Tip of the week: Cleaning your gear

Every photographer using dSLR or mirrorless camera had a situation with dirty lenses, filters or even camera sensors. I will share some of my experience with dirty gear and how I handled the cleaning and caring of my camera, lenses, filters and other gear.

Lens and filter care and cleaning

Lenses and filters are most likely to get fingerprints and smudges very quickly if you change the lenses on your camera frequently. One of the most important caring tip is to always put the lens cap when the lens is not being used. This way you will prevent dirt and fingerprints and also accidental damage to the front or back glass element. Also, I always put away lenses in my camera bag or backpack as soon as I take them off the camera. Be aware that you should also close the bag, especially if you are photographing in very dirty, dusty, sandy or wet conditions.

Dirty Camera.

No matter how good you take care of your lenses they will eventually get some dust, smudges or drops of water on the front element. It happens to me all the time when I am shooting near the water (river, sea or waterfall) since small droplets always find the way to the lens.

One of the most important cleaning gadgets you should have is the blower. It takes away dust very successfully and is much better than blowing the air from your mouth, since you can get some saliva on the lens quite easily. You should have it in your bag always!

If you happen to get smudges or droplets of water, then the blower does not help. But you have many other options to go for. One of my favourite is the "LensPen" cleaner. Looks like a pen, and has two sides, one with fine cleaning brush which is retractable and the other with a special non-liquid cleaning element (that never dries out) which you can use on your lens directly. Use the brush for the dust, and cleaning element for fingerprints and smudges. It takes away unwanted stuff very successfully.

Lenspen for photographer: useful equipment on the white backgroud

Third option is the microfiber cloth and the lens cleaning fluid. Put small amount of fluid on the cloth and with circular motion remove the dirt from the lens or filter. I use this quite frequently on my ND and ND Grad filters since they have very big surface which is not so suitable for the „LensPen“.

Camera sensor care and cleaning

This is the most sensitive part of your gear so you should keep it clean as much as you can. As soon as you take the lens of, put another one on the camera, or use the camera cap you got with the camera to cover the sensor. When changing the lenses it is advisable to hold the sensor of the camera pointing down so no dust can fall on camera sensor.

Hand using air blower to cleaning dust on camera sensor

But if you eventually get the dust, the blower is a perfect cleaning tool. It can in most cases remove all of the dust and hairs from the sensor. If the blower does not finish the job and you cannot get the dirt off, or you get smudges which cannot be blown away, the only option is either to take the camera to the service center for cleaning or to buy the lens cleaning swabs. If you go for the swabs, be sure not to buy the cheapest ones and also choose the swabs that match your camera sensor size. Although I used swabs very successfully on my camera sensor, it is more safe to take the camera to the service center if you don’t want to risk it. After all, sensor is a very sensitive part of the camera.

Cleaning the camera sensor

Tripod care and cleaning

Although not as sensitive as lenses and camera sensors, tripods do need a bit of a care. Once in a while you can wipe the dust with a simple cloth if you want to keep it clean. The most sensitive parts are the retractable legs. If you put the tripod in a salt water, it is advisable, before you fold the legs, to wash them with fresh water, so no salt can get inside the tripod. Some metal parts also get rusty very easily from the salt water. Also, if I have time, I let my tripod legs dry, or I use dry cloth before folding, so no water will get inside. One of the most important things is that you do not let the sand get inside, so after using tripod on a beach or sandy ground, wash it thoroughly with fresh water and clean it with a cloth. Invest just a little time in caring about your tripod and it can last for years, even decades if it is a high quality one.

Camera on a tripod near the seaside

General cleaning

Other than this, every once in a while you can wipe your backpacks and bags with wet clothes, or even use the vacuum cleaner to clean sand or some other unwanted stuff. I also use cleaning cloth to wipe the camera body and get rid of the sweat and dirt which can damage the rubber paddings. Those are just some basic tips which really are necessary if you want your photo gear to last and work flawlessly for years.

Photo credits: Vladimir Sotnichenko, Geargodz, Suppajit Sukkunta, Ra3rn, W.scott Mcgill.

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July 26, 2019

AguPkorPhotos

Great article! really important info.

July 25, 2019

Mcardleh

Thanks for including the info and reminders about tripods, too.  Much appreciated!

July 24, 2019

Rbrucew

Great practical advice. I don't like changing lenses outdoors, but when I do I find a place out of the wind and always have the camera facing down when I take off the lens and put a new one on (after checking the rear element for dust). So far, no dust on any of mt cameras' sensors!

July 24, 2019

Williamwise1

Thanks for the summary of those great tips! William

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