Sand And Salt - The Two Toxic Destroyers Of Camera Equipment :: Digital Photo Secrets

Sand And Salt - The Two Toxic Destroyers Of Camera Equipment

by David Peterson 1 comment

The world is full of hidden hazards. You’ve spent a lot of money on your camera setup, and it would be a huge shame if it were to go to waste because of a simple mistake. Salt and sand might not seem that dangerous at first, but they have claimed more $5,000 cameras than you can imagine. In most cases, a few small preventative measures can save you gobs of money.

Sand And Other Fine Particles

Sand gets into your camera and lodges itself in between all of the little nooks and crannies. The tiny particles interfere with the gears and electronics, bringing the entire system to a grinding halt. Even if you think your camera is completely sealed off from the outside world, you’ll be in for a rude awakening when you drop it in the sand. It doesn’t matter if your camera is a low-end point-and-shoot or a high end professional setup, sand will destroy it.

Here’s a very important tip that will save you a lot of frustration. If it’s windy, and you see sand in the air, put your camera back in your bag! The tiniest particles are the ones that do the most damage because they can make their way into the cracks. Also, never put your camera down in the sand. Even if you’re using a camera bag, sand can still get into the bag and destroy your camera. All it takes is a random passerby and a single kick.

Here are some more things you can do to prevent sand damage:

  • Never change your lens at the beach
  • Don’t turn your camera on after sand exposure
  • Bring your camera to a specialist if you have dropped it in the sand
  • Bring extra filters and always use a lens hood

If you absolutely must take pictures while out at the dunes, make sure you cover your entire camera with a plastic bag. Use duct tape to secure the bag to the outside of your camera, and always use a lens hood. Extra filters are another good idea. They will give you handy layer of defense against the blowing sand.

If you’ve dropped your camera in the sand, it doesn't always mean a death knell. You just need to be extremely careful when you clean it. For starters, don’t turn it on “just to test it” before you clean it. Try to blow the sand out of the cracks, and once you think you’ve gotten every last particle, you can turn it on. Lastly, if you’ve spent a lot of money on your camera, don’t do anything. Take it to your camera shop.

Salt. Sand’s Evil Step Brother

Salt is actually worse than sand. Why? Because it not only stops your camera’s internals from working, it corrodes the metal and the circuitry. As much as I hate to say it, you aren’t safe when you are enjoying those long photographic walks on the beach. You’re exposing your camera to a destructive and corrosive force.

Luckily, a little bit of maintenance can stop most salt damage. The trick is to remember to do it, and as long as you aren’t out taking pictures in a hurricane all day long, you should be fine. Most salt doesn’t enter your camera in its solid state (like sand). Salt gets into your camera when it’s mixed with water vapor. The solution? Wipe your camera down with a damp towel whenever you come home from the beach.

If you do this, the salt will get absorbed into your damp towel and your camera will remain damage-free. This technique works only if you aren’t spending an extended period of time at the beach. If you’re going to be enjoying the sea breeze and taking photos all day long, cover your camera with a plastic bag as mentioned before. That’s the only way to guarantee its safety.

I’d hate to see you lose your camera over something as tiny and insignificant as a grain of sand or a drop of saltwater. As long as you know what to avoid and how to clean your camera, it probably won’t happen to you. Oh, and just because there are hazards at the beach, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring your camera. Nobody ever accomplished great things without a little risk.

Here’s to happy and safe shooting!

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  1. Tony says:

    Yes indeedy do! I ruined a digital camera some years ago by using it at the beach. If I do beach photography again I'll use a proper waterproof case.

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