Battling the Dust Bunnies

Maybe you find yourself with lots of dust bunnies in your pictures when you go to post process them, if so this article may help you better mange them.

Its rather humorous for me to find myself battling dust bunnies on the Nikon DF & D810.  In 6 years of owning my D700 I never had any issues, the way I practiced photography along with the sensor self cleaning settings I had seemed to prevent me from having issues.  All that changed though with the DF & D810 as now I find I am getting dust that my proactive practices no longer seem to be able to control.  It would appear that these bodies actually attract dust rather than repel it by the quantity of dust I am seeing.  So lets talk about how with these bodies to control dust.  My disclaimer is that I am not an expert on the topic, so what I offer comes from common sense, years of observation and subsequent adjustments now.

Ways Dust Gets Into The Camera

There are a variety of ways dust enters your camera.  It can be as simple as you putting a lens on that has a dusty rear element.  It can also enter when zooming certain lenses, they can create a vacuum and suck the dust into your mirror box.  Changing lenses in a dusty environment can create issues as well.  Windy environments can really cause dust issues quickly.

Nasty Wet Dust Bunnies

Dust Bunnies can really get nasty when your operating in a high humidity or moist environment.  They will get wet and stick and smear on the sensor.  This also makes them much more difficult to clean as a blower and or camera sensor self cleaning wont get them off and usually leads to a wet sensor swab cleaning.

Avoiding Those Darn Bunnies 

There are a few things you can do to avoid the dust bunnies, some of which may not be practical for those needing to work in dusty and moist environments.  I offer that disclaimer up front and for you, wet sensor cleaning may be required!

For a lot of you like me, you can make decisions to avoid problems as well as take proactive measures.  They are not foolproof so please don’t believe they are the cure all for these problems.

First, set you camera to clean on power on and power off.

Clean the rear elements of your lenses after each shoot, see cleaning details below and  make sure the rear element of the lens is clean before putting it on the camera.

Avoid dusty and windy environments

Avoid high humidity and dewy environments.

Limit lens changing time, avoid changing in the wind, use your body to shield your camera when changing lenses.


Keeping your Equipment Clean

After each shoot make sure your lenses are dusted off and clean before storing them.

Store your equipment in a clean dry temperature neutral place.

Get a Rocket Blaster Cleaner ( Giottos Ricket Blaster or similar) and use it on your rear and front lens elements.

Giottos Rocket Air Blower

These folks have a super nice modern cleaning kit and instructional videos on cleaning if your interested.  The cost can get up there a bit, however, I know at least one major camera vendor charges about $125 for a check and clean plus the shipping and time one is out their camera while its off for service.

Testing for Bunnies

Stop Down your lens F/16-F/32 and take a picture of a bright blue sky or bright light and examine the photo for dust bunnies.  If you see them take the Rocket Blaster and put your camera in Mirror Up Cleaning Mode and blow off your sensor with several blasts of air.  Avoid using a air-sol based blowers (may wet dust or damage your sensor).  If you see dust on your sensor, blast the air to that area to remove it.  Take another test image and repeat until bunnies are all gone.

Make sure the lens you are using is not dirty or spotted.  While some photographers advocate not using filters, I always use high quality B+W Filters to protect my lenses.  Its easier to replace or clean a filter verses risking scratching or damaging your lens with repeated cleanings or accidental bumps that may occur in more rugged environments.  Using the thin models or step up rings to support a filter larger than your lens filter thread will prevent vignetting from the filter.  Remember, if you step up, you’ll need a larger lens cap!

B+W SLIM UV Haze Filter

More Tips

If you have moisture soiled bunnies that can not be removed by air and the sensor self cleaning then consider whether you have a free cleaning on an extended warranty you may have or cost of sending the camera in to Nikon unless your comfortable swabbing your sensor.  If you want to try on your own, use a product like eclipse or Google for the best current products available.  Wet sensor cleaning can actually create more problems than it solves if you do not know what your doing or have the patience to perform the task correctly.  Also, make sure before cleaning your sensor that doing so or using the products you plan to clean it with do not void your warranty.


Eclipse Cleaning Kit

I hope this short article is helpful!

Happy Clicks!


This entry was posted in Talking Photography.