Have you ever taken a photo, only to notice a black mark or foggy area when you look back at it later? A lot of people underestimate the value of a clean camera in taking a good photo, but a clean camera focuses faster, makes photos sharper and saves you time removing marks with editing software.
Dust is most likely to get inside your camera or on the lens, but other things such as sand, lint from the inside of your camera bag, hair or grass can too, depending on where, and how often, you shoot outdoors. The lenses can also become smudged from fingerprints, or condensation can get inside the camera optics when shooting in humid or moist conditions.
Cleaning the Lens
Before you worry about how to clean your camera lenses, first you have to make sure that you keep your camera bag clean. I use a camera bag that has separate lens compartments from where I store the camera body (with zippers), because my lenses are less frequently exposed to outside elements (and it helps if you can keep the lens caps on your lenses too). I also like keeping some moisture-absorbing packets inside my camera bag, as I tend to have lots of shoots at the beach. These packets prevent long-term build-up of moisture that can lead to fungus developing in your lenses.
There are some basic tools you need to keep in your camera bag to help keep your lenses, lens caps and the outside of your camera clean:
1) The first is a blower. A blower is a tiny duster that can get into small crevices. I like to start off my camera cleaning process by blowing off the dust particles that have gathered throughout the body of my DSLR. Some people only use the blower to clear some dust particles off the camera lens, but I like to use mine to clear sand and other debris that have gathered in other hard to reach areas, as well the mode and command dials, around the flash and under the LCD screen (for cameras that have rotating LCD screens). Once you’ve blown off unwanted particles, you can get to the nitty gritty of cleaning out your camera lens.
2) The next tool that I like to use is the lens pen. The lens pen is generally used to take out all the dirt that the blower can’t take out, such as fingerprints, and it’s soft enough so that it won’t scratch your lens. Sometimes using a compressed air spray with a lens pens can help to remove particularly big smudges caused by things such as sunscreen getting onto the lens.
3) After this, I wipe everything down with lint-free wipes. I prefer using wipes over a cloth, and a separate liquid solution, because I’m not uncomfortable with keeping anything liquid inside my camera bag. Wipes have also taken the trouble out of figuring out what the right ratio of cloth to liquid solution to use when cleaning your lenses.
Cleaning the Sensor
Unless you’re the kind of person who changes your lens frequently, your camera sensor shouldn’t need to be cleaned that often, because many cameras are set to automatically clean the sensor whenever the camera is turned off.
However, there are occasions where specks can get onto the sensor. You can be certain your sensor has something on it when you photograph a white surface and spots appear, even though there is nothing on the surface.
Although it might be tempting to try and clean your camera sensor by yourself, you should leave this up to professionals at a camera repair store, or the repair department of the company who made your camera. You should also take your lenses to be cleaned professionally when moisture has gotten inside, or your lenses have cracked and the glass needs to be replaced.
To stop dust accumulating inside your camera to begin with, make sure to point your camera downward when changing lenses, and keep your palm over the exposed sensor, until a new lens is attached.
If you’re particularly worried about damage to your camera or any of the equipment, consider insuring it. Cameras can usually be covered under general home and contents insurance, or travel insurance when going on holidays.