Trip Prep: Cleaning Your Gear

April 17, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


Melissa Southern




Kyle and I are prepping for a couple of photography trips in the next few weeks, including our Waterfalls of the Carolinas Field Trip, which has only a couple of open spots for those interested! One of the things we like to do before heading out on a photography trip is to clean our camera equipment. 


Now, this means much more than just cleaning off the lenses. We clean out our camera bags, yes, bags. We look through everything we have to decide what we need and can bring on that specific trip. When we are traveling by car, particularly in two cars, we bring a lot more gear than when we travel by plane. We tend to have our gear in multiple bags: what we plan to carry on trail in one bag and other gear in another bag, which includes chargers, extra filters, extra batteries, maybe some random equipment like solar filters, intervalometers, quick release plates, and cleaning cloths.


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I like to take everything out of my bags and sort it all into piles, making sure I have everything I will or might need. I like to lay down a clean towel to do this, mostly to avoid laying my cameras and lenses and cleaning cloths on cat hair. I then check the quick release plates on all of my cameras and lenses to make sure that they are tight. I then clean the elements on my lenses, front and back, using clean microfiber lens cleaning cloth. I keep a bunch in my bags. They can be washed in the washing machine, but I usually let them air dry as you cannot use a dryer sheet or fabric softener with them. Never spray anything on the glass of the lenses. There is more information about cleaning lenses available in their manuals and online through their manufacturer. Please check that information before you clean them. Along with my lenses, I clean all of my filters, font and back. I remove the filters from the lenses and clean both. It never ceases to amaze me how dirty my filters and lenses get.


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I also have a specialized kit and training to clean camera sensors. I only ever do this with my own cameras and am extremely careful when doing so. I do NOT suggest trying to clean your own sensors. You can cause permanent damage to the sensor. You can check your sensor by following the directions found in your camera manual. I DO recommend having your camera sensor cleaned periodically by a professional like Berrie Smith, Digital Camera Repair Specialist. We see him at the Grandfather Mountain Nature Photography Weekend and Camera Clinic each year. He is certified on both Canon and Nikon cameras. 


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I always go through all of my batteries and charge everything. Kyle and I tend to camp out when it's just us, so having fully charged batteries is a must. I start this process about three days before my trip, commandeering every outlet in my bedroom and bathroom to get them all done. This includes flash batteries and flashlight batteries. I also check my headlamp and other light sources to be sure that they are at their best. Most importantly, I gather all of the chargers and charged batteries and put them back in my camera, flash, and bag. I wouldn't want to leave them behind when I head out! Tip: do not leave batteries on your charger unless the charger is plugged in to a power source. I have heard that with some batteries the charger can pull power from the batteries when it is not plugged into an outlet. Another tip: Do not leave your batteries out on the cold. The cold pulls power from them and can leave you with dead batteries. Keep them warm!




I like to check my camera cards, as well. I have multiple different cards types for my cameras. I like to check through my card collection to be sure that I have them all. I go through the cards and confirm that I have downloaded and backed up any photos on those cards. Then, I go ahead and format those cards so that they are ready to go. Along with this, I check my laptop and backup anything that needs to be backed up and clear off anything that I can to maximize the available space on the computer for more photos. My general rule is that my photographs have to be in at least two places before they are removed from another: the memory card and the laptop; the laptop and a portable hard drive; two external hard drives in two different places; and so on. This is to prevent any data loss due to dropping the drive, accidental deletion, hard drive failure, etc.




Once all of these steps are taken. I repack my bags and am ready to go. Even when camping, I always take all of my chargers with me, unless I am flying somewhere and have to limit the amount of equipment that I pack. I hope you can use some of these ideas when you get ready for your next trip!


Happy Shooting!


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