When I was a little guy, I was deemed by my family, to be mechanically inclined. That's because I was always interested in how things worked. Much to my parent's chagrin, however, I managed to take many things apart and only put a small percentage of theses items back together again. It started with simple things like toys, flashlights, alarm clocks and advanced to radios, musical instruments and appliances. It's a wonder I was not electrocuted by the age of 10. When I became interested in biology, when I received my first “microscope set” and advanced beyond the dead bee and the dead fly that was included with the kit, my parents began to observe me with a more watchful eye when I had my deserting instruments in hand. They tended to keep me away form my younger siblings and discouraged me in getting too close to the cat! OK- that part is a joke!- or is it?
Well in my early days in the hobby of photography, I certainly would not hesitate in taking a screwdriver or a pair of pliers to a camera in order to “fix it” which never turned out well. Lubricating a slow shutter with (3-in-1) sewing machine oil and cleaning the lens with “Glass Wax (if anyone here remembers that pink stuff) or even Windex were not a good ideas. Who knew that once you removed the cover of a shutter, all sort of tiny parts would sprint out of the housing with the speed of light, never again to be found- perhaps 10 yeas later when the carpeting was being changed.
Good thing my dad was an electronics technician and tough me enough to stay out of the innards of electronic flash gear, at least until he taught me how to safely repair them. One thing I advise all of my photographer friends and students about is to never pop the hood of any strobe gear unless you like the smell of burning flesh or the likelihood of sudden death or disablement- your own in all cases.
You know that label that says something about “authorized repair personnel only”- it's there for a good reason. Of you do not know what you are doing, if you don't hurt yourself you will at least damage the equipment beyond reasonable repair costs.
Now as far a sensors, front surface mirrors and other delicate camera innards are concerned, my policy is HANDS OFF UNLESS YOU KOW EXACTLY WHAT YOUR ARE DOING ACCORDING TO THE MANUFACTURERS RECOMMENDATIONS!!!
There is not doubt that “cleanliness is next to Godliness when it comes to sensors and lenses but knowing exactly what and how to preform theses maintenance procedures is of the utmost importance in prevention of accidental damage to theses vital components of your camera's system. Some of us, tend to overkill a bit when cleaning theses things and will cause problems.
I am growing a bit weaker with age but my nickname in gym class as a kid was “vice-grip hands”. Folks say that I don't realize the strength in my own hands. I know, on my death bed, even reduced to a near skeleton, just before I draw my last breath, I will be able to crack single walnuts in one hand. My assistants try to keep me away for the set screws and and adjustment knobs on light stands and tripods because things get to the point where nobody can undue them and some of my gear spend more time at the machine shop than on the studio floor. So- I know that I am kind of a klutz with delicate stuff so I delegate some of my more precise cleaning jobs to others. I am good with things like truck tires and heavy plumbing.
All joking aside- always check out the proper and recommended cleaning methods with your camera's manufacture, distributor or their authorized repair facility. You manual may have this information. Regardless of the case, my local repair guy tells me that a great deal of extensive and expensive repairs to camera bodies and lenses are due to overzealous or improper cleaning attempts. He told me that he had to disassemble a major part of the sensor system, only to find and remove little fibers from Q-tip swabs or hairs form dusting a dusting brush. Another photographer, did major damage to his camera with a blast from a compressed air cylinder. It's also good to know that compressed air in cans contain a wax-like propellants that can shoot out and ruin a front surface mirror or a sensor beyond simple cleaning. Then there was the guy that sucked the guts out of his camera body with one of these Dyson jet-propelled vacuum cleaners. This is not an urban myth- my repair guy pronounced it DOA at his shop and the client was so upset he ran off and never returned to “claim the body”- a D300 as I recall! I saw it- ugh!
I realize that most of us around here know what we are doing but one never knows what a more inexperienced newcomer can mistakenly do and thus, this post. Y'all know that prevention is better than cure- or something like that! Speaking of which- when I work in dusty, sandy or hazardous industrial environments, I use two or more camera bodies, each equipped with a different lens focal length range that I might need to use. This way, I don't have to dismount and remount any of the lenses and thereby allowing harmful particles to enter the body. In theses environment your skylight filters and a supply of polyethylene bags can be your most useful and preventative accessories.
Y'all be careful out there!