Any Advice on Cleaning my Camera?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by linpelk, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. linpelk

    linpelk TPF Noob!

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    I was wondering if anyone has a good link to something that tells me how I should be cleaning my camera/lenses (or advice). I've just been using the little brush with the bulb on the end and the lens tissues with whatever fluid that comes in the "kit". Is it good/bad to use those bottles of compressed air to get into the little crevices on the camera body/lens? I have had my camera at the beach on more than a few occasions and I have a slight gritty sound in one of my focus rings on my lens (I'm a total newbie and don't know what they are called so I'm calling it a focus ring...I'm sure you know what I mean). Is there a way to remedy that? Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Okay, first of all, throw out that blower bulb with the brush. Those are bad, bad, BAD! Why? Because most of them draw the air in through the tube, and the brush serves to trap bits of dust and dirt, and redistribute them where you most don't want it. Spend a few dollars and pick up a Giottos Rocket. It alone probably costs more than the cleaning kit you just bought, but trust me, it's worth it. Never, EVER, under any circumstances use canned air/gas of any sort. 1) Because the gas is not 'clean', that is there can often be minute traces of oil in it, which will do all sorts of nasty things to the inner workings of your camera, especially your sensor, and 2) because there are some parts, especially in the mirror chamber that can be damaged by either the pressure of the discharging gas, or by the fact that if you hold the nozzle too close, what you will actually get out is liquid. Only use lens-cleaning fluid as a last resort, and only then if it's good-quality fluid purchased from a reputable camera store (Don't buy a big box store camera cleaning kit), also get a good-quality cleaning brush. This is a good basic cleaning kit.

    So, what is the best way to clean your camera? Well, like anything, opinions vary, but here's how I've been doing it for many years:

    1. Brush off the exterior of the camera and lens with the brush. Then get a soft, lint-free cloth (qood quality micro-fibre is perfect) and dampen it slightly with warm (not hot) water. Wipe down the outside of the body, the lens barrel, etc. NOT the lens elements - it won't hurt them, but it will likely streak them, making them more difficult to clean later. Rinse the cloth completely in warm water, wring out very thoroughly, and repeat as necessary.

    2. Use your blower bulb and/or brush to remove any dust from the front element, and take a second clean, DRY, lint-free, micro-fibre cloth and use light "huffs" of breath to polish clean with your cloth. Don't "scrub", but you can use pressure, but no more than necessary.

    3. Remove the lens from the camera, and put either a body-cap or a fresh piece of lens-tissue over the opening to keep dust from entering. Look at the "inside" end of your lens, and use the blower-bulb and brush to remove any loose dust, etc. Now repeat the process in step 2 to the inside element. Put an rear cap on the lens and put aside.

    4. Remove the body-cap/lens tissue and hold the body with the lens opening facing down at about 45 deg, and use the blower-bulb gently blow off the inside of the mirror chamber, ensuring that you hold the body so that the dust will fall out the lens mounting opening.

    That will take care of about 95% of your camera cleaning. What's the other five percent? That would be sensor cleaning. This is the area which people seem to be scared of. For some reason major camera manufacturers don't want North Americans cleaning their own sensor. If you buy a Nikon in Japan, it will come with sensor-cleaning instructions... who knows?

    Anyway first, understand that you're not actually going to touch the sensor, but rather the high-pass filter immediatley in front of it, which is usually made of mineral glass and is in reality fairly difficult to damage. It is easy however to smear, so caution is required.

    First step in sensor-cleaning is to lock up your mirror (check your manualf for how to do this).

    Now, holding the body as per step 4 above, use the blower bulb to gently clean the sensor. This will work most of the time. If it doesn't then we're on to the more in-depth stuff. For my money, Visible Dust (www.visibledust.com) makes the best products for this. Start with their Arctic Butterfly, and if that doesn't work, move on to their wet-cleaning system.

    The gritty sound you mentioned in your focusing rings conerns me a little bit. I would likely take that in to a reputable camera store/repair facility and ask them about it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2009
  3. stsinner

    stsinner TPF Noob!

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    The only thing I would add to tirediron's excellent post is to try to do this next to a window where the sunlight is coming in.. It really makes the dust particles easy to see and get rid of.
     
  4. linpelk

    linpelk TPF Noob!

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    Wow, that was INCREDIBLY nice of you to take the time to write that all out for me. I REALLY appreciate it! I will order the cleaning kit right away and a couple of micro-fiber cloths too. The gritty sound is, fortunately, in my manual focusing ring that I never use (I suck at manual focus so I exclusively use AF). I only noticed it by accident. I will take it in though since I don't want it to cause any problems. Thanks so much.
     
  5. iriairi

    iriairi TPF Noob!

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    Tirediron, Excellent thorough explanation.
     
  6. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 TPF Noob!

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    I agree. The front of my lens has a few spots on it and need cleaning, now I know the proper way to do it. Thanks Tirediron!
     
  7. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome all. I should add that I know some of the products I've recommended are fairly expensive, especially Visible Dust's Arctic Butterfly, BUT again, you get what you pay for. If your camera doesn't have a self-cleaning sensor, this little tool is, IMO, well worth the hundred or so dollars it costs. You will find some people who are content to clone out sensor dust in post, and sure, that works too, but I much prefer to get things right 'in camera'.
     

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