Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ask Tim Grey - Sensor Cleaning Frequency

Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter
June 10, 2014

Providing Answers to Photographers for Over a Dozen Years...
In Today's Email:
Today's Question: You mentioned [in yesterday's edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter] that you should "periodically clean" the sensor in your digital camera. How often should that happen and under what other conditions would you suggest one having it cleaned?
Tim's Answer: I suppose the short answer here would be “as often as necessary”, but of course then you need to consider how often is actually necessary. That, in turn, depends on the type of environment you tend to photograph in, and the degree to which you are cautious about dust, moisture, and other contaminants.

Rather than setting a particular schedule for cleaning the sensor (or sending it away to have it cleaned if you’re not comfortable performing this task yourself), I prefer an approach that involves checking the camera periodically for dust spots. I perform a test before setting out on any photo trip, and anytime I have been in conditions (such as dust or humidity) where blemishes are most likely to find their way to the sensor.

That test involves stopping down the lens and capturing a photo against an even background, while moving the camera during the exposure. You can then view the image on the LCD display and zoom in closely, panning around to check for dust spots. If this test shows the sensor is clean, there’s no need to clean the sensor. And if there is considerable dust, it is obviously time for a cleaning. In this way, I only clean the sensor when it is really necessary, and I otherwise have the confidence that the sensor is clean, at least at the beginning of a photo outing.

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