A camera for a professional is a technique that the owner always treats as carefully as possible, carefully monitoring its condition. However, even with proper care, during use, dust particles and small particles of debris will eventually settle on the parts of the device over time. This article will tell you how to properly clean a camera mirror without harming a fragile part.
How Does The Camera Mirror Get Dirty?
Experts identify several reasons why the mirrors of photographic equipment can become dirty. Among them:
- replacing the lens in a dusty room (the most common case);
- non-professional lens cleaning;
- Lens and camera mismatch.
- Lens and camera.
The latter option is most often encountered when a lens from another is attached to a camera from one manufacturer. In this case, small gaps may remain between the parts, invisible to the eye, but sufficient to allow some amount of dust that later settles on the lens to pass through.
If you do not carry out preventive cleaning with your own hands for a long time, then over time, professional help may be required, which will cost the owner of the device quite dearly. However, this will save him from the need to spend time and effort on self-cleaning.
Mirror Function in the Camera
- All cameras can be divided into three groups:
- Compact cameras;
- Mirrorless systems;
- SLR cameras.
The simplest compact cameras and mirrorless cameras use the same principle when an electronic system is used instead of an optical viewfinder, and the image is displayed on a display. Such cameras, in contrast to compact “point-and-shoot” cameras, have more advanced functionality, a powerful processor, and the ability to use interchangeable optics.
SLR cameras are allocated in a separate group since they use a complex optical system when the photographer sees the future frame through the lens… This principle is called TTL or “through the lens”. In this case, the light passes through the optical system of the object, is reflected from the light mirror vertically upwards onto the prism, and enters the eyepiece. The thin mirror is coated with aluminum or silver and is very sensitive to the slightest dirt, so it must be cleaned regularly. If you do not perform this procedure for a long time, then small dust particles can form a dense layer, which will be extremely difficult to remove at home and you will have to contact the service department.
How to Detect Contamination
Essentially, any mechanical particles on the mirror do not affect the quality of photographs, since the mirror plate is used only as part of the viewfinder. Large mechanical particles can be easily seen directly in the eyepiece when framing. The absence of such particles does not mean complete purity at all. It’s just that fine dust and light pollution are not immediately noticeable, but in the future, they can become a serious problem since their number will increase over time.
A dirty camera mirror can make it difficult to frame the shot correctly when some important compositional details will be poorly visible, so cleaning is a must. It is generally accepted that when photographing under normal conditions, it will be sufficient to clean the camera mirror once every two to three months. If you have to take pictures frequently in difficult conditions, the cleaning procedure should be done more often. You can detect dirt in the following way:
- Choose a room for work with a minimum amount of dust;
- Remove the lens from the camera;
- Place a bright light source next to a mirror;
- By changing the angle of illumination, carefully inspect the mirror surface.
- For a closer inspection of the surface, it is recommended to use a magnifying glass.
Necessary Cleaning Tool
The mirror, which is part of the viewfinder, is a lightweight plate covered with a layer of metal. Spraying is carried out in a vacuum; therefore the coating is very thin and requires careful handling. In addition, the design itself is sensitive to any mechanical stress. Even slight pressure on the plate can change the system’s factory settings, resulting in manual focus failure and autofocus failure. The following accessories are used as a cleaning tool for the mirror surface:
- Pear with a tip;
- Special napkin;
- Cleaning liquid.
With the help of a pear, you can get rid of mechanical particles that did not have time to stick tightly to the coating. A much worse situation is when the mirror has not been cleaned for a long time and the dust cannot be removed with air. To do this, you can use a napkin moistened with a special cleaning liquid. This procedure must be carried out very carefully. Wear cotton or silicone anti-static gloves when cleaning the optical elements of the camera. First, with the help of a blower and a directed airflow, everything that is possible is removed. Then a special optics napkin is taken. It could be Pec Pads or Green Clean. The latter brand is preferable for cleaning the mirror, as these wipes are softer.
Roll the napkin into a triangle and apply 2-3 drops of cleaning liquid to the sharp end. There are special compounds that are used to clean lenses, mirrors and glass in optical instruments. Eclipse or Zeiss cleaning spray will do. Then, absolutely without pressure, using only the weight of the napkin, you need to collect all the dirt from the camera mirror in a circular motion. If after this cleaning there are stains, they can be removed with a new cloth or use the other edge of an already used one. Do not touch the mirror with that part of the napkin that was touched by hands without gloves. Even if the hands were thoroughly washed before cleaning, a small amount of sebum still remains on them, which will immediately appear on the mirror and the cleaning will have to be repeated again. As a result of surface treatment in such a way, the mirror surface of the camera is completely cleaned of any dirt. The main thing in this procedure is not to touch the focusing screen, which is located above the mirror. It is very “delicate” and it is easy to damage it even with a simple touch.
How to Clean the Mirror Correctly?
First of all, it is necessary to prepare the room in which the cleaning will be carried out. It is advisable to do wet cleaning in it, to minimize the amount of debris and dust, otherwise cleaning will be in vain.
- The cleaning itself usually takes place in several stages:
- Determination of the nature of contamination (the method of determination is described above).
- Removing the lens. The part should be removed as carefully as possible so as not to knock down the factory autofocus settings.
The cleaning itself. It is necessary to carefully examine the mirror with a magnifying glass, and then, using an empty and dry rubber bulb, “draw in” dust and pile. You should be careful because, with one inaccurate movement of the pear, dust particles can be blown off by the airflow into hard-to-reach areas of the lens or even onto the matrix. As an alternative to pears, some use a special microfiber cloth or cotton swabs, but the latter can cause even more problems, leaving cotton fibers on the glass.
After all the necessary operations have been successfully completed, it is necessary to assemble the camera as carefully as possible in the reverse order of the parsing procedure, and then check the quality of the shooting again through the preview. If the cleaning fails, the user will notice it by the black specks in the image. In this case, only mechanics from the service center can help him.
How to Prevent Dirt Inside The Camera
The camera is a complex device where precise mechanics are combined with optical elements and electronic assemblies. Cleaning the camera from external dirt is easy. It is much worse when dust or dirt gets inside the camera body. Cleaning some of the internal elements is so time-consuming and complicated that the equipment has to be taken to a service center. To prevent this, it is enough to follow simple rules. Dust particles can enter the inside of the cabinet in the following situations:
- Shooting in highly dusty rooms;
- Replacing the lens under unsuitable conditions;
- Constructive inconsistencies in the mount of the bayonet.
Avoid staying in a dusty room for longer than is necessary for shooting. The camera should be kept in the bag and removed only for the duration of the shooting. Even more dangerous is changing the lens in a dusty environment. In this case, dust particles are guaranteed to get inside the case and settle in the most inconvenient places for cleaning. Do not leave the camera with the lens removed, even for a short time. The camera comes with a cover that must be used. Another possibility of getting mechanical particles inside the camera body is associated with a mismatch in the amount of a bayonet type lens from different manufacturers.
It is also worth noting that self-cleaning a camera mirror at home is not an easy task, requiring compliance with a number of conditions. If the photographer doubts that he will be able to carry out this operation on his own and is not sure of his technical skills, then it is better for him initially to contact the service center, since an inept cleaning can only aggravate the situation.