How-To Geek

Take a Reference Photo to Check Your Camera Lens for Dust

It’s irritating to find out, after a long day of shooting, that a spec of dust has made an appearance in every photo. Learn how to take a reference photo to spot (and eliminate) dust on your camera lens.

Photo by Olly Newport.

Electronics blog Unplggd shares a simple technique for checking your camera lens for dust. Open the aperture up, set the set the lens to infinite focus, and snap a picture of a clean white surface (like a sheet of printer paper). You can also snap a companion shot of a dark surface if you want to do an in depth comparison. Although they suggest using the camera’s review function to check out the photo we think the LCD screen is far too small. Load the pictures up on your computer and review them on a nice big monitor for a better chance of finding those irritating specks of dust.

Once you’ve located the dust it’s time to give that lens a deep cleaning.

How To Test for Dust on Your DSLR Camera Lens [Unplggd/Apartment Therapy]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/12/11

Comments (8)

  1. Aaron

    So this is basically saying that to see if you have just in your lens you must take a pictures and view it to see if it has a spec of dust?

    I would have started and ended the article with this: “To see if your camera has dust in its lens take a picture of something, white is best, and view on computer to see if it has dust on it.”

    I’m about done with the ridiculous posts on HTG, and all of the Engadget re-posts.

  2. Rick

    Aaron, that’s the nice thing about these kinds of sites, you can leave and others can still enjoy. I personally enjoy this site for the information it brings and don’t get my panties in a bunch about the format or technical writing aesthetics.

  3. Jim

    This article on checking your lens for dust is wrong and obviously not written by a knowledgeable photographer. Just as you do not see dust on your glasses unless they are unbelievably dirty, your camera does not see dust on the lens. Your eyes behind the glasses and the digital sensor behind the lens are not focused on where the dust is. Both are focused well beyond the dust and therefore the dust disappears from the image. What this article is talking about is dust on the digital sensor in the camera that records the image. Dust on the sensor will show up repeatedly in pictures as the article describes. If you doubt that, wait until your camera produces pictures that have a dust spot in a certain place on each picture and then check the camera with a clean lens on it. The dust spot still is there. There are numerous ways to clean sensors, and you’d do best to check with a photo store or an experienced photographer before cleaning your sensor. It’s delicate, and you could damage your camera.

  4. Cactus

    Well, The site is a bit like panning for gold. Mostly all crap, But then there’s something good.

  5. Doug

    It’s certainly one method, but carrying a tiny lens brush and lens cleaning tissues is a given if you’re the least bit serious about your pictures and camera.
    Interchangeable lenses also have rear elements that require the same meticulous care,

  6. Bill

    Thanks, Doug.


  7. ExTexan

    Jim is correct. Unless you have specks so large to be visible by a blind person, they have little or no effect on the images, they would only soften the image if they were very large. He is referring to specks on the sensor. Geez can’t these people get knowledgeable writers?

  8. FightTheRight

    5 bucks an article dont get what it used too.

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