Every now and then I get a question from one of my readers that makes me slap my head in typical “Doh!” fashion; why hadn’t I written something on this before?
Alex recently wrote me with this:
Been following your blog for a while and it was one of the top inspirations for me to pick up photography recently and invest in new NEX gear (point and shoot only before). Armed with the NEX7, 24mm Zeiss, 50mm and 35mm Sony, and the 10-18mm Sony on the way I’m starting to learn my way around. Now, what I’ve noticed is the number of lenses that you use/try out and I’m wondering how the heck do you keep the dust out? It seems inevitable to accumulate the dust on the sensor after a while no matter how careful you are with lens changes… how do you do it? Do you end up cleaning your sensor frequently?
I know it’s an amateur question, but you seem to have great experience here and I wonder if you can make a suggestion?
Hey there Alex, this is a great question since I often change lenses while on assignment, a lot of the time in adverse conditions. I have probably exposed my sensor to the elements at least 1000 times, if not more. One of the biggest reasons you never see dust in my photographs is that I tend to shoot at very large apertures (as sensor dust doesn’t really show up until you go past f/8). For the few times I do stop down further, such as in macro, I use the “heal” tool in Lightroom 4 if needed. Here’s just a couple tips I recommend to keep the naked sensor clean as long as possible on mirrorless cameras:
1. Always face away from the wind when changing lenses so it’s blowing at your back.
2. Keep the sensor facing down if possible.
3. Change lenses quickly! The longer a lens isn’t in front of the sensor, the more dust can (and will) settle on it!
4. Use a rocket air blower (Giottos makes an excellent one that I use in the “large” size) every now and then to blow dust off of lenses and sensor. NEVER blow on either with your breath–no matter how careful you are, you will eventually get spit on either a lens element or a sensor, both of which are very difficult to clean off.
5. Make sure your sensor-cleaning function works well. You should hear a short but high-pitched squeak about five seconds after turning the camera off. It’s extremely quiet, so put the camera up to your ear to hear it better.
6. If you ever have to wet clean the sensor, such as when dust/grime gets stuck on due to humidity and the blower/sensor shake isn’t working, use SensorSwabs and Eclipse Cleaning Solution. It’s the method that Sony actually uses in-house when cameras are sent in. They’re expensive, but they work well.
To my readers, if you have any burning questions about using your NEX or photography in general, drop me a line here!