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Things to know when opening a camera's back.

Your camera is at risk with its back open


CLEAN ENVIRONMENT; CLEAN CAMERA

Never load film or open your camera’s back in a dusty environment or if there is a chance that water spray (especially salt water spray), sawdust, rain or snow can get into the camera.

Be sure your hands are clean when loading film so no small amounts of soil can accidentally get inside.

If you are a smoker, don’t hold your open camera directly beneath you when you have a cigarette, pipe or cigar in your lips; the ash may fall off and contaminate the mechanism. A hot ash can do serious damage.

KEEP THE FILM IN

Hold the camera facing towards the ground so that its back pops up when you open it to ensure that any film cartridge inside does not fall out. This advice is especially important if you are on muddy ground, a rocky beach, in a boat, on a cliff or any place where your film could be damaged or lost if it drops from your camera. Some film cartridges can pop open if the spool end strikes a hard surface, like a concrete sidewalk.

Keep the nozzle about 12-inches away from the camera and use short bursts
Keep the nozzle about 12-inches away from the camera and use short bursts

UNTIDY INSIDES CAN RUIN ALL YOUR PICTURES

Inspect the camera’s interior every time you open it to load a new roll of film to be sure there are no bits of broken film or particles of grit that can cause film scratches. To dislodge them, tip the camera upside down, or use a soft camel’s hair brush or blower bulb. If you employ a spray gun-type blower or compressed-gas duster, it should be held with its nozzle around 12 inches away, and should be kept moving so the stream of air is not concentrated on one spot.

An air gun used this closely can damage camera components.
An air gun used this closely can damage camera components.

DON’T TOUCH

Be careful not to touch the shutter curtains or other delicate components with a spray nozzle, your fingers or the end of the film leader when the camera back is open.

Also, never touch the DX contacts. Keep them clean with a blower brush. (See the paragraph entitled "Light meters must be set for different film speeds" near the bottom of our section on Film speed for information on DX-encoding of film.)

DON’T LUBRICATE

Never lubricate your camera unless your camera’s manual provides clear instructions on how to do so, which it likely won't do. Most manufacturers (perhaps all manufacturers) recommend you use their technicians for any maintenance function like lubrication. If you have a camera that came with lubrication instructions, please let us know so we can pass on the data to others who may have the same camera. In the meantime, don't lubricate; bring your camera to your dealer if you feel lubrication is needed.

KEEP YOUR CAMERA CLOSED

Don’t leave your camera lying around with its back open. Dust and other airborne pollutants will begin to settle inside and could affect its operation. An object might be accidentally dropped or a liquid spilled onto the shutter curtain or onto the open back itself, causing damage that could have been prevented if the camera had been closed.

If you must put your camera down while its back is open, be sure you don't lay it on its back. You may damage the back's hinge or the camera's interior. Choose a flat (preferably padded) surface; be sure your lens cap is on and lay it carefully down. While the back is open, don't engage in an activity that might raise dust that could get into the camera.

REWIND THE FILM BEFORE OPENING YOUR CAMERA

It may seem obvious, but sometimes you may think there is no film in your camera and you just pop open the back. Who knows what pictures you just lost? Check to see if there is any film in the camera and then be sure it is completely rewound before you open the back.