I live near the Gulf of Mexico and often spend my free time at the beaches shooting photographs of sunsets and wildlife. It is a wonderful way to get incredible colorful photos that people really love. It is also a wonderful way to ruin equipment. If you are lucky enough to be using high-dollar weather-sealed lenses and bodies you probably think that there is nothing to worry about. And you would be wrong. The fine sand and dust can work its way into your gear thru even the tiniest of crevices. And if you make the cardinal sin of changing lenses in that environment well… you have my condolences. You will likely find that your sensor is now riddled with lots of little flecks of dust that show up as blurry blobs of gray in your pictures.
A speck here or there can usually be removed in the digital darkroom – photoshop’s healing brush does an amazing job – but if there are lots of them to deal with it quickly becomes a real pain.
Dust gets into your camera whenever you change lenses or caps, so it can accumulate over time. It mostly shows up as specks on areas of flat color, like a blue sky or white wall. Dust tends to show up at narrow apertures, so if you always shoot at f1.8, you’ll never notice it. Too much dust can cause your photos to look flat, even if you don’t see the individual specks.
If you want to see how much dust is on your sensor, set your camera to its narrowest aperture (f22 or thereabouts) and take a picture of a clear blue sky, white wall, or all-white computer screen. Then upload your photo and view it at actual pixel size. You’ll see fuzzy spots throughout the picture.
The problem with beaches and deserts is that they are often windy and that wind carries microscopic particles that can ruin your kit if not removed. It is much worse for equipment that is not properly weather-sealed, of course. But even top level pro gear is susceptible. The best way to mitigate the issue is to use a rain cover over your camera and lens, to never change lenses or batteries in the field, to make sure you have a clear or UV filter attached to the front of your lenses and to wipe down your gear as soon as you get back to your base.
If you find yourself in that type of environment regularly, it is also wise to have your cameras, camcorders, and lenses professionally cleaned and serviced at least once per year. Camera sensors are especially prone to attracting dust because of their electrostatic charges. But the tiny flecks find their way inside lenses, flashes, lights etc. with alarming ease. It does not cost much to have this done but the cost for repairs can be much much higher if you DO NOT.
In addition to dust and sand, the seaside is also full of salty air and that also is bad for gear. Tripod legs, in particular, must be thoroughly washed with fresh clean water to remove the salty residue left behind after a trek near the water. You may not notice the fine spray mist that attacks your gear but if left untouched it will eventually corrode your equipment and ruin it.
So, in summary, venturing outdoors can be troublesome, especially near the water or in arid landscapes. Protect your investments with regular maintenance and cleaning and they will serve you faithfully for many years to come.
Hi-Tech’s repair staff can perform these basic tasks for you at a wallet-friendly rate so give us a call TODAY!