Dust & Debris - the threat we don't see!

 

The Case for Using ShutterBands

In a recent discussion on a photography forum, one participant expressed the opinion that trying to protect the lens mount from dust is probably futile - since there are a dozen other potential points of entry for dust (and moisture) on a camera.

I'm convinced the lens mount is the most important place to defend.

Just inside the lens mount are the shutter mechanism and the sensor. Any debris that finds it's way through the lens mount opening can potentially end up on these sensitive components. A ShutterBand will help prevent this.

Dust accumulates in the groove of the lens mounting ring. That groove is a great collector of junk in the air, lint from your camera bag, debris on your hands. It may be unnoticed - but it's there. 

Dust collects in the groove of the lens mount 

In a really dusty environment - it can be worse. For example, last summer I visited the Swenson Gardens in Howard Lake, Minnesota - where they cultivate and sell peonies. The flowers were gorgeous but the weather was unpleasant.

It was a dry, windy day. Dust and sand were blowing across the fields from the gravel road nearby - definitely not the best environment for an expensive camera. But I had a ShutterBand installed to cover the lens mounting ring - so I had some great protection.

Changing Lenses Is Risky . . .

The risk of that debris getting into the camera is greatest when you change lenses. When you press the lens release button and twist the lens to unmount it, the debris in the groove where lens meets camera is jostled loose and can fall into the camera body if you're not careful.

Lens mount on the Sony a6300

 

Directly behind the lens mount are the shutter mechanism and CMOS sensor. You really don't want stuff from the outside world invading these sensitive components. If you are not conscious of the cleanliness of your camera mounting ring - you could be facilitating that to happen!

Sony 24.2 megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor

 

Sony Mechanical Shutter (shutter closed over sensor)

 

Notice the ten electrical contacts at the bottom of the lens mount? They power and control the automatic features of your lens. You don't want fine dust particles or lint accumulating there either.

When changing lenses, there is increased risk that debris trapped in the groove  will become dislodged and fall into the camera body. If a ShutterBand is installed - the groove where stuff collects is covered, reducing that risk substantially.

 

ShutterBand protecting the lens mounting ring

 

ShutterBands Reduce Risk 

There may be dust on or around the ShutterBand - but in order to change lenses, the ShutterBand is stretched (using the molded tab) and moved onto the lens barrel. This action helps to mechanically remove dust before the lens is dismounted.

Stretching the ShutterBand to move it onto the lens barrel

For even more protection, blow or brush the groove around the lens mounting ring to clean it before removing a lens. Don't be tempted to use your lens cleaning brush for this task - keep a separate brush for handling this dirty job. I keep a small 1/2" paint brush with the handle sawed off in my backpack for this purpose.

A clean groove will help you maintain a clean camera

Look! No dust or debris.

I've had conversations with customers who only use ShutterBands when they expect to be in a "dirty" environment. That's good, but using ShutterBands all of the time is a safer strategy. Dust is everywhere - often entirely unnoticed.

Easy to use . . .

ShutterBands are easy to use if you install one on each of your lenses (moving ShutterBands between lenses is a nuisance). Then follow these four steps:

  1. Before removing a lens, grasp the ShutterBands tab and pull to ease the band off of the camera lens mount and on to the lens barrel.
  2. After mounting a new lens, grasp the tab and pull the tab to move the band on to the lens mount, covering the groove.
  3. Align the cutout on the ShutterBand with the lens release button.
  4. Use your fingertips to nudge the band into place.

With a little practice, it just takes a few seconds and your camera is protected.

Always remember to change lenses with the camera facing down to help gravity pull any dust particles away from - and not into your camera.

Thanks for reading!

Del Simcox

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