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 regular professional cleaning and maintenance. This is both expensive and severely limits the life of the equipment, something which the average photographer probably cannot afford to do.

While Canon products are made to very high standards and are capable of withstanding rigorous use, camera equipment is delicate, with many moving and finely engineered precision parts. Keeping it as clean and well protected as possible ensures the camera will operate properly without fail for many years of operation.

CAMERA BAGS

The best protection for your camera is a good-quality camera bag that’s suited to both your equipment and your needs. Bag designs have changed dramatically over the last few years, and there are a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes available today. Here are some features to consider when shopping for a bag that will work for you and your equipment:

  • Size. How much equipment do you need to carry with you? Do you plan to add to your gear significantly, such as by buying a large lens? Can you reconfigure the bag to accommodate your carrying needs for various outings?
  • Configuration. Do you want a photojournalist-style fanny pack that lets you access gear from your hip? Do you want a backpack that you need to remove to access equipment? Do you want a shoulder-style bag that can act as both?
  • Portability. Do you need to fit a lot of things into a small space, such as if you must take your bag as carry-on luggage on a plane? Are you comfortable carrying it on your back, or do you only want to do that some of the time (or at all)? Do you want it to have wheels and an extendable handle so you can roll it?
  • Ruggedness. How well is the bag built? Will the material hold up to how you’ll be using it? Are the zippers high-quality? If it has wheels and a handle, do they seem like they will last? Is the cushioning for your camera, lenses, and other gear sufficient to fully protect it from outside forces as well as from other equipment in the bag? Are points of high friction (for example, the bottom of a rolling bag) well-made and likely to withstand a lot of use?
  • Weather-resistance. Is there protection from the elements, such as rain, sand, dust, snow, and other potential hazards, for your equipment? Are the zippers protected by a water-resistant flap? Are there integrated rain and ground covers? How protected is your gear when you open the bag (for example, can you use the flap as a wind breaker, or does it have alternative outside access points)?
  • Features, storage, and accessories. What extra features do you want in a bag that will make your life easier? Some options include the ability to carry a laptop, flash card storage, outside pockets for lots of stuff you need, or a portable office to easily store and access a notebook, pens, and the like.

AFTER USE

Keeping your equipment clean is an ongoing task. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking it over and at least doing a quick bulb blowing of your CMOS along with dusting off your lenses after every shoot — even if it’s just a quick outing — so you’ll be ready for the next one, no matter when it occurs.

After a shoot, and especially if you’ve been outdoors, you’ll want to clean your lenses and camera body with a fine brush and lint-free cloth to remove any oils or other potential contaminants. Remove the lenses and clean the mounts, as well.

Be sure to use a lens cap on any exposed glass, and a body cap on a camera body without a mounted lens. And don’t forget to clean your camera bag — lots of dust and dirt can hide there and get into your gear while you’re transporting it.

Check for CMOS spots and clean your sensor, if necessary, so that you’ll be ready for your next shoot.

When you’re not on the road, it’s a good idea to keep your camera equipment in your zipped bag in a dry part of your home. If you have desiccant, refresh it in the microwave or use new and keep it with the gear. If you plan to not use your camera for a long period, such as a month or more, remove the battery, or batteries, from the flash and the body.

Category: Camera care

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