Camera care tips for beginners can be hit or miss at times. It’s risky to follow the advice when you aren’t sure where it came from – and if it’s safe to use on your specific gear.
This article gives you safe and reliable tips for camera maintenance and how to care for your gear. Cameras and lenses are fragile, expensive pieces of equipment, so it pays to get a longer useful life from them. One careless cleaning mistake can damage your lens permanently – and repairing doesn’t come cheap! It’s worth your while investing in good quality cleaning equipment and learning good cleaning tips and techniques.
This takes some practice to get right and it’s often overlooked.
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Maintenance is Super Important
There are so many amateur photographers that undersell the importance of regularly maintaining your camera and gear. Not only can the quality of your shots be affected, but also the long term lifespan of your equipment.
Learning simple and effective camera care tips for beginners will save you loads of time – and cash – in the long run. This guide will take you through 21 ultimate camera care tips for beginners.
Our time is valuable and nobody really enjoys cleaning – so I try to keep maintenance as brief, but as thorough, as possible. Photography is a beautiful and expressive art form. The last thing you want is dirty or damaged gear getting in the way.
Let’s get into the tips!
Tip 1: Get a Good Camera Bag
Camera bags will keep your gear safe when you’re on the move, regardless of what camera you’re using. Mirrorless camera care is just as important – and getting a high-quality bag isn’t something to ignore.
This has saved me loads of time because I know where all my stuff is. It’s frustrating to lose an attachment – and it can be costly too. Get a camera bag that fits your model well, and has space for one or two of your favorite lenses. If you have the budget – get one made of water-resistant material and zippers. It’s easier than you think for water and moisture to sneak into your bag, putting your expensive gear at risk.
Having a good bag is always better. Your camera and lenses are extraordinarily prone to get scratched and gathering dust – it’s worth the investment.
Tip 2: Don’t Touch Your Lens Glass and LCD Screen
Touching these isn’t necessary (unless you have a touchscreen LCD) and should be avoided as often as possible.
Avoiding touches is super important for video camera maintenance, as getting longer life from your LCD will give you more value for your money.
Your fingers carry heaps of fine dirt that can get caught in very hard to clean places.
Be even more careful when handling your lenses.
Our skin is oily, and just one touch can smudge your lens – affecting the quality of your shots.
The lens glass can also be scratched very easily, and they’re permanent. It’s not worth having to ditch a lens because of a tiny scratch, caused by a small mistake.
P.S. Cleaning your lenses without the right clothes can also scratch the glass. You’ll find more tips on cleaning later on in this guide.
Tip 3: Take the Batteries Out
Batteries can leak acid when they’re empty – and they lose charge even when they aren’t being used. This isn’t good news for your camera. Knowing this made a big difference in my Nikon camera care regimen – and gave me more peace of mind.
The last thing you want is these potential sources of leaking acid sitting in your camera overnight. I take the batteries out of my camera between uses. This might seem like overkill – but it gives me peace of mind.
Leaked acid can ruin a lens or a camera body – often beyond repair. All it takes is one time to make you regret not following this tip forever. I take the batteries out whenever I travel, in hot conditions and overnight. Taking out the batteries is a good habit to get into.
Tip 4: Avoid Canned Compressed Air
I generally stay away from canned and compressed air when I clean my gear. These cans often have unfriendly chemicals in them that can damage your stuff.
This is one of the most overlooked camera care tips for beginners. Lenses have a special coating on the glass to protect against various things. These chemicals can often damage the coating and ruin your lens forever. If you’re going to use a can of compressed air, do a lot of research.
Stay away from super cheap options and try to stick with the better brands. It costs a little more but it will save you a lot of potential repair costs. I use a combination of my rubber handheld air blower and a good quality lens brush for my cleaning. Don’t be sold into thinking you can’t get a good clean without using compressed air.
Tip 5: Turn Your Camera Off Before Doing Anything
Your camera is always writing to the memory card. This is one of the reasons you should turn off before doing anything. That includes changing lenses, cleaning, changing memory cards – anything!
It’s better to be safe than sorry. You could ruin or corrupt your memory card while the camera is on. You’re at a higher risk of damaging it and losing everything on it. The other reason is that you’re lenses are more prone to dust and wind blowing into the movable parts while the camera is on.
P.S. Remember to point your camera lens down when changing lenses – it’ll be harder for the wind to blow dust into the mount.
Tip 6: Big Brands Deliver More Consistently
Whether you’re choosing lenses, camera bodies, batteries or filters, and attachments, the big brands are generally more reliable. They’re big for a reason – they’ve developed trust and excellent quality over several years.
They usually cost more. Photography doesn’t tend to reward budget gear very handsomely. You’ll find some diamond deals out there, but it’s not easy to replicate this. Skimping on getting a good quality filter can end up damaging your lens.
