In the old days of films, negatives and enlargements, we had to fight and contend with dust. I was especially bad at it. Why? Most likely my shoes. I’ve always worn runners type of shoes and not shoes with a leather sole. We had to make sure that the film would dry in “clean room”. Then the fun started, printing. I couldn’t use the Kodak PolyContrast RC papers because they were coated with resin, and I couldn’t touch up the print to remove the dust… I hated it.

In 2003 Olympus cameras introduce the world to dust reduction with their Olympus E1. Everybody made fun of Olympus and of the ‘incompetent’ people that needed the dust control. Today, almost every camera has dust control, even Nikon has bowed to people’s requests, the D3s has dust control. Olympus, still has the best dust elimination system. Sony and Pentax are also excellent. They are better than both Canon’s or Nikon’s. They can:

  1. Remove the static electricity from the sensor
  2. Zap the sensor
  3. Shake the sensor to remove the dust

Neither Canon, nor Nikon can shake that sensor, so what do they do is zap the surface of the sensor and hope that we hold the camera with the lens horizontal or down.The higher the pixel density, the more the sensor is affected by the dust. Some dust particles are much bigger than a clump of pixels.

Nowadays, with the Canon 7D, we have the “EOS Integrated Cleaning System”. Most of the dust is created by the camera.

  1. The shutter: every time we press on the shutter button, we create a static charge on the sensor. With each generation of camera, the materials are better and less susceptible to the charging of the static electricity.
  2. When we change the lens, we allow for a lot of dirty air to enter the camera.
  3. When we use a “non L lens”. In the Canon world, many L lenses, after they have been sealed with the proper front filter, are dust and moisture resistant. Most of the new L (II) lenses do not need a front filter for making them weather resistant.
  4. The plastic mounts of the cheaper lenses also generate static electricity.

So how to deal with the static electricity and the dust?

  1. Use a weather sealed camera.
  2. Use a weather sealed lens.
  3. Use a lens filter.
  4. Turn off the camera when changing lens.
  5. Turn off the camera when changing battery.
  6. Turn off the camera when changing card.
  7. Do not change a lens in dusty environment.
  8. Do not change lenses. Aren’t zoom great? Having a 2 camera setup is even better.
  9. Discharge your own static electricity by touching a conducting material.
  10. Point the camera down when cleaning the sensor, when starting or shutting down the camera.