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Keep it Clean

September 3, 2008 - Dave Hecei
Owners of digital SLR cameras (DLSRs) have the luxury of not having to buy and process film. DSLRs have an electronic sensor, either CCD or CMOS, that acts as 'electronic' film. Because of this, it is very important to keep your equipment as dust free as possible.

A DSLR operates in the same way as a film SLR. When you remove the lens and look inside you will see the reflex mirror. Behind this mirror is the shutter and behind the shutter is the sensor. You would think that the lens, mirror, and shutter would block dust from getting to the sensor. Of course, that's not the case. Dust on the sensor can ruin all of your photos, since there is no way to really know it's there, until you see the images on your computer screen or in printed photos.

Many of the newest DSLRs now have anti-dust or dust removal systems built in. The Canon Rebel XTi was one of the first to have a system that used a vibration system on the sensor to knock any dust off. The inside of the mirror chamber has a black matte coating that was sticky enough to trap the dust an keep it from coming back onto the sensor.

If you don't have one of the newer DSLRs, or even if you do, it's best to keep things as clean as possible to keep dust at bay. Here are a just a few tips in your battle with dust.

1. Always use your caps. Each lens should have a rear cap that attaches to the bayonet mount. If you are going to have the lens off of the body for more than a few seconds, place the body cap on the camera.

2. Don't change lenses in a dust filled environment. If you can, do the change indoors or in your car. When you do change a lens, do it as fast as you can and if possible keep the camera facing down until you attach the lens.

3. Keep your bag clean. I've seen more sand damage to cameras not because the camera was at the beach, but because the camera bag was. Dust and other nasties can easily accumulate in a camera bag. Every so often clean out your bag and then run a vacuum in it.

4. If you need to use your equipment in a dusty environment, keep unused lenses and bodies in side heavy duty zipper bags when not in use.

5. Get a good air bulb to blow off the dust on your lenses. One of the main ways that dust gets inside the DSLR is on the back element of your lens. Before changing lenses, make sure the back of the lens is dust free.

6. Store your camera bodies standing up or facing down. Don't let gravity work against you by leaving your camera facing up sitting on its back. This also protects the back LCD screen from scratches.


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Bulb type dust blower.