Category Archives: camera care

“Clean your finger before you point at my spots”

Dang! Four and a half months in, and marky Mark is on its way to becoming a spotty teenager. I am horrified to have just noticed a big spot on all my recent images. Like this one, taken from inside the skylight of my house.
Spot pretty much in the middle of the photo, shot at f22.
Or rather “clean your sensor, before you point at my spots”, as Benjamin Franklin might have said, had he lived to see modern-day digital cameras. (Um, or any camera at all, he died before photography was invented, actually.) But I am rather surprised at the sudden appearance of this spot on the sensor. It is not on the lens – I have changed my ways and am meticulous about keeping the lens cap on after every use of marky Mark. And I have barely changed lenses, too. So it must be on the sensor – which gets automatically cleaned every time you switch the 5d2 off. But where the hell does the dust come from, if I don’t open the body of the 5d2???
Has anyone got any suggestions for cleaning the sensor or should that strictly only be done by the professionals? I am rather reluctant to fumble in there and risk damaging the sensitive technology. I guess, I am going to have to shoot with large apertures from now on – that way, the spots do not show up.

Midsummer Nightmare

Oh dear, this is meant to be summer! Midsummer even, the nicest time of year, long days, warm nights, BBQs, sea swimming and dawnchorus. Lovely sunsets and misty dawns, getting up at 4.30 am for early-morning-shoots of empty streets. No such luck! Confined to the house due to rain? Wait a minute, no, you can still go shooting when it’s wet.

Cameras and rain don’t go well together. Having spent big bucks on a marky Mark, I wouldn’t really like to put the 5d2’s weatherproofing to the test. On the other hand I don’t want to be too precious with my camera – it is, first and foremost, a tool, not a precious valuable. According to the spec sheet, the 5d2’s weathersealing is the same as the 1d3. I take it that means it is made from the same magnesium alloy shell as the 1d3 and buttons, switches and external seams are water- and dustproof.

Thus informed, I headed out and defied the rain. Admittedly, I didn’t take any risks, shooting close to the house, but nonetheless catching a good few drops of rain and general dampness on the camera’s body. And marky Mark did fine, I must say – there was no problem with condensation on the lens or water-logged screens.

However, it doesn’t hurt to have a troubleshooting plan, just in case you should ever drop your equipment in a river or get caught in a tropical rainstorm. First thing to do – after recovering the precious camera from the depths of the ocean – is take out CF card and battery to prevent short-circuiting. Clean the camera and lens with a soft cloth as much as you can. Then place the camera near a heatsource in a bowl of rice. The rice will soak up the humidity and help dry the camera.

Alternatively, splash out! *um* that may be the wrong word in this context. So, invest in a waterproof case. Nah, not really – that would set you back one and a half grand. But you could just fashion something from a freezer bag and a few rubber bands. Not ideal, but a work-around just in case…

Epic Fail

A solar eclipse happens once in a blue moon, if you pardon the sun pun. Tuesday was one such occasion. A partial solar eclipse was forecast between sunrise at 8:40 am and 9:30 am. The last solar eclipse I was present at was a complete one in summer 1999, unfortunately hidden behind a blanket of mist in smoggy Würzburg, Germany. I was hoping for a better view the day before yesterday, especially considering that morning skies in Ireland tend to be clear (rain clouds usually only appear from 10.30 am…) Well, I was not in luck. There was a clear sky over Dublin Bay (which is where the sun rises to the East of my house) but this being the winter, the sun was too low in the sky to look over the rooftops of the surrounding houses. I caught the watercolour sky, though, and it was a worth-while photo-op.

And now to the nitty-gritty. One of my photography friends quickly pointed out to me, that I need to clean my sensor as the same spots keep showing up in my photos. *umph* Yes, too true. And I do know that, had actually noticed it big time in my submission for the post “Greetings from the Plains“. Two really dark spots, more slightly lighter ones. Dirty girl, I am. 
Well, to tell you the truth, I have always had a rather relaxed attitude towards my hardware. Photographic hardware, that is. You’ll be disgusted when you hear how I treat my camera. (And don’t tell my lecturers in college – they will strip me off my Diploma, immediately, for “disrespectful conduct towards the tools of the trade”.) I regularly forget to put the lens cap back onto the lens after taking a picture. I used to carry the camera around in my handbag together with usual female paraphernalia like sharp keys, pen knife, cookie crumbs, cap-less lipsticks. For a long time, I had unprotected lenses, i.e. did not put on a UV filter which would also protect the glass of the lens from scratches. (Jeeez, I really am a terribly careless bitch person.) The camera is at this stage three and a half years old and has never once had its sensor cleaned. (My God, poor thing, I have tears in my eyes. How bad have I treated you, my sweet little Canon?) Epic fail!!!
And I can tell you exactly where the spots on the sensor come from. I actually remember the day perfectly well. And I even knew at the time, that sitting on a sanddune in the middle of the Namib desert with strong Atlantic winds blowing the sand all over the place was not the right time to change lenses… Alas, it had to be done. The circumstances demanded it. And myself and the little plastic bag in which I blindly changed the lenses for sand protection did our very best…
Well, I maintain to this day that the photographic outcome was well worth a few negligible spots on the sensor. (I’ll show you another time.)  But I recognise that it may be time to get a bit more serious about camera care. Let’s blame it on the fact that I have still not been able to purchase the equipment of my dreams. Everything will change once I have my 5d mark ii. Promise!