As a photographer, you probably tend to tote around some gear on vacation or take your gear out on some fun adventures. If you spend hard-earned cash on that gear, you might also consider how to take care of it and keep it safe!
I am typically over packed when it comes to gear. I rarely go out with just one camera in my pack. I also tend to land in some places that may give my gear nightmares. Sandy deserts, misty beaches, snowy mountains… a variety of weather conditions and airport shuffling that can wreak havoc on a bag of cameras and lenses!
Here’s a quick list of some tips that might help you take good care of your good gear:
Wipe It Down
- Time at the beach with a camera can get quite sandy and misty. I love shooting long exposures at the beach, which means my gear just sits out and gets all of that salt water mist all over it. A good microfiber cloth and a quick wipe down before packing away the camera is always a good idea. Every now and then, I also wipe down the gear with a damp cloth and a microfiber towel at home, to make sure everything stays clean and salt-free.
In Rain or Snow
- My first instinct is to hide my gear when wet stuff is falling from the sky. Sometimes, the weather isn’t enough to stop that perfect shot though! I try to set up my shot in a dry spot like the car, making sure the settings are correct and the tripod is ready. With the camera covered, head to the photo spot, uncover, shoot, cover back up, and get back to the car. Hiking in bad weather typically means my gear is in my bag, under a rain cover. For smaller gear, I keep Ziplock bags handy and they stay safe!
- You can purchase a rain cover that will protect from bad weather and allow you to shoot in downpours or under the mist of a waterfall. They are also good for keeping salty mist off of the gear at a splashy ocean. If you are going to be in wet situations frequently, a rain cover is a good investment. And keep that lens cap on!
Use a Filter
- Filters can help keep your lens glass clean, as well as just adding a layer of protection against moisture and drops. I’ve personally dropped a lens, and the basic UV filter on the front shattered to pieces and nearly made my heart stop for a moment. After catching my breath, I took a closer look and the lens was not damaged at all. I know I got lucky, but that moment taught me to always have a filter on. A UV filter also keeps expensive glass in scratch-free condition!
- When changing temperatures abruptly, like from the cold outside to the warm inside, gear needs a few minutes to acclimate to the ambient temperatures. Waiting a few minutes to take things out of the bag, letting everything get to the same temperatures after coming in, will keep the glass from fogging up. Condensation is not good for a camera.
Invest In A Good Bag
- Don’t skimp on the bag for carrying your camera. Make sure it has plenty of padding to keep gear from bumping around. I use a “camera insert”, which is a smaller padded case that holds my DSLR with a lens or two, or an extra film camera. It adapts to just about any backpack, so I can still wear a hiking pack and keep my cameras safe! A rain cover for the bag is helpful, too.
- Keep your gear with you, in a carry-on. I would definitely advise against checking a bag of gear, due to possibly rough handling. Use a good bag and carry it on the plane, and keep it secure on your body. Theft happens, so be aware of your surroundings and adjust to different places.
- Silica gel packets are like a gift to camera bags. I practically hoard these from shoeboxes and shipments. Every camera bag and backpack that I own has one or two of these in the pockets and main compartments. They may not keep wet gear dry, but they do help keep moisture a bit more under control and they don’t take up much space.
Carry A Puffer
- Dust and sand can be a nightmare for lenses and viewfinders. A small puffer comes in handy in so many situations of dust, that I’ve started just leaving one in my bag. Deserts and beaches are the best places to have one of these on hand!
Minimize Changing Lenses
- Don’t take a lens off of a camera in blowing dust or moisture. Have your gear ready, when you do need to make a lens change so that you can do it quickly. If possible, shield the camera with a bag or shirt, and get the lens on quickly and safely. While moving quickly, don’t rush - stay calm and don’t drop things due to rushing!
Keep your gear safe and protected, take good care of it, and it should last you a very long time. When you’re done with it, it’ll be worth more when you sell it to someone else, like KEH! Good reasons to take an extra step every now and then to take great care of the gear you love!