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Cleaning and Maintenance For DSLR

Keeping the lens clear of dirt and debris, so it goes on taking crisp, clean images;

Keeping the rest of the camera clean of dust and debris, so that it doesn’t manage to find its way into any points that are opened or can be opened to the elements (e.g. battery & memory card slots; microphone sockets; or even down the ultra slim gap between the buttons or dials and the camera body itself). Also, dust on the camera body can easily find its way onto the lens. So, if you only bother to clean the lens and ignore the camera body, you may return from a long or important photo shoot to find one or two annoying specks of dust or debris that had been dislodged from the camera body or lens barrel, only to find their way onto the lens. Do you really want to take that chance? I’ve experienced this and it’s not something you allow to repeat too often.

If you’ve bought yourself a “proper DSLR”, you will also need to:

Factor in keeping clean the rear of your lenses, including the metal contact pins (which allows the lens and camera to communicate the necessary data, making things like your camera’s Autofocus work as intended);

Potentially clean the ultra sensitive sensor, as well (you certainly don’t need to be cleaning the sensor after every time you’ve changed lenses, only if you discover that there are specks of dust or debris on the sensor, which you will likely find if your photos still have spots on when you’ve made doubly certain the glass of the lens, at both ends, is clean and dust free. I’ll talk more about sensor cleaning, later on in this article).

Right then, this is the cleaning and maintenance process I followed with my two cameras, which has now become something of an ingrained habit, over the years…

Cleaning and Maintenance of Bridge Cameras

1. Preparation – Getting Ready To Clean The Camera… I like to get organized, first, by taking out all of the cleaning tools I’ll need and putting them on the surface where I’ll be detailing my camera (whether that’s at the kitchen table or wherever’s most convenient at the time). Tools include:

a Lens Pen (which contains a soft bristled brush, which I use on the camera body and lens barrel, as well as a statically charged tip, which I use primarily on the glass of the lens, but also have used it on the LCD screen and viewfinder, from time to time).

an Air Blower (I blow off any dust and debris that can be easily dislodged with this tool. I do this before I use the brush from the Lens Pen, so as not to risk harder bits of debris potentially scratching delicate surfaces. Maybe it’s overcautious, but that’s just my way of doing it. The Air Blow works pretty well).

a Microfiber Cloth (I wrap a clean area of the cloth so that it’s taut around a forefinger and then I use a circular motion for cleaning, especially on the glass of the lens itself. So, at this stage, I will have used, first the Air Blower, then the brush of the Lens Pen, and now the Microfiber Cloth for the rest of the job. While the statically charged tip, housed underneath the cap of the Lens Pen, can be used for cleaning the glass of the lens, I typically like to reserve / preserve that for when I need to clean my camera away from home, as it’s less fiddly than using a Microfiber Cloth. When at home, I will opt for the Microfiber Cloth for this part of the job. Choose whichever method you prefer, if you have the choice of cleaning with both a Microfiber Cloth AND a Lens Pen).

Lens Cleaning Fluid (this is used with the Microfiber Cloth. I tend to only use this fluid if the camera and/or lens becomes particularly grubby. First, I wrap the Microfiber Cloth around my cleaning finger and then I spray a small amount onto the cloth – NOT directly onto the lens or camera body, as it can be easy to spray too much, and then you’re effectively pouring liquid into the gaps of your camera, between buttons and dials, for instance, which could be just as harmful as getting any of the other unwanted elements in there. Spraying onto the cloth helps absorb any excess fluid, first, and then you’re good to clean the body, lens barrel, or lens).

2. Cleaning the Camera… I clean my cameras in the following order and now it’s just become a habit. First, I clean the Lens Barrel, so that no surface debris or dust falls off and onto the glass of the lens when I turn the camera over to access different parts for cleaning. Next, I clean the glass of the lens and, finally, I clean the LCD & Viewfinder.

Cleaning and Maintenance of DSLR Cameras

I follow the same procedure for cleaning my Panasonic FZ1000 Bridge Camera, only now, because my Panasonic GH4 is a “proper DSLR”, with interchangeable lenses, I have to be vigilant about not getting dust on the sensor or on the rear of the lens, when switching lenses and, if that happens, I need to take steps to clean either the lens, camera sensor, or both.

3. Cleaning The Lens … There will be a button on the body of the camera, which you push and then you turn the lens (typically in a counter-clockwise direction), to remove the lens from the body of the camera. Now, before I do anything else, I pop on the bottom lens cap (which will come with any new lens that you buy from any good manufacturer) and set the lens to one side. If you have a cap that will go over the exposed sensor, on the camera body, now is the time to put it on (so that no household dust can find its way onto the sensor – there’s no sense in having to clean the ultra sensitive sensor, if you don’t have to). Once done, now I can clean the lens, itself.

I tend to clean the body of the lens, first, using first an Air Blower to remove the loosest of the dirt or debris. Then, I’ll use the brush on the Lens Pen to get rid of the more stubborn bits of debris. If needed, I’ll use the Microfiber Cloth, with a spray or two of Cleaning Fluid, to finish cleaning the body of the lens. Next, I’ll take off the lens cap and clean around the edges of the lens, before using a circular motion with the cloth, to clean the glass of the lens. After putting the lens cap back on, I’ll check the bottom of the Lens (the end with the metal contact pins). If it needs it, I’ll clean this in the same way that I detail the front of the lens. However, I often find that there aren’t any marks, nor any grime or debris on this end (because I’ve been careful when changing lenses and have managed not to get any dirt on this end of the lens – I tend to go out of the house with the lens I intend to use, so changing lenses “in the field” isn’t something I have faced, as yet. That is when you’re more likely to find specks of dirt or debris on the bottom of the lens, and so will need to clean it).

And that’s it, the lens is cleaned and it can either go back on the camera or away into my camera bag, which is where I keep my lenses.

4. Cleaning The Sensor… I’m going to refer to the user guide for my Panasonic GH4, to explain how sensor cleaning is done with the this particular camera. If you have a different camera, because of the sensitivity of the image sensor, it’s recommended you consult the manufacturer’s user manual before attempting to clean the sensor.