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Why Do Black Spots Appear On Photos From My DSLR

If you have a digital camera like a DSLR you might one day be taking photos and notice that there are black spots that show up in every picture.

If you are new to taking photos with a camera like a DSLR or mirrorless camera you might just put it down to a bad camera – but this is unlikely.

Whether you are using a Nikon, Canon, Sony or any other branded camera out there, this is something that can affect you and it is easy to spot what it is.

Why Is There A Black Spot On My Camera’s Images?

There are 2 reasons that you could see these black spots on your images:

  • Dust or dirt on the lens
  • Dust or dirt on the sensor

The quickest solution is to give your camera lens/sensor a clean using a camera cleaning kit.

Dust on the lens would be easier to spot and a tell tale sign of this is if the black spots you see in images tend to change position (the dust can move around on the lens’ surface).

On the other hand, if the dust spots stay in the same position in the image and you can’t see any on the lens it is most likely dust on the sensor.

When you take a photo, if the dust is in the way of the light coming through the lens then the dust particle will cast a shadow on the sensor. This will register the dark spots that you are seeing in your pictures.

How Do I Get Rid Of Black Spots On My Camera?

To get rid of the black spots you need to get rid of the dust that is on your lens or sensor. 

If it is on your lens you can clean the lens using a lens cleaning kit and if you don’t already, you should make sure you always have one as part of your kit. 

Here’s how you can use a lens cleaning kit to clean lenses:

If it is on your sensor, then it can be a bit more tricky, but the first thing you can try is to use the image sensor cleaning feature on your camera if that is available on your model.

This is a built-in cleaning function for your camera and you should find clear instructions in your user manual. Alternatively you can enter your model into Google along with “image sensor cleaning” and you should find what you are looking for. 

Here’s how to clean the sensor with a cleaning kit: 

Just be careful if you decide to try to clean the sensor yourself.

If you do it wrong you can cause permanent damage to your camera. If you want to be safe you can take it to your nearest camera store where you can get it professionally cleaned.

How Do I Check For Dust In My Camera?

To be sure that your camera is free of any dust once it has been cleaned, you can test to see if you still see the black spots in pictures.

Keep in mind that the black spots are easier to notice in pictures where there tends to be a big portion of the same colour or when you use a narrow aperture. 

So to make it easy to notice do the following:

  • Try to take a picture of either the sky or a plain lightly coloured wall
  • Make sure you use a narrow aperture like f22 

Why Can I Only See The Black Specs At Small Apertures Like f/22 ?

When you first notice any black spots you might realise that you don’t always see them but they tend to be more noticeable at smaller apertures like f/22.

This is because at smaller apertures the opening is more narrow so light is more focused and the focused light can cast a shadow of the dust spec on the sensor. 

On the other hand, when apertures are much larger like at f1.8 the aperture is much wider so light comes in from wider angles and is less focused so a shadow is less likely to be cast onto the sensor. 

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