Whether you are a beginning hobbyist with a digital point and shoot type camera or someone who has taken years to build their knowledge and equipment, taking care of your camera gear will help you take better pictures longer. Many photographers tend to buy extras for their photography, but rarely do they take the time to care for all of the gadgets they acquire. Maintenance not only gives your gear longer life, but it enables your gadgets to work at their optimum. Our biggest and most expensive piece of gear is our camera. Here are some tips that will help you get the most out it for years to come.
Grit, Grime, & your Camera
Today’s digital cameras are full of moving parts that will not operate properly if they are filled with grit and grime. The best thing you can do is be very careful when shooting in areas that are sandy or dusty. Take special care when you are changing lenses. You have to consider your camera sensor and internal components and the lens. The quicker you can make the swap the better. Always have the lens you are planning to switch to handy and ready to go before you take the lens you are using off the camera body. Keep the opening to the camera body out of the wind while making sure to keep the opening pointed downward. This will help keep falling and blowing bits of debris out of your camera body. Put the new lens on as quickly as you can without damaging anything.
No matter how hard you try to keep dirt out of the camera and off the sensor, it is going to happen. If you are making your shots happen, instead of letting them happen, you will want to change lenses in the field. This means you are going to expose the interior of your camera body to the elements and it will need cleaned. Some attempt to clean their DSLR sensor themselves. I do not recommend this at all. Unless you are a trained professional, you really do not know what you are doing. One of the best maintenance tips I can give you is this: Leave the techno stuff to the pros! You can damage your camera badly enough that you would end up needing to replace a very expensive piece of equipment. Do your best to keep it clean, and when it gets dirty, take it to a professional and get it cleaned. If you are not sure if it is dirty or not, then it might be a good idea to find a good local pro camera shop, take it in, and see what they will charge for an inspection and cleaning.
Proper Care and Cleaning of Lenses
First, most of you are using filters right? If you are not, then you should be. At the very least, every lens you use should have a UV filter on it? The UV filter not only helps with glare, but it also protects your actual lens surface. When you get a new lens, the very first thing you should do is ensure it is clean and scratch free and the second is apply the proper UV lens. Keeping this filter on at all times reduced the chances of dirt and other foreign matter obstructing or damaging the coating on your lens. When the filter gets dirty, you can clean it with a normal cleaning kit much easier than you can clean a lens. If something happens that causes damage to your filter, it is much easier and less expensive to replace than getting a new lens. If your lens is not protected by a filter, go buy one and use it. If your lens in dirty, make sure you follow the recommendations outlined in your user manual for cleaning your lens.
Damage and Abuse
A good photographer goes where the shots are. This means (sometimes) exposing ourselves and our gear to harsh conditions. Make sure you use all of the straps possible in order to keep your gear safe. It is not uncommon for people to drop expensive gear while trying to get a shot. Make sure you are aware of obstacles and other hazards if you are moving during shooting. You don’t want to end up like the guy in the video and possibly ruin thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment because you didn’t look behind you.
Corrosion is BAD
We rely upon batteries to power our gear. Make sure you regularly check your batteries and you charging unit for signs of corrosion. If you begin to see the signs of corrosion, you can clean the corrosion away with some rubbing alcohol and ear swabs. If the condition persists, you may have a bigger problem with your battery. Check for cracks or other signs of wear. It might be time to replace the battery.
Basic common sense is your best tool in keeping your gear up to par. You probably already know that you should not point your camera directly into the sun. You probably already know that temperature extremes are hard on your camera. If you use your brain and take your time, you will find that the best maintenance for your digital camera is prevention and common sense. Keep these things in mind while you are out shooting, and you will be sure to continue to practice the art of photography for years to come.