Don't Be Lazy! How to Maintain Your Photography Equipment
Just like you need to see a doctor periodically for a quick checkup, your gear needs to get a checkup, too! You can’t do your job without your equipment, so isn’t it worth it to make sure it’s working properly? Your slow season is the best time to do this, so that you know everything is in tip-top shape before you head out to a paying gig (where every shot counts).
So, don’t be lazy! Richard Photo Lab has five things you can do to maintain your film photography equipment…
1. Get It Cleaned by a Professional
Find a camera repair shop that you can trust and one that has experience with more than just SLR cameras. Make sure they’re comfortable working on digital cameras and analog cameras, too. If you’re not sure where to look, ask your fellow photographers where they’ve had success.
Once you find one, at a minimum send them your primary camera body & lenses—you know, your “work-horses” that you use all the time. The shop will be able to look them over, clean every nook and cranny, and check that all the parts are functioning properly..
2. Shoot Test Rolls
Test rolls aren’t just for trying out new stocks & exposure levels (though, they’re great for that)… shooting a test roll can be a great way to make sure your gear is functioning like it should.
You might find you have a faulty insert that is causing film flatness, or one of your film camera backs has a worn out seal that’s letting light in. Or maybe the emulsion side of your film is getting scratched because of sticky rollers.
A lot can be revealed from getting test rolls shot with all your different pieces of equipment—just make sure that you label your film so that you know which rolls were shot with which gear!
Richard will even help you spot these equipment-related problems—our scans come with Richard’s Film Report, which identifies 20 different issues that we may have spotted with your film/scans.
3. Prepare for Year-Round Upkeep
Be sure you have everything you need to make your gear last longer in between your big annual checkup.
Have padded camera bags where you can safely store your cameras and lenses.
Have a collection of lens caps ready (because you know those things can be easy to misplace).
Keep canned air and delicate wipes (like Kimtech wipes) handy so you can be sure your equipment is free of dust and dirt as you go from shoot to shoot.
Have a rain cover/sleeve ready in case you need to protect your gear from unexpected moisture.
4. Invest in New Items
Some things are beyond repair… Everything has a lifespan, and lots of photography gear just gets worn out eventually!
Do a little shopping for items that are on their last leg (it’s better to have something ready n' waiting than to have to rush out and find a last-minute replacement once a piece of equipment becomes 100% useless).
And don’t forget, as a professional photographer, these items are tax write-offs—so save those receipts!
5. Build Up Your Film Reserve
Have a few favorite stocks and film sizes that you know you shoot a ton of? Now’s the time to collect a big stash and maintain your supply!
Just like any product, retailers may run out of the film type/size that you’re looking for… so do a little math and figure out how much film you need to get through the next six months.
Once you get your fresh film, keep it in peak condition. Protect it from heat & moisture by storing the unopened, original canisters in the fridge or freezer.
Note that ambient gamma radiation, which is naturally occurring, will still slightly degrade film stored even in the best conditions (with higher speed films degrading at a faster rate), so don’t stock up too much.