An important post-trip routine

An important post-trip routine

We recently visited Rietvlei Nature Reserve and were not blessed with major game sightings, the best being the mother Rhino and her calf. Despite this, it was a great outing.

On my return home, I was amazed at how much dust my camera had attracted despite it being a windless day.

I have always believed in cleaning my equipment as soon as possible after use and have previously spoken about cleaning webbing and off-road equipment.

In this case, a camera is a more delicate item of equipment so requires a good deal of TLC. As well as a decent cleaning kit. Cleaning kits are simple but necessary, they get the job done.

I use a canister of compressed air to remove the worst of the dust and then use my kit to finalise the procedure. It comes in a handy case and includes the following,

  • A puffer brush.
  • A small bottle of fluid to clean the lens (I also use it to wipe the lens once I have cleaned the optics).
  • Lens tissues for the initial clean.
  • A soft cloth for general use cleaning the body and lens.

I added a toothbrush as it helps get dust out of the ribbed section of the focusing mechanism as the brush that comes with my kit is rather soft and is more suited to the lens optics.

Using the compressed air I clean the worst of the dust off after having removed the lens cap lens hood and camera strap. These then get soaked, washed and dried. I then put them in a draught on the windowsill overnight to ensure that they are totally dry before fitting them. Cleaning takes place on a clean, soft white cloth.

I then use the soft brush to remove any remaining dust particles from the camera body and lens. If necessary I wipe the surfaces with some silicon which helps repel dust as well and the occasional spray should be caught near a drizzle before I can put the camera in its bag.

The bag gets vacuumed inside and out and is never washed as it absorbs water and does not dry easily. Then the camera gets replaced in its bag after the battery is removed and recharged.

It pays to look after your camera and lenses as they can bring you countless hours of enjoyment.

If you change lenses regularly it may be necessary to clean the camera’s sensor otherwise you may end up with problems with your images. Our dust and climatic conditions often necessitate a sensor clean to remove dust that may find its way into your camera and onto the sensor. It’s part of your maintenance schedule and ensures that you get the desired image quality. If changing lenses regularly you will need a sensor clean and mirror box blowout. It’s only necessary if you are experiencing problems with image quality such as spots appearing on your images.

I am lucky as the agent for my camera offers a free sensor clean, you simply have to go to their offices and wait about 15 minutes. 

It is important though that you use a professional who is approved by your agent otherwise you could risk damage to your camera. You could undertake this task yourself at home but it is not something that I would do. To ensure that your bag is a stable environment it is worth popping in a few silica gel desiccant packs in your bag.

A professional will do more than clean the sensor, at the same time they will inspect your camera, check contacts and any screws that may be loose. 

It’s worthwhile doing this periodically as it will improve the camera performance and give you the image quality that you want.

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