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Photography Question 
Katherine K

Camera Protection: Beach Lovers' Advice Needed!

Hi! In 10 short days, I'm leaving for the breathtaking and ever-magnificent beaches of St. Martin. WHOO HOOO! I'm so excited to take my new Nikon D70s, but terrified of saltwater or sand damage!! Am I being overprotective of my new camera? The sales rep told me to protect my camera by covering it with a Ziploc baggie ... hmmmm ... that doesn't sound like much protection. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.
I'll be thinking of all of you while I'm sipping a pina colada in the sun! :) Thanks in advance!

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5/22/2005 8:48:44 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  You almost can't be overprotective of your camera - especially on a beach. Common sense is your best protection here. On the one hand, you won't get much use out of a camera if it stays in a Ziploc baggie; on the other hand, if you're romping in the surf, do you trust a 3-cent piece of plastic to protect your investment?
The best way to avoid getting sand or water inside your camera is not to expose the inside while you are on the beach. If you have multiple lenses, pick one to use on the beach, mount it in your hotel room, and don't remove it until you get back. The same goes for your memory card.
If you're going to be handling the camera, get someone else to rub in the sunscreen. Sand sticks to greasy hands, then gets everywhere you touch. Keep a clean, dry towel in a bag so that you can dry your hands and face before taking pictures.
Of course, don't leave your camera or camera bag sitting in direct sunlight for long. Plastic parts and electronics don't like intense heat.
I'm sure some other people could add some tips to this list.
Have fun, and clean your camera and lens carefully when you get back. Read the manual about how to clean the sensor, as well.

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5/22/2005 9:13:27 PM

Kerry L. Walker   Chris has given you excellent advice on how to protect your camera. However, please note that no matter how careful you are, salt spray WILL get on your camera. When you leave the beach, gently clean the outside of your camera with clean water and a soft cloth.

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5/23/2005 6:28:13 AM

Jennifer Salvon
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/15/2003
  Hi there - beach lover here too. Great advice above. In addition, I actually put my camera bag inside a portable soft-sided cooler. When not using the camera - I put the bag under/behind a beach chair out of the sun when I am not using it. Whether this is overkill or not - I find the double-bagging makes me feel better about minimizing sand, sun, and water exposure. Have a fabulous trip. Jen

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5/24/2005 11:46:04 AM

Steve Eschenburg   Don't forget that Nikon makes an underwater housing for that camera. Pricey and bulky ... yes, but then there's no worry about moisture, salt, sand, spilled drinks, suntan lotion, or scratches on the camera or the lens from sand or whatever else it may come in contact with. You can easily rinse the housing before removing the camera back in your room.

There are also heavy-duty bags with weatherproof zippers or Ziplocs and screw-in lens covers (like a filter that's part of the bag) available. Clumsy ... yes, but less expensive and sturdy. I saw these in a photo magazine not long ago but can't remember which one. I wouldn't recommend them for underwater use but they should meet your above-water needs.

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5/24/2005 12:36:40 PM

Katherine K   THANKS you all! I really apprecaite the terrific advice. Only nine days until paradise! whooo hooo...

Hope you all get to go on a summer exercison of your own! :) Have a great one, Katherine

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5/24/2005 2:37:32 PM

Junia C. Bain   I currently live in Jamaica, and my Nikon D70 is always attached to me. When I go to the beach I attach a rain hood from fotosharp ( if I will be near sea spray. (I used to use a Ziploc bag previously and it worked fine; carry a few.) I wipe the camera and lenses with a damp cloth on the outside each time I returned from the beach, including using a bulb blower brush - paying close attention to the expanding section of the zoom lens. Also you may need to clean the camera bag daily ... you will be surprised where sand can get. Wash any cloths that you use to clean the camera and bag to remove the salt. If you are out in the sun for the whole day, put your camera in the shade. A quick test: Put the camera close to your cheek or on the inside of your wrist - if it is too warm for your skin, then I guess it is time to get it out of the direct sun. I have kept my camera with me a full day, but not in direct sunlight and it is still fine. Be very careful of the temperature change from the sun to an air- conditioned car or room. DO NOT try to change the lens or compact flash card out in the open or open any part of the camera. I always travel with wet wipes, tissues, and a small cloth to clean my hands, and extra cleaning cloths for the camera and an ample supply of lens cleaner. The weather in the Caribbean is fantastic ... have fun.

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5/24/2005 2:51:48 PM

Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  WOW! This has been wonderful advice! I am going to Jamaica VERY soon! I can't wait! Thanks for all this great knowledge!!!!!!

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5/24/2005 11:04:03 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  salt air is poison, the newer canons have great seals, but the techies tell me otherwise

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5/25/2005 2:30:38 AM

Kerry L. Walker   If you take a platic bag, make sure it is one you can see through. I took a colored one to the beach one time and my wife wanted me to put it over my head so I wouldn't scare the little kids on the beach.

