Wildlife Photography Tips: Taking care of your camera

The most important thing you can do for your camera is to take care of it well. If you look after your camera properly, it will reward you with a long life. A lot of people know how to take pictures, but not everyone knows how to extend the life of their camera through proper care. If you want to get the most out of your camera—better performance and more enjoyment—then you’ll take care to make sure you follow these tips. Here are the most important aspects of taking care of your camera.

Discover wild Africa on a photojournalism safari assigment

It’s Okay to Use a Camera Bag!

Too many people just carry their cameras around in… whatever. They stuff them in their backpacks, their purses, their suitcases and even their fanny packs! Some may even carry them around like a smartphone: in their hands.

A camera bag will do more than just protect the camera against scratches and dust: it keeps it safe from rain because many are waterproof on the outside. You can now take your camera into the field on a rainy day, as long as you remember to house it in a camera bag.

Be Very Careful Around the LCD Screen and Camera Lens

You need special equipment for taking care of your camera the right way. The same goes for cleaning your camera’s LCD screen and camera lens. Don’t even think about being cheap and taking the easy route by using glass-cleaning products like Windex on the lens of your camera! You’ll just destroy the lens’ anti-glare coating.

Instead, head to your nearest camera store and buy a special cleaning kit that includes liquid solutions, microfiber cloths and brushes that have been specially designed to clean your camera lens. Your camera will thank you for it.

Got fingerprints or unsightly smudges on your LCD screen? Just use the microfiber cloth to get rid of them. Stubborn smudges? You’ll need to do something extra like buying commercial LCD screen cleaners.

While you’re cleaning your lens and LCD screen, you may as well clean the sensor. To get rid of the dirt and dust on the sensor, buy some cleaning solutions and special flat swabs.

Never Leave Your Batteries in Your Camera for Too Long

The problem with camera batteries was that they leaked acid, which isn’t a big problem anymore with newer batteries. Many camera batteries are now alkaline or lithium formats. If you keep your camera with the batteries inside of it in a moist area, then the batteries can get corrosive. So if you’re thinking about just putting your camera on the shelf for several months, do yourself a favor and remove them.

Download FREE eBook featuring 40 proven fundraising techniques to finance your next overseas experiential adventure

Turn Your Camera Off Prior to Doing Anything

Before you do anything to your camera, always keep in mind that it should be turned off first. No matter what it is—swapping lenses, changing memory cards or disconnecting or attaching cables—your camera should be turned off.

Keeping your camera on when, for example, it’s actively writing to the memory card increases the chance that you’ll ruin the card if you abruptly remove it. Similarly, if you change the lenses with the camera still turned on, you increase the chance that dust winds up on the sensor.

Turning your camera off is also useful for battery conservation. If you get in the habit of always keeping your camera on, you’re going to go through way too many batteries in a short period of time, running up your costs.

Getting in the habit of turning off your camera before you either add or remove something is no trouble at all, so remember to do it.

Cold and Wet Weather Can Wreak Havoc on Your Camera Body

Cameras these days are awfully delicate instruments. They have buttons, connectors, circuit boards…it’s really a modern, technological wonder. Even in spite of such a delicate instrument, you want to take advantage of bad weather in order to shoot some memorable, once-in-a-lifetime pictures. If you’re into wildlife photography, for instance, you’ll trudge outdoors in the coldest and rainiest of weather, searching for the elusive snow leopard. However, your camera can’t handle these conditions!

What do you do?

Take your camera out only in a waterproof bag. If the weather’s unusually cold, just wrap your camera in a plastic bag that has silica desiccant packets for the reduction of moisture. It’s also a smart idea to have a soft towel with you to wipe off any moisture, just in case it should get on your camera. If you’re on a budget, just wrap your camera in a plastic bag, leaving an opening for the lens. This is how you’ll shoot with it in the field. If you’re a pro, you should definitely invest in a camera sleeve instead!

Good Memory Card Care Is Good Camera Care

Memory cards are highly important to your use and enjoyment of a camera. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to retain the beautiful memories you’ve just snapped. Too many people treat their memory cards roughly, but here’s what you should do to keep memory cards working properly:

  • Only transport your memory cards inside of a protective case
  • Make sure the memory cards stay dust-free at all times. When removing memory cards, make sure you do so indoors or in non-dusty situations.
  • Make sure that you keep memory cards only in cool places. Never keep them in places where they may heat up, like dashboards or glove compartments.
  • Never place your memory cards close to magnetic sources. Examples of magnetic sources are things such as audio speakers, TV monitors and actual magnets.

Use a Filter to Protect Your Camera Lens

The lens of your camera is naturally fragile. As such, it’s susceptible to scratches, cracks, dents…you name it. So why not protect it by attaching a UV filter? Not only will you give your lens a fighting chance, but you’ll also enhance the quality of your pictures, depending on the filter you use.

Taking good care of your camera is all about will: either you do or you don’t. With cameras being quite expensive, it would really be a pity if your lack of care meant you had to replace it sooner rather than later. Even if you have a relatively cheap camera model, it still pays to take good care of it because it’s great training for the future, when you eventually buy a pricier camera after years of honing your skill!

Looking after and taking care of your camera on a regular basis doesn’t take much effort or time. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with a camera that gives you years of enjoyable use.

To establish yourself in a wildlife & adventure sports photography career, join the Africa Media Internship Training Program for the opportunity to gain experience in this very demanding field. 

Fiona Ayerst

Blogger Profile - Fiona Ayerst

Fiona is a world renowned underwater photographer and winner of numerous awards. Passionate about documenting the underwater world, she hopes that her photos will inspire greater marine conservation efforts. She developed and oversees the Underwater Photography internship for Africa Media

Kickstart your wildlife media career!

Find your perfect wildlife media speciality program