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Camera care is a regular question I’m asked about so I figured I’d better tell you what I do to look after my cameras and lenses. Yes I know, the image above is horrifying, but I needed to show you something and I’ll come to that in a moment. So how do I look after my cameras and lenses?
To be honest I’m a bit ‘cavalier’ with my kit. Apart from ensuring my lenses and sensor are clean, I don’t actually do much. Camera kit is actually a lot tougher than many people think it is and can put up with quite a lot, without affecting its ability to capture images.
For many photographers re-sale value is a factor so they want to keep them as close to mint condition as possible, which is understandable. If this is you however, be careful not to let the desire for an unmarked camera and lenses over ride your desire to shoot pictures. If you want to capture the image, you have to take action whilst the image is there, waiting to be captured.
Sometimes this will mean getting your camera kit a little (and sometimes a lot) wet, or dusty, or in some cases – muddy! There’s still traces of mud on the knurled zoom ring of my Fujinon 18-55 from months ago. Admittedly, my cameras are just tools which do a job and I’m not looking to re sell them. By the time I’m done with them they’re usually worn out and dead so no one will want them anyway!
Many people are especially worried they’ll damage the lens by over cleaning it. But think for a moment. Glass is pretty tough stuff, so how will wiping it with clean, soft tissues or soft cloths damage it? Clean is the keyword here. If you rub your lens with a cleaning cloth that’s full of grit, of course you’ll damage the glass. So make sure your cleaning cloth is clean in the first place.
My preferred cleaning materials are paper kitchen roll or micro-fibre cloths. Kitchen roll is one use, isn’t greasy and big enough you can get a good hold of it. Personally I don’t like the little camera cleaning tissues, they’re too small and fiddly for my pudgy fingers.
There’s a lot of talk about micro-fibre cloths retaining grit and sand which could obviously damage a lens, so make sure you use fold and turn each time you clean with one and wash them regularly. Mine are micro-fibre dish cloths which cost almost nothing because they don’t have the words ‘Camera Cleaning’ on the packaging. I have several in my bag and always use a fresh clean one, then wash it in the washing machine without fabric softeners.
I don’t use lens-cleaning fluids because in my experience, they always leave smears on the glass. And we don’t want that do we? I find a good ‘huff’ of breath on the lens to be enough 99% of the time. If a greasy substance has got on the glass, I use kitchen roll with a tiny bit of methylated spirit, just enough to moisten it.
Cleaning a camera body isn’t something I do unless it’s really filthy or has salt spray on it. For this I use a bit of damp paper kitchen roll.
The most important one to remember is not to take a cold camera into a warm environment because you’ll get it soaked with condensation. Especially don’t take the lens off it or the condensation will get inside it, on the sensor and electronics. Let it warm up a little first, or if you have to change lenses, do it in the cold.
Cameras are much tougher than many people think which is why I poked my lens with a fork to prove my point. Care of your camera kit is really just common sense, so use your 1st Building Block of Photography!