Camera maintenance

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My daughter’s first ‘real’ camera has been purchased for her birthday, and she is now ready to take ‘real’ photographs and not just ‘selfies’. The first step towards being the photographer she imagines herself becoming! She repeats “Fill the frame” as a mantra, and that is a good start.

While not the most expensive camera, it was also not cheap. It was not the kind of outlay you would want to do too often.

So here are some tips from me on how to look after your photographic investments, which can run into big money! My favourite lens was a 40 mm Hasselblad wide angle, with a huge bit of glass on the front, that would cost in Thailand over 200,000 baht. That alone makes it worth looking after?

However, even humble point and shooters will benefit from being looked after. Any camera will give you better and more reliable service, and not let you down when you are about to take the one shot that will make you millions of baht in the international news market.

The first concept is to understand just what it is that will go towards destroying your camera. Usually these are simply, dust and grit, moisture and condensation, battery acid and being dropped. Looking after your investment is then a simple case of countering the above factors.

Being dropped never benefits any camera, so the first procedure in the camera shop was to fit a neck strap and get her used to wearing it. Even if not around the neck, the strap should be wrapped around the wrist. The strap is like the safety belt in your car.

Moisture and condensation are the easiest ones to counter, but the dampness comes from more than just being caught out in the rain. Thailand is a hot and humid environment. How many times have you taken your camera outside and found you could not see through the viewfinder because it had steamed up? That is condensation. The best answer here is to keep small sachets of silica gel in your camera bag. When the silica gel changes colour you can pop them back in the micro-wave and rejuvenate them very easily. Many bottles of tablets come with perfect little sachets in the top of them too.

There will also be times when you get caught in the rain, or you may even want to get rain shots. The camera body is reasonably water proof, but you should carefully wipe the outside of the case dry afterwards, and especially blow air around the lens barrel and the lens mount.

Dust and grit is the ever present danger in the environment. How many times have you got a small piece of grit in your eye? Often, I will wager. Small particles such as that can be very bad for the lens focussing and zooming mechanics too. There is really no secret here!

That leads us to the even more serious type of corrosion – leakage from batteries. Just about every camera in the world these days has a battery, even if it is just to drive the needle on the light meter. There is a moral here, isn’t there?

In fact, there are two morals to be learned. The first is to check batteries every three months, I would suggest, rather than just waiting for the batteries to fail or become erratic. And secondly, you get what you pay for – so buy the best you can. It will serve you well in the end. Acid leakage (and even acid fumes) from a battery can totally ruin a modern camera, getting into the electronics so that it never works properly again. The answer here is to discard the batteries every twelve months, even if they seem to be fine, and if you are not going to be using the camera for an extended period, then take the batteries out altogether.

Finally, keep your camera in a soft case that can absorb some shocks. Not the silly leather or plastic thing it came in. If you have not got one – then go out and buy one today. They are very inexpensive, especially when compared to the cost of the camera! Protect your investment!