Basic camera care

Looking after your camera

There are a few essential things not covered in camera manuals, but which you should know if you're going to get the most out of your camera.

1. Memory cards

> Always switch your camera off before you take a memory card in or out. If the camera is on, you risk damaging the card due to the electrical current.

> Avoid deleting images from within the camera's menu system, or via your computer. The memory card is a small hard drive, and you can start to get corrupted images if you keep using the "delete image" option. This is because of the way the card marks images to be overwritten rather than completely deleting them, if you use this method. 

> To delete images and keep your card healthy, simply use the "format card" function in your camera. Make sure you have downloaded and backed up your images first. The format function does a better job of keeping the card in good working order, and it has the added benefit of preparing the card to be using with that particular camera. Which brings us to:

> Don't swap cards between cameras without formatting them.

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2. Lenses

> When did you last clean your lens? Take a look at the front of it now. Is it covered in dust and fingerprints? If so, buy yourself some lens wipes and start using them regularly. (Click here to be taken to a blog post I've written with a link to my recommended wipes.) Don't use tissues or towels or your sleeve to clean your lens - you'll risk scratching it.

> Don't ever touch the end of your lens. The oils from your fingers leave marks that will show up in your photos.

> Think like a surgeon when you are changing lenses - you need to avoid getting dust on your sensor. Switch the camera off to avoid a static charge that will attract dust. Have your new lens ready with the back protector off. Know where to line up the red dots. Work quickly, with the camera pointing downwards. Never change your lens in dusty or sandy situations.

> Do you need to use a protective UV filter on the end of your lens? I don't because they reduce the quality of your images, but they can protect agains knocks and scarpes. More details in this post.

3. Sensor

> Do you know how to tell if you have dust on your sensor? Take an out of focus shot of the sky, and look at it at 100%. If you see spots like this, then you have a dusty sensor:

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> To clean your sensor, either take it to a high street photo shop, return it to the manufacturer, or try it yourself:


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Emma Davies