I've started to notice a faint darkened circle in my photos. I tried to clean the lenses and I still see it.

What's causing these circles?

Link to imgur album since I don't have enough rep to post images yet. https://i.stack.imgur.com/TzYgG.jpg

  • Camera: refurbished Canon EOS Rebel T3
  • Lens: EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Type II Lens
  • Post-processing: None.

Edit: Here's the images. img1 img2 img3

  • \$\begingroup\$ Added images via edit (pending review) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14, 2013 at 3:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Check under the mirrorbox. I think the Rebel T3 has a "mirror lock up" function. Otherwise take the lens off, change the mode to Tv and set it to 2 seconds and see if you can see anything on the CCD/sensor. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBking
    Apr 14, 2013 at 3:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you've already tried cleaning the front and rear element, it looks like something could be actually inside the lens. Did the lens get dropped or suffer some kind of impact? Think about sending it to Canon, but check the price of a new or used 18-55 IS before you do. \$\endgroup\$
    – TroyR
    Apr 14, 2013 at 3:54
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @BBking: Doing that with the sensor energized will statically attract dust. To raise the mirror and open the shutter without energizing the sensor, use manual cleaning mode under the Set up 2 (Yellow) menu tab. The mirror and shutter will remain open until the camera is turned off. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Apr 14, 2013 at 6:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @BBking: Trying to clean the sensor when it is energized usually adds more dust than it removes, since the electrical charge on the sensor will attract the dust you are moving around plus any other dust in the immediate area of the sensor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Apr 16, 2013 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


Looks like a hair on the sensor. Use your camera's built-in sensor cleaning function to see if you can dislodge it. If that doesn't work, you may have to clean it manually or take it to a camera shop that offers such a service.

Dust or hairs in the lens won't show up in photographs as they are too far from the plane of focus to be visible; have a look at this page to see how much you have to do to a lens to affect the photograph!

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you so much for the information. It was an eyelash on the sensor that we used blower to manually remove. The problem was solved. I still have a lot to learn about my camera. Thanks again. \$\endgroup\$
    – smvulhop
    Apr 18, 2013 at 16:45

I agree with Nick, looks like a hair on the sensor. In this case you must clean it manually. First, blow on the sensor with a blower.

Next, raise the mirror and clean the sensor with a lint-free cloth and isopropyl alcohol (be very careful with this step!!) Anyway, it is easy to find, both online and in a photo shop, CCD cleaning kits.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I would be hesitant to use isopropyl, especially consumer grade "rubbing" alcohol. The trace impurities will probably leave streaking. Get a bottle of Eclipse solution and some swabs the correct width for your sensor size. amazon.com/Digital-Survival-KIT-Sensor-Eclipse/dp/B000PNGM18/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Apr 14, 2013 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Really what I proposed is the basic solution to clean the CCD because most people are reluctant to spend money on a cleaning kit. But I do use a cleaning kit, since not a big outlay of money and skimp on cleaning photographic equipment. martin-iglesias.com/ficha/KIT-LIMPIEZA-PRO-SURVIRAL-/9506 \$\endgroup\$ Apr 15, 2013 at 8:59
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There are no CCD sensors in Canon's current lineup of DSLR cameras. They all use CMOS sensors. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Apr 15, 2013 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I know it is not correct to use CCD in all cases, is a bad habit I acquired while studying Audiovisual at the University of Málaga. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 15, 2013 at 11:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ We didn't use anything like a cloth or isopropyl alcohol to clean it but your idea of using a blower helped us manually remove the eyelash. Thank you for the information. \$\endgroup\$
    – smvulhop
    Apr 18, 2013 at 16:46

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