How To Protect Your Camera and Lenses
Cameras are expensive. They’re also one of the most rewarding pieces of tech you can get your hands on. So, when they get damaged in any way, it can be pretty heart-breaking. The problem is, they’re also pretty fragile. One small bit of dust can get inside and ruin your camera lens. One clumsy drop can damage the body of the camera.
So, how do you look after it? We did the research and found out how professional photographers look after their cameras. To them, their camera is their life, so you can bet that they take extra care making sure it’s safe. Here are our tips to protect your camera and lenses from damage.
Carry Your Camera Like A Baby
The first tip is pretty straightforward. You should carry your camera like it’s a newborn baby. No, we don’t mean that you can to support its head and keep it wrapped in a blanket. Just take extra care whenever you’re moving it. Most camera damage is caused when people are moving their cameras around, and it’s easy to get complacent. Once you’ve paid for your camera, it’s easy to forget how much it cost and how precious it is to you. But we’d encourage you to always keep that at the forefront of your mind.
Keep It Attached To Your Body At All Times
You could argue that this piece of advice contradicts the first. We disagree though. You can still carry your camera like a piece of precious cargo, even if it’s strapped to your body. Almost every camera will come with a strap that goes around your neck. This is a really useful piece of kit that stops the camera from falling and keep it relatively safe. However, we’d recommend that you change this neck strap for something a bit safer. The main problem with a neck strap is that your camera is still relatively loose, and it can easily knock into other objects if you’re not careful. Plus, you’ll look like a tourist with your camera around your neck, and it makes you a prime target for thieves.
There are a few alternative options you can choose from. The first, and best option is the wrist strap. This is a thick piece of material that keeps the camera strapped around your wrist and therefore gives it less freedom to move around and get bumped on something. The other benefit of wrist straps is that it’s much easier to move your camera away from your body and get the perfect shot. The only downside is that they’re either on or off. You can’t really leave it hanging on your wrist, but if that means you put it back in your bag, it’s safer anyway. You can also get finger straps, which are a little less secure.
The other main option is a full-blown camera harness. These are much more secure and keep your camera close to your chest, so they’re not swinging around. The downside is they’re much more expensive and a little less versatile because you can’t just lift them off your neck. However, if you really care about your camera’s safety, this is the way to go. You can only really buy camera harnesses for professional standard cameras. You won’t find one to fit your iPhone, so you might have to stick with a selfie stick.
Don’t Leave Your Camera Anywhere Vulnerable
A lot of camera damage happens when photographers leave their cameras in vulnerable areas. It’s easily done. You could put it on a coffee table, and someone spills a drink all over it. You could leave it on the edge of a countertop and it gets knocked off. You could even rest it on the floor for a moment and someone could kick it. The bottom line is, you should never leave your camera somewhere vulnerable. This sort of ties in with the first tip on this list – treat your camera like it’s a piece of precious cargo. When you are using it, keep it securely fastened to your body in some way, then put it back into your camera bag.
Buy A Camera Bag That Fits Your Camera
Following on from the last piece of advice, you really need to invest in a high-quality camera bag. If your camera came with a bag, you should make sure it’s fit for purpose before you entrust it with your camera. Firstly, how well padded is the bag? A high-quality camera bag will have a layer of thick padding to protect the camera. This is to prevent it from getting damaged if the bag gets dropped or knocked against something. Some camera bags even have multiple layers of protection. This is especially important for expensive cameras and travel cameras that are liable to get knocked.
Secondly, how many different sections does your bag have? Most camera bags have Velcro inserts to create more compartments and these can often be bought separately if you don’t have enough. All of these sections need to be padded and provide a snug fit for the item. If not, they could get knocked around inside.
Keep Your Lenses Separate In Your Bag
Now you’ve got a camera bag with different sections for the different parts of your camera, you need to use it correctly. So many photographers make the mistake of putting all of their lenses in one section. While they should be protected with caps and other protective equipment, they could still get knocked around and actually damage the outside of the lens casing. If your camera bag doesn’t have enough compartments for every separate lens, we’d definitely recommend buying a separate bag to carry your lenses around in.
Put Front & Rear Caps On Your Lens In Your Bag
If your camera and lenses are tucked away in your camera bag, they’re protected. Unless that is, you’ve left the lenses unprotected. The inside of your camera bag is made from soft materials, which are great for keeping your kit protected. The problem is, they can also attract small particles of dust and dirt. If these small particles find their way onto your unprotected lens, they could cause serious damage. When you take the lens off your camera, you need to put both a front and rear cap on before you place it into your bag.
