How to Properly Clean and Maintain Your Photo Equipment

Photography equipment is hardly cheap, and it's important to properly maintain it so it can last longer and you can maximize the return on your investment. This great video will show you everything you need to know to properly maintain all of your photography equipment. 

Coming to you from Tony and Chelsea Northrup, this excellent video will show you everything you need to know to properly maintain your photography equipment. An additional tip for using a blower is to keep your camera pointed down while using it to allow gravity to help any bits of dust or debris to fall out of the body. In general, the best philosophy I've followed when it comes to cleaning lenses, bodies, or anything with particular fragile or sensitive parts is to use the minimal amount of physical contact necessary to effectively get the job done. In other words, if you're cleaning a lens, for example, start by just using a blower (99% of the time, this gets the job done for me). If that doesn't work, move on to a lens brush. If that doesn't work, move on to wet cleaning. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

Log in or register to post comments

14 Comments

These seem like pretty easy/common sense tips.

But why not talk about mold prevention? There are probably a few more tips to be had on camera maintenance!

Stuart Carver's picture

What’s mold? They call it mould where I come from and surely just storing your camera in a warm dry place (a house for instance) will stop it forming.

Americans spell it “mold” haha. We’re weird.

And yeah but it can still grow if you just store it/don’t use it, and you live in a more humid climate. But obviously it probably would take a while.

Stuart Carver's picture

Ahhh ok, its definitely not humid here, more windy and cold most of the time. I dare say you could sit some of those desiccant packs in with the lens and they will draw moisture from the equipment.

Kirk Darling's picture

Here is the deal on fungus, courtesy of the "building science" experts: Fungus needs 70% relative humidity for 24 continuous hours to grow. If you continually prevent that from happening, keep breaking that cycle, fungus will not be a problem.

If you're worried about your living quarters, go on Amazon or to a home store and purchase three inexpensive hygrometers (humidity meters). I say "buy three" because these are cheap, not precision instruments. You want two that agree.

Place them where you store your equipment. Humidity moves with air, so you may be surprised to find that humidity levels can vary greatly even within a room. Dead air spaces like the corners near the floor or in closets may be much more humid than the middle of the room.

Generally speaking, modern air conditioning keeps a house below 70% humidity, but those dead air spaces may surprise you. And the humidity within your bag or case may surprise you. If you had your bag open in the humid outdoors and just stashed it in the closet filled with your equipment, you're using your bag as a humidor. Corners, closets, and bags is where fungus can get you.

So if you work outside in humid conditions, then take the equipment out of the bag and expose it to the conditioned air for the night. That should handle the situation when there is air conditioning. I have always kept my equipment on open shelves covered with well-washed linen cloths to keep off dust, so that they are exposed to the conditioned air.

When I've lived in houses where I could not keep general humidity less than 70% (Okinawa, Philippines, Thailand--back in the 70s and 80s), I've kept my equipment in cupboards with some kind of gentle heater. In the old days, that was a 30-Watt incandescent bulb. These days, you can buy an inexpensive "Goldenrod" heater that uses less than 20 Watts. Raising the temperature in an enclosed space just a few degrees will drop the relative humidity in that space by 10 percentage points or more.

And there are also "dry boxes" that either have a built-in heating element or use a simple chiller mechanism to remove moisture. I've never used dry boxes because they get very expensive in the sizes I'd need for all my equipment. A cabinet with a USD $25 Goldenrod heater works just fine.

I do not recommend fooling with chemical desiccators like silica gel. They work, but it's not something to make a way of life--'way too much daily hassle for something much more easily dealt with. If you don't do it right, you could end up creating a fungus problem.

Why ph why a video? Did not watch

Edward Porter's picture

I'm having a hard time getting rid of dust in the OVF of the 5DIV. We could easily remove the focusing screen on older 5D's to clean that out, but sadly the IV looks fixed. Anyone have any suggestions?

Edit: As a warning it's also very easy to scratch the focusing screen on the IV ;-)

Fritz Asuro's picture

If blower won't work, then you should stop from that point and better send it to service if the dirt is significant enough to be too distracting.

There are ways, but really depends on the dirt/dust.

Johnny Rico's picture

And that right there is how to not store/maintain lithium battery chemistry. Store them them partial charged but not dead, top them up the day before a shoot, don't leave them trickle charging, and avoid baking them in hot cars. You can get more than a single year out of batteries.

Kirk Darling's picture

By "storage" with lithium batteries, manufacturers are talking about six months or more.

If one is using the battery more frequently than that, it's never in "storage" mode. Overnight, a week or two between uses--nothing wrong with fully charging them right after use.

As you noted, heat is the biggest danger, and that includes heating of long charging cycles from a heavily discharged battery. The short recharge cycles of topping off a lightly discharged battery create less heat stress than a long recharge cycle of a deeply discharged battery.

David Love's picture

WAIT! You mean Sony cameras don't auto clean too?

Laughing Cow's picture

Well…… have you ever seen the auto clean really work?

David Love's picture

No I mean like a magic brush and car wash pops out of the camera and jetson cleans it. Next release maybe.

Fritz Asuro's picture

It has but the auto clean function usually removes minimal dust/debris.