How to get your digital camera ready for spring

Now that spring has begun, it's time to get your camera gear in order. Here are some how-to tips to get your digital camera ready for spring.

Although hopefully your digital camera saw a lot of use over the winter, and not just for the holidays, most people take the bulk of their photos over the warmer months. So now that spring has begun, it's time to get your camera gear in order and clean the gum wrappers and ticket stubs out of your camera bag from last summer. As the weather warms up, here are some things you can do to get your digital camera ready for a summer of fabulous photos.

  • Clean it. Whether you have a dSLR, an ILC, or even an advanced compact, cleaning your camera regularly will help ensure better photos. It will also help keep it working its best. Have you ever seen someone wearing really dirty eyeglasses and wondered how they could see out of them? Your camera's lens, like a pair of eyeglasses, needs to be kept clean so it, too, can see clearly, something that often goes overlooked. You can remove the smudges and fingerprints from the lens surface using a lens-cleaning cloth. Owners of dSLRs and ILCs, which have removable lenses, will also want to make sure to clean the rear lens element, as dust and fingerprints can get find their way there when changing lenses. DSLR owners will also want to make sure they clean the optical viewfinder of their camera; using a cotton swab can be helpful for this.

  • Check batteries. No matter what kind of camera and accessories you have, spring is a good time to make sure all your batteries are in order. Standard AAs should be replaced for a fresh set, and rechargeable batteries should be checked to make sure they are holding a good charge. Lithium ion batteries, including the ones that charge in-camera, should be removed and given a quick visual inspection to make sure there is no damage and that the small gold contacts appear clean.

    Also be sure to check the batteries in peripherals--external flashes, battery grips, etc.--which tend to be forgotten. So get out your flashes and other accessories, and check all the batteries, watching out for possible leaking batteries. Alkaline AAs can leak if sat unused for a long period of time.

  • Memory cards. Now is a good time to download everything off of your memory cards. You might even still have all of your holiday photos on there, and if you are like a lot of people, you may even still have the photos from last summer's family vacation on there. So, download all of those photos and videos to a safe place so nothing happens to your valuable memories.

    After downloading the media, it's a good idea to reformat the memory card, so you have a freshly formatted, empty card to capture all of your upcoming spring and summer photos. As memory card prices consistently drop, while capacities increase, you might also consider upgrading your memory card for not much money.

  • Storage. While we are talking about downloading media from your memory cards, it is a good time to also think about more long-term storage solutions for your pictures and videos. Getting them off your camera and to your computer is a good first step, but as camera resolutions continue to grow and we shoot more and more HD video on our cameras, larger and more easily accessible storage solutions than just your laptop's hard drive become worth looking at. Plus hard drives can die and laptops can get lost or broken, so having your files stored externally can be great in the event of a problem. USB external flash drives and hard drives have gotten much cheaper and provide a simple backup storage solution.

    If you'd like to be able to more easily share and distribute photos and videos, a NAS server (network attached storage) is a great storage solution. Unlike an external hard drive that is only accessible from the computer it is attached to, a NAS server has built-in Wi-Fi and is accessible by any device on your home Wi-Fi network, so you can can access your photos and videos wirelessly from multiple devices. NAS servers provide the safety of remote storage having all of your memories backed-up remotely, and easy access from multiple devices over your home Wi-Fi network.

About the author

    Matthew Fitzgerald, a CNET associate editor, has been involved with digital camera technology and the photo industry for more than 15 years. His background includes work as a professional photographer, a technical representative, and a repair technician.

     

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