Getting Started with Basic Camera Maintenance

Getting Started with Basic Camera Maintenance - Mastin Labs

Should you care about camera maintenance? When you really love something, you go the extra mile to care for it. If you’re a photographer, you definitely feel this way about your camera. You don’t want to have a “don’t fix it if it’s not broken” mentality about your equipment, especially when a little maintenance can go a long way. 

Plus, being diligent about your camera and gear maintenance will help you preserve the quality and encourage the longevity of your equipment. 

We’ve compiled some resources to answer your burning questions about gear maintenance to help you get the most out of your photography equipment for years to come.

When Should I Send My Camera in For Service?

If you’re wondering when you should get your DSLR camera serviced, the recommendation is once per year minimum. Professional photographers may want (or need) to get their camera serviced more than once a year to compensate for heavy usage. For professional photographers especially, proper gear maintenance is a necessary part of the business.

You may want to get your camera serviced more than once a year if you commonly do the following:

  • Use your camera often. The more time your camera spends out of its protective bag, the more exposure it has to the elements. A professional photographer that shoots several times a week typically generates more wear and tear on their camera than a recreational photographer.
  • Travel frequently with your camera. Travel can be difficult on your camera, especially if you do not have a full arsenal of protective gear. Unexpectedly checking baggage, unfamiliar weather patterns, dirt, sand, or dust finding its way into your camera bag, are all ways that traveling can harm your equipment. 
  • Get caught in bad weather with your camera. Cameras are durable, but heat, humidity, condensation, and rain can cause damage to your camera if you’re not prepared.
  • Switch from one lens to another. Every time you switch your lens, you expose your camera’s sensor to dust, sand, and airborne debris, especially if you’re doing it in an unprotected space. If you switch your lens over and over again at a single shoot and do not handle each lens with care, your mount may become damaged over time.
  • Store your camera improperly. You can damage your camera over time if you store it in direct sunlight, near other electronics, in heat, humidity, fluctuating temperatures, or in any other extreme conditions.

An accepted standard for regular gear maintenance is once per year, and anytime you notice any changes to your images (such as blurriness, dark patches, and spots), or to the way your camera looks and feels.

side view of a camera lens facing up on a desk.

What Happens When My Camera Is Serviced?

Companies that service cameras typically have a few package options available. Some companies even send you home with a comparable camera as a replacement while you wait for your camera to be cleaned. Whenever possible, we suggest sending your camera off to be cleaned by your camera manufacturer or to one of their partnered service centers.

A general camera service typically includes checking and/or cleaning the:

  • Function of the camera
  • Camera body
  • Image sensor, mirror, and viewfinder
  • Focusing system
  • External LCD surfaces

A more extensive service may include checking and/or cleaning the:

  • Camera hardware and all moving parts
  • Lens mount and hotshoe
  • Camera/lens performance and communication
  • Camera shutter count
  • Insertion and removal of the memory card and/or battery
  • Pixel mapping
  • Error messages
  • Firmware

Extensive services can usually be performed on your request, as a part of a high tier camera service package, or if a camera technician notices something wrong during a general maintenance check.

camera sits on a desk on top of an orange book with the lens cover off

Basic Camera Maintenance at Home 

In between your yearly service visits, you can practice basic camera maintenance at home. Think of it as good camera housekeeping. 

Get a UV filter for your lenses. Aside from getting your camera serviced regularly, this is one of the best things you can do to keep your camera functioning well. A UV filter blocks UV light, and it also protects your lens against dust, dirt, and scratches.

Clean the sensors on your camera. The need to do this is kind of inevitable, because camera sensors are prone to build up and tend to collect dust. Every six months you should sit down and clean the sensors on your camera. 

Calibrate your lenses. This is crucial. Your lenses need to be calibrated so you can be sure that you’re getting sharp images and accurate focusing. You’ll want to do this at least a couple times each year. 

Stay organized. This is more about your gear than anything, but you’ll definitely want to stay on top of this tip. Invest in a gear bag that works perfectly for your needs and always keep it organized. This means making sure your batteries are charged, keeping your memory cards where they should be (and also making sure that they’re empty), and packing lots of lens wipes wipes with you too.

Keeping up with these small, at-home camera maintenance practices will keep your camera functioning as it should between servicing. Caring for your camera will give your gear more longevity which, in the long run, actually saves you time and money.

Camera Maintenance Takeaways

Camera maintenance shouldn’t be neglected! After all, cameras are complex and delicate pieces of equipment and should be treated with care. When a camera is serviced regularly and well taken care of, it can remain in top working condition for a long time, and you can run your business without taking disruptive “sick days”. Don’t learn the value of gear maintenance the hard way—be diligent about caring for your handheld partner.

Want to learn more about photography gear maintenance? Check these out!