OK – Got that picture of all pictures, one that will absolutely be in the favorite memory file.
You did it all, perfect lighting with no outside interference, not shooting with a light source behind your subject, and the camera (with the flash) handled perfectly. You took about 30 pictures and about 5 of them are just the results you were looking for. Grandma was smiling, grandpa shaved this morning and he looks great, both have clothes that suit the occasion, just the perfect picture for that special occasion.
Wait a minute — what’ happened? There’s a smudge with a dirty spot in the first picture. You look at the rest of them, and the same thing happened. Well, it has to be something unique to the camera – no other way to explain it.
Easy, the lens has a big smear on it, and it even looks like a greasy finger print. How are you gonna get it off and make the lens clean again? Your enemy seems to be a finger smudge with dust on it, or maybe a scratch on the lens itself. Out the handkerchief and wipe, but will it damage the lens even more? That’s a very poor solution to fix an expensive tool, so the red flag warnings should be going off in your head.
The very first thing you should do is have a proper wiping tool, one that will not harm your camera lens. You can cut a patch out of an old t-shirt. That seems to be a good answer, but it has to be clean. Also, be sure you use a special non-alcoholic lens cleaner fluid. I would thoroughly clean it before you use it the first time that day, and then again every time you use it, but the liquid may not be necessary if you are just dusting off powder. It won’t work if you touch the lens with your finger.
Personally, I would go to one of those places that has lots of cleaning supplies such as in the mall where you get your eye-glasses fixed or adjusted. They sell a small chemically treated cloth that is excellent for cleaning a lens. I think they cost about $5.00 but they are well worth it, depending on the value of that lens in your camera and the value you place on your future pictures.
If you have a camera that the lens retracts or it’s automatically retracted, you are a little better off, but those are normally a very high quality camera. My best suggestion is always have the lens cap on until you are ready to start shooting. If you are considering your camera on your phone, or maybe a tablet, use special care to never get your fingers close to the lens. You might even look into getting some sort of a covering or packet to cover the unit until you are ready to use it. If your lens is one that can be taken off and disconnected, clean both ends before putting them away. Also consider closely checking and possibly cleaning that internal lens before installing it on your camera.
If you have the removable lens type, every time the lens is off, there is a hazard that dirt can enter the camera. Be very careful, especially if you’re in a little bit of wind and things are swirling around, carrying whatever. Frankly, I would go to a sheltered area inside, to change the lens.
If you suspect you already have dirt in the camera, it’s probably better to just send it back to the manufacturer or a professional for cleaning. If that isn’t possible, you will have to do it yourself, but be extra careful not to touch the sensor inside. To have safety on your side, hire a professional.
Don’t forget the camera body:
Most camera manufactures are well aware that the body will be exposed to your hands, dust and other elements in the air, possibly even an occasional rain drop. I would advise that you do not push your luck, but you can relax your standards compared to the lens and all those switches and adjustments on the camera. Just take a slightly dampened rag (remember the worn-out tee-shirt) and wipe it down once in a while. When you’re not using it, keep it in the case. If you use the camera on a continuing basis, keep it under a “dust-proof” cloth for a quick access.
Good luck with your camera. If you take good care of it, you will be much happier with your memories because the pictures will be the best you possibly can do. Your memories will also be well preserved for later generations to also enjoy.