Lesson learned

It’s time to tell the sad story of how my 1-month-old camera ended up in the shop last week. It was a painful experience, and it’s somewhat embarrassing as well, so I’m hoping that by sharing the story, at least one newbie will avoid the same mistakes I made.

Last Saturday morning I got up early to see if I could get a good sunrise shot. I noticed a hair when I looked through the viewfinder, and it was there no matter which lens I used.

Camera innerds

My camera - exposed!

Experienced photographers: this is where you wince.

When I got home, I thought: I’m going to really take great care of this camera. I’m going to get that hair out of there. So I removed the lens, got out my squeaky-clean Canon lens cleaning kit (the name alone should have clued me in), opened up the soft brush, and tried to brush the hair off of the screen inside.

You guessed it: instead of removing the hair, a few hairs from the brush attached themselves to the screen.

So then I took the only-used-once soft cloth from the kit and tried to lightly dab at the hairs to see if they would get picked up.  Of course they didn’t, and I ended up with additional dust on the screen.

Panic set in. I ran to my computer, frantically started googling information about getting dust and hairs off of camera guts, and finally determined that what I needed was an air blower. The problem was, there aren’t any camera stores in Ithaca, I wasn’t willing to wait for shipping, and the right kind of blowers aren’t sold at Target, Wal-Mart, or Best Buy… which meant a road trip to a camera store in Elmira was in order.

I arrived at the camera store 15 minutes before it closed at 2 PM, and received a kindly lecture which covered the following points:

  1. The dust / hair etc. that you see in the viewfinder, and that are located on the mirror or focusing screen, may be annoying but they don’t have any effect on the final image
  2. Never, ever try to clean the mirror or focusing screen
  3. Blowers are good for lenses but not for the mirror or focusing screen.

Since the store was about to close, I had to leave the camera for the weekend. The store did a thorough cleaning, and I picked up the camera Monday afternoon.

The final cost of this misadventure: $64 for the cleaning, 2 round-trips to Elmira (45 minutes each way = 3 hours), being without a camera for the better part of a beautiful weekend, and a painful lesson learned.



  1. Aw, so sorry Barbara! It sounds to me like you weren’t using the correct cleaning equipment. I clean my mirror and screen ALL the time. I have an Artic Butterfly by Visible Dust (http://www.visibledust.com/products3.php?pid=3). You can ‘charge’ the bristles so that they pick up dust/hairs and not leave anything behind. I also have the cleaning fluids and pads as well as the artic blower. The stuff may seem expensive but as you have found, one cleaning is quite costly (in $$ and, for you especially, driving distance!)

    • Thanks for the tip! I’ve just put an Artic Butterfly on my wish list for Mother’s Day. I saw in the reviews on Amazon that I’m not the only person who’s made this mistake on a new camera. 🙂

  2. I’m so sorry Barbara. Thanks for the heads up! I probably would have attempted to do the same thing. I’m glad you have your camera back in working order for another beautiful weekend. We need to get together soon to do that shoot! Sandy

    • I’m glad I posted this then! I felt so stupid as I was driving home from Elmira. I’m not *quite* to the point where I can laugh about it, but I’ll get there. Looking forward to some quality shooting time with you now that the weather is decent!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s