As we prepare to enter into our “Rainy Season” for the Fall, here is a quick tip for protecting your camera gear. Most people do not realize the damage that humidity can cause to a DSLR camera body and especially the lenses.
Humidity is basically moisture contained in the air. The amount of humidity in the air will vary from regions and seasons. In many cases, humidity can be destructive towards mechanical and electronic equipment. It may cause rust, corrosion, and/or mold and mildew.
Here are some typical scenarios where cameras may be exposed to high humidity levels…
- Using the camera system outdoors either directly in the rain or immediately after a rain fall. (i.e. photographing Friday night football or soccer in the rain, trying to catch that Rainbow immediately after the rain.)
- Using the camera system near open bodies of water. (i.e. photographing outdoors on the beach, in the snow, on the lake, or by the pool.)
- Taking the camera from one extreme condition space to another. (i.e. Going from an air conditioned interior space to an extremely hot outdoors environment and/or going from a well heated interior space to a cold/wet exterior environment.)
When a camera system has been exposed to a high humid environment, if left untreated, it can cause several destructive problems. The most common problem that occurs is when fungus begins to grow in the inside of the lens. This will cause blurry images and spots to appear. The next common problem is fog in the viewfinder. Fog in the viewfinder will prevent the photographer from seeing the subject through the lens. If humidity gets inside the memory card chamber, then rust could begin to grow on the connectors and possibly moisture could get inside the memory card. The shutter of every SLR and DSLR camera is controlled by a spring mechanism with an applied oil base. Humidity on the shutter will cause the oil to break down sooner that the camera’s life expectancy. Thus, shutter times will be inaccurate and it may eventually lock-up the shutter. Finally, if humidity begins to build up on the camera’s sensor, then spots will begin to appear in the images and the sensor will need to be professionally cleaned. In each of these scenarios the camera system should be treated by Dehumidifying it.
The most common and easiest method to properly dehumidify any piece of electronic and mechanical equipment is to surround the equipment with Silica Gels. Silica Gel Packets are commonly found in the packaging of textile goods like shoes, luggage, and even camera bags. It’s is a natural occurring mineral that is mostly used as a Dessicant. This means that it helps reduces odor and humidity.
Loose Silica Gels in a Bowl
This is a very common product that can be bought at any typical Arts & Crafts store, Home Improvement Stores, and of course online like Amazon.com. It can be bought in a large bag in granular form or in prepackaged packets.
Pre-packaged Silica Gels for storage areas.
For day to day prevention, place a few Silica Gel Packets in the camera bag where the camera body and lenses are stored. These packets should be replaced about every 6 months. In the event of a high humidity exposure scenario, place the item(s) is a large Ziplock storage bag with about 1 cup of the loose granular Silica Gels for about 24 hours. This should help reduce the amount of humidity inside the equipment. This process should be repeated on a regular bases depending on the amount of humid exposure. Coincidently, this is the same technique that can be used for other electronic devices like cell phones, tablets, and watches.