Most cameras and lenses will give you years of problem-free use, so long as you look after them. Read our top tips to ensure your kit stays clean and safe.
Modern SLRs are reasonably robust, but ‘consumer’ models don’t have the battleship build quality of professional cameras. If you were to drop a camera with a plastic body onto a hard surface, it would probably break. Fit the neck strap that came with your camera, and – most crucially – use it.
Excessive heat can cause lasting damage to your camera, so it’s a good idea not to leave it in direct sunlight. At the other end of the scale, condensation can quickly form when bringing a camera from the outdoors into a warm room. One way round this problem is to seal the camera in a plastic bag before bringing it inside (so that condensation forms on the bag instead) and let it warm up naturally.
Take care when cleaning LCDs and viewfinders. Use a blower brush first to gently remove dust, lint and other small particles, then rub everything down with a microfibre cleaning cloth. Make a point of cleaning your camera with a slightly damp cloth after every trip to the coast, because salty sea spray can be corrosive.
Be especially careful when cleaning the front and rear glass elements of lenses. Use a blower brush first to dislodge and remove any particles that could scratch the elements when subsequently using a cloth. Consider a specialist implement, such as the lens-cleaning pens sold by Hama (among others).
To check if your sensor has any dust spots, zoom the lens to its telephoto end, focus on infinity and take a few frames of a clear blue sky or a sheet of white paper at a small aperture, then zoom in on the images to check for dark blobs. To remove them, you’ll need to take off the lens and expose the camera’s sensor (charge the camera battery fully first, then head to the set-up menu and find the sensor cleaning function). Initially, try blowing the dust off the sensor with a blower. Don’t touch the sensor with the tip of the blower, and keep the lens opening facing downwards to prevent dust from landing on it. When you’re done, switch the camera off and refit the lens.
Many photographers are paranoid about changing lenses, but that’s one of the main attractions of SLR photography! There are some precautions you should take though. Switch the camera off to remove any static charge from the sensor, which can attract dust. Shield the camera from the wind and weather, and make sure you have the replacement lens ready. Finally, keep the camera’s lens opening pointing downwards.
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