A beginner's guide to photography gear maintenance: How to look after your kit

A beginner's guide to photography gear maintenance: How to look after your kit

First published:
September 7, 2023
Updated:
January 30, 2024

Taking good care of your photography kit will increase its lifespan and help you get the most out of your investment in your equipment. Here's how to look after your kit

If you're just getting started in photography, or you've just invested in your first pieces of serious camera kit. You'll want to keep it in tip top condition.

Proper maintenance of your photography gear is essential to ensure your camera and all of it's associated accessories perform at their very best and last you years.

This guide will walk you through the basics of caring for your photography equipment, from your camera to it's lenses and accessories, along with tips to keep everything you have in good working order.

So, let’s dive in:

1 Keep your kit clean

This is perhaps the most important of all of care practices for your gear–keep it clean!

Dust and dirt particles may seem innocuous at first glance, but they can wreak havoc on your photography gear over time. These tiny particles have a knack for finding their way into the delicate mechanisms of your camera and lenses, potentially leading to malfunctions and reduced performance.

Regular cleaning of your camera gear will safeguard your equipment's longevity and image quality.

Here are some items you can use to keep your kit dust-free:

- Microfiber cloths:
Use a soft microfiber cloth to gently wipe away dust and fingerprints from your camera body and lenses. Buy a multipack and keep a couple with you wherever you take your camera.

- Blower: Use a blower brush to remove larger particles without touching sensitive elements of your gear.

- Lens cleaning solution: For stubborn smudges, apply a small amount of lens cleaning solution to a microfiber cloth and gently clean the lens surface.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

2 Protect from the elements

Exposing your photography gear to rain, snow, extreme hot or cold temperatures, or dust storms can lead to irreparable damage and, over time, can also affect both the functionality and aesthetics of your camera and lenses. To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your camera gear, always be prepared for such conditions when venturing out.

Here are some key items and tips that can help you protect your kit from the elements:

- Rain covers:
If you're shooting in the rain, snow, or dusty environments, use a rain cover or a plastic bag to protect your camera.

-
Lens hood: Attach a lens hood to your lens to shield it from glare and accidental contact.

- UV filter:
Consider using a UV filter to protect your lens from scratches and dust. It can also improve image quality when shooting in bright sunlight.

- Keep your kit cool in extreme heat: When not actively shooting, place your camera in the shade or a camera bag to prevent it from absorbing excessive heat. Avoid leaving it exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time.

- Warm-up breaks: If you're shooting in extreme cold for an extended period, give your camera gear a break. Place it in an insulated bag or wrap it in a warm jacket during breaks to prevent excessive cold exposure.

Photo by ArtHouse Studio

3 Store properly

Proper storage is key to safeguarding your valuable photography equipment from potential harm. A secure and suitable storage environment, free from extremes in temperature and humidity not only shields your gear from the perils of moisture and condensation but also guards against the corrosive effects of prolonged exposure to adverse conditions.

Here’s what you can use to best store your equipment:

- Camera bag:
Invest in a padded camera bag or case that fits your gear snugly. It should have compartments to keep everything organised (see our separate tip on camera bags for more information).

- Dry environment:
Store your gear in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture damage.

- Use silica gel:
Keep silica gel packets in your camera bag to absorb excess moisture.

- Remove batteries:
If you're not using your camera for an extended period, remove the batteries to prevent corrosion.

Photo by Fujifilm North America

4 Handle with care

How you handle your photographic equipment can significantly impact its longevity and performance, as rough or careless treatment can lead to accidental drops, scratches, or internal damage.

How to properly handle your photography kit:

- Hold it properly: Always support your camera with both hands to avoid dropping it.

- Change lenses carefully: When changing lenses, do it in a clean environment and point the camera downward to prevent dust from entering.

- Secure the lens cap: When not using your camera, keep the lens cap on to protect the lens from dust and scratches.

Photo by Erik Mclean

5 Regular maintenance

Routine inspections of your kit act primarily as a preventative measure. By regularly checking your kit, you can identify and address potential issues before they escalate into more significant problems (which often mean far more costly problems, too).

Here’s what you should check routinely on with your camera gear:

- Check for firmware updates: Manufacturers release updates to improve camera performance. Check your camera manufacturer's website for firmware updates and follow the instructions for installation.

- Sensor cleaning: If you notice specks on your images, it may be time for sensor cleaning. You can do it yourself with a sensor cleaning kit or professionally.

- Lens calibration: If your autofocus is consistently off, consider calibrating your lenses with your camera body.

6 Insure your gear

Consider getting insurance to protect your investment. Look into camera insurance plans that cover accidental damage, theft, and loss of equipment. It can save you a lot of stress and money in case of unfortunate events. particularly if you're putting down a lot of money on kit.

7 Learn from others

Join online forums or social media groups where photographers share their experiences and tips on gear maintenance. You'll no doubt hear some horror stories where things have gone disastrously wrong (if anything they can make you feel better knowing that if something happens to your kit, something similar or worse will have happened to someone else), but you can also learn a huge amount from your peers.

If you have a kit question, no matter how specific or basic it is, ask away–your fellow photographers will be more than happy to share their experiences and advice.

8 Don't neglect your camera bag

Your camera bag is an essential part of your gear and far more than just a convenient carrying case; it plays a role in safeguarding your entire photographic kit.

This protective cocoon serves as the frontline defence against environmental hazards, and ensures that your cameras, lenses, and accessories are shielded from dust, moisture, and physical impacts during transport. Moreover, an organised camera bag facilitates quick and efficient access to your gear, for capturing those fleeting moments.

Tips on camera bag upkeep and the gear within:

Clean your bag:
Regularly clean your camera bag to remove dust and debris. A dirty bag can contaminate your gear.

Check zippers and straps: Ensure that zippers are functioning correctly, and straps are securely attached–you don't want your camera gear falling out!

Organise your gear
: Maintain an orderly arrangement of your camera and accessories within your bag. Use dividers, pouches, or inserts to keep your gear separated and protected within the bag.

Photo by Erik Mclean

Final thoughts:

By following the advice set out in this guide, you'll not only prolong the life of your camera gear but also maintain its performance for years to come.

Remember that proper maintenance is not only looking after your initial investment, it's also investing in your photography journey long-term, and you'll always have best kit possible to capture those optimal moments.

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