Saturday, December 18, 2010

Viewer Q&A - Camera Maintenance and Care - Supplemental Post

Well I figure I better finish up the supplemental post to my Camera Maintenance and Care viewer request video I made a few weeks ago, seeing as I'm almost ready to start making the next episode.

Overall, I believe that most people take fairly good care of their camera equipment, especially the amateur enthusiasts and pros out there. On the other hand, I do know a novice photographer who used her fingers to wipe the lens clean... I still shudder to this day.

This video was the longest I've made since I started my photography series, but it was comprised of many short segments succinctly covering many camera maintenance and care topics. In no particular order they included:

  • Replacing the camera body and lens (front and rear) caps to help prevent dust from collecting on the inner components of the camera and the exposed glass elements, respectively, and from other damage occurring (e.g. scratches on the lens; a finger accidentally entering the mirror box and poking some critical bits)
  • Cleaning the lens, mirror, electrical contacts and sensor
  • Using a lens hood to help prevent accidental bumps
  • Storing your camera safely such as in a padded camera bag in a location where it's not going to be bumped or has direct sunlight on it, excessive heat (e.g. over a heating vent), etc.
  • Tips for changing lenses to decrease chances for dirt (or rain/snow) to get into the camera body
  • Getting into the habit of always putting on the camera strap (e.g. around your neck or wrist)
  • Charging your batteries regularly, even if the camera is not being used for a while, which can help increase their lifetime

I don't want to rehash much from the episode as I think the topics are straight forward enough to grasp, but I do want to emphasize a couple of them. The first is about cleaning your lens and the importance of always beginning by blowing off any particulates from the glass such as specks of dirt or dust. For one, this may be and is usually all the cleaning your glass needs. If this action indeed corrects your dirty lens issues, then stop here. Further wiping and fiddling with the lens isn't going to help and you may end up damaging the precious coatings. Two, if you need to perform a more thorough cleaning, let's say because of a minor finger print on the optics, and you don't wipe down the lens first, then those particulates will act like sandpaper. The force of the cloth pressed against the lens will drag those fine and potentially sharp bits against the glass and with enough time the element may become scratched up. Definitely not good for image quality. And three, if things get really bad and you have no choice but to use a cleaning agent, I recommend you pay a visit to a local camera store and find a liquid cleaning solution that is safe to use on camera lenses and/or coated optics. I'd recommend one, but for all the years I've owed cameras and telescopes for, I luckily haven't had the need for such fluids. Oh, and I strongly recommend against using general window glass cleaners as these may do nice work on the inexpensive plate glass you peer through to the world outside your home, but they may seriously damage or even remove the coatings off your lenses.

As mentioned in the video, I have personally never cleaned the sensor in my dSLRs as I've simply never had the need to. There is a good link below on that topic, so if you are noticing a sensor dust problem, then feel free to check out that article, Google the topic further, or visit a professional camera place to get some advice/products from there. From my own readings it is advisable to put your camera into cleaning mode, which disables most features on the camera from working along with keeping the shutter open until you complete the operation (or your batteries run dry!), and I suggest taking a similar approach as with cleaning the lens. If you've managed to blow off the dust and that fixes your problem, then leave the sensor alone. No sense in risking permanent damage by brushing or adding cleaning solutions to the thing.

So if things settle down in the next few days, hopefully I'll be able to finish my next video. I already took the shots for it and they turned out exactly as I expected. L8r!

Web Resources
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/sensor-cleaning.shtml

2 comments:

  1. Hi Imre, great videos, keep up the good work! ;) By the way, perhaps you could also post a video on how to properly store a camera (and it's lenses) for prolonged periods when not in use (using silica gel, a dry box etc). I recently bought my first D-SLR, and I where I come from, humidity is a huge problem. A bit of searching around the net has led me to your website, from which I have benefited a lot. Also, just a suggestion, a video tutorial on how to make your own dry box would be great too.

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  2. Hi Lionel! Thank you very much, I'm glad you like the videos and are finding them useful!

    That's a very cool and unique suggestion, thank you. I can certainly see some issues storing equipment for a long time in humid environments. I've seen some old lenses damaged by mold and it's not an easy thing to restore them. I've jotted down your request; again thank you!

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