To be totally honest, I have seen these in some shots for a while now, but I didn’t know how to fix it. I figured it was either on my lens or my sensor, but I wasn’t sure how to go about cleaning them. But since this month I’m working on being more proactive about these things, I conducted a small experiment.
I had read that to most clearly see the spots, it is best to point the camera at a uniform, white background and take a picture with the lens closed all the way down. I used an ISO of 100 (sometimes I’ve read to use 200), an F-stop of 22, and took a picture of a clean, white canvas on an easel. While I forgot to set the focus to infinity as is recommended, I was able to pretty clearly see the multitude of spots.
To test if the spots were on the lens or on the sensor, I swapped my 16-50mm kit lens for my 35mm prime and took the same picture.
Since I was seeing the same spots, I concluded that it was on my sensor. When I looked at my sensor with the lens off, I was able to see one spot but not the whole multitude. However, sensor cleaning is tricky business because if you mess up it can basically ruin your camera. So this is partly why I was nervous to look into the problem before.
But with a little chutzpah, I dug around on the internet and came across this informative video from one of my regular Sony mirrorless YouTube channels:
In it, he uses an APS-C sensor cleaning kit with sterile wipes and cleaning solution to gently clean the sensor after blowing with air to dislodge any dirt. A couple days later with Amazon Prime, and I was ready to give it a go myself.
I took off the lens, blew using a Rocket blower with the camera upside down to make sure nothing that could scratch the sensor was on it, and then did three passes with the cleaning swabs. I started with a dry one, doing one pass in each direction. Then I added two drops of cleaning solution and gently passed in the same fashion. Finally, I did a final pass with a dry swab to make sure no cleaning solution was left on the surface. Each time I used a new cleaning swab to make sure that anything I picked up before did not get dragged across the surface. That might be overkill, but this only used three of the twelve swabs, so I still have plenty for future cleanings.
Afterwards I set the camera up, took a picture of the canvas, and voilà! Clean sensor!
More importantly though, I now also know how to look for spots on the sensor and take care of it in the future. Despite having this camera for five years, I feel like I have learned more this month than in all that time.