Headaches and sneezing tell you that your body is sick, clunking and service engine lights tell you that your car is sick, and the frozen screen and spider web cracks on your phone tell you that your phone is sick. Oftentimes, we rely on obvious symptoms of dysfunction to indicate that something needs our attention; but for photography equipment, the best line of defense against “sickness” is preventing it through regular gear maintenance. Being diligent with gear maintenance will help you preserve the quality and longevity of your equipment. We’ve compiled some resources to answer your burning questions about gear maintenance and to help you get the most out of your photography equipment for years to come.
How Often Should I Send My Camera in For Service?
The accepted recommendation for getting a DSLR camera serviced is once per year at minimum. Professional photographers may find that they 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: 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: Cameras are durable, but heat, humidity, and rain can cause damage to your camera if you’re not prepared.
- Switching from one lens to another: Every time you switch your lens, you expose your camera’s sensor to the 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.
- Improper storage: 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.
What Happens When My Camera Is Serviced?
Companies that service cameras typically have a few package options. 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
Extensive services are usually 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.
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, but be diligent about caring for your hand held partner.