Cleaning Your Camera And Gear

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Cleaning your camera gear is important. It's right up there with cleaning your house, your car and even your teeth! So you know we are a little obsessed with making sure our cameras and gear are sparkling clean. 

It is essential so they function at their full potential and last for years. Also, if you want to sell your gear in the future and upgrade, well looked-after gear will sell for a better price. So let's find out how to clean your camera, lenses and other accessories.

There are two ways to clean your camera gear, and you should do both. First, you can clean it yourself and secondly, you can have it professionally cleaned.

Doing It Yourself

You can buy a camera cleaning kit online or from your local camera shop. It will include a blower that emits blasts of air when you squeeze it. You can use this on-site or when you get home to gently remove dust and dirt particles from the inside and outside of your camera. The camera cleaning kit will probably include several brushes, microfibre cleaning cloths and lens wipes (similar to baby wipes but designed for your pricey glass). 

You can also buy each item separately and having a stock of lens wipes is a good idea. Some photographers use quality make-up brushes to clean their gear because they are soft but durable and come in many sizes. You can also buy lens cleaner, which is affordable and non-abrasive. Never apply lens cleaner directly onto the lens. Use a cloth and replace them often. Keep your camera cleaning kit in a clean sealed bag.

With the camera mount facing down, carefully use the blower to clean the inside of your camera. Never touch the sensor or other delicate parts of your camera with any objects, including brushes or cloths. 

Clean the outside of the camera body, lenses, and caps with the blower and cleaning cloths, using lens cleaner if necessary. 

Some cameras have a dust cleaning function that cleans the inside of the camera, which uses high-speed vibration. You can search for it in your camera menu. This can help slightly but isn't nearly as effective as cleaning yourself or having a pro-level cleaning. 

Professional Cleaning

Sending your camera to a service center ensures a thorough cleaning and they also check your camera is operating correctly. Many major brands have dedicated services in major cities. It may be complimentary or involve a fee. Also, check how long it will take to make sure you have your gear back if you need it for a specific date. 

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How Often?

If you use your camera and know it's been exposed to elements, you should give it a clean after the photoshoot. Otherwise, once a month is enough if you are using your camera frequently. If you are a professional photographer who is shooting several times a week, you might like to clean your gear more often.

Professional cleaning also depends on what you are shooting. A nature or event photographer would likely need to clean their gear professionally more often than an interior or portrait photographer. Once or twice a year should be fine. 

You invest so much money into your camera kit, so don't forget to look after it. Ideally you should clean your gear before you notice dust and dirt particles appearing on your photos. It could mean you have dust on your sensor. If you want to check, take a photo of a blue sky and zoom in on your computer. You can easily see the spots against the bright background. The same spots might not be visible against a darker landscape or background. 

If you change the lens often, there is a greater chance of dust getting into your camera body. Always take care when changing lenses. Hold your gear close to your body and avoid windy situations. If you are shooting on the beach, try to change your lens in a sheltered spot. Sandy shores are one of the places that your camera can quickly get dirty. All those tiny light grains of sand can find their way into your expensive camera so easily. Sea salt is also a factor, and it is pretty much invisible but can erode gear. A wipe with a damp cloth is always a good idea after shooting at the beach, especially if you are near the water or it's windy.

All the elements can be a threat, including rain, wind and even snow. Shooting events is another genre of photography that can mess with your camera. Confetti, champagne pops, fireworks and other party fragments can fly by your camera when you least expect it.

You can edit dirt spots off images in Lightroom or Photoshop, but it's a tedious and time-consuming process. It is also easy to miss a spot that would become obvious when the image is printed and even more so if it was enlarged.

More Tips On Keeping Your Gear Clean

  • Use filters on every lens to help keep them clean and prevent damage
  • Store your camera and gear in a quality camera bag, which is also cleaned often
  • Keep your bag in a clean, dry and cool room 
  • Leave sensor cleaning to the professionals
  • Invest in a wet weather cover for your camera if you are shooting a lot outdoors
  • Use lens bags when traveling or not using them for long periods
  • Carry spare lens and body caps
  • Use different colored microfibre cloths for wet and dry cleaning

It's easy for time to pass by, and you might forget to clean your camera equipment. Or you might be shooting so often that you can't find a gap in your calendar to be without your gear. But don't wait until you see lots of dust spots on the image during editing. Remember to clean often and set a calendar alert as a reminder if you tend to forget. 

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