The spotted hawk: camera sensor cleaning

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Having a bit of time this morning, I decided to proof some hawk pictures I had taken on a sunny day a few weeks ago. While proofing these pictures, I came to notice that many of the photos at F11 had a noticeable spot right in the middle of my frames, near my subject the hawk.

Having read a bit about sensor dust in several photography forums, I set a up a test to see if this was indeed my problem, or if I had just happened to not clean my lens before shooting that day. With camera mounted on my tripod, and my evenly illuminated subject, the flat white wall, I went about shooting frames at F11 and F22. Upon viewing, sure enough, a large piece of dust was just about center on my sensor. Surprisingly, the rest of the sensor showing little sign of other specs of dust.

Having not the expensive sensor brushes or cleaning swabs at hand (my understanding is that they work very well), I went about following the manual instructions using nothing more then a blower bulb. I had read mixed results on the procedure; mostly that small stubborn spots would not be removed with this method, or that dust was simply redistributed. Luckily, I had just one large piece that was my target, and just maybe the blower bulb would be all I needed.

Having followed the instructions in Canon’s manual (nice pictures and easy to read by the way), I proceeded to use my 99 cent blower bulb to blow the particle out. I of course couldn’t see the particle leave, so back to test frames.

The final result? No more giant dust particle. The blower bulb method was all I needed it seems, as the test frames reveled that it no longer was on my sensor.

I can say this; it may not seem like a big deal, but I really did not want to ruin my camera, given that I haven’t even had it three full months yet. Sensor cleaning, not for the faint of heart.