View Full Version : Dust and crud; strategies for dealing with it.

9-Dec-2006, 23:21
I've had my camera (shen hao) and lens (caltar 90) for less than a month and I'm already feeling a bit overwhelmed by dust. I keep stuff in plastic bags inside my photo backpack, but every time I pull things out they've got lots of particles all over them that have to be bulb-blown off. The lens can be particularly bad, but the camera is likewise dusty (even working its way into the bellows and around the edges of the removable back). I think it's originating from the backpack itself, because I have noticed this with pretty much all my photo bags (lowepro brand) - like the styrofoam padding or some other material used in the bag sheds these little 1 to 2mm disc-shaped bits of crud or something.

The bag isn't old at all - about a year, and lightly used (I found it too bulky for my 35mm stuff). I have a similar problem with my small format bag, also a lowepro, which is why I'm suspicious that they use some kind of shedding material.

Am I just too paranoid? How do you guys deal with dust, and the suspicion that it's originating from your bag? Should I just blow / brush off my gear before using it and otherwise not worry too much?

John Kasaian
9-Dec-2006, 23:26
A mini shop vac dedicated to photo gear does it for me. All my film holders get sucked before each reload, cameras whenever I think theres a need.

10-Dec-2006, 02:12

I also use a LowePro backpack for my 8x10 and don't think the dust issue is a function of the pack. The weather in Calgary tends to be a bit dryer (even in winter) and therefore, dust can be more problematic.

Secondly, plastic has a tendency to generate static electricity, which can attract dust to your equipment. Consider investing in either a lens wrap or one of the Gnass cases. That's what I use and I don't usually have problems with dust landing on the glass. Use a lens cap to protect the glass as well. An alternative to the Gnass case are the ones made by Photobackpacker. They often times sell their lens cases on ebay. Here's one such listing... do a search for Item number on ebay: 290060505442. They also make camera cases that will easily hold your Shen-Hao.

Check out their website


IMHO... the most important item to keep dust off of is your film holders. Make sure they're immaculate! Do as John does... get a mini shop vac and clean the insides of the holders because you can bet your bottom dollar that dust inside the holder will surely get onto your film.

Dust on the exterior of your camera can be cleaned off every so often by the use of either a rubber blower or a can of compressed air (just try to use one that is environmentally friendly. :)) Alternatively, use the shop vac for this purpose as well.

You don't necessarily have to get too, too worked up over this (within limits, of course)... just be anal retentive when it comes to your shooting techniques!


Frank Petronio
10-Dec-2006, 05:47
If you work outside you can't avoid it but in additon to starting out with clean cases and what not, keeping the camera (very lightly!) Armour-Alled and or wiped with an anti-static cloth seems to impart a dust-repellant like quality.

I have "old" dust in the nooks and crannies of my view cameras -- I do keep the lens to film path spotless though.

Leonard Evens
10-Dec-2006, 06:33
Every once in a while, I clean my camera. If I notice dust on the front or back lens surfaces I blow it off, but usually I don't bother. As far as I can tell, it doesn't make any difference. I keep both my lenses and my camera's standard assembly in Calumet lens wraps, and they seem to suffice in keeping out the worst of the dust, but they are hardly air tight.

I am careful to blow clean my film holders before loading them.

Glenn Thoreson
10-Dec-2006, 18:43
Keep your bag thoroughly vacuumed and try spraying inside and out with Static Gard. Anything made of nylon and plastic is going to collect dust like crazy in a dry atmosphere. I find leather a much better alternative for a flexible bag. If you backpack, you likely don't have much choice, though.

10-Dec-2006, 19:58
walter23 >>>"...but every time I pull things out they've got lots of particles all over them that have to be bulb-blown off. "

Ever since I carried a bunch of fixed 35mm lenses about with my 35mm SLR system in the 1980s, I've had the habit of always dusting my lenses every time before attaching a new lens. Now I have met photographers that go for hours without dusting their lenses and whenever I show one how much dust is on their lenses they seem to be surprised. I'd say its a good habit but then others will likely chirp in it hardly matters. Dust of course is far worse in some locations than others. For instance desert areas are far worse than alpine areas. I always hated those wimpy blower bulbs and rather have always used a brush. I have a few brushes along on any trip and also use one to brush off the inner surfaces of my metal lens parts and dedicated lenboards each time they are attached to minimize getting dust inside the bellows. Some will always whine about brushes being dangerous to the surface of lenses but I've been doing it for years and have yet to see the slightest scratches on any of my lenses despite using some cheap synthetic brushes others predictably condemn. Note I'm one to really get a lens surface up in the sunlight where I can see the slightest lack of clarity or contamination. For oil contamination on lens surfaces I carry a couple of clean microfiber cleaning cloths that are also frequently washed in soap and water before trips. When I get my gear home I often clean the brushes with soap and water and use an industrial computer servicing vacuum to blow dust out of various gear including all the camera and lens containers. ...David