SLR camera maintenance tips

DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras include interchangeable lenses and other accessories, so cleaning such cameras requires different techniques than point-and-shoot cameras. Follow these tips to clean and maintain your DSLR camera for optimal performance.

Not all DSLR cameras have the same components described here, so check the user guide for your camera's specific configuration.

The process required to clean a DSLR camera body is the same as cleaning a point-and-shoot camera body.

Use a soft, dry cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, to gently wipe away any dirt, dust, or fingerprints from the camera body. For stubborn dirt, lightly moisten the cloth with distilled water.

When cleaning the lens, use a small blow ball and soft brush to remove dust or sand.

Don't skip this step. If you don't remove the grit first, you may scratch the lens when using the cloth.

Then, use a dry soft cloth to gently wipe the lens in a circular motion from the center outward.

Interchangeable DSLR lenses have two glass surfaces exposed to the elements. Be sure to clean the front and rear elements of the lens.

To maintain the integrity of the glass on both sides of the lens, place the lens caps on both ends of the lens as soon as you remove it from the camera. Whenever you attach a lens to your camera, unless you're shooting, place the lens cap over the front element of the lens.

To keep your DSLR camera's lens mount and its electrical contacts working as well as possible, use a microfiber cloth to keep the area dry and free of dirt.

SLR cameras have a mirror mechanism inside the camera that is exposed to the elements every time the lens is changed. You should be able to see it when you remove the lens and look inside the body.

Below the mirror is the focusing screen. Use a lens brush to clean both, being careful not to brush dirt into the camera.

These parts are very fragile, so clean them carefully. If you're worried about damaging them, hire a camera shop to clean them.

Dust on your camera's image sensor will show up as slightly blurry specks in the image, so it's important to keep it clean.

Some cameras have built-in image sensor cleaning systems, which usually involve rapid vibration of the sensor. For those who don't, use a cotton swab or sensor brush to clean or purchase an image sensor cleaning kit.

To keep the mirror and image sensor in optimal condition, keep the lens mount cap on the lens mount whenever you remove the lens for longer than changing lenses.

Although the LCD screen on a DSLR camera may be larger than the LCD screen on an entry-level camera, the process for cleaning the LCD screen is the same regardless of its size.

For this task, your microfiber cleaning cloth comes in handy again. Moisten it slightly if necessary, but don't use any detergents or solvents; these can cause peeling. Use as little pressure as possible.

The following methods may seem helpful, but avoid using them entirely:

  • Canned Air : Never use canned air to clean any part of your DSLR camera. Too much pressure can introduce dust or sand into the camera body, damaging its internal components.
  • Liquids : If you need to use liquids to clean your camera, dampen the cloth slightly and clean the camera. Never place liquids directly on the camera.
  • Cleaners : Never use alcohol, paint thinner, or other solvents on any part of the camera. These are too harsh and may cause damage.
  • Paper products : Never use paper towels, paper towels, or paper products to clean your camera. These items shed fibers and debris and can scratch delicate surfaces.

Worried about cleaning expensive photography equipment? Go to a camera repair center for a professional cleaning.