We recommend professional cleaning every 5 years
(sooner if camera is subjected to harsh conditions or extensive use).
This involves dismantling the camera and cleaning all gears and moving
parts as well as adjusting the light meter and timing of the shutter. In
fact, most manufacturers and reputable service centers do not recommend
this kind of service. Most of the cleaning that people really want is
external and you can do this easily yourself. Lets take a look at what
you can do to clean and maintain your equipment.
Lenses and Filters
Probably the most important part of your equipment
to keep clean is the lens. Any dirt, film, or fingerprints that get on
the lens can degrade the quality of the image. All you need to properly
clean your lens is a blower brush, lens cleaner, and a lens cloth. There
are two basic types of cloths available today: traditional lens tissues
and micro-fiber cloths. I prefer micro-fiber cloths since they don't
leave lint behind like lens tissues will. Micro-fiber cloths are
washable so they can be reused - hand wash only, no detergent.
To clean your lens, use the blower brush to remove
any large particles of dirt or loose dust. With the micro-fiber cloth,
wipe off any "fresh" fingerprints or smudges. Be sure to wipe gently in
a circular motion. For older, more stubborn smudges, put a drop or two
of lens cleaning fluid on the cloth and wipe in a gentle, circular
It's also a good idea to check the rear element of
the lens. If needed, you can clean it in the same manner. And don't
forget your filters. They should be cleaned the same way.
To help keep your lenses clean when not in use be
sure keep the front and rear lens caps on. For filters use those plastic
holders that came with them to keep them protected when not in use. You
can also get filter wallets that hold several filters safely in one
The mirror of the camera is not as critical to
keep clean, but it will make viewing and manual focusing more
comfortable. Dirt on the mirror will not show up in photographs but can
be distracting. Be very careful when cleaning the mirror. This is a
delicate area in your camera. After removing the lens, use a blower
brush to gently brush off the mirror. You can also clean the under side
of the focusing screen while you are doing the mirror. Don't use a
liquid cleaner in this area and don't put any pressure on the mirror
When storing a camera without a lens mounted be
sure to use a body cap (which came with the camera) to close the
Focusing Screens and Prisms
On cameras with removable focusing screens, you
can remove the screen and dust it off with the blower brush. After you
have the screen out, be sure to use the blower brush to dust off any of
the glass at the bottom of the prism that you can get to.
You can also clean the viewfinder eyepiece using a
lens cloth and lens cleaning fluid. It may be difficult to get into the
corners of some rectangular viewfinders. If so, use cotton swabs with
lens fluid to clean out the corners.
Although it is not often that the film chamber
needs to be cleaned, it is important to discuss how to safely clean this
area due to the delicate nature of most shutters.
If you get some loose dust/dirt in the camera, use
a blower brush to brush out the section were the film cartridge sits and
also brush off the take up spool. Very carefully brush off the sides of
the shutter box with your blower brush, especially in the areas where
the film travels across the shutter. Be sure not to touch or brush the
shutter curtain itself. The shutters in most cameras are very delicate
and can be extremely expensive to repair.
While you're checking out your camera, check the
pressure plate on the film door. This is the flat piece on the inside of
the film door that keeps pressure on the film to keep it flat across the
shutter opening. Besides making sure it is free of build up, check the
edges of the pressure plate for any kind of nicks. If a nick occurs on
the edges of the plate, it could easily scratch the film as it is pulled
across it. If you find damage, pressure plates are relatively
inexpensive to replace.
Digital Image Sensors
Dust on the image sensor of a digital camera will
show up as a dark spot in the same location of every frame. The sensor
is a delicate piece of equipment and cleaning instructions vary from
camera to camera. Refer to the owners manual for your camera for the
proper cleaning procedure.
The battery compartment typically doesn't need a
lot of maintenance. Periodically check the contacts to make sure they
don't have a build up and check for any signs of battery leakage. If you
find a small amount of build up, a standard pencil eraser will remove
small amounts of film from the battery contacts. Heavier build up or
corrosion can be removed by gently rubbing the contact with a very fine
sand paper or emery board. After cleaning the contacts be sure to blow
out any debris left behind with a can of compressed air, available from
any camera or computer store.
The external body of the camera is pretty easy to
clean. Use a couple of drops of lens cleaner on a cleaning cloth and
wipe down the body. Do not pour lens cleaner, or any other liquid,
directly on the camera body. This could allow the liquid to run into the
body and get into the camera's electronics. Do not use the liquid
cleaner on the hot shoe as you could inadvertently short the contacts.
The hot shoe is an area that causes more problems
as a camera gets older. A common problem is flash units that fire
intermittently or not at all. This is often caused by a build-up of
corrosion on the contact of the shoe. You can keep the contacts clean by
gently rubbing them with a pencil eraser, very fine sand paper or an
emery board. This should only be done when years of build up interferes
with the flash function. Contact cleaner (available at Radio Shack) on a
soft cloth can remove light deposits and should be tried before any
Flash units are pretty easy to take care of. The
battery contacts can be checked and cleaned in the same manner as the
contacts in your camera. Check the contacts on the bottom of the flash
shoe and make sure they are clean. If they need to be polished-up clean
them in the same way as the flash shoe contacts. To clean the flash body
wipe it down with a little lens cleaner on a lens cloth.
Following these easy steps will help keep your
camera in top shape without breaking the bank. The supplies needed to
clean and maintain your camera properly can be purchased for under $20
and it takes only a few minutes to do. If you're not already doing it
give it a try. Your camera will be grateful!
- Dust off your equipment before & after use
with a 1" camel hair brush.
- Vacuum out your camera bag.
- Use UV/Skylight filters to protect optics
from impact and excessive cleaning of original optics.
Check the Batteries…
Replace at least once per year to prevent leakage
& dead batteries. Batteries that have leaked can cause extensive power
circuit damage. The corrosion can actually follow the battery contacts,
pass through the wires, and destroy the main circuit. Batteries are much
less expensive than repairs.
In event of Water Damage…
Ideally bring it in the same day for the best
possible repair. Place in a plastic bag, remove all possible air within
the bag to reduce oxidation. If completely submerged, remove battery,
keep camera submerged in fresh water (distilled water is best). Bring in
the same day and hope for the best. We use equipment that will eliminate
moisture ASAP, slowing down the corrosion process, allowing us more time
for proper servicing.
Soaking in bourbon or other alcohol is just a bad rumor! May cause
Brush off loose sand from exterior. Leave film,
lens, and any accessories attached to reduce contamination. Do not
operate any controls, additional damage may occur. Place in plastic zip
lock bag to prevent contamination of other equipment.
Ooops!!! It happens to everyone. Bring it in for
us to analyze the damage.
Not recommended. Usually adds to the cost of
repairs. If you end up repairing your camera, we are looking for new