KEH Blog


Digital Media Card Tips

No matter which type of card (CF I&II, SD, XD, SM, MS, etc.) your camera takes, it's a good idea to format it on a regular basis. While it may not happen often, these little cards of information can fail & reach the end of their life if used a lot. To keep your card in good health, format it in the camera from time to time.  This clears up the card and erases all of the data. Of course make sure that you have downloaded and saved onto a computer all of the files on the card before formatting. Some older cards & cameras may also show error messages if the card is not properly formatted to that camera.

Each camera menu is different, but you can typically find the formatting function in one of the last sections in your menu (usually marked with a wrench symbol & yellow in color), and also in the menu when you're in "playback" mode. If you can't find it, refer to your user manual. All you have to do is select "format" and hit your enter or set key and confirm.

A few other things to remember about cards is to keep them in their little plastic cases when not in the camera body. This protects the small connection holes/contacts that transfers your data from camera to card, card to computer, and protects the shell of the card itself.

Also, when putting in and taking the memory cards out of the card slot, both in a camera & in a card reader, be gentle! There are little pins on the other end that can be easily bent. If the pins get bent too many times the pins can also break off. If either of these things happen, you won't be able to use the camera or card reader until you get it repaired.

The most efficient & reliable way to download your digital information. Why use a card reader instead of just plugging your camera into the computer to download? It's a safer transfer, downloads faster, takes up less space on your desktop, doesn't need batteries, does not use the cameras battery power and you don't have to dig for the correct connection cord. They are inexpensive and plug directly into your computer via USB or FireWire. 

Camera Killers: Dust and Fungus

There are a few things that can "kill" your camera equipment, both in function and value...

The first "killer" is DUST. While keeping your camera & lenses away from dirt & grime sounds like common sense, it's not always the case. Even if you avoid specifically dusty areas, it is inevitable that dust will still creep in to every crevasse it can. The most important part to keep dust out of is your digital cameras sensor. Some ways to prevent this (as much as possible) are: If there's no lens on your D-SLR, it better have a body cap on it! Always keep the internal parts of your camera protected. It's best when changing lenses to do it when the camera is off, and to hold the mount slightly downward as you're changing. Also, if your other pieces of equipment are dusty (like your lens) it can easily transfer to your image sensor. So, also keep everything as dirt & dust free as possible.

You can purchase compressed air cans which give a nice swift blow of air onto whatever you're pointing it at. There are also bulb blowers which are easier to transport in a camera bag, are inexpensive, and are an easy way to keep those nasty little particles away.

Another "killer" is FUNGUS. Fungus likes to creep into lenses when you least expect it. On normal fungus levels, it is very hard to spot unless you know exactly what you're looking for. But the thing about fungus is, it doesn't stop growing. Over time it will etch the glass in a lens to the point of no return. Fungus is especially a problem in humid climates... and I don't just mean the rainforest... If you live near a body of water, or a place where it rains on a fairly regular basis, your equipment is susceptible.

In addition to keeping your equipment properly stored, I suggest silica packs. These can be purchased in large sizes that can be re-activated by cooking it in the oven (best for larger spaces or multiple pieces of equipment), or for a temporary (& smaller space), the little packs that come in shoe boxes can be thrown into your camera bag as well. I also use these in my print boxes for preserving old photographs.

What will a lens full of fungus actually do, you ask? Well, aside from being icky and causing possible health problems, get too much in there and your images will no longer be sharp, but soft in focus.

Keeping Things Clean

An important part of camera & lens maintenance is to keep them clean. Below are a few cleaning tool options including a fabric lens cloth, a disposable lens cloth, & a lens brush. The last two items you probably already have in your home  (an eraser and a Q-tip).
Sometimes the contacts on your camera and/or lens get may not see anything, but it can cause connectivity problems so that your camera may not recognize your lens. An easy way to clear this up is to rub the contacts with an eraser. You can also do this on battery contacts, charger contacts, or anywhere else that you see those little metal spots. If you are rubbing contacts inside the lens mount of the camera, be very careful not to get any eraser crumbs inside the camera, they could get under the mirror and get stuck on your sensor which will cause spots on your images. You can also rub the contacts with a Q-tip that has some Windex on it.

For cameras or grips that use AA or AAA batteries, and has been stored for a length of time, it may have corroded batteries. In this case, an eraser or Windex may not do the trick. You can use regular white vinegar on a q-tip and rub it on the corroded areas.

To clean your lens glass, a lens cloth works fine for minor marks like a finger smudge. For more intense jobs, first blow the glass element off (with canned air or a bulb blower) so that there is no harsh particles like sand or dust on it- it could scratch the glass during the next step if it's not first removed. Then, take a Q-tip with some Windex on the tip and gently wipe the glass in a circular motion, and then dry it with the other dry end of the Q-tip.

