What causes dead pixels on a camera?

Written by lindsay zortman
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What causes dead pixels on a camera?
A dead or stuck pixel can appear on any brand digital camera. (digital camera age image by Steve Brase from Fotolia.com)

It may look like a small flake of dirt or black spot on the digital camera, but a dead pixel is actually a malfunction in the camera CCD sensor. Before trying to fix a dead pixel on a camera it is important to establish the dark spot is not a flake of dust or smudge mark on the camera. Dead pixels are a normal part of digital camera operations and easily fixed with just a few simple steps.

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Pixel Does Not React to Light

A pixel which is not reacting to any of the three base light colours, red, blue or green, will show up as a black pixel on the digital screen of a camera. Pixels which are short circuiting will show up as white pixels. White pixels may be only partially dead, while a black pixel is fully dead and not reacting to any colours. A red, blue, white or green stuck pixel is a small malfunction of the sensor and easily fixed.

Fixing Dead Pixels

To fix a dead or stuck pixel perform a sensor cleaning operation on the camera. From the main menu, page down to the sensor tab. Most cameras feature an option to manually clean or auto clean sensors. Choose to manually clean the sensor, if the option is available. Let the sensor clean for approximately one minute.

Ensure Clean Screen

Always ensure the lens of the camera is clean, if a black speck appears on your pictures. More often than not, a black speck results from a dirty camera lens. Black pixels are the fully dead pixels which may not be fixed through the sensor cleaning process. These pixels often do not reset themselves and remain permanently black.

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