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Thread: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

  1. #1

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    Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    Just a very basic question. I make my pictures with a Nikon D90 camera with an AF-S Nikkor 18-105 mm lens. I have the camera now for something like three years, made numerous pictures and I am very happy with the results. However, now it comes to ‘maintenance’,

    As I am travelling a lot through undeveloped areas in South East Asia which are generally very dusty my camera is equally dirty from the outside. Once in a while, after coming back from a trip, I clean the outside of the body with some ‘rags’.

    So far I have never removed the lens. Reason for this is primarily that I have only one lens (yes, I should learn more about lenses and buy perhaps some more) and furthermore I don’t like the idea of changing lenses in dusty areas. My gut feeling is that as long as you do not remove the lens also no dust etc can enter the body.

    Should I remove the lens to clean the connection area between the lens and the body ? Should I also use (once in a while) the option of cleaning the mirror ? If so, would it be an idea to have this all done by a specialist ? Also other practical tips are more than welcome.

    Hope for some practical advice.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    I'd welcome hearing the views of those who no more about the technicalities of equipment than I do, but given that you have only one lens, I'd leave it on. I think that's best defence you have against dust getting in.

    Given that the outside is getting dusty, then the chances have to be that as soon as you remove the lens, dust will will enter the inner workings.

    Keep gently cleaning the bodywork and try and keep as much dust as possible off moving parts and connecting points.

  3. #3
    darkslide's Avatar
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    Ian (the other one)

    re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    I tend to agree with Donald on this one - I personally wouldn't take the lens off to clean the contacts - they are held in place by small springs so there's no need to clean anything 'in the field', unless of course you're constantly changing lenses - which isn't the case here.

    The old adage "if it aint broke, don't fix it" could be applied - why take the camera apart if it's working ok!!

    Once you're in a relatively clean environment why not give the camera a little 'spring clean' and get the dust off - but if there's nothing apparent on the images themselves, I'd leave it alone.

    Ian

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    re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    First I would like to apologise for my spelling mistake in the subject. I will try to check more precisely in the future.

    Thank you very much for your useful and fast comments and advices which almost confirm my (non professional) thoughts on this. I will leave the equipment as it is and will not disassemble when not absolutely necessary.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    Hi Henk,

    Add me as another to the "don't do it" camp

    If the camera is working, don't risk taking the lens off, as others have said.

    Even the 'connection' between lens and body, which I interpret as the mating surfaces of mount and not the electrical ones, should be fine if you haven't taken it off before.

    Practical tips:
    Use a blower brush (perhaps with a vacuum cleaner sucking very nearby to 'inhale' the dust if very grubby after a trip)
    'Micro-fibre' rags will be better than normal rags
    Be careful that dust isn't blown or pushed into the gaps around moving parts on lens or body

    Cheers,

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halfaboy View Post
    First I would like to apologise for my spelling mistake in the subject. I will try to check more precisely in the future.
    Fixed, no charge

  7. #7
    MrB's Avatar
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    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    I agree that what others have written here seem to be reasonable suggestions. However, an extra thought/question for the techs here to comment on - e.g. When a zoom lens extends, it must suck in quite a volume of air from the surroundings, along with dust suspended in that air (unless dust proofing is a feature of the lens). Will this dust eventually affect the sensor, even though the lens might never have been removed?

    Philip

  8. #8

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    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    Philip,

    This is again an excellent and very practical remark. You are absolutely right. It reminds me on the following. After I bought the equipment the zoom lens went in- and out very smoothly. During my last trip I noticed (and now I am exaggerating slightly) a bit of ‘scraping’ when zooming in- and out. As if there would be sand- or dust particles in between the moving parts.

    Does this indicate an upcoming main problem ? Do I have to take action i.e. bring the lens for maintenance to a specialist or is it an indication that I need to buy a new one ?

    The more I read on this forum the more questions are coming up. Sorry.

  9. #9
    darkslide's Avatar
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    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    I don't think you should worry until the scraping noise gets to about 109 dB

    Seriously, there is always a risk of dust and other rubbish getting inside the works - it simply can't be avoided - and some of us even detect air pumping out of the eyepieces as the front of the lens shoots back towards the camera (well, at least, that's what they say...never actually noticed it myself I have to admit) - blame Ren Kockwell for that one.

