This may not be the most fun topic of all when it comes to photography, but trust me, cleaning your kit every now and then is essential and will improve image quality.
Getting involved with photography isn't always cheap; the gear is expensive and designed to be used. I was initially a bit overprotective with my camera thinking it was fragile. Tried to avoid getting it wet, keeping it free from dirt, and even using a UV filter to protect my lens. Pretty soon, I realised that maintaining mint condition is impossible being outside in nature. Luckily, I discovered that most camera houses and lenses are built to cope with some rough handling. The glass in premium lenses is pretty scratch-resistant, and many camera houses and lenses are weather sealed. Learning this, I removed my UV filter because I didn't want to cover my high-engineered glass with something cheap. Instead, I use a lens hood to protect it from scratches. Humidity, sand, snow, Swedish subzero winters, and rain still haven't stopped my Fuji X-T3 from performing.
With that said, your buddy camera does need the occasional TLC to perform well and last a long time. Here is how I care for my gear.
After a photo session
When to clean a lens
Every now and then, the gear needs to be cleaned appropriately. Even though the lenses are rigid, it's good practice to avoid touching the glass to prevent smears and scrapes, so clean and touch only when needed. I tend to do it before and after a big trip or if the camera accidentally becomes very dirty after a photo session.
What you need
- Disposable lens tissues
- Microfibre cloth
- Cotton swabs
- Lens cleaning solution
How to clean a lens
The last thing I want is to scratch my glass. I firstly blow off or brush off any dirt particles with a blower or a soft bristle brush; remember, there is glass in the front and the rear of a lens! Secondly, I wipe my glass off with circular motions working from the center out to the edges. I do not want more particles, so it is essential to use a clean microfibre cloth or a disposable lens tissue. Use the tissue only once, and do not use kitchen roll paper as this will definitely leave traces of particles. If the lens is particularly greasy, I would consider a specific cleaning solution suitable for lenses. Apply first to the cloth and then wipe off the glass with circular motions as before. Do not spray directly on the lens. Even if the lens is weatherproof, it may not be waterproof and large amounts of the solution may leak through the lens elements and into the camera body. If there are still some dirt particles left around the edges, use a cotton swab to remove them.
At times, the lens mounts and their digital contacts on the camera body and the lens itself may need some attention. Blow or brush these off occasionally to avoid communication disturbances.
Remember that cameras are built to withstand usage! Don't be overprotective, and bring it with you in all conditions (as long as it is weatherproofed). With use comes dirt, and caring for your equipment will make it serve you for a long time to come. Get out, have fun and give the gear the occasional TLC.
Thanks for reading, and the best of luck!