Self Portrait – 2007
© Doug van Kampen, 2011 :: All Rights Reserved
Often times as photographers, we go to great lengths to make photographs. It should come at no surprise that our gear takes a beating throughout the course of the year – in and out of the car, in and out of the bag, getting dropped, dust storms, and the occasional dusty highway. Hopefully that dusty highway leads somewhere special, somewhere that great photographs are made. But through all of that, it can be easy to forget that much like ourselves, our gear needs a bit of maintenance from time-to-time. The reality of it is simple and doesn’t take long at all, especially given the technology available to us nowadays. Spring cleaning is upon us…
There’s always that one day, usually at the end of the winter, that you wake up and your ears are filled with the most beautiful melody of birds outside the window. Here in Maine, however, we’re still expecting snow this coming week…
Holding to the distinct possibility of warmer weather heading our way, I like to use this time of year to prepare for what could conceivably be one of the most colorful spring seasons on record. Why wouldn’t you want to start out the season with fully functioning gear that will carry you through the spring, summer, and heading into fall? You wouldn’t.
If I could make a few recommendations for spring cleaning, the least of your worries will be the cleanliness of your gear and it’s ability to catalyze your vision as a photographer over the next few months:
- Send your camera and/or lenses to be serviced (usually this includes a full diagnostic, any firmware updates (if available), a sensor and body cleaning, and a function test to include focus, mirror, etc. You can find more information below (for both Nikon or Canon). You can do this yourself, but I strongly caution anyone attempting to clean their sensor without the knowledge to do so. ***BE SURE TO SEND YOUR CAMERA TO AN AUTHORIZED SERVICE CENTER***
- Format all of your memory cards using both the utilities available online from the manufacturer AND in camera.
- Clean, according to the manufacturers instructions, all lens filters to include graduated neutral density, neutral density, UV, etc. Basic rule of thumb is that if light passes through it during an exposure, clean it!
- Lenses: Light passes through it, clean it. DO NOT USE: Canned Air (it contains oils that can damage the nano-coatings used in the manufacture of optical glass elements), paper towels, toilet paper, newspaper, Windex, etc. DO USE: Micro-Fiber, Lens Paper, Sensor Swabs (cut into small strips and put on the end of a toothpick to get those hard to reach areas where the lens and the camera body come together), Photographic Cleaning Solution (available from Photographic Solutions)
- Replace/repair worn gear: straps, gaskets, memory cards (too many times in and out of the camera can wear out the receiving pins).
- Eyepiece: this is something that tends to get neglected more than any other part of a D-SLR. Clean as per manufacturers instructions or industry standards.
- General rule of thumb – if you swab any part of the camera and it comes out dirty, it probably needs more thorough attention, additionally, the oils from your hands can be extremely corrosive. Keep that in mind when cleaning – I recommend using either cotton photographic print handling or nitrile gloves while you’re cleaning your gear.
Nikon USA Services:
Canon USA Services:
Though this is a condensed guide to cleaning your gear, I hope you found the information useful. If so, I would love to hear from you! I can be contacted on Facebook and Twitter for questions. Have a wonderful week! -DvK