I usually save a little on my camera bodies and spend a little bigger on my lenses and filters. Going with third party batteries is risky too – I don’t advise it. Don’t go too cheap with your bags and straps either. One drop can cost you thousands.
Tip 7: Learn From the Pros
There are tons of tips and tricks out there. Some of them are better than others, so you have to be careful who you learn from.
I pick a couple of pros in my area of specialty, or who have a similar style to me, and I learn from them.
Spend some time digging up some quality blogs or teachers you can learn from.
You’ll be surprised how much you can learn. It might also be rewarding to find groups, forums, and meet-ups.
You’ll find like-minded people that know a thing or two. Look for others that use similar gear and cameras to you, and see what they do.
Tip 8: The Elements Aren’t Your Allies
As you know, photography gear is delicate and expensive.
It really pays to take some preventative measures and make sure your camera and gear are protected from the elements.
Water moisture and dust are the main things to look out for.
Beware of changing your lenses in wet areas or in direct sunlight. You should also think about where you store your equipment – avoid hot and moist areas, and direct sunlight.
Getting a weather-resistant camera bag and giving your gear some time to adjust to different temperatures and climates will help protect them.
These small habits can save you lots of frustration and money in the future.
Tip 9: Treat Your Memory Card like Gold
If you’re a career photographer, you’ll understand this tip more than most.
Your memory cards are your lifeline. Your camera is useless without a safe, reliable place to keep all your shots.
You need to take special care of your card – and ultimately – your memories.
Here are a couple of handy tips to make sure you don’t make a costly mistake:
- Get a good memory card case and don’t ever transport your cards without it
- Do everything you can to keep dust away from your cards. Change them indoors if you can, as the wind can easily blow dust onto it
- Store your memory cards in cool temperatures
- Keep them safely away from any magnets. One magnet can corrupt or clean swipe your card and all your memories. Magnets are found in loads of common items like speakers and TV screens
Stay mindful of these points and you’ll reduce the chance of something going wrong.
Tip 10: Use a Good Camera Strap
Don’t skimp and get a cheap camera strap. I’ve lost a camera and lens to a faulty buckle that I borrowed from a friend.
ALWAYS check the strap yourself – never expect somebody else to have done it upright.
Strapping up and throwing it over your shoulder isn’t enough. You need to learn about wrist loops and the correct way to hold a strap.
Neck-straps are also another good alternative if you want something safer.
Pay attention to how the camera hangs when it isn’t in your hands. I never just let it hang freely – your lens can scratch pretty easily.
Tip 11: Filters Protect Your Lens
Make sure you know what filters are and how they work.
Filters are very often underused and underappreciated by amateur and beginner photographers.
Take some time to research and find the best filters that match your photography style. Keep in mind the places and situations you’ll be shooting in and gear up accordingly.
UV filters can protect your sensor and lens against the powerful rays of the sun, and improve your shots in direct sunlight.
Filters will also shield your lens against scratches and light knocks.
It’s massively cheaper to replace a filter than it is to get a new lens.
Filters won’t have a huge impact on the overall quality of your shots – when you use them right. So take some time to learn the best techniques and practices.
Tip 12: Lens Fogging Can Be Controlled
Lenses will tend to get foggy when they go through a big shift in temperature – like when you’re traveling.
When you know you’re going on a trip to a place with a more humid climate, don’t just whip out your camera and start using it.
Give it some time to adjust to the new setting before putting it to work.
Avoid storing your lens and camera in a humid space, or somewhere that’s in direct sunlight.
When you’re going to a hotter place, take your camera and lens out the tight bag and let it “breathe”.
This will slow down and possibly even stop moisture building up in your lens and viewfinder.
If condensation has already built up in your lens, just let the camera sit somewhere dust free and room temperature until it goes away.
Tip 13: Wash Your Hands Often
One of the main ways dirt finds its way onto your gear is through your hands.
The more often you wash your hands, the better.
This isn’t always possible – especially when you’re shooting outdoors or traveling – so carry some wet wipes in your kit.
A hand sanitizer will also come in handy, so get a decent one and add it to your cleaning kit.
Don’t ever touch your lens, even with clean hands. They might seem clean to you, but they almost always oily to some extent.
Once this oil and grime get into the grooves around the edges of your lens glass, it’s a real headache to clean out safely.
Tip 14: Your Shirt Is NOT a Cloth
Never ever use your shirt as a makeshift or temporary cloth.
The materials aren’t suited to cleaning the delicate surfaces on your camera and lenses.
It’s very tempting to wipe away some dirt or a smudge with some part of your clothing.
The issue is that your clothes pick up oil from your body and dust from the air.
