THE COMPLETE GUIDE: CLEANING TIPS FOR SLR CAMERAS

Mario’s Note: Before the good reception  of Objective Cleaning: The Basics You Need to Know , today our collaborator Iaio brings us a very complete guide on the cleaning of SLR cameras. The typical article that you have to print or save in PDF

One of the photographer’s worst enemies is undoubtedly the dreaded dust. Whether inside the camera, on the outside, on the threads and buttons or between the gears of the lenses, dust and moisture are a threat to both photographs and equipment.

This omnipresent enemy is lurking everywhere and can cause us a headache at the least expected moment. Today I bring you a small guide that can prolong the life of your equipment or even get you out of trouble.

Mario’s Note: Lying, it is not a small guide, it is a long and excellent article that has been crafted Iaio of more than 2,500 words . Prepare a coffee and enjoy reading.

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR CAMERA AND LENSES AWAY FROM DUST?

Imagine that after weeks of planning a photographic safari and thousands of photos later, you realize that half of the photographs were ruined by a particle that had adhered to the sensor, annoying half of the photos, or worse, scratching The sensor for life.

Not only just prevent. Being careful with the camera is very important, but it does not guarantee that at some point, a particle, moisture or carelessness can damage our equipment. It is there where knowing how to deal with the problem and give it a solution will give you added value.

MAIN RISK WHEN CLEANING A SLR CAMERA

One of the main risks of cleaning is cleaning itself. This does not mean that you should spend a lot of money in a specialized center so that they leave your camera in optimal conditions if it gets, for example, to get the sensor dirty, but taking the pertinent precautions, and after reading this article, you will be able to do it yourself You just have to overcome the fear of doing it and perform it very carefully.

EXTERIOR CLEANING: BODY, BUTTONS AND KNOBS

SLR cameras seem to have a special gift for dust to adhere to them with amazing ease. The grease of our hands, the dirt of the environment and the amount of indentations, buttons and threads, make the camera the ideal home for it to accumulate.

As we will also mention later for cleaning the interior of the chamber, and unlike what many believe, using compressed air to clean the chambers is not usually the best decision. The power with which it comes out can damage the equipment, scratch it or even introduce that undesirable dust into the chamber.

Camera body cleaning

Before using any type of cloth or wet towel it is important that, with an air pear or a brush of very soft natural bristles, we remove the particles that can scratch our equipment if we drag them with a cleaning cloth.

To prevent dust from entering the inside of the camera, keep a lens mounted or use the cover that the manufacturer includes in the kits intended for this purpose.

You should pay special attention to the most inaccessible areas, such as memory card slots, knobs or buttons, as it is where the most dirt accumulates.

If you plan to use a cleaning product, try not to be abrasive and try to use it in moderation since it can accumulate in excess in the grooves of the camera body causing perhaps more damage. Isopropyl alcohol thanks to its high volatility, is usually the first choice of many photographers to perform this task.

Viewfinder Cleaning

Everything that stands between the photograph and the photographer is to pay special attention. Cleaning it is easy and fast so it won’t be a problem

To work more comfortably, remove the rubber protector, and with the same brush with which you cleaned the body, gently remove the dust around it. To clean the glass, you can use a cloth or a damp cloth, but make sure that no particles of considerable size have been left in it to avoid scratches.

Screen cleaning

Beyond having or not a protector, the LCD screens of the cameras get dirty very easily. Cleaning it is similar to the cleaning of the viewfinder, so you will have no problem doing it.

So that all the work done has not been in vain, try to keep the backpack, the bag or that place where you plan to store the camera free of dust.

INTERIOR CLEANING: THE SENSOR

However careful you may be in handling the camera, sooner or later the dreaded sensor spots will appear in your photographs. No user of DSLR cameras, however careful or professional, is exempt from this problem. The important thing as I told you before is to lose your fear, take the necessary precautions and learn to clean it.

Sensor Cleaning

How does a dirty sensor affect the image?

Click on the photo to enlarge. You can clearly see certain spots in the upper left corner of the frame.

Stains on the sensor of a SLR camera

How to know if the sensor needs cleaning?

  1. Set the aperture to the highest f / f value allowed by the camera, that is, the diaphragm as closed as possible. Ex f / 22.
  2. Set the ISO sensitivity to the lowest possible value. Ex. ISO 100
  3. Focus to infinity.
  4. Aim at the sky or towards a flat bottom. Eg wall, sheet of paper, etc.
  5. Take several photos.

Options that exist to clean the sensor:

Not all materials or options offered by the market are suitable for use in cleaning the sensor or lenses. The cleaning material is extremely important in the result we obtain. Using poor quality options can affect the integrity of the equipment. I recommend that you use those products recognized for their quality, such as the Eclipse2 solution.

  • Brush: it is one of the best allies when it comes to removing dust, but make sure it is very soft, made of natural fibers and is specifically designed for this task. You should also be careful not to touch the fibers of the fingers as the sweat of our fingers will lose its effectiveness.
  • Pressurized air: it consists of using a pear of air of enough pressure to release the dust or particles that could have adhered to the sensor product of its use. Be careful never to touch the sensor or the inside of the camera with it and squeeze it several times before pointing it at the sensor to prevent it from throwing anything other than air.
  • Liquid Solution: using a solution that is applied with a brush or cloth designed specifically for this task, the sensor dust is removed with a few passes. Be sure to use a specific one for sensor cleaning, because if it is very abrasive, it can damage the protective glass of the sensor.
  • Adhesive buffer: when the particles are of a certain size, we can use the adhesive buffer, which is the method used by camera manufacturers in their factories and which has recently been launched to the market.
  • Technical service: as a last option we will always have the technical service authorized by our manufacturer. It guarantees the work and will be responsible for the damages that the sensor may suffer.

