Digital Camera Maintenance Tips

Maintenance and prevention prolong the life of your digital camera

Although today's digital cameras are reliable pieces of hardware, they can fail from time to time. Sometimes, they fail because of a manufacturer error. More often, though, they fail because of user error and a lack of digital camera maintenance.

A landscape architect taking a photograph
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Best Practices for Camera Maintenance

Use these digital camera maintenance tips to keep your camera in the best possible working condition.

  • Avoid dirt and sand: Use care when cleaning dirt particles and sand from your digital camera. Do not use canned or pressurized air to clean the sand, as you blow particles into the camera case. Budget-priced camera cases may not be sealed properly, making it easier for grit and sand to penetrate the case and cause damage. Gently blow out the grit and sand to avoid this problem. Use care when shooting photos on a windy day at the beach, too, where sand can blow with excessive force. Avoid opening the battery compartment on such days.
  • Avoid liquids: Keep all liquids away from the camera unless you own a model with a waterproof case.
  • Avoid touching the lens and LCD: Oils from your skin smudge the lens and LCD, eventually causing permanent damage. Clean the lens and LCD with a microfiber cloth when you see a smudge from your fingertips.
  • The lens and sun don't mix: Do not point your camera's lens directly at the sun for any length of time, especially with a DSLR camera. Sunlight focused through the lens of the camera could damage the image sensor or start a fire inside the camera.
  • Use cleaning liquids with care: Avoid using an excessive amount of cleaning liquid with your camera. Other than stubborn smudges, you should be able to clean the camera with a dry microfiber cloth. If a liquid is needed, place a few drops of the liquid on the cloth rather than directly on the camera.
  • Vacuum the bag: Dirt and sand inside your camera bag can damage your camera, so vacuum the bag regularly to keep it clean and protect the camera. If sand gets in the lens, you'll need a soft brush to remove it.
  • Watch the temperature: Although some cameras are designed to survive harsh temperatures, most cameras are not. Do not leave your camera in a sunny vehicle, where temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid leaving the camera in direct sunlight, which can damage the plastic. Finally, avoid extreme cold, which could damage the LCD.
  • Use neck straps and wrist loops: Use neck straps and wrist loops with your camera. If you slip while hiking, or if you lose the grip on your camera near the pool, the straps can save your camera from a potentially disastrous fall.
  • Store the camera properly: If you're not going to use your camera for a couple of months, store it in a low humidity area and out of direct sunlight. Additionally, store the camera without the battery inserted to reduce the risk of corrosion.

Every few years, take your camera to a local camera shop for an inspection and for maintenance of parts that aren't user-serviceable, like lubrication for interior motors.

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