Photography Notebook Photography Notebook: Maintenance and Repair

Like all mechanical devices, your camera will eventually require maintenance, encounter a failure or fault, or require professional repair. On this page, I'll outline the steps I take and illustrate the maintenance and repair issues that I've encountered in owning my Rebel XSi camera.


To ensure that you can take care of maintenance and repair issues:

Preventative Maintenance

  1. Use all due care for the camera as outlined in the instructions.
  2. The automatic sensor cleaning works well, and I leave it turned on at all times.
  3. I'm very cautious when changing lenses. I change lenses in as windless and calm environment as I can, and I try to limit the lens changes that I make.
  4. I use lens caps when moving the camera, and I have UV filters for all my lenses.
  5. I carry the camera and lenses in my pack inside sealed containers that protect against jostling, dust, and rain or snow. I use a plastic bag over the camera in inclement weather, and I limit the use of the camera in such weather. (Even if I have a weather-sealed camera.)
  6. I keep an eye out for sensor cleaning issues by watching for repeated spots on the images. I have a set of sensor cleaning strategies including automatic, air, brush, and swab methods.

Repair and Maintenance Issues

This is a record of problems I had with the Canon Rebel XSi. Overall, I'm pleased with this camera as well as the service I obtained to fix it. I would say that I'm a fairly heavy user of the camera. Nearly every day, I take around 500 to 700 photos.

  1. During the first week, after just a few days of owning the camera, I noticed a small thread or hair in the viewfinder. I panicked, thinking my brand-new camera already had a fault in its lens or sensor. It turns out it was just a piece of hair or thread in the viewfinder. I took several shots and examined the images--the thread did not show up on the images. I could have purchased a bulb blower to blow out this thread, but I delayed that purchase, and eventually this hair fell out on its own. I would keep this in mind: if you see something spoiling the images, do not open up the camera and poke around at the sensor or internal parts in a panic. Just figure out if the particle shows up on successive images. You may need a sensor cleaning or the camera may need repair. But don't damage your camera by haphazardly accessing its internal parts.
  2. At eight months, I saw this image in my camera:

    mke-2009-04-18 046.JPG

    The camera stopped working with Err 99. The repair was fixed under warranty. (Cost: $21 to package, label, and ship the package to the Canon Factory Service Center through a local camera shop; the repair was $0. I was without the camera for three weeks.)

  3. At eleven months, I saw a spot in repeated in the images my camera was taking:

    mke-2009-07-31a 004.JPG mke-2009-07-31a 032.JPG

    I needed a sensor cleaning. I found a local shop that cleaned the sensor while I waited (Cost: $21 for the cleaning; had to take the bus out to the store in the burbs).

    Camera Store / Sensor Cleaning

  4. At twelve months. I saw this image in my camera (note that it was the same as I saw four months prior):


    The camera showed Err 99. The repair was fixed under warranty. (Cost: $24 to package, label, and ship the package to the Canon Factory Service Center through The UPS Store; the repair was $0.)

Digital Photo Storage Issues

I back up photos that I want to keep on an external hard drive and also on flickr.


Preparing these notes helped me understand the key ideas behind maintenance and repair:
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2023-06-01 · John December · Terms ©