Moisture and Water Moisture attacks cameras in numerous ways.
At it’s most extreme it attacks as water which has the ability to quickly end the life of your camera (I regularly get emails from digital camera owners who’ve dropped cameras in all kinds of liquids including the ocean, baths, rivers and even toilets). Use you camera’s wrist or neck straps to keep your cameras out of water and always be aware of where you put it an how it can be knocked.
A more subtle attacker when it comes to moisture is condensation. Particularly noticeable is when you move from one temperature to another with your camera (for example from air-conditioning to humid ones). Investing in silica gel packs is one way to help with this as they absorb moisture in your camera bag. Some people suggest putting it in a sealed plastic bag when moving between temperatures – this might work well but is not particularly practical in many situations, especially when you have a large camera. Ideally you want to warm your camera up naturally and slowly – it’s definitely a challenge. Other than that – wipe off your camera regularly when in humid environments.
While the beach presents photographers with wonderful photographic opportunities it also can be a dangerous place with many digital camera predators – not the least of which is salt which has a habit of getting into your camera and lenses and causing all kinds of problems (including corrosion).
Fight the impact that salt has on your camera by wiping it clean at least once per day while shooting in salty places.
If you have a DSLR use UV filters on your lenses to give an extra level of protection and avoid opening your camera up (to change batteries, memory cards or lenses) as much as possible. When not shooting, keep your camera safely in your camera bag and be particularly aware of positioning yourself in sea spray on windy days.
Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
It is important to protect yourself from the elements of sun and insect bites when shooting outdoors, however some of the things that you’ll use to do it can cause your camera harm. Sunscreen is generally oily and insect repellent often contains chemicals that you wouldn’t want to get in touch with the more delicate parts of your camera.
The way to limit the impact that these things have on your camera is pretty obvious and largely involves keeping those parts of your body that come into contact with these things clean. Wash your hands in fresh water after applying sunscreen and repellent and you’ll go a long way to keeping your camera clean. If you do get your camera greasy make sure you clean it off as quickly as you can.
Lastly – don’t fall into the temptation of putting sunscreen and repellent into your camera bag. I know it’s tempting so that you don’t have to carry another bag – but it’s really not worth the risk as a leak could end your camera’s life. If you do travel with them together make sure you have a sealed bag for the liquids.
Another enemy of expensive photographic equipment is the thief when you least expect it will swoop in and steal your gear away from you – leaving you feeling frustrated, violated and wondering what you did to deserve it.
Always be aware of where your gear is and how accessible it is to others. Get yourself a camera bag that doesn’t scream ‘I’ve got an expensive camera in here!’, for instance with big labels “Nikon”, “Canon” etc.
Keep your cameras on your body if in a risky environment, keep your bags zipped up and well fastened, consider having your bag on your front rather than your back in high risk situations, insure your gear and try to be selective and not every travel with too much of it at any one time.