100 Steps to IYP – Lesson 12 – Care for your Gear…

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Well, this is one lesson I learnt the hard way. I had bought my S5 just before I left for a vacation to Goa. The place has some stunning beaches, and obviously I was at one beach or another most of the time. I was relatively new to photography then, and hadn’t even purchased a proper camera bag. I used to keep my cam in a normal shoulder bag, often with other things. The whole trip went fine and I came back with some amazing pictures and memories. A couple weeks after I returned, I started using the viewfinder more than the lcd, and realised that it had some scratches. I showed it to a camera repair guy who said that it looked like someone had taken a sharp tool and scratched it. I couldn’t understand then what could’ve happened. I came back and looked up the net and came across a page that said that on a beach, there was a high probability of sand scratching the lens and the screen and viewfinder. And that is exactly what happened to me and my precious camera, because I remember having sand in my bag. The guy at the showroom said that they couldn’t change the viewfinder alone and if I had to get a new one, it would end up costing me over $100.

I couldn’t do anything about it. But the point is that you can. Photography is an expensive hobby, and being careless with your equipment can cost a lot, in terms of money as well as pictures. So here are some tips to keep in mind when handling your camera and lenses…

TIP 1: Keep your fingers off the glass!
Whether its the lens, the viewfinder, or the lcd, finger prints are a complete no-no! They spoil your picture if on the lens, your view if on the viewfinder, and your review if on the LCD. Most dSLR users would never let this happen, but I’ve seen compacts with lenses full of fingerprints without the user having any idea!

TIP 2: Keep the moisture away..
Store your lenses in a dry bag, with silica gel or some other absorbent that absorbs moisture. Even the slightest moisture can allow lead to fungus, and thats not what you want now, is it? When going shooting in winters, avoid breathing onto the camera, as this can lead to condensation inside the camera, with the possibility of screwing up the circuitry. If you want, you can even get a ‘dry cabinet’ for your gear, like most professionals.

TIP 3: Invest in a good camera bag. This will go a long way in taking care of your equipment. A good camera bag that has space for your cam, two lenses atleast (depending on your needs), spare batteries and cards, and other little accessories like filters and all.

Lots of other tips:

  • Always keep a lens cleaning kit (a blower, brush and microfibre cloth) or atleast a microfibre cloth with you at all times.
  • Try changing lenses indoors to reduce the chance of dust getting on to the sensor. If you have to do it outdoors, make sure you do it with clean hands.
  • DONOT get your camera wet. If there’s a chance for that to happen, cover it with a cellophane sheet or something similar to avoid getting it wet.
  • DONOT use just any cleaning liquids or rough abrasive cloths to clean the lens and camera. Brush the dirt off the body with a soft brush, and then wipe it with a soft cloth.
  • Lenses are extremely delicate pieces of equipment. Frankly, you should avoid touching the glass as far as possible. But when you do have to clean it, use a blower to blow the dust off, or brush it off, and then use a proper lens cleaning liquid and tissue to wipe the surface.
  • When not in use, store your lenses both sides covered with caps, in a pouch with moisture absorbent.
  • Make sure the lens caps are clean as well, since they’re supposed to actually protect your lens and not contribute to getting it dirtier.
  • Don’t try to lubricate your lens for any reason. It slows down the diaphragm.
  • If you’re not sure, don’t mess with anything. Get some one experienced to guide you once.
  • Take out the battery when not using the camera.
  • A UV filter is a good idea to protect the lens from UV as well as scratches.
  • Bags with big labels like Nikon, Canon attract more attention than beat up (albeit proper inside) bags.

As I said, I learnt the hard way how bad it feels when you screw up your favourite piece of tech because of your carelessness. It seriously is a very unpleasant feeling. And one cannot always afford to replace or repair the equip. So take good care of your stuff, and remember, if you take care of your gear, it will take care of you.

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