Four simple camera maintenance tips that are easily overlooked

I thought today might be a good day to blog about some simple camera maintenance tips that everyone should do, but too frequently gets forgotten!

  1. Make sure the date/time on your camera is set correctly. I changed every clock in my house for daylight savings time, but forgot my camera! Almost all of the clocks I regularly use get a time sync automatically in some fashion so that makes my life simple: cell phone, laptop, GPS, home theater, even my office clock is an “atomic” clock and sets the time via radio signal. The only clocks I have to manually set are the stove, microwave, living room wall clock, and car stereo. (Why do we need so many reminders of the time anyway?!) Since I often use a track saved from my GPS to geotag my photos, an accurate time on my camera is critical (check out GeoSetter if you use a PC, and Lightroom 4 now includes this feature as well for both Mac and PC). Some devices tend to have a bit of a clock drift so I’m in the habit of checking it once a month or so; although my camera seems to be very good in that regard, only drifting about 2 seconds a month.
  2. Document the serial numbers of all your photo equipment. It’s very easy to forget this when you get a new lens or accessory and enjoy using it for the first week or so. Then it slips your mind. However, for theft, insurance, and warranty purposes it’s a very good idea to have a list of your current equipment and serial numbers, and keep the list updated as you buy/sell your gear, especially if you travel! I take photos with my cell phone and keep them in a folder on it, and also document them in a spreadsheet on my home computer.  If I lost or misplaced something in the field or in a public place and an honest person or law enforcement found it, it would be very easy to prove ownership by showing them the photo of the serial number on my cell phone.
  3. Put your contact information on items when you can. I personally don’t like any stickers or anything on my cameras or lenses, but I do have my business card taped on my tripod leg, several business cards in my camera bag (easy to find and hand out!), and I write my name and contact info on all my memory cards. For some the contents of the memory card are more valuable than all of the camera equipment combined, especially if you are a hired photographer shooting something like a wedding that can never be replaced! Always put your contact information on your memory cards!
  4. Another very important feature of most DSLR cameras that people either aren’t aware of or forget to set is an embedded image comment and copyright information. Some cameras have one or both features. You don’t have a lot of space for text here, but anything you enter will be automatically embedded into every image on the memory card and stays with the image unless you change it with a program like Lightroom or Photoshop later. Not only does it prove you own the images you took with the camera, but it also proves you own the camera should the memory card get removed or lost from the camera. This field is often overlooked by thieves and stays even when the camera is reset to defaults, so it’s a good idea to use it! For Artist I put my website “www.aaronpriestphoto.com”, for Copyright I put “(c) Aaron D. Priest”, and for Image Comment I put two phone numbers, particularly my cell phone. If you change your business card information, such as a phone number, be sure to update the embedded image info as well.

Well, there are four quick maintenance tips that are easily overlooked, but will save you lot of grief later if you take a few minutes to implement/review them. Happy shooting!!!

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