Keep Your Lenses In Plastic Bags
This might sound a bit like overkill, but a lot of professional photographers keep their lenses in plastic bags, even when they’re inside the camera bag. There are a couple of different reasons for this. Firstly, it adds another layer of protection against small particles of dust, dirt, lint, and sand getting into the lens casing. If it gets into the small area between the zoom and focus rings and the main lens, you could have to replace the whole thing. The second reason is to protect against moisture. Waterproof camera bags are expensive, so a plastic bag is a great budget alternative to keep your kit dry. Of course, this isn’t as much of a problem if you’re using an underwater camera or a dive waterproof camera.
Keep Some Hand Wash In Your Camera Bag
If you’re the type of photographer that isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, you should definitely carry some hand wash. Sometimes it’s necessary as a photographer to go where other people wouldn’t to get the perfect shot. And sometimes that means getting your hands covered in mud, sand, dust, and other things that could get into your lenses. We’d recommend carrying some hand wash in the outside compartment of your camera bag and washing your hands before you open it up.
Be Careful Changing Lenses
When your lens is on the camera, it’s pretty safe. The problem comes when you try to change your lens. This is when it’s at its most vulnerable. You could easily drop the lens or get some dust into it. One of the main precautions you can take is to not change the lens too far away from a surface. If you change it over a tabletop, you’re minimizing the distance it can fall. If you don’t have a table top, crouch down and use the ground. Of course, the best option is to not drop it at all.
Keep A Filter On Your Lens
Another thing you can do to protect your lens is to add a filter. this is a small piece of glass or resin that fits over the top of your lens. Getting dust into your lens is one thing but hitting against a solid object is something else entirely. If you hit the lens whilst the filter is on, the filter will take the brunt of the damage. Of course, the filter will block out certain colors and types of light from entering the lens. But you can get some really high-quality filters that will make your shots even better.
Cover Your Lens with A Hood
The lens hood is actually not designed to protect your camera at all. In fact, it’s there to block out any light that the lens shouldn’t be receiving. Basically, it blocks any light except for what is right in front of you. However, they have a secondary benefit. Because it protrudes from your camera, if you drop it on the lens, the hood will take most of the damage. They’re normally made from plastic, but you can find stronger metal ones. Either way, they’re a lot cheaper to replace than the lens or camera itself. This is only really possible on DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
Keep Your Lens Cap On
Every photographer has, at some point in their life, tried to take a photo with the lens cap on. It’s just one of those things that is bound to happen. And it might make you think that life would be easier without the lens cap, but you’d be wrong. The lens of your camera is one of the most fragile parts, and you need to protect it. If you get into the habit of just taking your lens cap off to take a photo, then replace it immediately, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.
Buy An Air Blaster To Clean Your Camera
Air blasters are easily the best way to clean your camera. They blow a fresh blast on clean air that moves any particles of dirt, without it scratching anything. The last thing you should be doing is blowing the camera with your own breath. That’s because your breath actually contains acidic elements that can damage the lens. It might seem like the right thing to do, but it’s a big no-no.
Use A Soft Bristled Brush To Clean Your Camera
The air blower is definitely the best way of cleaning your camera, but you can also use a soft bristled brush to finish the job. You should look for a product that is made from goat’s hair, or something equally soft. The reason is that these extremely fine hairs won’t scratch the lens any further. You can find these for very cheap and it’s worth having a couple of them in your camera bag at all times.
Use Professional Cleaning Fluid
If your camera has some gunk that’s really stuck on the lens, consider using professional cleaning liquid. These products are designed to remove gunk from the lens without damaging it in any way. It will work for DSLR and mirrorless cameras and is even suitable for GoPros and GoPro alternatives.
Leave It To Dry Naturally
If you come in from a shoot and your camera is damp, you shouldn’t attempt to dry it with a cloth or hairdryer. Instead, leave it on a towel in a warm, dry room and let the water evaporate. Even cheaper cameras are designed to withstand a small amount of water so you shouldn’t panic. This goes for all types of camera – trying to dry them too quickly could cause irreversible damage.
- What’s a mirrorless camera and what makes it different from a DSLR? – Digital Trends
- The Pros, Cons, and Alternatives to Using a Camera Strap – Life Hacker
- Useful Photography Tip #18: Keep Your Lens(es) Protected – The Phoblographer
- How to Protect Your Camera and Lenses from Damage, Dust, and Scratches – How-To Geek