When you’re on the move, your camera will be changing position, come in contact with dust and the elements. You might take it on an athletic expedition or keep it around your neck in hot weather. Wherever you go, you will want to keep your camera safe and put your mind at ease. Here are a few simple tips on how best to protect your gear.
Get a good camera bag (or pouch)
An indispensable travel companion, your camera bag (or pouch) is a must when taking your camera on the road. The advantage of a proper camera bag, versus any regular bag, is that it is specifically adapted to transporting your gear: it will have a padded interior and removable dividers, be made of resistant, waterproof materials, and often have straps to attach accessories, such as a tripod, as well as organizer pockets for small objects like SD cards. Most bags will allow you to remove the main compartment and use the bag for other purposes.
Camera bags come in many shapes and sizes, from backpacks, cross-shoulder bags, to handbags, and will feature a variety of closures. They are also made to fit any budget. Take your time to find the bag that will best suit your needs, so you can travel with a peace of mind. Any of the specialized brands—Manfrotto, Vanguard, Peak Design, Lowepro, Tenba, Think Tank, Case Logic, National Geographic, to name a few—will provide you with what you need.
Bring a plastic bag
Reuse a shopping bag as rain cover. This is an easy way to protect your camera without having to put it away at the first sign of rain. It also comes in handy when shooting water activities to avoid getting splashed.
Sand: your worst enemy
Taking care of your camera sometimes means setting it aside or taking risks. Sand is your worst enemy, and you should pay particular attention when taking your gear to the beach. Avoid changing lenses: the slightest speck of sand getting into your camera body or the sensor may be enough to cause damage. Put away your camera as soon as you can and never leave lying in the sand! These tips are of course equally valid for any other dusty environment, such as the mountainside.
Read also: Photographing at the beach: tips and tricks
Protect your sensor
If you use an SLR or a DSLR camera, you will want to keep your imaging sensor safe. When you are changing lenses, remember not to aim directly at the sunlight, perform the action quickly, and point the camera mount downward to avoid dust. This will help minimize the risk, even if, with frequent lens change, it may not be fail proof.
Protect your lenses using (UV, protection, etc.) filters
Put a filter on your lens for added protection. You may opt for a plain protective filter that will keep your lenses free of scratches, dust, etc., without affecting the image. Alternatively, you may use UV, polarizing, or neutral density filters, which will modify your image and allow to reduce, respectively, chromatic aberration, glare, or the amount of light hitting the lens, in addition to shielding it from the elements.
Wipe the lens using a microfiber cloth
Always use an appropriate cleaning cloth to wipe your lens. Store your lenses in a safe environment so they don’t attract dust. At all cost, avoid wiping down the lens using the hem of your shirt, your scarf, or your sleeves: these will most likely scuff the surface. We have all done it at least once, but it’s a very bad idea. There are a number of other accessories to keep your lenses clean: air blowers or compressed air, lens brushes, chamois pads, lens pens, etc. However, always keep a microfiber cloth handy!
Taking care of your camera is fairly simple: protect sensitive areas, such as the imaging sensor, the lens, and the lens mount. A camera bag or a bag insert is a must to travel safely and bring back beautiful pictures.
By Céline Nebor