The different methods are not exclusive but rather complementary: If after blowing air through the pear, there are still traces of dust or particles attached to the sensor, you can use some non-abrasive liquid and try to eliminate them. If the particles are still there, you can use an adhesive buffer but if the problem persists, it will be time to get serious and take the equipment to the nearest trusted technical service.

Cleaning the sensor: Step by step

To minimize risks when cleaning the camera sensor, be sure to do so in a dust-free, stable place that allows you to work in peace.

It is worth clarifying that in fact when cleaning the sensor you will not be in direct contact with it. In front of the sensor there is a thin glass that protects it. This does not mean that you should be less careful doing this process since finding someone to change the glass is not an easy or economical task.

Before starting to clean the sensor, make sure that the battery is 100% charged since if in the middle of the process it turns off, automatically the sheets that protect the sensor will close and can cause serious damage.

  1. Once you have found a clean and comfortable place to work, remove the target.
  2. In order to access the sensor it will be necessary to look for the “mirror lock” option in the camera settings. In this mode, the mirror is raised and the sensor is turned off, being able to access it and work more quietly.
  3. In principle, as we are going to use the air pear or a brush, the ideal thing is to work with the camera “face down” so that gravity helps us so that the dust does not return to adhere to the sensor. If we are using any liquid, the most comfortable is the “face up” camera on a clean and firm surface.
  4. Proceed to carefully clean the sensor. If you have doubts about the method you have chosen to perform it, you can read the instructions that accompany the products (Pear, Brush, Liquid solution or adhesive buffer) intended to perform it.
  5. Before placing the lens and checking that we have detached all the particles, be sure to clean the back of the lens so as not to introduce dust back into the camera and that the whole process has been in vain.
  6. Turn the camera off so that the mirror returns to its original position and take photographs of a uniformly colored surface, such as a blank sheet, the sky or a wall with the diaphragm as closed as possible. Verify that those particles that previously spoiled your photographs are no longer there.

If after the previous steps, there are still traces of dust or particles, you must start the process again but using one of the other options that I mentioned above, to perform a deeper cleaning. Always remember to be extremely careful. Any carelessness may damage your equipment.

What not to do when cleaning a sensor:

  • The sensor is not like a lens, never use your breath to clean it and much less your fingers. By blowing ourselves, we expel saliva particles that only worsen the initial situation.
  • I do not recommend that you use compressed air to clean the inside of the chamber. The air comes out with too much pressure and if we are not careful we run the risk of scratching the sensor.
  • Be careful: Any sudden movement inside the camera can damage it.
  • To access the sensor, do not even think about using the Bulb mode because in this way you will be able to lift the mirror, but the sensor will remain active and the energy it emits can attract more dust and not even talk about what would happen if while doing the cleaning you they will close the curtains that protect the sensor.
  • Do not use any liquid or alcohol to clean the sensor. Make sure it is not too abrasive.

OBJECTIVE CLEANING

Lens cleaning
 As you have read in previous publications , keeping the objectives clean and free of dust will help them prolong their life. The cameras become obsolete, but these can accompany you for many years, making your investment better , if you are careful with them. But, as with the sensor, clean your targets only when necessary.

The process to clean the body of a lens is similar to cleaning the body of the camera and does not pose greater risks to the integrity of the lens if you take the precautions I mentioned earlier.

For lenses the thing changes a little. Again, use the air pear to remove particles that could potentially cause scratches on the lens surface. Once this is done, clean the lens surface gently with a microfiber cloth, similar to the one used to clean glasses.

If after this there were traces or marks on it, you can use isopropyl alcohol, and give them the final touch. The lenses have a protective bath that prevents them from being damaged more easily, so only use liquids if necessary.
Take care to remove all dust from the protective cap of the lens with a brush to prevent it from getting dirty again.

What not to do when cleaning an objective:

  1. If you do not want to cause further damage, paper, shirt and shirt are not allowed to clean your lenses.
  2. Do not add any liquid directly on the lens as it can accumulate or enter through the clefts into the lens.
  3. Do not use generic lens cleaners to clean your lenses, some are very abrasive and can end up damaging the protective bath that brands use to protect the lenses.
  4. Do not store your lenses in damp places that can generate fungus on the lens.
Lens image with fungus

GENERAL CARE OF THE TEAM

  1. Both the equipment and the place where we store it (backpack, case or bag, etc.) should be kept as clean as possible. In this way, entering particles will be more complicated.
  2. While we are using a lens, the back cover can be attached to the camera cover so it does not pick up dirt.
  3. If you plan to give the camera a break and do not use it for a while, it would be convenient to remove the battery and keep it in a tightly closed closet, inside a bag, in your bag or backpack, along with some desiccant that protect from moisture.
  4. It is never good to leave the camera sensor exposed for a long time. When changing the lenses, make sure you do it quickly, and in the cleanest possible environments. Eg inside the backpack.
  5. The objectives, as far as possible, should be stored with the diaphragm fully closed. In this way, the lamellae are extended and the possibility of fungi and rust is reduced.
  6. It is recommended that you take some photos, so that all the moving parts of the lenses are activated, if you have any lens that you have not used for a while.
  7. Keep the camera either with its cover or with a lens in place to prevent dust from getting inside.
  8. Always carry in your backpack: a kit of wet wipes peck-pad, eclipse2 liquid, spatula approved for the size of the sensor of your camera, and a brush of natural electrostatic bristles, so that the dust sticks to it.

Achieving good habits when handling your equipment will minimize the risk that dust, moisture or scratches can damage it.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. If you enjoyed reading this article, don’t forget to share it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Thank you.


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