Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Keeping your camera clean


By James Booth

Keeping your gear clean and in working order is one of the easiest ways to ensure your photo shoots go smoothly. By cleaning and testing your camera before each use, you'll catch problems before they become an issue. In this continuation of our photography basics series, I'll take you through the finer points of going Hazel on your camera.

Getting down to business

When it comes to keeping your camera clean, you won't need a lot of tools. For the most part, there are really only about three tools you'll need, possibly four if you shoot with a digital camera.

"Because these tissues will be in direct contact with glass of your lenses, don't skimp on quality."

For removing dust and particulate matter from your camera and lenses you'll want a lipstick brush. Found in pretty much any photography store, lipstick brushes, like the one shown in Figure A, are just the ticket for sweeping off dust.


A lipstick brush will remove dust and other particles. (click for larger image)

Make sure you thoroughly blow out the bristles to dislodge any particulate matter before each use. You wouldn't want a grain stuck in the bristles to scratch your lens. Use the brush to sweep any dust or particles off your lens, as shown in Figure B.


Sweep the dust off your lens with a lipstick brush. (click for larger image)

Don't forget to clean the opposite end of your lens either. Dust can accumulate there just as easily as on the front. In some cases, the glass on the back of the lens can be recessed rather far inside the body of the lens, but your lipstick brush should still be able to clean it, like in Figure C.


Don't forget to clean the back of the lens. (click for larger image)

Some people will swear by canned air for removing particulate matter and dust, but I personally don't care for it. Not only can compressed air damage sensitive parts, I have yet to use canned air that doesn't deposit moisture on whatever surface I spray it on. Nonetheless, I count canned air as a tool you may want to keep around. Disposable cans of compressed air can be found in virtually any retail or photography store.

Another essential tool, whether you're shooting film or digital, is a package of high-quality lens cleaning tissues. Like the lipstick brush, you'll find quality lens cleaning tissues at your local photography store. You can use these cleaning tissues to remove smudges from your lenses and viewing portals.

Because these tissues will be in direct contact with glass of your lenses, don't skimp on quality. Use a high-quality brand-name cleaning tissue. The lens cleaning tissues from Kodak, shown in Figure D, are as fine as spider silk.


Use high-quality lens cleaning tissues to polish your lenses. (click for larger image)