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What happens if you touch your DSLR camera sensor

I’m a professional photographer. I’m aware that a DSLR camera’s sensor is very fragile. People sometimes let their curiosity take over and touch the sensor, not knowing what happens then.

In this article, I’ll explain the effects of touching the sensor and how to fix it.

What is a DSLR Camera Sensor?

A DSLR camera is an important tool for a photographer. It has a sensor, which is like a film but more powerful. It captures and records light to create digital images.

The sensor needs to be handled with care. You must know what it looks like and how to access it properly. Every type of camera is different, so you need to be familiar with your model’s components.

For example, if you have a Canon 6D, you need to locate the rear viewing mirror near the viewfinder, and an adjacent hinge on top of the mirror frame. This will give you access to the mirror chamber where you’ll find the sensor contacts.

You should use special tools like cotton swabs and compressed air cans for electronics. Regular household materials can damage or ruin the sensor, rendering it useless. So be careful if you do a DIY cleaning.

What Happens if You Touch the Sensor?

Ever thought of prying open your camera and brushing the sensor? Many photographers, especially the new ones, may not know the consequences of touching their digital sensor. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. But, you should still try to stay away from it.

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In this article, I’ll explain why you shouldn’t touch the sensor and what bad things could happen if you do.

Dust Particles

Touching the sensor of your DSLR camera can cause dust particles to stamp onto the sensor surface. This dust can cause image spots on your photos when using a narrow aperture, like f/22. To remove the dust, take off the lens and use a blower or an air compressor with a nozzle attachment.

Air canisters can also be used with caution, as they may contain elements that can damage the sensor if used too often. If you don’t feel comfortable with cleaning your own sensor, it’s best to have a professional do it or send it back to the manufacturer for a ‘checkup’.

Be aware that even if there’s no dust visible on the image, micro debris may still be present when viewed under high digital zooms. In these cases, further cleaning may be necessary.


Touch the sensor of your DSLR camera and you may end up with a scratched sensor! Dust, dirt particles, and fingerprints are examples of kinds of scratches that can ruin photos and cause permanent damage.

Do not use cloths designed for cleaning eyeglasses or CD players, since they could scratch the image surface. Also, liquid can cause other problems inside the digital camera.

Scratches reduce the quality and sharpness of your images and may add nasty artifacts. These artifacts are especially noticeable in areas with light, like sunsets or snow. Spot metering can also show these artifacts with a dirty sensor, creating a “grid effect” on darker images.

Permanent Damage

Touching your camera’s image sensor can cause permanent damage. It is delicate, composed of intricate components that are easily damaged. Even light contact with the sensor can leave a mark on all images taken from then onwards, and hard contact can ruin it permanently.

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Fixing permanent damage requires special tools and expertise. It’s advisable to rely on professional repair shops with specialist staff and equipment. This will save time and money, and protect your camera from further danger.

How to Avoid Touching the Sensor

Photographers, take note! Don’t touch your DSLR sensor. It can cause a range of problems – from dust and dirt on the sensor, to damaging the camera.

I’ll explain why you should steer clear of the sensor and how to do it.

Use a Lens Hood

A lens hood is the best way to keep any dust, dirt, or moisture away from your DSLR camera’s sensor. Usually made of plastic or metal, the hood shields the sensor and protects image quality.

Especially when shooting outdoors in dusty or windy conditions, the hood provides an extra layer of defense. Plus, it gives you time and space if something unexpected happens when changing lenses.

Attaching a hood is easy and it protects your camera’s fragile elements.

Use a Sensor Loupe

Sensor Loupe is an essential tool for cleaning the delicate photo-sensing chips of a DSLR camera. It acts as a magnifying glass and provides a dust-free, precise view of the sensor. This allows for more accurate cleaning, using a swab and cleaning solution.

When using the loupe, set your camera to its lowest ISO and widest aperture for spotting dust particles. Live View is also helpful; it instantly shows tiny dust specks on the sensor. Remember to turn off the vibration reduction (VR) of your lens before using Live View, as it can cause blurriness.

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Never touch the surface itself with your swab or hand – dirt can get stuck even inside latex gloves. Use a special anti-static solution specifically made for cleaning camera sensors.

Prepare lint-free swabs or wrap a lint-free cloth around a soft brush. Dip lightly into the cleaning solution, apply minimal pressure, and slide along the walls of the loupe’s holding chamber.

Clean the Sensor with a Blower

Bright white light can’t stop dust and dirt from attaching to your DSLR camera sensor. So, it’s important to clean it regularly. The best way is with a special blower. It has an ultra-fine filter that blasts air to get rid of impurities.

Take off the lens cap. Hold the blower close to your camera body, without touching any electrical contacts. Face away from you and press the nozzle firmly against the entrance of the lens mount for 10 seconds. This will get rid of any dust or debris inside.

Be careful when cleaning the sensor. Contact with bare hands can leave oils from the skin, which can cause blurriness or discoloring. To avoid damage, keep your camera covered when not in use. Replace lens caps and other covers when possible.


Tackling the query – what if you touch your DSLR camera sensor? It is something to stay away from as it can cause harm. Spots may pop up or the camera may suffer a complete malfunction which will require costly repairs. Dependent on multiple factors, it is best to avoid touching the sensor.

Remember: touching or cleaning your camera sensor can have serious consequences. Do it only if you’re comfortable and have proper training. Be gentle and cautious. This will prevent any damage to the sensor. Follow proper precautions to avoid any issues!

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