Taking care of your camera equipment is very important if you want it to function properly, whether you’re purchasing your own equipment or renting from a professional video production company like C&I Studios. Every lens, no matter which manufacturer made it, needs some care and attention in order to keep them in great working condition. Cameras are very expensive pieces of machinery- perhaps the most expensive equipment in your arsenal-, so why not try your best to take care of them?
If you want to find out more about how to take care of your lenses, then you’re in the right place. Here are ten tips on how to treat your lenses like your best friend so they’ll last a long time, making your investment in quality equipment worthwhile.
Handle with Care
The simplest way to damage your lenses is to drop them or bump into something that’s solid, like a table corner. The camera will survive the impact, but the lens won’t be so lucky if it gets struck by accident against concrete or asphalt when you’re taking it out of the car. Try to be careful and mind your surroundings, especially when you’re changing lenses and transporting them between storage and filming locations.
Of course, accidents do happen, so it’s important to take care when you do drop your lenses. If you’re in a situation where you can’t grab the lens immediately, let it drop to the floor. Don’t try to catch it because that only makes the lens fly faster and increases your chances of breaking it. And if you do use a tripod outside, hold on to it tightly so nobody bumps into it by accident.
If you accidentally drop your camera equipment in a puddle of water, the first thing to do is take off the lens and then gently shake any excess liquid from it. Don’t wipe or rub it with cloth or paper – that’s just going to push water into hard-to-reach spaces inside the lens and possibly scratch the glass.
Keep it Clean
Lenses are best kept clean at all times. This is because dust or smudge can contribute to reduced image quality. Keep your lenses covered when you’re not using them to prevent dust or smudges from touching the lens.
Cameras and lenses are delicate pieces of equipment so dust and dampness sticking to the lens barrel can easily lead to scratches on the body or problems with build quality in general. The best way to prevent this is to clean the camera from time to time. You can use a blower or a special brush for that purpose. Using just any cloth to wipe your glass will only scratch the surface of it, creating tiny scratches that accumulate over time which can make video appear blurry or pixelated. If you want to clean the lens elements, use a special brush or just a piece of cotton or microfiber cloth. Don’t try to use paper towels because they’re too rough for that purpose.
If there was dust on your camera when you were changing lenses, it’s possible that some particles are stuck between the lens elements. When you start using the camera again, these particles will slowly fall out of the lens barrel and end up either on your sensor or inside one of your other lenses. That’s why it’s important to turn the camera on and inspect all lenses for several seconds before you start shooting. If you see some particles, use your blower or brush to gently remove them.
When cleaning those difficult-to-reach parts of your lens, always use a soft brush first to carefully remove any dust particles that may be present. After that, clean them with a piece of microfiber cloth gently moistened with special lens cleaning fluid. Never use your mouth to moisten the cloth – saliva is full of tiny particles and other contaminants.
Don’t wipe the front element with a tissue. Don’t be fooled by the glamour of those TV commercials where photographers clean their lenses with a simple wipe of a piece of tissue and lots of smiles. It might work for some people, but it is definitely not recommended for most lenses out there because you can damage them in the process.
If you’re not sure about how to correctly remove dirt, take your equipment to an authorized service center so they can do it for you. They will also be able to provide you with the proper cleaning gear as well as extra tips on how to properly care for it on your own.
Don’t Touch the Glass! Some people advise against touching a camera lens with bare hands, saying that the dirt and oils from your fingers will stick to it and result in a loss of quality. We’re not going to say this is completely wrong, but if you’re concerned about cleanliness you can put on special gloves when working with the camera. Or you can use wipes designed for cleaning camera optics. It’s also worth noting that the front element of most lenses has a special coating meant to repel dust and dirt, so sticking them with your fingers won’t cause any problems. But still, it’s best to clean the front of the lens with some kind of cloth as we described above.
You can also damage your lens if you constantly touch the glass with your hands because there is a possibility that those tiny “imperfections” on your hands will get stuck between the lens elements and cause problems during image capture. There’s been many an occasion where people have thought they’re touching the camera lens, but actually, touch some other part of the camera and end up leaving a smudge or fingerprint on it.
Keep it Covered
When you’re not using a camera, keep the lens protected with a special cover over it so dust and sand won’t stick to the glass or get inside. Also, take care of proper storage when you’re not shooting because humidity will cause moisture to build up in the lenses and damage them too.
