Cleaning camera sensors used to be a nerve-racking process that required leaving the sensor exposed to scratching and even more dust. Now cleaning the sensor is pretty much an automatic function. Every time you turn the camera on and off, you can instruct the sensor in the camera to vibrate to remove any dust particles that might have landed on it.
There are five choices for cleaning in the camera setup menu: Clean at Startup, Clean at Shutdown, Clean at Startup/Shutdown, Cleaning Off, and Clean Now. I’m kind of obsessive when it comes to cleaning my sensor, so I like to have it set to Clean at Startup/Shutdown. This works nicely, since I make a habit of turning my camera off whenever I change my lenses. There are many schools of thought on this practice, but for the few seconds it takes I would rather not run the risk of damaging any electronics in the lens or camera.
Removing or changing a lens will leave the camera body open and susceptible to dust sneaking in. If you never change lenses, you shouldn’t have too many dust problems. But the more often you change lenses, the more chances you are giving dust to enter the body. The camera sensor is an electrically charged device. This means that when the camera is turned on, there is a current running through the sensor. This
electric current can create static electricity, which will attract small dust particles to the sensor area. For this reason, it is always a good idea to turn off the camera prior to removing a lens.
You should also consider having the lens mount facing down when changing lenses so that there is less opportunity for dust to fall into the inner workings of the camera. As long as you are turning the camera off while changing your lenses, the camera will automatically clean the sensor when you turn it back on.
Every now and then, there will just be a dust spot that is impervious to the shaking of the Auto Cleaning feature. This will require manual cleaning of the sensor by raising the mirror and opening the camera shutter. When you activate this feature, it will move everything out of the way, giving you access to the sensor so that you can use a blower or other cleaning device to remove the stubborn dust speck. The camera will need to be turned off after cleaning to allow the mirror to reset.
If you choose to manually clean your sensor, use a device that has been made to clean sensors (not a cotton swab from your medicine cabinet). There are dozens of commercially available devices such as brushes, swabs, and blowers that will clean the sensor without damaging it. To keep the sensor clean, always store the camera with a body cap or lens attached.
Using Clean at Startup/Shutdown
- Press the Menu button, then navigate to the Setup menu.
- Use the Multi-selector on the back of the camera to highlight the Clean Image Sensor option and press OK (A).
- Pick Clean Now to clean the camera immediately or pick Clean at Startup/ Shutdown to clean the camera whenever the camera is turned on or off (B). I prefer the latter setting. Once you’ve made your selection, press OK.