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Tips & Tricks To Keep Your Lenses In Great Shape

Taking care of your camera and lenses is important if you want these investments to last long. Proper care is also a surefire way of getting the best out of your lenses in terms of performance. Thus, it is vital to know which elements should be avoided if you want maximum protection for your photography gear.

Your camera’s lens is one of the most sensitive parts of your camera. Once it is destroyed or affected by high-risk elements, it might not function well anymore, and your camera can be rendered either “injured” or useless.


photo by Fabrizio Sciami

Your Camera Lens’ Enemies

Here are some of the most common “enemies” that can devastate your lens and ultimately, your camera.

  1. Sand

    Once sand gets into your camera, you should be prepared to miss out on some action. Your camera, including the lens, may not function properly. Just as your camera’s moving parts will be affected, your lens will be, too, as it might get some scratches after contact with sand. In addition, it’s going to be difficult taking photos with lens covered in sand!

    If it’s impossible for you to stay away from or avoid bringing your camera to places with sand, you should take extra care and make sure that your camera is protected. For example, if you need to shoot anywhere near the beach, seal your camera inside a bag and don’t forget to always put on the lens’ cap. Always bring cleaning brushes and microfiber cloth (the soft variety) so it will be easy for you to brush off the sand.

    Pay close attention to your surroundings and the scene you are shooting. If you see people playing in the sand, stay away from that area. Don’t expose your camera and lenses to such an environment.

    Regularly clean your camera and lenses. Use your brushes to remove sand grains after every trip to places like the beach. Likewise, pay attention to and constantly clean the moving parts of your camera, especially the rings.

    Remember to always put your gear inside your bag; and always put the cap back on after using the lens.

  2. Dust

    Dust is another high-risk element that your lens should not, in any way, get into contact with. It won’t scratch your lens and other camera parts, but it can do just as much harm as sand. If it gets into your lens, it can also get into the inner parts of your camera, which may inflict some damage on the image sensor.

    Therefore, as in battling sand, you need to keep your camera and lens constantly covered and protected. Since dust can be found anywhere, it is safer to place your camera inside a sealed container or bag. And once you’re in a safe, dust-free, sand-free area, clean and wipe your camera with a soft cloth and brush. The brush will help remove tiny particles of dust that might be hiding in corners and little spaces.

    Also, be sure to have your camera and lenses regularly cleaned by a professional. You can do the cleaning yourself, but hiring a professional cleaner to do it is better and will assure you of total camera care.

  3. Oils and Chemicals

    These elements will not harm just the lens, but the entire camera as well. These are regular oils and chemicals that some of us use on a daily basis, like sunscreen, body lotion, and insect repellent, which contains DEET (diethyltoluamide). DEET is an oil, yellow in color that helps protect against mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and other insects. It is also considered a solvent and is said to dissolve some types of plastic. So, if your camera or lens gets into contact with an insect repellent, the DEET in it can (and will) eat away the plastics in your gear.

    The oils and chemicals that can harm your lens and other camera parts are those that we regularly use on our bodies. So, as a precaution, do not use any of these oils when you go out on a shoot.

    To remove oils, chemicals or any sticky substance from your lens, you will need a clean piece of microfiber cloth and a lens cleaning solution. Do not apply the solution directly on the lens; pour a small amount on the cloth. Be careful not to pour too much solution on the cloth; use just enough of it to moisten the cloth. You can also use rubbing alcohol if you don’t have a cleaning solution. Again, use just a small amount.

  4. Salt

    Salt is another high-risk element that should not get in contact with your camera gear. Exposing your lens to salt or saltwater (when you’re in the beach) will expose it to the possibilities of corrosion. Salt accelerates the oxidation on your camera’s metal components.

    Protect your lens by using a UV filter – or a haze filter. This will prevent salt from getting into your lens. Additionally, always bring a clean microfiber cloth, one that’s lint-free, that you can use for wiping off films from salt or saltwater. If you want to be extra sure that your lens is salt film-free, use a lens cleaner and apply it to the cloth before cleaning your gear.

    You might also want to remember that we release salt when we sweat or perspire. Therefore, be extra careful when you are shooting in warm locations or when it is summer.

  5. Humidity

    High levels of humidity are also an enemy of your lens. Once humidity sets in, fungus will grow on some of your lens’ elements, and under its coatings. If this happens, whatever photo you take will come out blurry. Since fungus thrives in humid places that see no light and only has a little air, you should not store your camera and lenses inside your bag for an extended period. If you really need to store your gear for a period of time, you should have a regular schedule for taking them out and letting them “see the light” – or use a dry box.

    Even if you’re not working on a project or a shoot, regularly take out your camera and capture some interesting shots. Use your camera and lenses; don’t just store them inside the bag, as this will invite humidity and fungus.

If you regularly clean your camera and lenses; if you know how to use and protect them properly, you won’t have to worry about the enemies beating you. Your creative investments will be safe.