Eric Stoner
Eric Stoner

Eric's professional photographic career spans over 25 years specializing in portraits, weddings and commercial photography using everything from simple lighting to very complex.

Automatic Sensor Dust Removal using Canon's Digital Photo Professional

November 05, 2013

Dust on your sensor will happen – it’s not a matter of if, but when! There are several ways dust will penetrate into the mirror box of your camera and, ultimately, on to the sensor. One way is the simple act of changing a lens, especially in a windy and dusty environment. Another way this can happen is from the camera itself – I’ll explain. 

One of the beauties of the Canon EOS system is its ability to reduce sensor dust with an on-board ultrasonic cleaning system.

This includes protection built right on the sensor to repel dust from adhering to the sensor in the first place. Located near the sensor is a sticky substance similar to fly paper (for those of you old enough to remember) that collects debris. This system does a good job, but dust can still find its way onto the sensor. The front surface of the multi-layer Low Pass/IR-cut filter, immediately in front of the sensor, is coated in recent EOS models with a special Fluorine coating, which resists dust and foreign matter sticking to the front surface of the sensor.

Now what? Well, there are a few options available to you. One is to have the sensor cleaned by Canon Professional Services (CPS) at one of our repair facilities. You could also purchase a sensor cleaning kit and try this yourself, but this option can be hazardous if you aren’t careful. Canon specifically recommends that users never touch the front surface of the imaging sensor or Low Pass/IR-cut filter for any purpose, including attempting to clean it. Scratches to the sensor means the whole part must be replaced.

A very good option is the one I’ll explain in this blog for using the Dust Delete Data option in your camera in conjunction with Canon Digital Photo Professional software. DPP, for short, is the software that comes free on the EOS Solutions Disk when you purchase your camera.

If you think you might have a dust problem, here is an easy test if you don’t own a sensor scope, which is a device that easily finds dust on a sensor.

As a regular maintenance procedure, you should use the Dust Delete Data feature in your camera’s menu system (see below) to essentially “map out” the dust location and shape. This easy step will pay off later when you process your images in DPP.

The camera even knows when this procedure was last performed.

In order to obtain the data, you must have a lens of 50mm or greater on the camera. The Dust Delete Data feature takes a special test shot at a small lens aperture, with the camera aimed at a clean, plain white surface (such as a piece of paper, or a section of a white wall). Follow the menu prompts to complete the process and obtain the dust location data. Then aim at a CLEAN white surface and follow the menu prompts to obtain the data. The camera will let you know if you make a mistake. The Dust Delete Data option is usually located in the RED shooting menus. You should use this feature often enough so the camera can stay current with the location of dust on the sensor.

In the photo below, I shot an image of the plain blue sky, so you can see the dust a bit easier against a plain background, and opened it in DPP. Dust will appear as dark shapes.



Looking at the next photo, I selected the Start Stamp Tool option located in the “Tools” menu. Within this feature of DPP is the button to “Apply Dust Delete Data” (highlighted with the yellow arrow in the photo above).

Hit this button and watch the dust disappear! If you still see any remaining dust on your image, it’s likely that those particles were present prior to running your first Dust Delete Data procedure. These will need to be stamped out using the Stamp Tool in this menu prior to returning to the light table.

Now back to the light table. Go ahead and right click on the image you were working on and select the Copy Recipe to Clipboard.

Highlight the rest of your images and right click again over one of them, then select the Paste Recipe to Selected Images option and you’re done, as seen in the image below!


The last thing to do is to use the Batch Process tool to convert all of your images to either JPEG or TIFF files with no dust!

Easy peasy!!!

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