novice DSLR question

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Tamara D. McConnell
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novice DSLR question

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » September 19th, 2014, 5:15 pm

Hey, All. I got a Sony A-57 and various lenses a couple of years ago. Am still very much a novice, and I have a question about cleaning/maintenance.
Do y'all do anything special to your cameras to keep them tip-top? My pictures have definitely become less sharp. It occurs to me that there might be something I'm supposed to be doing to the camera and/or lenses that I'm not doing (I mean besides wiping them off).
Am I supposed to send the camera off to Sony? If so, will they keep it for a terribly long time? Any idea of the cost involved?
Of course I am going to go to the local camera shop with these questions, but I want to go armed with a little bit of prior knowledge.
The camera has seen a lot of dust, sand, mud, and humidity.
Being a teacher, and therefore having a smallish paycheck, I would of course prefer the most economical solution.
Thank you in advance for any info.
Tamara

speedy
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by speedy » September 19th, 2014, 8:07 pm

I take my gear to a specialist camera cleaner once or twice a year, also do some cleaning myself when required. I don't touch the sensor though. Australia is probably more expensive but for comparison I got a lens and camera clean done the other day for $60. I think it was a $100 when I got four lenses and a camera done a year or so ago. Definitely worth while.

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » September 20th, 2014, 6:04 am

Gracias, Speedy. That is exactly what I wanted to know. I like the low cost. How long does the camera specialist keep your gear for?

speedy
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by speedy » September 20th, 2014, 12:50 pm

If I give him some notice its only a couple of hours.

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » September 20th, 2014, 1:01 pm

Wonderful! I appreciate the information.

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Owen
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by Owen » September 20th, 2014, 5:32 pm

Hi Tamara,

If your pictures are becoming less sharp, it's probably something other than just a sensor/camera cleaning. Are you doing anything differently? Has the camera been dropped where maybe the sensor is out of alignment? Are you using a 'cheap' protection filter? If everything is the same, images shouldn't get worse unless there is a physical change to something in your gear.

Just curious as dust and such just adds spots for me... it doesn't make the image less sharp. I periodically clean it with a sensor cleaning kit:

http://www.copperhillimages.com/shoppin ... D#MOREINFO

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » September 20th, 2014, 10:01 pm

Hey, Owen.
I went to the link you provided. I looked for my camera on their list, so I would buy the correct item. Unfortunately, the a57 is not listed.

Thank you for the heads-up about what causes sharpness loss. I haven't dropped the camera in any big way since I slung it across my driveway one dark day last year, but since I am completely clumsy, there have been many minor bumps. Perhaps there has been a cumulative effect.
I suppose I should just take the whole mess into the camera shop and have them send it off to Sony for remediation. The camera shop people told me (after the Big Driveway Disaster) that this will take a really long time, which is why I have not wanted to do it. But I guess I gotta.
Thanks for your insight.

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chrish
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by chrish » September 21st, 2014, 5:27 pm

Tamara,

My A57 pretty much took a beating for the whole time I used it (over 40,000 shots) in dust, mud, rain, etc. I also dropped it more that a few times.

I never had any problem with pictures not being sharp.....well, except when I did stupid things like not focus :oops: .

Here's a couple of things you should try (and you can post your results here and we can help you more)

1. Set the ISO to 200 or 400, set the f/stop to f/22 (or higher if the lens goes to f/32 or something). Turn the focus to manual, focus to infinity, then take a photo of a bright white wall or piece of paper from close up (but out of focus). Any debris on your sensor will show up prominently as dark spots on the image. Post the image for us and we can see if that is the problem.
If it is a dirty sensor, it is a pretty simple thing to try and clean it yourself. I have used isopropyl alcohol and a piece of lens paper folded over a pencil eraser. If you wipe VERY GENTLY with that you can sometimes clean off the major debris. Use the Clean setting on your camera to expose the sensor.

2. If the image comes out ok, or if it is still bad after you clean it a few times, it might be your lcd or it might be out of alignment. Try photographing some text from above at around a 45 degree angle (like a book on a desk). Focus on a specific word and keep the f/stop wide open (i.e. f/2.8 or f/4). Look at the image on the LCD and see if the word you focused on is in focus. Sometimes a sensor can be focused too far forward or too far back. If that is the case, you would see the text in front or behind the area you focused in focus.
If it isn't check the image on the computer screen and see if it looks right. That might tell you if the problem is the LCD or not.
Then try doing that using autofocus vs manually focusing to see if the problem is the autofocus system.

I'm not saying don't send you camera in for repairs, but I can tell you I'm on my 4th Sony DSLR and I've never had to have one professionally cleaned.

Chris

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » September 22nd, 2014, 3:25 am

Chrish,
Thank you! Can't wait to get home from work to try your suggestions. I will definitely post the experimental images.
And yes, the whole issue might be operator error (and to compound the issue, perhaps the operator needs glasses).
I am very glad to hear that the camera is not as fragile as I thought it was.
Again, thanks much for your wisdom.

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chrish
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Re: novice DSLR question

Post by chrish » September 22nd, 2014, 4:34 am

Tamara D. McConnell wrote:Hey, Owen.
I went to the link you provided. I looked for my camera on their list, so I would buy the correct item. Unfortunately, the a57 is not listed.
Also, the Copperhill cleaning kits are very good although they are a bit steep at $28.95 since they only consist of some good solvent, some good lens cleaning cloths and a rubber "spatula" sized to hold the cloth. For your camera, you would need the 14mm SensorSwipe.
I have lost my little spatula thing from my kit but currently use a Q-tip covered in lens cloth in its place and it works as well.

Tamara D. McConnell
Posts: 2248
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am

Re: novice DSLR question

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » September 22nd, 2014, 1:43 pm

Ok, here we go. First is the white piece of paper test:
Imagedirt test by Tamara McConnell1, on Flickr
Next, the print test on manual focus:
Imagemanual focus by Tamara McConnell1, on Flickr
Last, autofocus:
Imageautofocus by Tamara McConnell1, on Flickr

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