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:
- Keep receipts, warranty cards, original packaging, and any maintenance records for the camera and all lenses and equipment. Scan these papers and store the images in an online storage area that you can access via the Internet while traveling. (Examples: docs.google.com or www.idrive.com). I needed to send my camera in for repair while I was on a trip, and I had these documents online, ready for downloading and printing. I was able to print the proof of purchase and maintenance records to send in with the camera for repair.
- Register the camera and all its lenses for warranty as you purchase them. I used the online site: Canon Account.
- Keep and read the manuals. Also, know that you can get these online at the product site: Canon USA.
- Be aware of local and national service providers that can be part of your repair efforts. Locate a good local camera shop that can do in-house sensor cleaning--this may be difficult as good, local camera shops and repair people are disappearing. Be aware of shipping services (like The UPS Store or FedEx Office) that you can use to send the camera in for repair. These services may also be able to provide printing services so that you can print out proof of purchase and other documents about the camera required by the repair (if you get caught on the road without these papers and you have the documents stored on an Internet site).
- Keep in mind that you can use the Canon site for evaluating your camera and then arranging for a repair. I did use a local camera shop for one repair, but they ended up sending the camera to Canon anyway. For the next repair, I sent the camera in directly to Canon.
- Use all due care for the camera as outlined in the instructions.
- The automatic sensor cleaning works well, and I leave it turned on at all times.
- 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.
- I use lens caps when moving the camera, and I have UV filters for all my lenses.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- At eight months,
I saw this image in my camera:
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.)
- At eleven months,
I saw a spot in repeated in the images my camera was taking:
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).
- 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.
SummaryPreparing these notes helped me understand the key ideas behind maintenance and repair:
- Keep all receipts and repair records stored at an online site so that you don't lose them and can access them from anywhere on the Internet.
- Keep calm when something spoils the image--don't make it worse by poking around inside the camera in a panic.
- Realize that a camera can be repaired--don't feel bad when you see a problem.
- I've decided to have a second camera body to provide some more capability as well as serve as a back-up for when one camera body fails.