Sony Sony and Sensor Dust

John King

Member of SOFA
Beaumaris, Melbourne, Australia
John ...
While that's probably good advice, I personally couldn't stand having to do that at every lens change!

I've even changed lenses at the beach with the wind blowing. No special precautions, just turn my back to the wind, change lenses, keep shooting. No dust bunnies ...

Yeah, Olympus spoils us in this regard
Perhaps, Bruce, but if I had to clean the sensors in my cameras all the time, I would almost certainly give up photography.

As things stand, I almost always post OoC JPEGs here, that have had zero modifications in PP, just a resize, a small USM (camera sharpening is always set to low or off), convert from aRGB to sRGB, add a frame and copyright notice, rename with a filename suffix, save to HDD. That's it. It's a simple Photoshop macro that I may run on a hundred images at a time. FileZilla FTP client uploads to my website.

I developed these macros many years ago. One for each sensor size, portrait and landscape. Change the year in each of them every year. With my new main PC, these macros take less than a second per image. Load images from NVME.2 partition, run macro in Photoshop batch mode from Bridge, save to upload directory on a HDD, next.

I only PP RAW files for printing. If it takes more than about 30 seconds, the file isn't good enough. Promise to self - "Do better next time".

Cameras should not stand in the way of photography!


Cameras should not stand in the way of photography!
And yet technology has always defined the boundaries of photography.

I worked in a camera shop back when Alpha was a Minolta trademark and remember the terrible "small awkward computers that take pictures" Sony sold as 'cameras'. Frankly it is impressive how far they have come in under 3 decades. From novelty devices to technology leaders... even if their computers still don't quite feel like cameras 😹


I think the extended debate on this topic has maybe left a wrong impression, at least from me. I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually cleaned a sensor over the past 10+ years on Sony, other that just using a blower. Truth be told I often skip it, it is just a precaution in certain shooting conditions, since I have cats at home and live in what can be a dusty part of the world (arid plains). And I only see dust for certain image types, e.g. sunsets or skies are a big one. I do not find the precautions burdensome, and it only takes an extra couple of seconds if I use the blower. I do not know what Olympus does to keep things clean, but at least some other makes of mirrorless cameras have their own dust issues as well from discussions I have seen elsewhere. I do think perhaps sensor size plays a part, as in thinking about it I do not recall having dust issues when I shot Sony's APS-C bodies.

As to PP, the same sort of debate occurred back when I learned film. PP is just the modern equivalent of the darkroom. Some prefer to more or less take whatever they get back from the processor, others like the control to manipulate the photo into an image they 'saw' in their mind, or correct things that did not come out. I think Ansel Adams is the classic reference, as he was notorious for how much he would manipulate his images afterwards. Personally I shoot only RAWs. Most don't get a lot of changes, just editor defaults/presets, but my best ones usually do have some editing. (I might have perfectionist leanings or OCD, lol.) If you can get it all done in camera, that's great, but for me I do not think it is a gear issue, it is just how it works itself out.

I've babbled on enough. I am glad we can have interesting and civil discussions here and that is why I continue to visit.
I have a year and a half on my a7R III now and a year on my a7C. I've used a blower on them a combined two or three times now during that time. I clean my lenses much more and filters even more than that, and even that doesn't happen every month. But then again my usual hunting grounds aren't the dustiest of places, but I do swap lenses sometimes standing in the spray of a small waterfall in the middle of a river. And every time you expose your sensor you risk a random squirrel flying on your sensor.

As to the eternal debate between PP or "getting it right in camera" I think those are two such different approaches that there's no point in debating them. One isn't any better than the other, they yield different results, that's it. I for one find it pointless trying to do something on camera that's done miles better with Lightroom or an equivalent editing software. If I had to fiddle around with the tone curve of my camera with every exposure that'd make me bonkers quite fast, I expect. So I try to get the exposure and more importantly composition right on the field and fiddle the colours and shadows and highlights right at home, where I have ample time to do so and tools with much more precision.

The only thing there being a debate about post processing or not only goes to prove that there are many approaches to photography, and that photography isn't just one monolithic thing to everyone.
Every image, even the ones someone got 'right in-camera', was processed. The difference is a RAW image is processed to my liking, and a jpeg is processed to Sony's engineers' liking. If you're ok with that, no problem, but let's not pretend that getting it right in camera is something more noble/ethical/talented than post processing.

As for sensor dust, I've cleaned both my Sony sensors once after a full season in one of the nastiest environments I can image, the drag strip. I had to do the same thing with my Panasonics.