Prepare Your Camera For Summer

Does it seem too early to prepare for summer?

You’ll appreciate getting your dSLR in shape for summer photo taking before summer arrives.

Why start now? If you are like me, you may abuse your camera just a little bit. Maybe you carry it everywhere. Maybe you (gasp) occasionally change the lenses outside. Maybe you never put it in a big so dirt and dust collects on it.

With everyday use, your camera may have gathered a little dirt. So, yes, it’s time for some spring cleaning.

How do you know what you can clean and what you should leave to the professionals?

My Cleaning Rule of Thumb

Outside of the camera is for me. Anything inside is for a professional technician. Sure, you can find a million youtube tutorials on cleaning your camera’s mirror or sensor, but I don’t recommend it. Too much can go wrong and permanently damage your valuable equipment.

So where can you start?

Lenses

Cleaning the outer glass of your lens is a fairly easy process. It’s important to use the correct tools for the job.

Don’t use just any cloth or your spit. The glass is easily scratched and your spit (and even your hot breath) has some nasty gunk in it that you don’t want on your lens. (Nasty gunk is the technical term!)

Use a blower to blow off any dust or dirt. Sometimes that’s all it takes! If you live in an area with a lot of static, you may need to use a brush to remove any grit. ONLY use a brush made for lens cleaning. You want to avoid grinding the dirt and dust into your glass.┬áDO NOT use canned air.

If there are noticeable finger prints on your lens (or filter), use a micro fiber cloth or lens papers and lens solution to clean your lens.

  1. Fold the cloth or paper several times.
  2. Place a drop or two of lens cleaner on your cloth, never on the lens.
  3. With small circular movements, work from the center of the lens toward the edge.

If there is still noticeable dirt or smudges you can’t remove, it may be time for professional help.

Body

The body of your camera can be cleaned with a soft cloth to remove dust and grime. I don’t suggest any harsh chemical cleaners. You can start by blowing the dust off with a blower. Use a hard bristled brush to get any gunk from under buttons.

Sensor

A dirty sensor can create spots, globs, and other unsavory items on your images. How do you know when you need to get your sensor cleaned? Here’s a quick test.

  1. Place your camera in Aperture Priority Mode (AV or A on your mode dial)
  2. Set your aperture to f/8 or even narrower. (You won’t see dust on your sensor at wide apertures, unless you have A LOT.)
  3. Take a picture of a white wall or other solid colored light surface.
  4. View your photo (I’d suggest uploading to your computer for best viewing).
  5. If you notice grey spots in your image, you’ve got dust on your sensor. (I tried to take a picture for you, but THANKFULLY, my sensor was clean.)

A little dust may not be a nuisance, but when it gets larger you are going to need to do a lot of photoshop work to eliminate it. The sharpness of your photos will be effected as well. It’s time to send it in for cleaning!

Sending Your Camera For Cleaning

Even with built in sensor cleaning, you may still need to send your camera for cleaning. If you have a local camera shop, they may be able to clean it for you. However, most camera shops send cameras directly to the manufacturer for cleaning.

You can send your camera directly to the manufacturer as well. You can find the steps for sending on both Canon and Nikon’s websites.

For Canon, I’ve found the four to six week turn around time is actually much faster. The last time I sent my camera in, it returned in less than three weeks. It felt shiny and new with no dust visible at any aperture!

Get your camera in great working shape so you can be ready for your summer photos.

Have you cleaned your camera before? What lessons did you learn? Share in the comments below.