Cameras and Water, Protection and Drying
A waterproof camera may be an option for you if you are considering any form of aquatic or near aquatic photography. Perhaps you want to take that epic shot of your partner under a waterfall drinking a large and precariously held martini whilst they shoot at you with a water pistol? Perhaps you want to stand in car wash and take photographs of frantically wet bristles? Maybe you are just worried that you’ll drop your camera down the toilet when you are taking a picture of your poo to send to a friend? Either way a waterproof camera might be something worth considering.
Many of these cameras are not only capable of withstanding splashes of water but are also capable of being operated safely under water. Normally there are depth restrictions applied so if you are seeking a camera specifically for diving then it is well worth checking whether they have capability for such things.
Popular cameras in this category include the Panasonic Lumix FT5 and the Nikon AW1. Both of these models are waterproof to 13 meters or more and the former is freeze proof. If you were wondering why that’s important then it is likely that you do not partake of snowboard or ski style photography. In any case if you are interested in taking a camera on an alpine trip then it is more than likely that you will seek out a camera with this function. If you do get snow on the camera you can rest assured that when it melts later in the bar the device will be protected. Come to think of it, it will also be protected from flying Jagermeister and shocks from inebriated revellers.
Shock proof ratings are measured in meters. This refers to the durability of the product after being dropped from a certain height. For comparison the Olympus Tough TG-830 has a rating of 2.1 meters whereas the TG-630 has a rating of 1.5. So if you are buying a camera to drop off of a wall then it is certainly worth getting the tape measure out first. On a more serious note it is worth considering roughly how vigorous you intend to be with your photography and select the shock rating accordingly.
The case in question
But what if you can’t afford a waterproof camera or you simply want to make your existing camera more waterproof? In this regard there are some options in the form of specially designed waterproof cases. For example the spectacularly named DiCAPac produces a variety of different waterproof cases for your camera. Prices for this brand are in the region of £15 (WP-410) to £30 (WP-570) and boast compatibility with a wide range of cameras. These cases cater for cameras with different kinds of optical zoom lens so it is worth checking the guidelines before purchasing to make sure you are covered.
Aquapac are also a popular brand when it comes to all things optical and aquatic and boast a large product range to suit most, if not all camera needs. For example their new ‘System Camera Case’ aka Aquapac 451 is submersible to 10 meters and comes supplied with an adjustable shoulder strap and 3 dessicant sachets. For a review of this product see: http://pavels.cz/blog/fujifilm-xe-2-and-aquapac-451-together-under-water-real-life-test
And if it does get wet?
So let’s assume that you don’t have a waterproof camera and you didn’t get a chance to put your shiny piece of optical equipment in one of the aforementioned waterproof cases. In the event that it does get wet there are things that you can do.
The procedure for drying a wet camera has a lot in common with the strategies for drying other electronic equipment like smart phones, tablets or laptops.
It stands to reason that removing the battery, memory cards and any other plug ins that might hold water in rather than let it out is a good idea. Following that you will obviously need to dry the camera with an absorbent cloth that is ideally lint free. This will avoid leaving microfibers in, on or near any of the delicate internal working of the device. The main issue with cameras in particular is to avoid scrubbing any grit or particulate matter into the lens. This may be a particular issue if you have dropped your camera on the beach where sand is likely to get picked up in the water.
As with other electronics you should not attempt to switch it on again until is completely dry. Many advocate covering the camera completely with dry rice or dessicant sachets such as those that contain silica for an extended period of time. This will help to draw out the moisture and prepare it for the final dry out. You can find a range of products which will do this here: http://www.wetphonefix.co.uk/fix-cameras
To do this it needs to be placed in a warm (but not hot), airy location away from direct light for as long as you think it needs to be COMPLETELY DRY. Then and only then are you advised to reinsert the batteries and switch it on again.