My Drone Camera Has Smudges on the Lens: What to Do?


Many drone photography enthusiasts have run across an annoying and frustrating issue with a pesky smudge that appears on all your images and footage. This is usually due to a speck of dirt, a fingerprint, or in some cases, a problem with the lens. So, if your drone camera has a smudge on its lens, what can you do about it?

To remove a smudge on your drone camera lens, the first thing you can try is a microfiber cloth to gently wipe the lens. Or you can pack your drone camera with silica gel if the smudge is due to condensation inside the lens. However, you may need to replace the camera if the smudge is a dead pixel.

Smudges are quite common when it comes to camera lenses of all kinds, and that includes drone camera lenses. You’ll notice these smudges when you look at the on-screen feed of your camera view, and in many cases, you can notice a dark spot that shows up on all of your pictures and videos. 

These irritating smudges can be caused by a lot of different things. Let’s look at the most common causes for this issue and talk about how to fix it.

1. Wipe off dirt, dust, debris, or water droplets

If your drone has a smudge on its camera lens, then it could be due to common issues like dirt, dust, debris, and water droplets that are on the outer surface of the lens. This can be quite normal as your drone’s camera lens is exposed to outdoor factors that can lead to residue forming on its surface. For example, dirt can accumulate over time and cause larger smudges. Or humid or moist conditions can lead to water droplets forming on the lens surface.

This is by far the simplest and easiest problem to resolve. Of course, however, it will only be effective if the cause of the smudge is some kind of dirt or debris that has accumulated on the external surface of the lens. 

What you need to do here is to take a very slightly damp microfiber cloth and gently wipe the surface of the drone’s camera lens in a circular motion, starting at the outer edges and working toward the center. It’s best to use a few drops of a lens cleaning fluid rather than water to dampen the microfiber cleaning cloth. 

Other methods of cleaning the outer surface of the lens could be to use an air blower or a soft-bristled brush to gently wipe away any dirt, dust, or grime. It’s not a bad idea to keep a lens cleaning kit on hand to be able to clean your drone camera lens effectively and without damaging the lens surface. 

I personally like this cleaning kit available on Amazon

2. Dry out (and prevent) internal condensation

Condensation tends to be a common issue for some drone camera lenses. This is an issue that professional photographers often face whenever they take their cameras to colder places as condensation happens due to the moisture that builds up in the space inside the camera. So, in short, condensation usually happens inside the camera lens and not on the outside surface. 

If this happens to your camera drone when you take it somewhere that’s particularly cold, the smudges can be caused by condensation within the lens. If this happens, it isn’t something that you can quickly remedy with a simple wipe on the surface because the condensation is inside and not merely outside.

As a preventative measure, you can try to keep your drone in a thermal bag that will allow it to stay warm but not too hot, to prevent moisture from accumulating inside the drone camera fittings.

If the cause of the issue or the smudge on the drone camera lens is condensation, one thing you can do is to insulate your drone so that the moisture that has built up inside it will slowly evaporate. 

Or you can try to pack your drone with silica gel packets so that the silica gel will absorb the excess moisture. This can help to dry up condensation, and also help to prevent it from forming inside the camera lens in the first place.

3. Replace camera (for dead pixels)

If you have owned a computer monitor in the past, there are times when your monitor might end up having dead pixels which are caused by individual pixels that have stopped working for one reason or another. When there are dead pixels on a monitor, what happens is that the spot where the dead pixels can be found will leave a blank space.

In the case of your drone camera sensor, it’s possible that dead pixels can end up forming for one reason or another. But most commonly it is due to internal factors and issues surrounding the different electronic parts of the camera itself. This isn’t an issue with the drone’s lens but is more of an issue with the chip and the internal components found in it.

When the smudge on your imagery is caused by a dead pixel in your drone’s camera, the only thing you can do now is to have the drone’s camera replaced. There are some instances where taking your drone to a service center can fix the issue such as when the smudge can be remedied by a simple solution. 

However, if the problem is related to the chip of your drone’s camera or something similar to that, then you might have to buy a whole new camera attachment. 

If your drone is still under warranty, this will hopefully be covered by the manufacturer. If not, make sure the cost of replacing the camera is going to be worth it. If it turns out that it will cost as much as buying a new drone outright, you may just want to spring for an upgrade anyway.

» MORE: Top 13 Camera Drones in 2021

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Editor-in-Chief. Elizabeth is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Droneblog. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies such as flying a drone.

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