Windex may also be used on the camera body & the outside of the lens itself if there are scuffs or dirt, but prevention is also key!

Smoking near your equipment and storing it in smoky places is also a big no-no. The smoke gets in to all the little nooks and crannies and can not be removed. In addition to a smell, and possible internal damage, smoke leaves a brown coating on equipment that is very hard to get off.

Protecting your equipment will help in keeping it working better and for longer, as well as to retain it's value come trade-in time!

If you have a dirty sensor, you can take either of these approaches: 1) send it to our Repair Center for a professional clean, or 2) purchase an at-home sensor cleaning kit available HERE. Our Repair Center also offers preventive maintenance on all 35mm, digital SLR cameras & camcorders. The preventive maintenance includes: cleaning inside & outside of the body, replacing light seals, checking all functions (including meter, lens, circuitry, etc.) make any minor calibrations, & we will also clean the sensor on digital cameras.

Shooting TTV: When Old Meets New

Shooting "Real" TTV: You may be wondering what to do with your old film cameras that may or may not be in working condition. An interesting way to combine old and new technology is to shoot through the viewfinder, or TTV. One of the most common cameras being used for this technique is the Kodak Duaflex, but any camera with a large waist level type viewfinder will do.
The Duaflex has a convex viewfinder which creates a nice edge effect.In addition to the Duaflex, you will need a digital SLR with a macro lens. A lens with an extension tube or a close up filter would also work. In order to keep most of the light out and avoid glare on the viewfinder, you will also need material to build a shade which you will shoot the viewfinder through. I used cardboard and duct tape that I spray painted black. To determine the height of the box, focus the SLR and lens you are using on the viewfinder so that it fills as much of the shot as possible and measure the distance between the SLR camera and the top of the Duaflex (or other viewfinder model).

My finished product looked like this:
The images have a vintage feel with the immediacy that comes with using digital technology. This technique is also nice for creating texture and a different look without using Photoshop.

Shooting "Fake" TTV: You can also create this effect in Photoshop if you take one shot TTV on a white background to use as a "filter", or download a pre-made TTV filter.Once you have the TTV image, pick any image you would like to transform. Open both images in Photoshop. Select "all" in your TTV image and copy your selection. Now click on your regular image and paste the TTV image into this image (I resized my image to more closely match the TTV image). You will not be able to see through the pasted TTV shot until you select the layer with the TTV image and switch the drop down menu from normal to multiply. Now you can choose to manipulate the opacity until the desired effect is produced. I also selected my background layer and adjusted the brightness a little higher since the TTV layer darkened the original layer.
Either way you do it, this process produces a fun effect that is rapidly growing in popularity!

~Christina Hodgen

IS and VR Lenses

First things first... what is IS & VR? IS is image stabilization in Canon lenses, and VR is vibration reduction in Nikon lenses. Some other brands also produce similar lenses, such as Sigma with OS, optical stabilizer. These functions help to reduce blur from camera shake. When using this function, you can acheive sharper images when hand holding your camera and shooting at slower speeds. Since it's not always possbile to use a tripod, this function comes in handy in many situations including lower light settings, such as shooting indoors, or when trying to capture something that is moving, such as sports or wildlife.
Why not always leave the IS/VR ON? Because it doesn't always work to your advantage. If you are shooting in one of the conditions mentioned above, keep it on. If your camera is on a tripod (especially with a higher speed or using a remote release), and there isn't any vibration to reduce, the lens will still continue to look for one. In this searching process the motor inside the lens is virbrating or jiggling. Because of this, you may end up with a shaky and unsharp result.

*Note that some of the newer lenses being produced, such as Canons third generation IS lenses do not need to be turned off when tripod mounted. They have made them to be able to detect if it is completely stationary, and the function will turn itself off.
Now, what about when the lens is not in use? There's two sides to the argument, just like most things. Some photographers recommend keeping it on, so that in a split moment you can grab the lens, not have to think about turning it on, and shoot. The other side to that is while it may take a fraction of a second longer to turn it on, and you'll need to remember to turn it on, you are better protecting the mechanics of the lens if the function is turned off when not in use. This is especially pertinent when on the move, becaue when on, the function is most vulnerable. If the lens is in your camera bag and is being jostled around, it is less likely to (simply put) brake, if the function is off.

Because a lens does not have a battery, it relies on the camera bodys battery. Having the IS and VR functions on will use slightly extra batter power. So, another reason to consider paying attention to when the function is on vs. off instead of constantly leaving it on.


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