Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Tip of the Week: Camera Care Tips

Camera care is essential in today's digital world. The following tips will help all photographers with maintenance and care of their delicate and sensitive camera gear.


The modern digital body is very sensitive to dust and moisture. First of all, it is wise to know that changing lenses in dusty circumstances is a major cause of a dirty sensor and spots on your images. This common problem can be reduced by not taking off your lenses unless you need to change from one lens to another. If you find yourself in a dusty situation, move upwind from the dust to both shoot and change lenses. You may also need to go inside a building or a car to find an area that is less dusty. Do whatever it takes to keep your equipment clean. I often tell
customers that if you can't keep your camera surgically clean, you will pay for a professional cleaning. Cleaning the sensor yourself is a way of solving the problem only on a short term basis. When our camera repairman cleans a sensor, he removes the outer covers and cleans all the ports (openings around each button, command dial(s), and other openings) so dust and dirt is not waiting to fall on the sensor. A quick self cleaning is okay but don't rely on it as a cure all. Also, if you attempt to clean your sensor and do it incorrectly, it can result in more costly and complicated repair for the camera repairman. Another thing I tell customers, is to put their cameras in a heavy duty plastic bag (not a regular ziplock or vegetable bag), they are too flimsy and will abrade easily. I prefer the donut bags from Safeway, because they are ballistic plastic bags. DO NOT put your camera in a used donut bag for obvious reasons.
We use an artist one inch stiff paint brush to clean the outer parts of a body and lenses. When the lens is off the body, DO NOT attempt a cleaning of anything inside the front lens mount. DO NOT touch the mirror or the focusing screen. These are very delicate items and can not be touched for any reason.
Moisture is always a problem with any camera. Digital cameras are even more susceptible to moisture because they contain way more circuit boards than their film companions. DO NOT LET THEM GET WET, PERIOD. We sell an Op/tech Rain cover for just under $10 that is a good aid to keep your camera dry and dust free.
Your camera case is also a major cause for dirt in the camera. Every time you come back from a photo day, clean all your equipment thoroughly. If you don't clean your case, the dust and dirt left in the case will work into the camera. Use a clean wet well rung out cloth to clean the inside of your case.
LCD screens will scratch if rubbed on. If you get nose prints, finger prints, or other non abrasive smudges on your screen, use Scotch Tape to clean them off. You might put a tape dispenser in one of the camera bag pockets for when the need arises
Most importantly, DO NOT let other people use your equipment. They will not take the care necessary to keep it clean and out of harms way. We see many cameras a year that were borrowed and broken.
Be particular about your equipment and it's care and cleaning.


Although lenses can become dirty inside, they are less likely to get dirty than camera bodies. Simply by keeping your equipment in donut bags, you can keep them safe and clean. There will be a time that you need to clean the front element. If you buy UV filters for your lenses, it will be less likely that you harm the front elements. If you clean the lens front element too much, or poorly, they can be damaged. For proper lens cleaning, come in and let us show you.


The most common cards are Compact Flash and Secure Digital.
The Compact Flash cards have two lines of holes that match two rows of pins in the camera body. Be sure, when not using the card, to put it in the supplied case. A grain of sand in one of the holes will render the card unusable. Also, these pins have to be lined up carefully and properly so as not to bend the pins. When you put the card into the slot, run your finger along the card so it centers the card before pushing the card into the slot. This can be a $180 repair if done in a way that damages the card slot, so be gentle.
The Secure Digital cards are less of an issue than Compact Flash cards are, because they do not have the pins to worry about. These cards have touch pad leads that are protected from fingers.
It is our suggestion not to delete a picture that you do not want one by one. When you push the delete button, the title in the camera's directory for that picture is erased, but all the data stays on the card. When enough data builds up the card can become corrupted and is unusable. We offer a service to recover your images for $20. By simply leaving the unwanted images on the card and downloading all the images to your computer for safe keeping, you can reinsert the card into the camera and go to the Tool Bar in the camera's menu. Here you will find a "Format" section to erase all images. BE SURE you do not want any of the images, because they are gone. See us if you are unsure about formating.


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