Rituals are an important part of many cultures and belief systems. Yet rituals can also be patterns of behavior. We drive the same way to work every day, we tend to eat similar meals from one week to the next, and we do certain things each and every day, like brushing our teeth, taking a shower (hopefully anyway!), and a host of others. Well, just like other rituals, many of us become very fastidious about our work flow. We color manage things, we duplicate images, back them up, and save in multiple locations. Yet I’ve not seen anyone really talk about establishing rituals over cleaning their gear. In that area, I feel that I am something of a loner, because I do clean my gear in a very ritualistic pattern. It may be overkill to some, while to others it may not be enough. Nevertheless, cleaning our gear is something we should all consider making a part of our recurring activities.

Tomorrow is the second Friday of the month, and since I’ve set that date (just an arbitrary date, no specific logic behind the date other than I didn’t have anything else “scheduled” for that date at the time I came up with this) as my monthly camera cleaning date. I clean every piece of equipment I own. It takes a few hours, but that way I do maintain a regular schedule of maintenance for all this gear. So, today I am sharing my cleaning schedule with you.

My Gear Cleaning Ritual

  1. Part One – Wipe Down This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours depending on amount of crap in my bag! I first take the battery out of camera and insert in charger. While camera battery is charging to full capacity I use lint free lens clothes (you can get a 12-pack from WalMart for $1) to wipe down the camera body, the lens casings, my CF cards, my flash cards, everything! Then I take out all the velcro dividers from my camera bag. With the bag empty I use canned air and spray out my camera bag. Then I wipe everything down with a only slightly damp paper towel. I’ll also pick any fuzzies I can see off my velcro tabs.
  2. Part 2 – Glass cleaning This takes about 20 minutes, depending on whether certain lenses need multiple swipes. I Use the Eclipse/PecPad/Sensor Swab kit for all my detailed cleaning. First I remove the lens caps (front and rear, and dust them off with my canned air. Setting these aside I take a PecPad out and dab a few drops of the Eclipse solution on it. In a light circular motion I wipe from the center of the lens to the edge and swoop it away in a fluid motion. I then return the caps to the glass.
  3. Part 3 – Card clearing and formatting I lightly tap the CF cards with the holes facing down and stack them label side up by my card reader. After each is tapped, I run them through my computer, copying any images off into a folder titled “Unsorted”. Once the content is safely moved, I then format the cards from the OS command prompt (for me it,s format E: /FAT32)
  4. Part 4 – Air cleaner I take my Giottos Rocket Blower and with battery compartment open I pump twice into chamber, and then close. I then turn the camera sensor side down, uncap and repeat in that chamber with the blower. I recap the body then and lay it sensor side down on a pre-placed static bag.
  5. Part 5 – Sensor Cleaning I prep the sensor swab according to instructions with firm tight folds. I take the now fully charged batter, insert in the chamber, turn the camera on and move the menu to sensor cleaning mode, flip the camera over and lay it down on the bag. Then I dab two drops of Eclipse onto the edge, uncap the body and angle the wand to 45 degrees, placing the edge against the sensor. and in one motion move it from the first edge to the far edge. Without lifting the wand, I then shift the wand to the opposite 45 degree angle, slide it up and align the top edge of the PecPad to the top edge of the lens and in a single light motion, slide it back across the top of the sensor mirror. Using the same fluid motion I then lift the swab off the sensor, replace the body cap with my other hand and set the swab down on the static bag. I then turn the camera back over, and power down.
  6. Part 6 – Accessories check I take the now mostly de-charged camera/battery combo and insert my CF cards back into the camera. All cards are formatted in camera. Once the formats are complete, I then insert back into computer one last time and copy the low res contact info image back onto all CF cards. The battery is then taken back out and recharged again. (I do have spares too that get charged, and I take this opportunity to also charge all AA’s and stuff back in my camera bag. I’ll check my notebook for enough paper, my pen for ink, flashlight for batteries, business cards in front pocket of bag, ensure I have at least 5 model release forms, and I’ll wipe down my Krages card and cheat sheet (two laminated sheets of info I keep in my bag).
  7. Part 7 – Repack Reassemble Velcro dividers and insert everything back into my bag
  8. Part 8 – Tripod Maintenance Take legs off tripod and wipe everything down there. Remove all quick release plates and do the same. I then re-assemble the tripod and tighten down all the legs again.
  9. Part 9 – Inventory List Print out checklist inventory and insert in camera bag (when travelling).
  10. Part 10 – Relax Drink an ice cold beverage!

So, which of these rituals do you include in your gear maintenance schedule? Did I miss anything? Does anything I am doing sound weird or wrong? What do you think? Share your cleaning schedule in the comments or via email: jason <AT> canonblogger <DOT> com In the meantime:

  • Happy Friday 13th
  • Happy Fathers Day Weekend
  • and Happy Shooting (watch those apertures!)

4 thoughts on “Rituals – Cleaning your Gear

  1. Chris Taylor says:

    Is canned air really best for the lens? I thought it was too strong and can result in damage to the lens??

  2. Part 10 is definitely the best step…repeat that as often as necessary (or desired)! 🙂

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