It’s best to use a special case for protection from dust and moisture, but if you don’t have one, make sure you put your camera in a safe spot where it won’t get banged around or exposed to the elements.
Keep it Dry
High humidity is one of the biggest problems with camera lenses because moisture gets inside when they’re not protected properly. When you’re shooting in the rain or near a high-humidity area, make sure to change your lens frequently so that water doesn’t have a chance to penetrate into the different parts of the lens body. Before you change lenses, shake off any water droplets so they don’t get your fresh lens wet. If you’re in an area with drastic weather changes, it is especially important to make sure your equipment is dry. Any water that freezes will expand and crack the lens’s glass and plastic components, rendering it completely ruined.
Be Careful with the Hood
There are two types of lens hoods: fixed and detachable ones. If you choose a detachable one, be careful when you take the hood off and put it back on because if you don’t do that gently, your lens may sustain some damage. Also, keep in mind that a fast-rotating lens hood can cause camera blur if it hits another object while rotating, so if you’re using that type of hood on your lens, be extremely careful when you attach it to the camera.
When attaching a hood, first check to see if the direction of rotation is correct. If you attach it incorrectly and turn on the camera, your image will be blurred from the camera shake because the lens won’t have enough time to adjust itself back to its normal position.
The more equipment you have with you, the more likely it is that something will break or get dirty during transport. Don’t pack too many lenses in one case because there’s a greater chance of damaging them while you’re carrying your camera rig. Carrying too many objects at once leads to a greater risk of dropping them. Make sure your camera bag has special compartments for holding lenses.
Also, make sure you use a special case for transporting lenses that will protect them from airborne dust and contaminants. Don’t just throw them into a bag because it doesn’t offer any protection at all. The lenses themselves can be heavy and cause a lot of damage to each other and anything else in the same bag if not properly packed and protected.
Keep in mind that when you’re packing to go shoot somewhere, the lenses are much more likely to break if they’re packed on top of other equipment. It’s best to place them in a special case and then put them on the bottom of the camera bag where they’ll be less likely to get damaged.
Be Aware of Temperature Changes
Rapid temperature changes may result in condensation forming on the camera and lens surfaces. To avoid condensation while going from a warm room to cold outdoor conditions, simply put the camera with a lens attached into a plastic bag before leaving home. This way, any moisture that forms on your equipment will be absorbed by plastic instead of glass or metal elements. Every little bit to save your lenses from the elements helps.
Try not to expose your camera equipment to excessively high or low temperatures. If you’ll be shooting in hot weather (over 95 degrees Fahrenheit/35 °C), make sure you let your camera and lenses rest in the shade when you’re not using them. Extreme temperatures can cause internal glass elements inside the lens to crack if they’re exposed for too long and warp any plastic components.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions
One of the first things you should do when you purchase new lenses and camera equipment is to read the manual that came with it. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using and storing your equipment for best results and to avoid problems with it in the future. Keep your lenses clean, dry, and covered when you’re not using them because that will make them last longer. Make sure to keep any caps or special covers on as instructed.
Upgrade Your Lenses Regularly
If you want to make sure your lenses are in the best possible condition, buy new ones regularly because older lenses are usually more prone to damage. Newer versions are made with better materials and technology that extend the life of your camera’s glass components. Make sure to put your lenses through routine tests before each shoot so you don’t use them when they’re not 100 percent functional.
One thing you should always pay attention to is your lens elements. If they’re filthy, smudged, or damaged in any way, it’s time to upgrade your lenses because that can have a very negative effect on image quality.
Of course, if you’re renting your equipment, you can easily trade your lenses in when the company you’re working with upgrades their stock, making it very easy for you to make sure you’re using the best possible equipment available to you and your production team.
Taking care of your equipment is not only important in order to take care of your investment, but also to make sure you’re capturing the best quality video and photographs possible. With better-cared-for lenses, you’ll have less re-touching and editing your team will have to do, which will save you money in the long run. Always focus on protecting your lenses rather than the camera body itself because your video will suffer if there’s any damage to it. Follow these tips and you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience with your camera equipment.
Whether you’re purchasing your own equipment or renting from a company like C&I Studios, taking care of your lenses is the most important aspect of camera care and will save you money and strife. Don’t neglect your lenses because they’re the most expensive and vital component of your camera rig. Treat them right and you’ll never miss a shot again.