How to Tell if Your Camera Sensor Is Damaged? [5 Symptoms]

Your camera’s sensor is vital, as it captures light to produce images. It can be damaged by dust, scratches, or other outside factors. While some damage can be clearly seen, other times it might not be immediately noticeable. However, there are techniques available to assess its status.

What Are the Signs of a Damaged Camera Sensor?

The main sign that your camera sensor is damaged is seeing a multi-colored stripe across the screen in your viewfinder. You might see red spots on the video, or you could see black or gray spots if your sensor is dirty. If your images have any kind of lines or spots on them, you probably have a damaged camera sensor.

How to Tell if Your Camera Sensor Is Damaged

1. Horizontal Lines on Your Video

One of the best ways to check to see if your camera sensor is damaged is to take a photograph and see if there is a horizontal line anywhere in the image. You can take a photo of the sky, especially if it is blue and free of clouds. If you see horizontal lines in the photo, you will know that your sensor is damaged. The lines can be blue, red, yellow, green, and pink. If you zoom in on them, the lines will still be there as if they are part of the image.

Some people think that these lines are a sign of their LCD screen failing, which is a valid concern because the same thing can happen when the LCD screen is damaged. The key is determining whether the lines are part of the image or part of the screen viewfinder.

If your camera sensor is damaged, these lines will be part of your image, so when you zoom or move the image, they won’t move. If the lines are LCD screen damaged, they will stay in the same part of the screen when you zoom or move the image.

2. Your Video Quality Decreases

When you take videos with your camera, you expect them to be clear and crisp. However, if you notice that they are spotty or low-quality, your sensor is likely damaged. You will see white spots across your video. Your video might look like something you shot with an old camera, and it appears to have gone down in quality.

You can check this issue by changing your camera lens. This can happen when your lens is dirty, so if you change your lens and the white spots disappear, then you know that it is your sensor. Another possibility is that dust has entered your camera behind the lens and your sensor might be dirty. If this is the case, you can clean it to get rid of the white spots.

3. Check Your Pixels

The screen shows an image, which is made up of pixels. When a pixel stops working, it is called a dead pixel because it won’t show up in your image. If the pixel is hot, it receives power, but it only shows up after you have been using the camera continuously for some time.

Both dead and hot pixels don’t happen frequently in mirrorless or DSLR cameras, but if you buy a used camera, you can use the pixel test to make sure that the sensor is working correctly. If you notice any dead pixels, they will show where there are spots where the pixels are missing. This is a sign that your camera sensor is damaged.

4. Check for Camera Sensor Damage by Using a Lower Aperture

You can check for camera sensor damage by using a lower aperture. The lens in the camera opens and closes, and as it opens more, your sensor will take in more light. The light can go out at different angles, so you won’t always notice sensor damage if the lens is wide open.

You can set your camera to a lower aperture to close the lens. When the camera sensor only captures a small bit of light, it is much easier to see. Check for sensor damage by reducing the opening so that it is more obvious.

5. Check for Sensor Damage by Using a Lower IOS Number

Another way to check for sensor damage is to use a lower ISO number. The ISO is the sensitivity of your camera, and higher ISO numbers don’t produce as high-quality an image as the lower ones. You will see numbers such as 100, 200, 400, and so on. If you set the ISO as low as possible, you should hold the camera steady and take a photograph.

It is important to make sure that your camera doesn’t move, so you might consider using a tripod to do this test. Set the ISO to the lowest setting and check to see if there is any spotting on the image.

How to Clean Your Camera Sensor Safely

Sometimes your camera sensor isn’t damaged; it can be dirty from dust or other particles that get inside your camera. It is important to make sure that you clean it correctly so that you won’t damage your camera. You should only clean it when it is necessary.

Many DSLR cameras have an auto DSLR sensor cleaning setting. When you use this setting, you won’t need to get inside and touch anything. These cameras clean the sensor automatically every time you turn it off. Some make it so that you can set it to clean it any time that you need to. The way it works is that it removes any dust or particles that might be inside. You can check it by taking a picture before and after cleaning to make sure that all of the dust or particles are gone.

When you clean your sensor manually, the camera will flip the mirror up so that you can access the sensor. You may need to turn the camera off as soon as you finish so that the mirror comes back down and protects the sensor again. You should remove the lens, and you need a lens-cleaning solution, an air blower, and a sensor scope.

Start by pointing the camera to the ground, and use the air blower to blow away any dust or particles. Then, spray the lens cleaning solution onto a swab or a cloth and gently clean the lens. Do not spray the solution on the sensor. Now, use the sensor scope, which is a magnifying glass that will show you any remaining particles. You can finish cleaning. Then, turn the camera off so that the mirror comes back down to protect the sensor.

Final Words

Your sensor is one of the most important parts inside of your camera, so it is important to make sure that you don’t damage it. It can be damaged by dust, particles, other environmental factors, and even lasers. If you are concerned that your sensor may be damaged, you can go through the tests above to find out.

If it turns out that your sensor is dirty, you can clean it. You should gather the correct supplies and proceed with caution. Anytime you expose the camera sensor, you need to take care that it stays protected. Once it is clean, take another test picture to make sure that the images are clear.

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