How do I clean my camera's sensor?

Question: I keep seeing lots of black spots on my images, especially when I shoot a clear blue sky. Are there any steps I can take to fix this issue.

Answer: There comes a time in every camera’s life when, despite your best efforts, the sensor surface picks up specks of dirt. This is more likely to be an issue if you regularly change your lenses outside, where dust, sand and water can easily get in. Even if you shoot primarily inside, such as in a studio, oil and grease from the inner workings of your camera can still splatter onto your sensor. You might find that you don’t even notice these little marks until you are shooting a clear and bright background that really shows just how dirty your sensor actually is. Some cameras have automatic sensor-cleaning systems, although they’re not always effective. 

Cleaning your sensor
You may decide that getting your sensor cleaned professionally is the best option, but this can cost upwards of about £30. If you’re on a budget, why not try cleaning it yourself? While this might seem like a daunting task, if you work carefully you can’t go wrong. For instructions on how to do this, follow the three steps on the right. If you’re looking to invest in a decent budget sensor-cleaning kit, The Dust Patrol Sensor Cleaning Kit is a great option.  

Prepare your camera
The first thing you need to do is get your camera’s mirror out of the way. If you own a CSC you won’t have this problem, so you can go straight onto Step 2. If you own a DSLR make sure your battery is fully charged, then turn your camera on and go into the Setup Menu. Click the ‘Lock mirror up for cleaning’ option and select Start. Once the mirror is out of the way, you can then remove the lens.

Now clean your sensor
With your sensor exposed, now use a manual air dust blower to remove the dust that is just sitting on the sensor. Ensure that you do not use any canned air or blow on the sensor yourself, as you will run the risk of making it worse. Once you have removed all of the dry dirt, you can try using a wet swab cleaner by following the instruction manual that will come with your cleaning kit.

Check the results 
When you have finished cleaning your sensor, check that there are no marks that you have missed. Put your lens back on and turn off the camera in order to put your mirror back where it should be. Set your aperture to f/22, take a shot of a clear background and then check it on your computer. A clear blue sky works well for this, but a piece of white paper will also do the job.