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5/25/2005 7:43:08 AM

GARY FESPERMAN   Hi Katherine,
Some excellent advice here. I lived in Hawaii, for 3 years; Southern Calif. 5 years, and have been in Yuma Arizona, for 20 years. Lots of sand, and wind.
Using a Ziploc bag is excellent advice, when traveling and being out in the field. I use one of the larger freezer-size bags, and a couple of rubber bands around it just in case it pops open in the heat.
As for not removing the camera card while outside, this is not always practical, especially if you are a heavy shooter in the 200-plus-photos-a-day range. So here are some tips for working in the field:

If you need to change cards, use your body to shield the camera. Make sure you turn away from the wind, and sun. Many film photographers are used to holding their cameras up to change film - try holding your camera in a slightly down position to change the card, or at least level, but never up.
As for changing lenses, there may be times when you have to for the shot you want. When changing the lens, shield the camera with your body again. Keep the lens mount pointed slightly down, and get the new lens on right away. Cleaning a lens is much easier than keeping a digital camera clean. Once you have the new lens on the camera then put away the old one. Carry lens cleaner and Q-tips with you for cleaning camera and lens. It's amazing how sand sticks to the camera body and lens. Clean your camera often - in the car, at a restaurant, in the motel/hotel room, for sure.
I also compel you to have a skylight or UV filter on your lens at all times. This is always good protection for your lens. Another very important filter is the polarizer, and a third is a graduated neutural density filter.
Put sun screen on before you leave the hotel, and wash your hands afterward. If you need to put more on later, try to do it at a restaurant where you can wash your hands after.
Carry baby wipes to clean the camera body, and lens exterior surface only. Another alternative: Zeiss lens cleaning clothes when I'm in the field. I first clean the lens glass, then the viewfinder, LCD screen, and then exterior surfaces of the lens, and camera body. But don't forget the Q-tips - you will need those to remove the sticky sand, and out here in the desert, sand is like baby powder, so they are a must. A large hat helps to shade your camera when you're not wearing it.
Also, a small vacuum - like those used for computers - can be very handy for keeping your bag clean.
You will have to resolve to the fact that, at some point, your camera CCD will have to be cleaned - no matter how careful any of us are.
I have been a photographer for over 30 years, including a combat photographer for the Marines and currently a contract photographer for the Army. I also teach photography at AWC here in Yuma, AZ.
Best of luck and happy shooting.

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5/27/2005 2:05:03 PM

Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  Great advice Gary! Thanks!

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5/27/2005 2:51:30 PM

Katherine K   INCREDIBLE advice guys... I really appreciate each and every one of you for responding! I leave on Tuesday morning - counting the seconds. :) Gary- wish I lived in your area - I'd sign up for one of your classes in a heart beat!

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5/27/2005 6:56:32 PM

Thomas E. Dillon
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/19/2005
  Katherine, one more thing: If you happen to have one on hand, take along a cheap, thin, transparent shower cap (the kind they give you in hotel/motel rooms). Before you leave your air conditioned hotel room in St. Martin, put the camera inside it (body first) and then put a rubber band around the lens to keep the shower cap in place. Finally, put the whole thing into a Ziploc freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal it. When you go outside, the condensation caused by going from cool to hot will form on the Ziploc bag, not on your camera. Once your camera has warmed up, and you're ready to take a photo, take it out of the Ziploc and shoot through the opening in the shower cap. The lens or filter will be exposed to the salt air, but the rest of the lens and camera will still be pretty well protected. Hope this helps, and have fun on both the French and Dutch sides of the island. Lots of photo ops there!

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5/30/2005 7:43:51 AM

Thomas E. Dillon
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/19/2005
  The last post really does work, even in the rain ... and the shower cap keeps any sweat and/or sunscreen off your camera, too.

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5/30/2005 7:45:58 AM

Katherine K   Thanks Thomas--no it doesn't sound anal at all... :) I'd be devestated if I damaged my camera. Hope you get to enjoy a vacation this summer too!

Take off in 42 hours!

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5/30/2005 7:59:58 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/7/2004
  We live on the coast and take many photos in the salty, sandy beach and boat. As said previously, no protection is too much.

I purchased a tubular, heavy plastic, clear bag which seals by rolling the top and then clip it shut from a dive shop. When the bag is secured shut it creates a handle. The bag is easy to use and folds flat when not in use. They come in many sizes. When in the boat I also place the camera, in the plastic bag and then in a small but HARD SHELL COOLER with a towel to protect from getting too much shock or compression.

Dive shops have many options in many price levels to protect your expensive equipment.

In services I provide, people contract me to take photos of them on the beach. I use a rolling, hard shell cooler for storage and ease of use.

Sincerely, E. L. Thompson

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5/31/2005 9:02:03 AM

Adrienne I. Brand
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/13/2004
  I came across this thread while looking for some beach-shooting advice.

But my question is:

how did your photos come out?


` Adrienne

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6/25/2007 11:20:45 AM

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