Official manufacturer comments on digital SLR dust (edited for length)
See how we combat dust at Camera Labs in our digital SLR dust workshop
Canon's Japan based Research and Development team is currently investigating potential solutions to the aspects of dust problems and Canon has already taken some steps to address them.
The first cuts power to the camera's sensor the minute the lens is removed; thereby reducing the charge in the sensor which attracts the dust particles to it. Secondly, and more recently, Canon has adjusted the materials used to make the body cap which protects the camera when no lens is mounted on it. This adjustment has been made expressly to reduce the chance of dust finding its way onto the sensor from the body cap. The new materials were first introduced for the body caps of the EOS 5D and EOS-1D Mark II N.
There are several steps DSLR owners can take to reduce the chance of dust getting onto the sensor of their camera. The first and most basic is to ensure the inside of the camera is never exposed to the elements without either a lens or a body cap in place.
A body cap should be used at all times to protect the camera when no lens is mounted on it. In addition, body caps should be stored as far as possible in a dust free environment and cleaned before being mounted on the camera to reduce the chance of dust transfer from body cap to sensor. Finally, facing the camera down when changing the lens or body cap puts gravity on the DSLR user's side; ensuring dust cannot fall on to the sensor from above and reducing the instance of its appearance.
Additionally the new version of Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) RAW
processing software has implemented a new method of retouching RAW images. This
employs some elements of the FARE technology from Canon's scanners, to effectively
counteract both dark particles on light surfaces (dust on skies for example)
and also light spots of dark areas.
Issues such as dust are unavoidable with a Digital SLR. Fujifilm's position is the DSLR is best suited to the experienced user who will care for the camera like a professional tool. Casual photographers using DSLRs may - understandably - not necessarily be as informed or committed to their equipment to consider activities such as regular sensor cleaning.
It is for this reason that we have developed cameras such as the FinePix S9500 Zoom - a camera that shadows a DSLR in many areas of capability, but gives the added benefits of live LCD preview, movie mode and closed unit to restrict dust entry. A camera like this is much more likely to make a good photographic tool for the ambitious mid-level enthusiast, who may assume they need an entry-level DSLR, but in fact may find this type of camera more suitable for their work.
With regard to restricting the amount of dust entering the SLR body, we can only recommend measures such as ensuring that your camera body is lens and cap-less for as short a time as possible, not changing lenses in a dusty area, and cleaning the rear elements of your lenses to ensure that they are not dropping dust into the body.
Secondly, don't change lens if you can help it. Novice photographers will gain
better value from wide ranging zooms such as our DT 18-200mm that delivers the
popular 35mm format equivalent of 28-300mm.
Nikon introduced in Nikon Capture 4 the ability to remove dust from NEF files. The process works by using a reference image taken at the end of a days shooting. This image identifies the areas on the sensor that are covered by foreign particles, effectively creating a map specifying the pixels that are effected.
Nikon Capture then uses the reference image to remove the dust by ignoring the information recorded from these pixels and using adjacent pixels to fill the gap of information. This process can be applied as a batch process to clean all the images taken on that day.
In our most recent cameras (D50/D70/D70s/D2H/D2hs/D2x) there is a facility to record a dust reference file in the camera. This produces a smaller file and confirms on-location that a 'dust-map' has also been created.
Secondly there is a section in each cameras manual that will clarify the exact cleaning procedure. This will vary depending on the camera but we advise compressed air is not used as it's propellant may damage the sensor.
If you use the old fashioned blower (without a brush) the user can normally remove most foreign objects, alternatively they can send the camera into us for an engineer to clean at a set charge of £21.60 (UK price as of November 2005. Contact local service departments as necessary).
To avoid dust we recommend user avoid changing lenses in dust associated environment or in areas known to have a high pollen count.
Regarding cleaning the sensor the only thing Nikon can advise is to use the AC adapter and the mirror lock up function within the set-up menu and then use a hand held blower to blow the sensor (don't used compressed air as this will spray a fine propellant onto the sensor which looks like oil).
We don't recommend touching the sensor with anything as any fluid used may
damage the sensor and any pads used can scratch the sensor.