6 Secrets to Maintaining Your DSLR Camera :: Digital Photo Secrets

6 Secrets to Maintaining Your DSLR Camera

by David Peterson 11 comments

Whether you've invested in a lower end DSLR or went all out for a top model, the need to keep your camera maintained is imperative to quality photos and the lifelong care of your camera. It's a shame when people invest money in something and then don't take good care of it. What I've found though, is that one of the main reasons for this is that most people simply don't know how to, so they delay and delay until it's almost too late. Doing the research and starting good habits from the day you purchase your camera will ensure your investment is long lasting. These 7 tips will clear the air for you.

Preventative Maintenance

Just like medical preventative maintenance keeps you healthy, the same tactic with your DSLR will contribute to keeping it healthy. Knowing what actions to take to avoid problems down the road is the biggest gift you can give your camera. It works hard to deliver fabulous photos to you, so return that kindness with the TLC it deserves. The next several tips are both preventative and in the field related.

Tip #1: Humidity

Due to all the vacation photos, beaches are one of the top photographed places. But, they're also one of the worst places for your camera's "health" since humidity is your camera's number one enemy. It greatly influences the imaging sensor of your SLR, and that's the one piece of a camera that raises concern among photographers. Hence, it is important to keep your camera dry and away from extreme weather conditions when possible. If you are in a cold weather environment, which let's face it, many of us are, avoid bringing your camera in from the cold to a warm room. The resulting condensation will wreak havoc on your imaging sensor, and that's something that can be avoided with common sense. To prevent any problems, put your camera in a protective, padded bag or case.

Tip #2: Cleaning

In order to effectively clean your equipment, use a soft cloth, such as a microfiber one, and wipe down the exterior to take off dust and other particles that could also creep inside the camera body.

Use a cleaning brush to clean the all-important imaging sensor. You can look online or in a local photography shop for imaging sensor-cleaning tools. Use them to remove dirt and dust from the lens system of the DSLR in order to avoid lens motor failure (always a scary thought). If you're afraid to take this task on yourself, and if you still have the benefit of a warranty, take it down to your service center for proper maintenance.

Tip #3: Caps and Hoods

There's a reason your camera comes with a lens cap…to protect the lens. Some photographers are religious about putting their cap on when the camera is not in use, while other count on their lens filters to protect the lens rather than putting the cap on and off repeatedly throughout the day. If you're indoors doing a portrait shoot, then you probably don't need to use the cap every time you put the camera down.

However, if you're out shooting landscape and are switching cameras, only to put the first one down, you'll probably want to protect it against the elements by putting the cap back on. I hate to hear stories where the photographer put their camera down on a rock and it slid off, causing damage to the lens that a cap would have taken the brunt of. It takes second and can save hundreds of dollars!

Lens hoods are another safety feature. Though they're meant to block sun glare, they have the added bonus of protecting the edge of your lens.

Tip #4: Storing Your Camera

Leaving your camera, even if in a bag, in the trunk of your car in the heat is not a good idea. The same goes for leaving it in below freezing temps. These extreme temperatures are not your camera's friend. Though it can withstand varying conditions out in the field with the proper protection, leaving it sitting in these temps for long periods of times will only damage it in the long run. Be conscious of where you leave your camera when you're not using it.

Tip #5: Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Whether at the beach or out in the rain, you should always be careful around water. A drizzling rain won't kill your equipment, but common sense suggests that you don't take off a lens or open the memory card door when you're out in the rain. If the weatherman calls for heavy rain, use something to cover the body of the camera (freezer Ziploc bags work well). It's the electronics that you need to watch out for; your lens, on the other hand, can take a few drops. Keep that dry microfiber cloth on hand.

Tip #6: Spots on your Shots

If you notice dark spots or splotches on your images, it's a good sign that your camera needs a cleaning. Using a sensor loupe will help to identify the spotty areas on your lens or sensor. An airbrush and brush will blow and wipe away dust, if that's the culprit. For smudges, use the above mentioned microfiber cloth. Take some new photos and see if that did the trick. If not, consider sending your camera out for a professional cleaning.

Remember the preventative maintenance rules and use a light touch common sense when doing any maintenance. That said, always send your camera out if you're uncomfortable with any of the cleaning or maintenance. It's worth the time and money spent to send it out rather than the risk of damaging it.

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Comments

  1. Hassan says:

    I have DSLR Nikon 5000, Its monitor screen shows blueish tint at left side. But when transferred to laptop it looks ok. What is wrong. May I know.

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Hassan,

      It sounds like a problem with the screen on the camera. If you can live with the issue on the camera (since it seems to take photos okay), then do that. But I'd take it for repair at a Nikon dealer.

      David.

  2. allan says:

    pentax models K10d and the K50, both have advanced weather sealing, both have sensor-cleaning that can be activated upon turn-on. (Also same feature reduces camera-shake from vibrations) It's a good idea to occasionally clean the mirror, as most of the dust that enters a camera-body falls on the mirror first. (And is subquently dislodged when it swings up)

  3. David Peterson says:

    @Barb,

    Without seeing them, it's hard to determine the cause. If they are inside your camera (and you don't remove the lens a lot to let dust in), there could be a mechanical problems with the camera so definitely get it checked out with the manufacturers.

    David.

  4. Barb Feggestad says:

    I started getting white ''things" inside/under the lens - inside the camera! Where in the world do they come from? My son showed me how to clean them out. I thought they could be Photo Shopped out, and they sure look messy! My other problem with this??? Guess what??? I don't have Photo Shop & don't know how to use it!

    So, what & where do the white particles come from?

  5. David Peterson says:

    @Pat,

    Use the ziploc bag whenever you change the camera's temperature from cold to warm, or warm to cold. Place it on all equipment (including the lens) before you go inside at night, and wait until the condensation has dried from the outside of the bag before opening it.

    More info here: http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/1992/cold-weather-photography/

    I hope that helps.

    David.

  6. Pat says:

    HELP! I'm always confused about the advice to put your camera in a ziploc bag in cold weather. Do I 1. put my camera in the bag when I am outside but after shooting and then walk in and leave it on until condensation danger is past OR 2. do I put the bag on when I am inside and leave it on when I am outside shooting and shoot through the bag? And 3.does the bag have to enclose the entire unit, including lens and any speedlight - will condensation hurt the lens and light too - or 4.does it only have to enclose the camera body? Also, what about a towel? I heard somewhere about wrapping your camera in a towel to absorb condensation? 5. Is that instead of a plastic bag or 6.inside of a plastic bag or 7. after you take it out of the bag, just as a final wipedown? Cold weather is here and I can't afford to replace my dslr if it gets damaged so this is important to me. Can anyone clarify these details? Thanks.

  7. Navdeep says:

    How to get rid of dust in view finder (eye piece), if the dust is not on the sensor or the lens? I am afraid to use airblower /airbrush, as it can push the dust from sensor to view finder (eye piece)!

  8. iwantitall says:

    Rosa,
    Although I'm not a "pro" yet. I do know that if you use a microfiber cloth on your lens to try to rid the lens of seasand..... You will scratch that lens. Try a can of compressed air to first blow the sand off. Office supply stores among others will carry these. When you can no longer see any sand, it should be o.k. to use the microfiber cloth.( just my 2 cents). Mike

  9. Rosa says:

    Hi David

    Can you also clean your lense with a microgibre cloth.

    I,ve got a littlebid of seesand on it and is afraid to stratch it.

  10. Ajithaa says:

    Thank you for this useful advice!

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