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Preparing to go: Camera maintenance

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Before you attend a photography workshop it is essential that you are familiar with your camera. You will not want to waste valuable photo shoot time checking the manual. You should be taking advice and putting it into practice.

It is equally important that your camera equipment all be in excellent working order. Below we list a few procedures for you to prepare accordingly. These are not matters to be rushed or performed in a hotel room on-the-road.

Update firmware/software

Although firmware updates are not frequent it will be worth checking whether any are available for your camera(s) before heading off. It would be annoying to find an issue that was already resolved whilst away, with great opportunities in front of you but now a slower internet connection and a busy schedule.

The same applies to any software you intend to use during the workshop for saving and processing your images. Do you have the latest versions? Do you have all of the add-ons that you frequently use on the laptop that you will be taking?

General camera/lens checks and cleaning

In this stage you will give your camera and lenses a general cleaning and, more importantly, run your eyes over everything to identify potential problems. Are controls moving freely? Are they clean/dry or slippery? Are markings clear?

This is a good time to check straps and their bindings. Are you sure that these are strong enough to to hold your valuable kit if you stumble or get knocked down? Are the straps on your camera bags also strong? Prepare for rough handling and save worries later.

Don''t forget your tripod. Are all the legs moving freely? Is the head free to rotate and are all the clamps working properly? Test the system with the heaviest/longest lens you intend to take with you.

Clean the sensor

Your sensor is the single most critical part of the camera system and you should start the workshop knowing that it is immaculate. Hopefully good practices during the trip will mean that it stays this way.

Depending upon the destination and style of the workshop you might not have much option but to change lenses frequently and/or in sub-optimal conditions.

It will be well worth checking for dust etc during downtime. There''s usually some free time during the middle of each day even if you do get too tired for such chores after the evening meal.

Take test shots

If you haven''t been out shooting recently it will pay to take some test shots with the set of lenses you intend to take. Inspect these carefully and be sure that you are satisfied with the output. Is the quality as you would expect?

Equipment repair/calibration

By now you should have identified any issues that require fixing. Unless you really know what you are doing it will be better to take your camera in for professional servicing.

This is also a good stage to think about spare parts that you might want to carry with you. Our support staff should be able to advise on common issues.

You might also want to think about professional autofocus calibration. This is most relevant to those aiming to shoot with very shallow depth-of-field, but might be something you discover upon close inspection of test shots.

Further steps

  • Prepare for the worst and ensure that you have the relevant details written down for any potential insurance claim;
  • Ensure that you have contact details and websites recorded for any support services you might need whilst away; and
  • Do let us know if you have any specific questions about your trip.

Enjoy your photography workshop and we hope you get some great images. We love to put these up on our site so do send us a few when you get back home.