A few days ago, I chatted with one of my dearest photographer friends. In the midst of talking about basketball, books, and writing, we started talking about gear. And if someone heard our conversation, it'd probably sound like two guys wearing oily t-shirts, with a pack of cigarettes tucked in a rolled up sleeve, talking about fixing up our beloved Camaros. We got down with the technical aspects, so I thought I'd get into the topic of camera maintenance today. It's not something photographers talk about, so let's hash a few things out.
Recently Gail's camera seemed off. She said it's been focusing a little wonky lately and she felt like her shots have been softer than normal. This led her to asking, “Should I be sending this thing in regularly for maintenance?” My response was a eager, YES!! But I had to take a step back and think about it from her perspective. I'm lucky enough to live in Southern California, which is convenient because the Canon Service Center is driving distance from my home. I have my gear serviced four times a year, or about once a quarter. But Gail leaves in Indiana…what about photographers who have to mail their gear in for servicing?
I've purchased the Canon Professional Services, so I get my cameras' sensors professionally cleaned with ease, as well as calibrating my lenses when needed. A good calibration can really ensure your focus points are tack sharp. At minimum, a photographer should get their gear cleaned at least once a year to ensure everything is in working shape. The last thing you want to do is wait until something is wrong…it's incredibly stressful and results in emotion decision making.
The best thing about CPS is that while your camera/lens is getting serviced, Canon will send you exact loaner. For example, when I needed my shutter replaced on the 5DMII, I was able to borrow a 5DMII from Canon for as long as the camera was getting repaired. This is a great option for out-of-state photographers who don't want to be without gear.
I'm pretty meticulous about my gear, so I invest in taking extra care of it to ensure it lasts a long time. JD cleans our gear before every shoot, but the deep clean Canon provides is pretty awesome. If you have ideas or suggestions how to better camera gear maintenance, feel free to shout out in the comment box.
**Updated to Add**
Some of you asked what, specifically, JD does to clean out our gear before shoots, so I want to address that. He'll first test all the gear to ensure everything is working smoothly, the shutter isn't sticking, and lenses are calibrated and properly focussing. Once he's done that, he uses a soft, micro fiber cloth to clean both sides of each lens then places caps on the front and back. Because we get our sensors professionally cleaned, he'll only pump out the body of the camera (without the cap) using this air pump/dust blower. Thanks, friends!