How to look after your gear

March 25, 2014

 

Photography is an expensive activity. And what most photographers aim to do is save money to invest in this beloved art/profession/hobby. Whether you are a beginner or pro, unless you are well paid for your photography, your concern is not having any extra expenses so you can afford the best gear for your needs.

Tripods, filters, lenses and your so wanted camera. An accident while carrying your gear on a tour around the mountains, having it stolen or getting sand inside the lenses whilst shooting in the beach can be your worst nightmare. But what can you do to protect or fix your gear after these situations? World on a tripod gives you some tips.

 

Protecting yourself from thieves

 

Avoid shooting outdoors by yourself, but if you do choose busy places where you can rely on people if anything happens. A second person looking after your gear will let you concentrate on your photos, even if you are shooting in the woods or a secluded place where it is usually very safe. Better safe than sorry.

 

Don’t bring that massive case with all your gear if you won’t need it all to capture that specific shot. It’s ideal that you have a smaller bag to carry the essentials and depending where you are going to travel to shoot, it can disguise the fact you are carrying photography gear until you get to your location.

 

 

OK, don’t have to become overly paranoid if you are just going to make some photos at Peak District, but again, better safe than sorry!

 

Every time you finish that job, remove the memory card from your camera and put it in a proper memory card case and stick in a different pocket, perhaps your own jeans. If something happens with your gear on your way home, at least you saved that job and can get paid for it!

 

Get yourself insured and make sure you always keep the receipts of every piece of gear you buy. If you are a photographer who doesn’t yet earn a lot with your photography, you can add it to your house insurance. You should also insure against fire and accidents on the same plan which could end up being cheaper than a proper photography insurance company. If you are a pro, then it would be worth joining a big photography association which usually have some connections to underwriters who specialise in photographic insurance. Some even offer insurances themselves.

 

The police advise that, insured or not, you should register your gear at www.immobilise.com with the serial numbers of each piece. This way, if they recover your stolen goods it can be returned to you.

Looking after your memory card

 

When you use your memory card for the first time the best thing to do is to format it in your camera. Your card can have a longer life if you avoid deleting photos in the camera, wait until you download them all to your computer then delete the ones you don’t want from your computer. Keep them all in the card as backup until the next job. From experience, it’s always best to play it safe in case you accidentally lose them from your computer during editing. Then, when it’s full, or if you prefer before your next job, you delete them all. Format time to time.

 

And please, do not remove the memory card when your camera is still on. Sounds obvious but some distracted people still do it.

 

If you lose everything because the hard disc crashed, as has happened to me, you still can recover your photos using a data recovery program. I never found anyone that was really good for free so, as you get what you pay for, use it as an investment. I suggest the Card Data Recovery, that can recover even after your hard disc was formatted. Unless you already saved new photos over the top. If this is the case, R.I.P old photos. When purchased, this program can be used on 3 different computers.

 

Looking after your camera

 

If you leave your gear in a bag in the corner of your room, under a window with all that humidity and don’t clean it every other week at least, you are a strong candidate to own a lens with fungi and it will cost money to clean. If that is, you can still save it.

 

So here some tips to avoid it:

 

Avoid leave your gear in humid places, or where the Sun will light it for few hours. It will change temperature too quick and this isn’t a good thing. Don’t forget to choose a place where it won't be damaged, especially where there are kids and animals.

 

Always take the battery out of your flashes and camera after you use it.

 

You should always carry pumps and proper lens cleaning liquids in your camera bag. I use a lenspen that comes with a retractable dust removal brush and a non-liquid carbon compound that removes fingerprints. It’s designed never to dry out so it’s a very useful tool. So far, mine has never let me down! The best thing is I paid just £5 for, in a photo show in Lincoln, so there is no excuse for not having one.

 

You can even use a sunglasses cloth to clean the LCD. It works even better with a spray cleaning solution. Wipe it over gently and you will keep it shiny for years. You can buy an LCD screen protector to stick on it but make sure you clean it well before you apply it to avoid little bits of dust getting trapped underneath. This can be really disturbing, which isn’t recommended if, like me, you’re a little overly obsessive!

 

I hope these tips can help you to have a safe trip!

 

(Article originally posted on World on a Tripod blog.)
 

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