Cleaning your camera and lens with a shirt can cause tiny little scratches; which then become the foundation for more pronounced ones.
Always be mindful of what you use. It’s better to use a carefully chose cleaning kit EVERY time you clean your gear.
Use a good and suitable microfiber cloth to clean your lens.
Remember that permanent damage can be caused by something you do only one time!
Tip 15: Lens Caps are Extremely Useful
Lens caps are often looked over by new photographers. They haven’t experienced the pain of scratching a new lens yet.
Lens caps are there for a reason. Use one.
They’ll protect your sensor from taking damage from powerful laser lights and direct sunlight.
Slap your lens cap on whenever you aren’t using your camera – even when it’s hanging around your neck.
You may have some issues your lens cap if you have lens adaptors on at the same time.
Your lens is probably the most expensive and fragile of all your gear – protecting it is very important.
It has the biggest effect on the quality and consistency of your shots.
Tip 16: Be Careful When You Change Your Lens
Your camera and lens are most vulnerable when you’re taking them off and putting them on.
If you don’t take extra care here, you’re going to get dust and grime in the mount and in hard to reach places.
Every time you change lenses, make sure you’re indoors – or at least in a place that has no wind.
Face your camera downwards too. This will stop dust from blowing and falling into the lens mount.
It’s better to change your lens over a cushion of some kind. Do this until you are 100% confident that you’re not going to drop a lens.
You’ll kick yourself if you make a mistake like this. I’ve witnessed a professional photographer make this very mistake – despite over 10 years working as a photographer.
P.S. It’ll pay to take some time to learn about all the different parts of a camera, and how maintenance will affect them.
Tip 17: Lasers Can Damage Your Sensor
There has been an increasing number of cases of sensors being damaged by powerful lasers.
These lasers are common at big shows and events. The green light lasers are especially powerful.
Once your sensor is damaged by these lasers, your shots will have black or red lines. You’ll have to completely replace the sensor.
There are some filters that can offer you some level of protection, but your best bet is to be very careful where you shoot.
Make sure the spot you shoot from isn’t in the direct line of any lasers. This might seem like a lot of extra work, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your camera condition.
Tip 18: Get Your Gear Professionally Maintained
Here’s another overlooked camera care tip for beginners. You’ll be surprised how many photographers neglect doing this as they want to save a little extra cash.
Search your local area and find camera care shops. They’re well-equipped to give your gear a thorough cleaning and fixing.
They’ll be able to do things that you can’t.
It’s not necessary to go to them every time – once in a while should do it.
Learning good cleaning and maintenance practices in between will save you some cash too.
Tip 19: Get a High Quality Lens Cleaning Kit
There are tons of options out there. Check with your lens or camera supplier to see what kits they recommend.
Not every setup is the same, so you need to choose something that works for your gear.
Do some research and learn the best way to clean each piece of equipment you have.
Start a regular and systematic cleaning and maintaining the schedule – your gear will thank you for it.
Choose the cleaning liquid carefully, as some chemicals can react badly with your lens coating.
Do the research and get a widely approved kit. It will quickly earn its value.
Tip 20: Be Careful Lending Your Camera Out
I’ve lent a camera to a friend (she’s a pro photographer) who didn’t attach the camera strap on correctly.
I took it out and didn’t even check as I knew she was a pro. The camera fell but luckily wasn’t damaged.
As much as I’d love to blame my friend, it was my fault for not doing all the pre-checks.
Check everything! Make sure the lenses and straps are properly attached.
It’s your gear and your responsibility.
Final Tip: Store Your Gear Better
How to store mirrorless cameras? This is a question every photographer needs to ask.
Make sure you regularly vacuum your camera bag. The dirt inside there is often more damaging than dirt outside – it’ll grate and scrape against your stuff.
The conditions in the area you store your gear is also super vital.
Keep your gear:
- Out of direct sunlight
- In a place that doesn’t have wide temperature changes
- Somewhere not too humid or moist
- Out of reach of kids, rats, and insects
These are pretty easy to follow – but no less important. Storing your gear right can save you loads of money and frustration.
Well, that’s it for our tips and tricks.
You’ve learned tried and tested tips on how to handle DSLR cameras, lenses and more.
You probably already know some of these tips, but I’m sure you’ve learned something.
It took me a long time to learn many of these – through trial and error.
I spent a lot of money I shouldn’t have and made mistakes that I could have easily avoided.
If you pay attention to your gear and are willing to learn and improve, you’ll get long fruitful lives from your equipment.
Photography is deep and often expensive – and everything you do can make a difference.
Start by taking these 21 ultimate camera care tips for beginners, and put them into practice. Keep learning and improving – you’ll start to see a difference in no time!