    Anyway, I personally would be hesitant trying to blow dust from within the moving 'sleeves' of a zoom lens - in case it blew it back and into the lens itself - then it would be very difficult to remove. I think modern lens design allows for as little 'play' as possible between moving surfaces, which to me at least, leads me to think that anything actually getting in must be pretty darn small, and probably not too much of a problem.

    I'm still inclined to leave well alone...but I do understand you apprehension.

  10. #10
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    Trevor Reeves

    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    If and when you get a second lens; three tips on changing lenses in the field.
    1) turn off the camera before detaching the lens. I am told that the low electrical charge to the sensor will act as an electrostatic attractant for small dust particles. Whether this is true or not I cannot verify but until proven otherwise it makes sense.
    2) learn to change lenses with the camera held so the lens mount is held facing downward, dust and moisture will be less likely to get into the opening if gravity is in your favour
    3) Replace the screw on cover over on the lens mount of the lens you just removed before putting in away. You can pretty much guarantee that your camera bag or pocket will be dusty or dirty. Dust in the back of the lens will migrate into the camera if you don't keep it clean

    I heartily concur with Dave; get a hand held bulb air blower and a microfibre cloth. If you have been in a really dusty area clean off the camera body well with the cloth. If you have been changing lenses it might be a good idea to do the following, the sequence is important. Having even a small vacuum cleaner running is helpful to suck the dust away

    1) clean the camera body and lens. Blow the dust off then clean with the cloth

    Wait for a minute or so for the vacuum to remove air borne dust

    2) remove the lens with the camera held upside down, use the blower to aggressively blow out the opening and mirror (you don't have to and should not have to stick the nozzle into the camera body itself, just be at the opening. This will blow dust out of the body.

    3) Replace the lens

    4) Activate the mirror lockup command in the menu (you should learn how to do this before starting the whole procedure)

    5) Remove the lens, lockup the mirror, blow a couple of times with the blower, replace the lens immediately, let the mirror down.

    The reason for all this anal stuff is that step 5 exposes the sensor, which is the thing you have been trying to keep clean and not damage all along.

    Dirt in the zoom mechanism will not get into the camera body as the rear lens element acts as a seal.

    I would check the lens and have it serviced if the grinding is present. Doesn't sound like a good thing to me

  11. #11

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    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    Thank you Trevor. Very detailed and useful information. Also thanks for all the time spent to answer.
    HB

  12. #12
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    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    I think Philip and Trevor said it all. My first thought, when I read the advice about leaving the lens on, was that it won't always work with a zoom lens. Depends on the zoom lens of course, but I don't think that the 18-105 will have much weather protection (it would be different with the professional 70-200mm f/2.8).
    And then the blower is a good way to clean.

    If you want to test your sensor you could always set aperture to the maximum, aim at a white wall or a blue sky and see how many dust bunnies you have collected.
    Not a nice sight if there are many, but if it is just one or two you can probably solve it with cloning in PP.
    Otherwise, first try the blower (clean air only, no canned air) and if that doesn't help maybe professional cleaning (I wouldn't try the sensor myself I think). Get a good blower, preferably one that filters the air going in. Canned air may have residues in it, so don't spray that into your body.

    The only thing I would do different from Trevor is step 3. If you remove a lens from a camera that is ON, it can sometimes mess with the electronics. Some lenses react badly to it. And as Trevor mentions in his first line, there might be electrostatic effects.
    So, I do all this without the lens attached. Your sensor is going to be exposed anyway, so step 3 does not add anything I think.

  13. #13

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    Re: Camera maintenance - cleaning.

    Hi, Not for inside but outside on the camera body, I use a Canon 1DS mk II and the body got dirty so I cleaned it with a damp cloth but when it dried it still looked grubby so i asked the question on another forum "What to use" and one piece of advice was to use a very small amount of WD 40 on a clean cloth and just rub it in, IT WORKS!!! camera body came up a treat, just remember a litle goes a long way as far as the WD 40.
    Russ

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