The humid climate of the tropics is not camera-friendly at all and one must take adequate precautions to keep their camera dry and mold-free. The moisture in the air is the number one enemy of the camera as it attracts molds and fungus that settles in the nooks of your favorite gear. Yes, you can throw in some silica gel sachets as a quick fix solution, but your gear deserves more love and care than that. Here are some excellent expert tips which are practical to help you always keep your camera dry especially when you are shooting in the tropics-
Carry an Extra Waterproof Bag:
It is always not possible to carry your heavy camera gear bag or box while traveling from one place to another while on tour. Many would like to keep their extra luggage in the hotel’s locker room to which they will return after the photo trip is over. In this case, you should carry an extra waterproof bag, or which has a rain cover with you, so that you can transfer your camera gear into it while on the move to keep your camera super dry. These covers are readily available and affordable. You can alternatively cover your camera in a plastic wrap, coat, scarf, spare T-Shirt or anything else after taking it out from your gear bag. The moot point is that it should be covered properly.Invest in a Dry Box:You will easily get dry boxes specially designed for storing cameras and they work wonders to protect your prized possession from moisture. Generally, a few silica sachets and an air-conditioned environment are ideal to keep your camera dry, but a dry box is always a great investment for both short and long trips.
A Storm Jacket Comes Handy Always:
There is bound to be rain in a tropical forest, so it is best to carry a water-proof and heat-resistant tough storm jacket for the camera and lens. This storm jacket made of an Aqua nylon fabric comes with a touch-fastening opening to fit in tripods, monopods and provide the required flexibility to ensure manual focusing within the cover. A storm jacket also comes with a carrying case with a zipper. Generally, a SLR medium sized storm jacket can accommodate a 300-400mm lens along with the camera body. It is advisable to measure the length from the rear of the camera body to the front of the lens to know which size of storm jacket will suit your gear best. The idea is to provide complete protection from rain and at the same time not to compromise on the maneuverability.
Raincoat for the Camera:
The camera and lens need a raincoat too! The raincoat for camera is technically known as the LensCoat Raincoat Large Sleeve and it is usually available in combinations for both camera and lens measuring up to 21″. This weather guard sleeve covers the rear access right up to the camera controls. It also has a bottom closure to cover the lens. There are many additional features like an elastic cord around the hood and a cinch strap to adjust the length of the raincoat sleeve.
Carry a Plastic Container with a sealing lid that perfectly fits it:
You can add some sealing material on the edges to ensure that it is leakproof. This will be your own DIY Damp Rid. Generally, silica sachets get saturated with moisture in very humid weather and it is a hassle to dry them up. Instead, calcium chloride can be used as a better option as a dehumidifier. You can add calcium chloride powder to your damp rid box every few months.
A Humidity Gauge is Essential:
Though a humidity gauge is an optional add on to your camera box, it will do you good if you can carry it. It helps to adjust the humidity level inside the camera box in relation to the humidity in the weather and helps to keep the camera dry. Keep the humidity level at 40-50% inside the box and keep filling in the drying agent whenever required. This will keep your camera and lenses fungus and moisture free always.
A Rubber Placemat:
You can keep a rubber placemat at the bottom of the camera box to prevent your camera gear from sliding while traveling.
An Umbrella does Wonders:
A large umbrella can come handy when you are shooting on a tripod. You can even attach the umbrella with the tripod to keep your hands free. This needs a bit of practice and of course, the size of the umbrella matters a lot. The umbrella should cover the lens entirely from rains, which is frequent in the tropical jungles of South America. If you don’t have an umbrella cover it with anything waterproof like a raincoat.
Use of Camera Sleeves:
Some camera sleeves just cover the camera and not your hand that controls it. Generally using a sleeve that covers your hand that operates the camera needs some practice, as there is a lack of flexibility when you are operating the buttons over a plastic cover.
Use Your Lens Hood:
It is very difficult to dry the lens once it becomes wet and get clear images with it, in this case, a lens hood will come handy. Choose the hood which is solid and not the one which has a flower petal shape, this will help to keep the raindrops settling in front of the lens when the camera is positioned straight or slightly bent down. You can still dry up the camera body easily if it gets slightly wet, but the lens needs extra protection from rain and humidity.
Sport Casings are Reliable Options:
Waterproof casings also known as sport casing that is used by scuba divers and underwater photographers can come useful while shooting in the tropics. This casing will completely protect from rain, mist, and humidity.
Know the Current Dew Point Temperature:
Before coming out from your air-conditioned hotel do a quick search on the humidity level and the dew-point temperature. Your camera’s temperature must be above the dew point temperature, so you should keep it dry and warm to avoid mist on the lenses. You can keep your camera covered with your gear bag or keep the camera in an un-airconditioned space to keep it warm. Using resealable bags to store cameras is a good idea so that the lens doesn’t gather any mist. Don’t keep your camera inside the car when it is very cold outside. It is always best to know the temperature outside, the Dew point temperature and also the temperature of your camera by using weather apps. After all, your camera gear needs to be acclimatized to the outside weather as much as you do!
Some cameras come with good seals while others do not, so read up the user’s manual to see whether your DSLR comes with adequate sealing which makes it rainproof or rather ‘Adventure proof’. Well, of course, we can’t miss the rains in the tropical rainforests after all, as the forests come alive after a good thundershower. It is also great to watch birds taking shelter from the rain and clicking them in action. With these simple measures, you will never shy away from shooting in the rain again! You can use these tips to protect your camera almost anywhere actually and not just in the tropical rain forests