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A Beginner Photographer's Guide to Camera Care

A Beginner Photographer's Guide to Camera Care

If you’re just new to photography and just bought your first camera, here are some important things to know about taking care of it.

There is a universe of online resources and workshops about the technicalities of photography and millions of people consume them everyday to improve their craft and learn new techniques. However, it is just as important to know and practice how to take care of your camera to prolong its functionality and prevent any untoward events that may hinder you from taking your next masterpiece.

1) Protect Your Camera From the Elements

Choose a camera bag that fits your use and protects your camera from the environment

Cameras are obviously not cheap but no matter how expensive they can be, most of them are not made to withstand extreme conditions. The most obvious instance would of course be exposure to water. Investing on a good rain cover for your camera never fails and is quite affordable. On the other hand, when traveling with your camera, a rain cover for your entire bag is a must. Many cameras (mostly the high-end ones) are made to be weather sealed or weather resistant. This, however, does not mean that the camera can be exposed to water or extreme temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Having a handy piece of cloth to be designated as the one for drying your gear is also a wise idea. Just be sure that the texture of the cloth isn't something that would scratch your lenses. 

2) Avoid Exposing Your Sensor to Uncontrolled Environments

That shiny rectangle is the single most delicate part of your camera. Don't leave it exposed like I did in this photo.

The sensor is the most fragile part of your camera. Exposing your camera’s sensor to the open air can allow it to be damaged by moisture or dust. The most common instance wherein this happens is when we change our lenses which is why it is most advisable to change lenses indoors or inside a covered container such as your camera bag. In addition to that, changing lenses with the camera faced downward, by virtue of gravity, decreases the chances of random dust or sand particles in the air to fall into the opening. That said, it is important to note that cleaning your cameras sensor should only be done in a closed dustless room or by the hands of trained technicians.

It is also important to mention that Mirrorless cameras should never be exposed to laser lights such as the ones you find in light shows, concerts, or parties. Even with the lens on, the lasers can literally burn your camera's sensor and leave permanent marks even on the images produced. 

3) Pick a Camera Bag That Gives Enough Cushioning for Your Camera

For any beginner, the camera bag can me the most minimal concern. However, as you learn more about photography and establish your own shooting workflow, your will eventually realized that a certain camera bag type fits you better than others. Aesthetics and modularity are common factors in choosing your camera bag but the most basic concern would of course be padding. Foam paddings inside your camera bag obviously protect your gear from any physical damage. However, it is also important to make sure that your gear sufficiently fills up your bag to reduce any movement within the bag. Sometimes, gear damage occurs not because of any fall or extraneous impact but instead due to the collision of two or more pieces of gear inside the bag. This means that your bag should also match the amount of gear your carry and having too much space can actually be bad for your gear. Don't leave any room to shake. 

4) Pick Support Accessories That Match the Camera You Have

In addition to the camera bag, your other accessories should always perfectly match the requirements of your gear. The two perfect examples of this are your tripod and camera strap. Your tripod should be able to carry your camera and lens with ease. The payload of your tripod can almost always be found on the box and should always be observed. It is also important to be mindful of how your tripod can withstand certain environmental factors. A light tripod is handy and nice but might be easily blown away by strong winds or water currents. It is important to find the right balance between portability and sturdiness.

Match the weight and functionality of your camera with the tripod that you use.

Camera straps are quite basic. They can be both nice looking and sturdy but the latter should always be the priority.

5) Invest on a Dry Box

A Dry box is a powered cabinet that maintains the moisture level of the air inside. Keeping your gear in one protects them from fungal growths.

A dry box might seem like an unnecessary expense but it seems unlikely for anyone to ever regret making that investment. The only weakness of an expensive camera lens, aside from a 5-foot fall, is a fungal infection. Fungi grow on the glass surfaces of your lenses when constantly exposed to moist or humid environments. Keeping silica gel in your camera bag can be quite useful but may not be enough for storage purposes. Fungi doesn’t damage the glass directly but feeds off the chemical coating that enhances the optical quality of it. Having fungi grow on your lens can be very annoying in the sense that it can directly ruin the optical quality of all your images with that lens. What’s even more annoying is the fact that you would have to spend quite a good amount to have a trained technician open and dismantle your lens down to the innermost layers of the glass. This can be prevented by the simple storage solution that is the dry box.

Caring for your camera may seem like a very minimal concern but as you get sucked deeper and deeper into the black hole that is photography, you will eventually spend more money for more complicated gear and having any preventable problems caused by the lack of TLC for your gear can lead to even more unnecessary expenses. 

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M R's picture

Great points!

I’d like to add that you don’t need a dry box if your live in a low humidity environment. Your equipment just needs to stay under 60-70% humidity to prevent fungus.

Wolfgang Post's picture

Another point to add and to borrow a phrase from someone else: stop worrying, cameras are not made of tofu.
They are made to withstand bumps, drizzle and some dust. So just use them, in conjunction with care and common sense.

Patrick Smith's picture

Actually sensors are quite strong and by far the most delicate part of a camera is the shutter blades and not mentioning the shutter is a mistake. This was a pretty good article otherwise, but I'd like to add that keeping the mirror/shutter assembly area clean is huge to life span of a camera. Mirrorless there is easier to keep that area around the sensor clean, but regardless the less dust and debris that is in your camera the better. This where Canon messed up in my opinion and I feel the EOS R could have a shorter life span than the Nikon, Sony and Fuji camera's that have exposed sensor's, instead of exposed shutter blades. My two Nikon D4s's both have well over 500K on their original shutter's, because I often clean out the mirror/shutter assembly area.