Category: Camera care

Today’s cameras are complex instruments with many highly sensitive moving parts and a Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensor that will show the tiniest of dust particles on its surface. Some cameras, such as the Canon EOS-1D and 1Ds Mark III, are built ruggedly and sealed reasonably well to keep out the elements (although not to the point of being waterproof). Point-and-shoot cameras, while not built to withstand the rigors of a professional single lens reflex (SLR), can be remarkably durable only because they aren’t exposed as much due to their fixed lenses that don’t allow the body to be opened.

Any camera or lens can be accidentally damaged by dropping it, getting it wet, or opening part of it (even a flash card slot) in poor conditions. While preventing these problems is important, it’s important to know how to fix simple problems that occur, to care for and clean your camera and lenses, and to recognize when it’s time to seek professional help.

Keeping your equipment in top condition

When first shooting the Olympic Games, I was surprised to see various photographers walking around the venue with open camera bodies dangling from their shoulders, seldom is ever using lens caps, and carrying multiple cameras without protection — all banging against each other throughout the day. This equipment, usually provided by news agencies, benefited from [...]

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Cleaning your sensor

At the heart of your camera is the CMOS sensor, where images that have passed through your lens are converted from analog light to digital information. Arguably the most sensitive and critical component of your camera, if a digital sensor is damaged, your camera’s operation and value are seriously compromised. In front of your CMOS [...]

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Recognizing CMOS spots

Recognizing CMOS spots

How do you know when it’s dust on your CMOS and not a particle you’re seeing on your camera’s mirror or lens? Dust on your mirror won’t appear in an image at all; it will just affect what you’re seeing through the viewfinder. Conversely, as shown in 10-4 and 10-5, the most telling feature of [...]

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Simple (dry) sensor cleaning

Simple (dry) sensor cleaning

By far the simplest way to clean a sensor marred by dust spots, and your first course of action, is to use a bulb blower (see 10-7). This is known as a dry method of cleaning a camera. Bulb blowers, which are available at any camera store, allow you to force a strong stream of [...]

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Sensor-cleaning brushes

A more aggressive, but still dry-method of cleaning involves using a specialized brush to clean the sensor. You carefully sweep the sensor with the brush, which effectively cleans off more stubborn dust particles. These brushes are available from professional photography suppliers, and you can find a variety of models. Some of them are designed to [...]

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Advanced (wet) sensor cleaning

Advanced (wet) sensor cleaning

Dry cleaning is often effective for the majority of CMOS dust spots. However, over time, you’ll likely encounter some spots that just don’t go away, that have seemingly become stuck to your sensor. Additionally, because the sensor is an electrically charged component, it may easily re-attract dust particles that have been blown or brushed aside [...]

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Knowing and avoiding the five things that damage your camera gear

Knowing and avoiding the five things that damage your camera gear

As I’ve traveled the world with a digital camera, I’ve experienced everything from dropping a Canon f/2.8 24-70mm L-series lens onto the cement in a Buddhist temple in a small Chinese village to having a wad of sand land onto my EOS-1D Mark II when it was spit out by a four-wheeler in the Saudi [...]

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Dust, sand, and dirt damaging your camera gear

Dust, sand, and dirt damaging your camera gear

Dust is everywhere, and at some point you’re bound to get some of it in your dSLR no matter how perfectly you keep it. Somehow, this pesky stuff just has a way of creeping into your camera and making a beeline for your CMOS sensor, and then appearing where you want it least in your [...]

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Water and moisture are your camera’s greatest enemy

Water and moisture are your camera’s greatest enemy

Most technicians agree that water is your camera’s greatest enemy. Serious water penetration can be very harmful, if not fatal, to a camera. Even a heavy rain can permanently damage a camera. While cameras will tolerate a few raindrops, you’ll need an underwater housing to survive complete immersion or a heavy splash. And even small [...]

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Salt as camera-gear enemy

Salt damages camera gear by accelerating oxidation (rust) on metal components, and salt air and saltwater also deposit a messy, oily film onto lenses and photo sensors. When you’re shooting on a beach or near saltwater, you’ll want to be ready to clean your equipment and protect it from too much exposure when changing lenses [...]

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Oils and chemicals – camera-gear enemies

The types of substances I’m discussing here are not industrial, heavy-duty chemicals, but rather what you might come into contact with on a daily basis: sunscreen, insect repellent, makeup, and body lotions. The list is nearly infinite for what can affect your camera, so I’ll deal with some of the most common and general ones [...]

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Physical damage to cameras and lenses

Physical damage to cameras and lenses

No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. When I dropped my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens while shooting in a temple in a small Chinese village, I didn’t have a lot of options for repair and I seriously needed that lens for the trip. I had been very careful when changing lenses, but it [...]

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