Like all machines, even cameras can develop problems, or demonstrate an apparent inability to play fair, usually just when you have lined up the perfect image!
These can be a major source of failure for both film and digital cameras. Sweat or a thin film of grease on the outside of a film canister can prevent the DX code from being read by the camera. Similarly, the contacts in the battery compartment (or on the end of the batteries) may have unclean contacts. Sometimes, it can be hidden, such as the interface between a motor drive or battery grip and the camera body. Or, it can become loose, resulting in intermittent electrical contact. A small amount of methylated spirits on a cotton bud can usually clean contacts. Discoloured contacts can be cleaned up with a fibreglass tipped pen or brush.
Dirt and Dust on the Capture Device
With the advent of digital SLR (DSLR) cameras, dust can find its way into the camera and become deposited onto the sensor (CCD or CMOS, etc) and ruin an otherwise brilliant image. Avoid changing the lens in any breeze or in a windy location. At worst, if there is no alternative, turn your back to the wind and use your body as protection, with the lens pointing away from you.
If dust is a problem and the “sensor clean” mode cannot shift the offending dust during a vibration shakedown, carefully use the recommended sensor cleaning kits (with a very small amount of fluid). Alternately, obtain assistance from staff at a reputable camera store. Try to avoid using compressed air from a spray can, as this has the potential to damage the sensor.
Keeping a spare set of fully charged batteries with your camera is always smart. If your batteries are of the disposable kind, such as are used by some point and shoot digital cameras, replace with lithium batteries, as the cheaper ones drain very quickly. The live image displays can use a lot of energy.
Always format any new cards in your camera prior to using them. Failure to format new cards usually results in your images being impossible to retrieve. It’s also a good idea to format cards as you put them into the camera, to maximise space available for new images. Remember to always backup your images onto a secure hard drive before formatting the capture card.
Take care to avoid excess water getting onto the lens or the camera at all times (excluding waterproof cameras). Often, a clear plastic bag for the camera and some elastic bands around the lens barrel will work in light rain or drizzle. Staying indoors when it is raining simply leaves all the rainbows for others to capture.