Leica sensor

How to remove dust from the sensor of a Leica

We have all been there. We change lenses in an environment that is a little bit too dusty. When reviewing the pictures, you notice a couple of specks that are a pain to remove in Lightroom. How to remove dust from your camera sensor when you are shooting with a digital Leica M?

Is the dust really on your sensor?

It is not always clear whether the dust specks you seen in an image is really on your sensor. It could also be on the glass of your lens. Therefore, the first step in this process is to check whether the dust is really on your sensor and not at the other end of your lens. For this digital Leica M cameras have the option to detect dust on your sensor. To use this option, go into the menu of your digital Leica M. I will use my M10 as an example here.

The option is located in Main Menu > Sensor Cleaning > Dust Detection. When you choose this option, you are asked to choose the smallest aperture on your lens (usually f16 or f22) and take a picture of homogeneous surface, such as a white wall. Make sure you are not focussing on the subject. You can achieve this by setting the focus of your lens to infinity.

When you press the shutter, it takes about 4 seconds for the next screen to appear. This will be a white image, possibly with one or more dots on it. If this is the case, you have dust on your sensor. Each dot represents a speck of dust.

Dust on sensor

Removing the dust

So, now you know there is dust on on the sensor of your digital Leica M, how to remove it? To do this, again got to the option Open Shutter in the Sensor Cleaning menu. The exact location of this is Main Menu > Sensor Cleaning > Open Shutter.

Unmount your lens and choose the option Open Shutter. A prompt appears that asks whether you want to inspect the sensor. Answer with Yes and the sensor of your camera is exposed for inspection. 

To remove dust, I usually use a blower to remove any specks from the sensor. To avoid additional dust to land on the sensor I keep the camera with the sensor pointing to the floor (assuming dust more often descends than ascends onto an object). I make sure that I do not touch the sensor with my blower. Once you have given a fair amount of blows with the blower, turn off the camera. The sensor will not be exposed anymore.


Mount the lens on the camera again and revisit the Dust Detection option to check whether the dust has been completely removed. With the cases that I have encountered, use of the blower was enough to remove all dust.

Cleaning your sensor

Finally, it can be the case that using a blower does not result in the complete removal of all dust from your sensor. In that case you have to consider cleaning your sensor with a sensor cleaning kit. Although these kits are available at many suppliers on the internet, I have always been hesitant to do this myself. When I need to clean the sensor of my camera, I bring my camera to an authorised dealer that can do it for me. Many times they charge a fee, sometimes that do it for free.

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