It's as important as checking up on and cleaning a baby's backside
I haven't had to watch a diaper-wearing baby in quite awhile and hope it stays that way. However, I thought this would make a great analogy. If you were going out somewhere in public with your little tyke in tow, you'd probably check out their rear end before you left the house and several times while you were away. Treat your camera the same way and you won't be embarrassed.

The equipment you need
Camera-Cleaning-a-Mike LynchIn photo #1 my trusty Pentax is filthy from a twelve hour day crawling around in pineapple fields. So, it's shrunken down in the background. The rest of the gear is what you need for the care of your baby (camera) whether it's a Point and Shoot or DSLR. All that equipment fits nicely in my shoulder holster camera bag you see under the pile, all but the large black bulb (turkey baster-looking thing); that's only required when you change lenses on a DSLR.

So, for any camera, here's what you need to clean:

1. A lens brush for removing dust and the bulb forces air to blow it away. The brush is removable, allowing you to use a blast of air for drying your lens.
2. Lens Cleaning Paper is probably no different than eyeglass tissues but, I always buy mine at the camera store. You wouldn't buy baby wipes from an auto supply shop, would you?
3. Lens Cleaning Solvent, not Windex, or any substitute is what you want to use. Camera lenses have a protective coating on them which you'll want to last forever.

A kit, with all three items listed above costs less than US $10.00 so, there's really no reason to be caught without one. Yet, I have people all the time asking me how to clean a camera lens and they're surprised such equipment even exists. Makes you wonder if they are allowed to have babies, doesn't it?

How it's done:
Camera-Cleaning-c-Mike-Lynch1. Use the brush and bulb to remove dust from the lens. If you have a lens shade on, remove it and dust it off as well.
2. Your fingers contain oil that you don't want to get on your lens. Tear a piece of lens paper from the pack by one corner, at the edge, being careful not to touch the paper anywhere else.
3. Lightly, spray the opposite end of the paper with lens cleaner. This little bottle of spray should last the average camera-shooter about a year. It doesn't take much spray at all to clean a lens.
4. Place the moistened portion of the paper on your lens and crumple the dry portion over it. Gently swirl the paper in a circular motion being careful not to touch the lens with your fingers.
Pretend it's a baby with diaper rash but, be gentler. Cameras cost money.
5. Next, you pull out one more lens tissue and dry, if you need to. I've found that I can clean and dry a small Point and Shoot with just one lens paper, if I'm careful.
6. If there's any remaining haze on the lens after you've done all that, use the bulb to air-dry with a few blasts and your lens should be ready to go.

Backside of your camera:
Camera-Cleaning-b-Mike-LynchA closer look at the backside of my baby shows you why I wanted to hide it from public view; it's filthy. When I'm out shooting in the hot sun, sweat, dirt, grime, pollen and whatever else can collect on a camera get all over me and my baby. This particular day, it got so bad I couldn't even read my light meter through the viewfinder. I composed my shots through the viewfinder but had to use the external light meter (on top of the camera) for exposure settings). I had cleaned it twice, earlier in the day, but was facing a busload of tourists coming my way at the end of a twelve hour shoot and just wanted to finish, pack up and run. So, the camera and I came home filthy. It's easy to remedy.

Here's what you do:
1. Grab the brush and bulb and clean the dust off everything. On DSLRs you can even peel away the rubber molding around the viewfinder for better access to the glass.
2. The viewfinder glass and LCD screen aren't as sensitive as a lens. Many LCD screens even have a plastic coating you can peel off and replace with a new one. I still use the same method, spraying the lens paper first and repeat the process as above but, it isn't really that critical.
3. The rest of the camera body, an old toothbrush is safe to use for dust and grime removal, just make sure your lens cover is protecting the lens you've cleaned before grinding away dust and dirt from the body of the camera.
4. Any soft cloth and some lens cleaner should remove any stubborn spots from the backside of your baby. Until next time; Happy Shooting!

mikelynch200A wildlife photographer living in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, Brave New Traveler, CNN GO, Go Backpacking, Go Nomad, Matador Travel Network, Pocket Cultures, The Nihon Sun, Travel Thru History, The Okinawan , and Wend Magazine Blog. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.