Photography & Digital Camera DSLR
Guide to taking good care of your DSLR
I have decided to do this guide as I was basically unprepared and surprised by the amount of work needed to take good care of a DSLR, especially when I have splurged tons of money on it. I tried to search the net for a complete guide but only managed to get bits and pieces on this topic. As such, I have decided to compile the information into a complete guide to enable super noobs like me take good care of my DSLR.
All information are pulled from the net and references are quoted in brackets and listed at the end.
A) DSLR – General care
1) DSLR Camera bag
It is important to get a good DSLR bag that fit your usage. It should be well-padded and big enough to fit all your accessories but still able to protect the camera in case of an accident (e.g. knock against a hard object, bag dropped, etc). Some would recommend getting one with a hard case rather that a soft one (1). Thin cloth bags are convenient but might not protect you DSLR that well from external bumps or drops.
2) LCD screen protector
Make sure you buy a good LCD protector to protect the LCD from scratches. Cheap ones would be adequate but you’ll find that it will eventually get many scratches and become unsightly. A better alternative would be a “glass-type” of LCD protector.
Camera cap (@ body cap) – Left picture below
Ensure that you always cap your camera if you intend to remove the lens for prolonged periods of time for whatever reason (e.g. storage, lens cleaning, etc).
This will prevent dust from going into the camera and settle on the camera mirrors or sensors.
Lens cap – Middle picture below
It is important to cap your lens anytime you are not using the DSLR. This will reduce the chance of the lens becoming dirty or worse still, the chance of the lens being scratched. A scratched lens would be expensive to replace and will not be covered under the normal warranty.
Rear lens cap – Right picture below
Again, if you remove your lenses for prolonged periods of time, it is important to cap the front AND back of the lens.
Note : If you go for outings, it would be wise to bring all the caps along just in case you might need to remove the lens for whatever reason. The convenient thing about camera cap and the rear lens cap is that you can screw them both together to carry as a single piece.
To further protect your lenses, it is also advisable to get a clear protection filter or a UV filter to attach to the front of the lens. This will ensure that any scratches or knock to the front of the lens will hit the UV filter rather than the lens itself. In case such a thing happens, you can easily replace the UV filter which is relatively cheap as compared to replacing the lens elements.
In addition, in case your front lens get dirty, it is actually the filter that gets dirty and not the front lens element. As such, you can clean the filter without any worries. This is especially true if something sticky gets stuck in front of the lens which require you to wipe more vigorously to clean it.
UV filters are usually cheap but try not to get a cheap lousy filter as it may interfere with proper light penetration and cause poorer pictures being taken.
Good reputable lens filters available locally are like:
3) Carl Zeiss
Note : The UV blocking function in UV filters are actually not necessary for DigitalSLR (DSLR) but only for film SLR. That’s because the digital sensor of a DSLR doesn’t react to UV light. In the era of SLR using films, UV light can cause blur and can react to many colour films to cause a blue cast (10).
Here a good review of filters :
- the only problem with this review is that it takes into consideration the UV blocking capabilities too, which as mentioned earlier, is not necessary. However, the review do mentioned that the UV blocking function might be useful at high altitudes due to higher UV radiation.
5) Shoulder/neck strap
Every time you lift up your camera, make it a habit to immediately put strap around your neck. That way, you’ll reduce the risk of dropping your camera.
Alternatively, you can coil your arm around the strap for added protection. This video shows you how to hold your camera properly including the coiling of the strap around your arm
6) Lens hood
The primary function of the lens hood is to prevent stray light from entering the lens as it extends and shade the front end of the lens. This is especially true if you shoot in the direction of the sun, causing unwanted artifacts in your picture such as lens flare, decrease contrast and image degradation.
By using a lens hood, you’ll also get the added benefit of lens protection from any accidental impact or bumps. Accidental touches and scratches are also reduced. However, lens hood are only usually used when you shoot outdoors under bright sunlight or shoot under extreme lighting condition as protection again impact is secondary.
Summary of advantages of lens hood:
1) Reduce unwanted flare
2) Richer colour/deeper saturation, improved contrast
3) Protection from impact or accidental touches/scratches
4) With a lens hood, many argue that you don’t need to use a UV filter (which might degrade your images somewhat)
One equipment that is often overlooked is the rechargeable batteries used in DSLR (or any electronic devices actually). The most common rechargeable battery nowadays are Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries which, like any other rechargables, have a certain lifespan.
Important : I was very surprised to find out about crucial important facts on Li-Ion batteries. Please read on the details of Li-ion batteries below, in the “D) Li-Ion battery packs” subsection.
Most DSLR users (including noobs!) will usually have more lenses than they do cameras. As such, lens changing is unavoidable. As we all know, there is always a chance that dust can get into the camera every time you change lenses. Here are some tips to reduce this risk when you change your lens:
1) Minimize lens changing if possible
2) Change your lenses before you go out e.g. to the beach
3) Avoid dusty places
4) Turn off camera
5) Point your camera downwards – like you want to take picture of the ground 10 feet away (no need to point directly downwards!)
6) Change while the camera is on a tripod
7) Keep your back to the wind
9) Moisture condensation
Be careful if you take your DSLR directly from a cold to a warm place as this may cause moisture condensation outside as well as inside your camera e.g. from an air-condition room to outdoors, from car to outside. An extreme example is like the time you take out a can of soft drink from the fridge and leave it on the table. You’ll see beads of water forming on the can in no time!
The condensation may cause a malfunction of the camera and also promote fungi growth.
To prevent this, you can do a few things BEFORE you take it to a warm environment:
1) Seal your camera in a plastic bag (e.g. Ziplock bag or even normal plastic bag) and allow it to adapt to conditions at the new location.
2) Keep your camera/lens in your camera bag and let it warm up gradually.
3) If you got none of the above, some even use towels!
The key point is that you want your camera to gradually warm up to the same temperature as it’s surrounding environment. Sony instruction manual mentioned that you actually might have to wait up to an hour depending on condition! The higher the temperature difference, the longer you’d have to wait.
B) DSLR – Cleaning and maintenance (Quick link)
C) DSLR – Storage (Quick link)
D) Li-Ion battery packs (Quick link)
- important facts which most of us don’t know!!!
E) DSLR bags (Quick link)