Cleaning Video Production Equipment
When creating any kind of video content, it is essential to respect the value of the equipment used to create it. Whether you have a small kit for just starting out in video content or you’re managing a full-scale production set, you have to always factor the costs associated with your gear into your workflow. Fortunately, with proper care and consideration given to the maintenance of your video production equipment, you can maximize the value of your investment by getting the most out of your gear for years to come.
Keep in mind that this means setting a plan for upkeep from day one, having a few key tools in your arsenal, and maintaining consistent practices throughout your usage of the kit. For that reason, we at Foundation Digital Media have put our years of video content production and gear management experience to the task and put together this helpful guide to clean and maintain your video production equipment for optimal performance over a long life of video content creation.
While there are a wide variety of tools needed for cleaning different types of camera gear, we’re simply going to break down a few key items that are versatile enough to properly clean and maintain all parts of a diverse production kit. Without question, number one on that list is a basic microfiber cloth, preferably one meant for glass lenses. It’s useful for most surfaces on any piece of equipment and never really wears out.
Next up is something akin to an air blower, often seen in the form of a rocket blower. These nifty little devices are perfect for blowing out dust and particulates from every corner of lenses, cameras, and more. They also deliver the perfect amount of air for the job, unlike compressed air canisters which exert far too much air and can potentially blow particles further into those nooks and crannies and cause more damage.
Going deeper into specific tools for specific jobs, you might consider a few hand tools for particularly smudged lenses and camera sensors. Things like small paintbrushes and makeup brushes work wonders for getting between cracks. There are also hand tools built specifically for smudged camera glass like a lens pen for working the glass more intensely without damaging the sensitive glass.
While we don’t suggest using too much moisture when working with sensitive electronics, there are a few ways of doing so safely. Consider using moistened wipes or alcohol spray for a waterless solution that works dirt and grime better than dry brushes. Try not to overuse as too many solutions can still cause problems for your equipment, but in moderation, it is highly effective.
As this is a basic outline for optimal gear care, we’re not going to establish one right way to manage your gear and instead provide a few basic practices to utilize for common pieces of equipment within any kit.
The most obvious place to begin is with the centerpiece of any video content production: the camera. For starters, frequently wipe the camera down with a microfiber cloth to reduce wear. Be sure to give attention to the gaps around buttons and the various ports on the sides. Don’t forget to clean up your viewfinder as well. Another commonly ignored area is the battery casing, and it is particularly important to keep an eye out for corrosion on the battery elements.
Most importantly you’ll want to give regular care to your camera’s sensor. Here you’ll want to access your camera’s shutter release function to reveal the sensor for cleaning. Once open, take advantage of one of those air blowers to remove small dust and particles. You may need to use your brush or lens pen to handle tough smudges, but be gentle as a camera’s sensor is its most sensitive component. Many cameras even have an auto-clean option, but try not to rely on this too often as it doesn’t do as thorough of a job as a hand clean.
Lenses are far easier to care for and simply require a regular wipe down of both the front glass and rear element with a microfiber cloth. Sometimes you may need an alcohol spray or wipe to clear more difficult grime, but don’t overuse it as there’s always a risk of moisture entering the wrong part. We also suggest common techniques like wiping in concentric circles and moving from into out to clean most efficiently. Filters are also easy to clean in the same fashion.
Lighting equipment is typically fairly simple as long as you ensure proper care while using it. Wipe them down with your microfiber or alcohol wipes from time to time. Practice proper cord rolling protocols to maximize cord life. Also, pay special attention to lights operated through battery power as you may want to watch out for corrosion much like cameras.
Other accessories are just as easy to care for, such as tripods, light stands, camera bags, and more. While you might consider washing your stands from time to time, this is only really necessary when shooting in more weather-prone conditions. The same applies to camera bags and lens cases.
Maintenance & Tips
We find that in the end, it’s easiest to develop an outline for your kit maintenance from the very first day a piece of gear enters your workflow. Having a plan for what you’d like to clean after every use, every week, month, or longer is critical to keeping yourself accountable with regard to maintaining your equipment. Practices like lens cleaning you might do more frequently while caring for a camera’s sensor or washing your tripod are those you might not need to perform often at all.
Though it’s easy to make your gear last with proper, consistent care, sometimes it’s simply not enough. There are also many examples of deeper areas you can not clean like lens lubrication or the internal prism of a camera. You may consider a professional service for infrequent or yearly check-ups for these internal systems.
If this all sounds like too much to handle, there are still options for you. With years of experience in video content and our technological expertise, we’re able to provide a comprehensive package for campaigns of any scale. Whether you’re looking for someone to simply take the reins on your next project or you simply need a hand on one small part of a larger roll-out, we have a team of specialists for any digital media need. Get in touch for a consultation today!