Monthly Archives: February 2016

Camera Cleaning and Maintenance

It is too easy to come home after a days shooting, whip out the memory card, have a play with your new images and forget all about maintenance of your kit.

If you are like me, anything new that I buy over time (car, motorbike, watch, glasses etc), get cleaned immaculately at least once a day. Then after a few weeks it falls to once a week or so and then just “on the odd occasion” or when they look really dirty.

Because photography is my livelihood, I have to physically make myself grab my camera bag, go and sit somewhere quiet and take a good half an hour to an hour after a shoot to clean every piece of equipment that I have used.

This kit has cost thousands and its cleanliness has a direct bearing on the quality of my images and the longevity of its use. Not only that but as I upgrade my equipment, I may want to sell on my old cameras at the best price.

These are the checks that I make;

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Lenses

Obviously take great care when cleaning the glass, it is what makes the lenses so expensive and costly to repair or replace. Use only fine tissue paper and alcohol solutions that are designed for camera optics. Clean both the front and rear elements using a blower brush first to remove any dust particles.

The last thing you want to do is scrape even the smallest piece of dust across your lens.
Make sure you clean the brush or replace it often too otherwise you simply end up smearing minute particles of grease and dirt onto the lens.I also use the bristles of a blower brush to clean in between the moving parts of the external barrel. This prevents a build up of dirt over time and maintains smooth operation whilst helping to prevent dust from entering the internal optics.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Camera Sensor

The most talked about and asked about issue with Digital SLR maintenance is the sensor and the accumulation of dust. If you are altogether unsure of how to go about it, wait until any sensor dust is at a point where it is unbearable (most specs are easily and quickly removed in editing), and then take it to be professionally cleaned.

Damaging a sensor is expensive…

If you intend to do it yourself, just be careful. Set the camera to manual with a 30 second exposure. You will need time to clean the sensor but using the bulb setting (“B”) could be a mistake.

If whilst cleaning the sensor, you accidentally close the shutter you are in danger of damaging the mirror, shutter, sensor or all three. Even if you use a remote release set to “B”, the batteries on the remote could give out and close the shutter prematurely.

With a fully charged battery in your camera and a 30 second delay, you know where you are.

Once the shutter is open, hold the camera up so that the sensor is facing down, and use the blower (without the brush) to blow any dust away from the sensor.

N.B. The camera is held this way to allow any dust to fall out of the camera and the brush is removed in case it touches the sensor and adds grease smears or dust to it rather than removing it.

If the sensor is really dirty, you are able to buy cleaning kits with swabs where you physically touch the sensor to “swipe” away dirt. Again, you need slight of hand and great care to do this so if unsure, seek professional help.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Mirror/focussing screen

Unless I can barely see through the viewfinder (exaggeration), I tend to leave the mirror and focussing screen alone apart from a quick blow/swipe with the blower brush. The only time I would give it more attention is if it were to run the risk of transferring dust to the sensor.

Dust on the mirror or screen has no effect on the final image so any dust you see on these through the viewfinder, won’t affect the photograph (although excessive dust on the screen “may” affect the accuracy of focussing).

Once again, be careful as the mirror in particular is extremely sensitive and easily scratched.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Outer casing

Even though it is mostly aesthetic, it is still important to try and keep the external workings clean. The dirt on the outside can easily make its way inside, particularly if you change lenses often with dirty hands.

I give it a quick once over with the blower brush first and then a quick rub with a lens cloth or dustcloth. I usually do the outer parts before the inner. This reduces the chance of dirt transferring itself inside.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Accessories

Most accessories have mechanical or electronic workings so it is just as important to keep these clean to help with their longevity. For example, the battery contacts in a speedlight or remote switch need a quick clean now and again just to prevent any build up of dirt or even rust.

A failing accessory can be as disastrous as a failing camera in certain situations, especially paid ones.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – The Bag

This is something that many people wouldn’t consider but the quickest way for cameras, equipment and accessories to become dirty is if you have a dirty camera bag or holdall.

Dust, dirt, sand and even bits of Mother Nature (leaves, grit etc) are easily accumulated when out and about.

Remove all equipment once in a while and just Hoover/vacuum the bag thoroughly inside and out.

For The Beginner Digital Photography

The way things were going with pricing and technology with regard to digital cameras is the great idea and it’s suitable for digital photography

For people who have previously owned film cameras or simple point and shoot digital cameras, and now as prices start to fall for the more exclusive semi professional DSLR’s, the opportunity to join the rest of us in the exciting world of the DSLR (Digital SLR) is more affordable than ever when beginning digital photography.

This new breed of cameras is quite simply amazing and I sometimes despair when I read reviews and forum comments that air their disappointment when a new camera just released hasn’t addressed the issue of “having to go to the menu” to make an alteration, for example.

When you are reading reviews about a certain digital SLR camera that you wish to buy, please take them with a pinch of salt.

The reviewers are there to delve full on into every possible avenue open for discussion and any of their personal gripes should not put you off.

If all cameras were released with everyone’s whims being catered for, the camera would simply have no room for a viewfinder or a lens because of the hundreds of buttons scattered everywhere. What you need to do, even if you may never use them, is to learn what action each individual button, gadget and gizmo actually does, just in case you happen to need it one day.

Taking a photograph with one of these new cameras can be much more involved than with any other camera in the past, but it is also so much more fun and enlightening! The amount of control that a DSLR can give you when taking your photos means that you can now let your creativity run wild and try new things that just weren’t possible with other cameras.

Some things for you to learn or consider when beginning digital photography are;

  1. How to hold the camera
  2. Using both eyes when shooting
  3. How to capture your subject
  4. Lighting
  5. Lenses
  6. Filters
  7. ISO or ASA settings
  8. Depth of Field
  9. Shutter Speeds
  10. Black and White photography
  11. Using a Tripod
  12. Keep your eyes peeled
  13. Camera viewpoint
  14. Break the rules

For my full run down of each of these subjects, please see our Better Digital Photography for beginners section at All Things Photography.

For an in-depth explanation of what all the buttons and bits actually do on a DSLR, go to;

The Digital SLR Explained

Once you feel ready, maybe you would like to check out our private members photography section where you will accelerate your learning super quick with over 16 hours of video tutorials and an online professional photographer ready to help.