March 25, 2014

Photography: How to Clean Your DSLR

I just got my nifty fifty (50mm) and immediately put it to work. I love its quality and clarity. It takes stunning pictures just like the one pictured above. I love this one but there's one bit of a problem. If you look close enough and have photographer-trained-eyes, you will immediately see some dark spots on this unedited picture. Do you see them?

If not, I'll point them out to you. See them now?

They're nasty. If you've had your DSLR in a while, chances are, you've encountered dark, usually round spots, on your photos like these ones. In my experience, they're mostly visible on sky shots. Though not initially visible to the naked eye, they become prominently evident after you take that amazingly perfect photo - made imperfect - by these nasty spots! The worst part of it is, they become obvious while you're looking at it on a big screen, like your laptop - and long after you've left that perfect scenery!

The Destroyer Dust Bunnies
These spots are the vain of any photographer out there. It totally "destroys" a perfect photo! Though they're correctable, they still can be disappointing to say the least. Now, these spots are made by tiny dust particles (sometimes lint) trapped or clinging on your camera sensor. Cleaning them is tricky but not totally hard. The key is being awfully careful since the sensor is super-sensitive!

Easy Cleaning 
Each camera differs in settings but are similar in some ways. I have a Canon Rebel T3 and for most Canon DSLR's, their settings are almost identical.

Word of caution: Before you start the process, make sure that your camera is fully charged. The manual cleaning process requires the camera to be ON to enable you to "expose" the sensor. Fully charged means you'll also avoid unnecessary accidents occurring while cleaning that delicate sensor.

Manual Steps.

1- Remove your lens - make sure your camera is powered off.
2- Once lens is off, turn your camera on.
3. Turn your Mode Selector to M (Manual Exposure).
4. Press on Menu and go to your settings (wrench icon) and select Clean Manually. You will hear a shutter release sound (loud click) indicating that the sensor is exposed.

Handle the next step with care.

5. With an air blower from your camera cleaning kit, pump air towards the sensor several times, making sure that it is a safe distance away from sensor. It is super sensitive and can easily get scratched. Tilt the camera, lens-side facing down while you blow air into it to make sure any dust falls downwards and not flying back into your sensor.
6. Once you've decided you've blown enough air into it, turn the camera off. This will physically close the sensor doors and return the sensor back into its safe place.
7. Return lens back on camera and do a test shot to see if the dusts are still there.

Note: There is no guarantee that you will remove the dusts in one cleaning. Some are simply stubborn. You can either re-do the cleaning process or utilize a more drastic - at your own risk - step above the basic cleaning process. One that will require you to crack your DSLR open and get into the "heart" of the sensor itself. Or you can have someone clean it for you professionally.

I'll choose the latter if I were you.

Now you see it. Now you don't! 
Spots be gone. 

Tip: Though I'm at the verge of getting a professional help to do the cleaning of my camera, I did find a way around these spots through GIMP by way of its cloning features to remove them. So far, it have given me good results enough to put off getting it professionally cleaned - for now anyway.

Happy cleaning!


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