January. Start of a new year. A new wedding season. And an opportunity to start fresh! I usually clean out my emails, all paperwork and get everything all organized and prepped to get ready for the next busy season of weddings. This includes cleaning my camera gear. I think its one of the most over looked tasks in the system of preparation, but none the less important to creating a great image for your client. So today I will share with you how I clean my camera and lenses. There are many options and opinions out there on how to do it properly, but this way is just my own and it works for me. I hope it is helpful to you as well!
First, it is important to keep an inventory and check list on all your equipment. It is so easy to leave something behind at a wedding or location, with so much gear, you sometimes wont notice the little things like battery packs. So have a list on your phone or in your bag that has everything on it. I find this helpful when I haven’t done any weddings for a few months then I go to get my gear ready for the season and I am able to use my list to make sure nothing gets left behind in a drawer somewhere!
Ok lets get started!
You can find many cleaning products for your camera online, I have found that these simple items work well for me:
Below: Multi optical cleaning solution included in the Giottos Lens cleaning kit. Along with micro fiber cleaning cloths.
Rocket blower for lens cleaning and camera cleaning: Included also in the Giottos Lens cleaning kit.
You can really use what ever brand you want, I had just found these first and they work well.
Cleaning your camera is not something you need to do everyday, but every so often, and more so if the camera is dirty. dont go fixin something that isnt broken! For example if you see dust in your image or when you look through the view finder, it is possible the camera needs cleaned. Dust looks like dark spots on your image. First check to make sure it isnt just the viewfinder (part you look through) that is dirty. Then check the lenses to make sure they are clean. If you still see dust/dirt on the image, then clean our camera.
First, go to the back of your camera and find the menu. Chose “clean image sensor.” For Nikon it looks like this.
This cleans the sensor to the best of its ability. The next step you can take in cleaning your camera properly, is to clean the mirrors. The sensor is the most fragile and important part of the camera, so dont touch that unless you have to!
Cleaning the Mirrors
Can you see in there the reflective mirrors? That is what you can clean.
First, take your rocket blower, and hold the camera upside down so the open hole where the lens goes is facing down. Then take your blower and puff air into the hole so it reaches the mirrors. This should blow away any loose dust from the mirrors. Holding it upside down allows the dust to fall away from the camera instead of just be pushed to another area.
If dirt/dust is being stubborn then you can try dabbing away the particles.
Ever so gently, take a Q-tip with CLEAN HANDS and dab the parts that you can see dust. Do not rub or wipe the mirrors. They can scratch easily. This should take care of the spots you see on your images or in your lens. (If you had already cleaned your lens and it is still spotty on your images.)
Cleaning the Sensor
OK this part is a little more tricky.
Turn your camera on.
Go to SET UP MENU. (See above image)
Chose “LOCK MIRROR UP FOR CLEANING.”
To finish and unlock mirrors, release the shutter button
You will hear it literally lock up.
Repeat same technique as mirror cleaning with the rocket blower holding the camera face front down and blowing the dust particles out. CLEAN HANDS PEOPLE!!
Next, if the Sensor is still dirty, you can use the Sensor Swabs to clean the sensor. Take a swab and gently start at one end of the square sensor area and drag the swab across and then back using the clean side of the swab. This is the “dry” technique to cleaning the sensor. Some photographers use a “wet” technique where they put cleaning solution on the swab and then clean it with the same method. I dont trust that myself, and this works thus far for my cleaning needs. To see wet methods, you can view this you tube video.
If you are not sure how to do this, or are having trouble, it is always safe to let a professional clean your camera. You can send in to your camera company or call them to find out how much that would cost you.
Cleaning your lenses
Your lenses are something you should be cleaning every time you go to use your camera or to a shoot. They are open to the elements more so and thus need the attention.
For everyday cleaning I use Nikons Lens Pen. I LOVE it!
At the bottom of the pen pops out a little brush to brush away the loose dust. The other end has a microfiber surface that you can drag on the lens and get it nice and evenly cleaned removing dust and even moisture. I use this while at weddings or shoots. It is quick, easy and handy! I also have micro fiber cloths I keep with me at all times.
If you are doing an over haul cleaning of all your lenses, use the rocket blower again to blow away the dust.
If they remain dirty still, you can use microfiber cloth or lens tissues to wipe down your lenses after spraying them with a safe digital lens cleaning solution. (See above image of what I use.) Simply spray one spray on the lens, then wipe gently until lens is completely dry and clean.
So, that is how I clean my gear! It is an important part of your workflow even though it isn’t the fun part. Your investment into your professionalism will not go to waste! It also saves you time later from having dirty looking pictures you have to edit out for your clients. You spend a good amount on your gear, dont neglect it! It can last you a long time if you properly care for it. : )
Let me know if you have any questions below in the comments!!
What other methods do you guys use to clean your gear? Any suggestions or thoughts? Please leave your comments below to share! I always love learning new ways or techniques that work for others as well!