Nov 132013


Let me say this, no matter how careful you are, sooner or later your will have DUST spots in your camera sensor. Its practically unavoidable, there mere action of zooming your lens in and out, will absorb the dust and find its way to your sensor. By you not seeing them in your images, doesn’t mean they are not there.

How to Spot Dust:

Normally you shouldn’t care if you don’t see it clearly on your images, if you cant see it, than no one can, but trust me its there. The problem starts when it becomes visible and somewhat ruins your images. However here is a tip how you can find out whether you have dust or not:

– Set your camera at Aperture priority

– Find a clean white sheet of paper ( I normally use the A4 Printing Paper)

– Go out in a sunny bright day and place your paper somewhere out side on the ground

– Set your Aperture at high value (8 and above)

– Set your focus into Manual. Most camera you can find that button on your Lens, just switch from AF to MF

– And Take the photo of the white sheet of paper

– Go and Download your photo into your computer

Now if your Sensor is really dirty, you will immediately see it, which means its time to send it to the SHOP and get it clean, but if you dont see it, it means you can live with it still and you are safe. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE NOT THERE. For me, to investigate further, I use Lightroom editing software and slide the “BLACK SLIDER” editing tool all the way to the left, this way I CAN SEE ALL THE SPOTS in my sensor. Below is an example of this technique using two of my cameras


My Leica M9 Camera


This how the spots looks like on my M9 immediately after I downloaded the image of the White Paper Sheet on my computer. As you can see very very visible spots 🙁



This after I used Lightroom, and moving the “Black” slider editing tool to the left. As you can see, DISASTER EVEN MORE SPOTS. Time to send my baby leica to Germany for big time service. It would cost me hand and leg 🙁


My Canon 5D MarkII Camera


Here, Spots are barely visible, which means, I am safe. But as I said, it doesn’t mean they are not there. But at least I know I dont need to send it yet to the camera shop



Here I used Lightroom “Black” slider editing tool and slide it all the way to the left and I got this outcome. As you can see, SPOTS BECAME VISIBLE. Like I said, not seeing them, not necessary are not there, and this is a good example


As many of you know I am a wide aperture shooter, meaning I like to shoot at very low aperture value, so that I can get that dreamy depth of field in my photos. And because of that, I barely see any spots in my images, the spots are becoming visible when you start shooting at high Value Aperture, anything 8 and above such as landscape. Now, if the spots are not that much, than you can use HEALING SPOT tool in your editing software to easily remove it (Another reason why you should start editing your photos). Otherwise, you need to send your Camera to the shop to get your sensor cleaned.

I am a sad man today, my favorite camera Leica M9 is sick and I will have to be part from it for at least couple of months as it find its way to Germany for serious Servicing and Sensor clean. Oh well, thats life !


I hope this tip helped, and let me know what you thought about it and if you have any question of the technique I am more than willing to help


  7 Responses to “How to Spot dust on your Camera Sensor?”

  1. i use the arctic butterfly to clean my sensors. its really good. has an electro static bristle that sucks the dust up onto the fibres. then you turn it on and it spins them off, ready for another application. sometimes i do my own wet clean too but im not sure if i would do it on the Leica M9 lol

    • Thanks for the tip Jmayel. I will look into the Artic Butterfly. Otherwise, as you said, I cannot take the rist to do the wet cleaning on the Leica, I heard horrible stories people damaging their sensor and the price of fixing is more than half of the price of the entire camera.

  2. Very useful information… Thank you Salim..

  3. Salim Thank you so much for the very useful article. I really learned a lot from your daily articles..I agree with you 100% we must check and take care of our lenses whenever we see dust. Last year I found little dust in my 18-200mm lens and I took it for service and sensor clean.

    Ohhh Salim sorry to hear that you won’t have your Leica M9 for couple of month, As you said that’s life.
    Any way Inshallah you’ll get it soon and you’ll be happy again

  4. Thanks for the tip, Salim. I started seeing unwelcome dots/ smudges in my photos taken in the low light, especially where there is light on one part and other is dark where one can see the spots. My camera has a sensor cleaning shaking mechanism which I am yet to use. Probably need to try it with your technique or camera has to go for service..

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