Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

December 2007 - January 2008

Does the automatic sensor cleaning feature of the Mark III really work?

The new Canon 1D Mark III, the very new Canon 1Ds Mark III, and, I believe, some of the non-pro new models, all offer an automatic cleaning feature that is supposed to clean the camera's sensor. The baine of digital photography is dirt on the sensor, and if one doesn't check, or clean, a sensor frequently one generally comes to regret it. On one of our Arizona hummingbird shoots, for example, I didn't do so as often as I should have, and although I thought I was not changing lenses often, and was careful when I did, I found, to my absolute horror, that my featureless backgrounds for many of my hummingbird shots looked awful -- spots, motes, specks, they were everywhere.

Mary and I have been shooting the 1D Mark III since mid-August, and for the last few months we've been in one of the dustiest environments we can shoot in - the plains of Kenya during a drought. With the Mark III, we have the option of having the sensor cleaning feature activated, so that every time the camera is turned on or off the sensor is cleaned. We've done that with three of our cameras, while my fourth, I've disabled that feature and I do a manual clean every few days.

Well, here's the answer. It works, far beyond our expectations. In the entire time we were in Africa I cleaned our sensors in a conventional fashion only once, and that was only with a large blower to dislodge a large speck that ended up on one of my cameras. In short, it is a terrific feature, and I'd suggest that feature alone is worth upgrading to, whether its a pro model like the Mark III or a D40.

Still not convinced, then consider the ISO capacity of the new cameras. I'll say more about that in a later Question!


Previous Questions of the Month

Digital Questions

What is our initial Digital Workflow?
What is our Digital Workflow in the Lab?
 How do I keep track of Digital Files?
Is Shooting in the RAW format worthwhile?
What is the Difference?
How can you capture a sharp image and angel hair on a windy day? 
Can you match the Histograms?
How do we meter White?

 Is the Mark II the ultimate wildlife digital camera?
What is DEC? 
 Wildlife Models - Is there anything new to shoot?

Do You Need a Big Printer?
Can a Wimberley Head be used with small lenses?
 What is Reality? Adobe's powerful LIGHTROOM Program
Why must you have at least 2 digital backups?
 Is Digital Manipulation - a benign alternative to interacting in the natural world?
 Film or Digital? - Why you should shoot film!
 Does the Visibledust cleaning system really work?

Camera Techniques

What Equipment do we usually take afield?
Does the AutoFocus on the EOS 1D Mark III work?
Which Macro Lens is for You?

What is the Most Important thing you can do before a Workshop?
How many Flashes do you need to effectively illuminate hummingbirds?
What is the best shutter speed for panning running mammals?

Is there an easy way to level a camera for panorama shots?
Is the New Wimberley head worth having?
Is an L-Shaped Camera Bracket worth the Money? You bet it is!
Using Zoom lenses with tele-converters and extension tubes -- can you use both together?

Are Image Stabilization Lenses Worth the Money?
What the heck is the Scheimpflug Law?
What is the Best Composition?
Should you have a depth of field Preview button on your camera?

 How do you determine distances?
Hyperfocal Distance
Apertures for Macro


Flash and Tele-flash Techniques
What is the best flash for closeup and macro photography?
What is the most versatile remote release camera firing system?
How do you shoot high-speed action images?
How did I shoot the gliding Sugar Glider?
How did I photograph that flying wasp?
What the heck is a Plamp?


What I did on my summer 'vacation.'
Why is Yellowstone the best for wildlife photography in the US?
Is a Trip to Antarctica Worth it?
What is the best season to do a photo safari in East Africa?

What is the Big Lie? The truth about Kenya's Tourism--it is SAFE!
Which Mountain Park is better for wildlife - Denali or Torres del Paine?
What are our Five Favorite Shooting Locales?

How can you attract insectivorous birds to your feeding stations and bait sites? 
How do you make things happen in wildlife photography?

What is the best Car Window Mount?
How can you save your shoulders?
How can you reduce contrast and the effect of wind for flower and macro photography?
How can you reduce contrast and the effect of wind for flower and macro photography?
What is the best Game Caller?

How Easy is Whale Photography?
How Easy is Whale Photography?

Why Can't You Feed A Bear?
What is our Favorite bird-shooting location?



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