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What you can do to protect your equipment

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There really is no better feeling than getting yourself geared up to take off for your holidays with your camera. As photographers, a change of scenery and the opportunity to document the amazing world we live awakens the artist in us all.

But if we are not careful our well-earned trip could come at a cost. Camera manufacturers insist that our camera gear is “weather resistant”. And there’s the magic word. “Resistant”. But no camera or lens is truly weatherproof.

Holiday trips are often marred by damaged gear, sand in camera bodies, broken lenses or even lost equipment. So here are a few tips on how to protect your valuable DSLRs.

PRE-TRAVEL PREPARATIONS

Make a checklist of all the things you will need to take on your trip. If you don’t have a camera bag, we would recommend getting one as soon as possible as they are made to protect your fragile lenses and camera bodies. If you are travelling with one body and one lens, and are not thinking of buying more equipment in the future, then buy a small camera bag that will fit on your carry on luggage. It makes it easily accessible giving you less hassle and more freedom to move around. Camera bags like Lowepro’s Nova 170 AW II, the Case Logic SLRC-202 or Manfrotto NX Holster (all around £25) are more than enough to take on your trip, and are all available to buy online or at your local shop. Do your research to meet your needs if you are travelling with more than one camera body or lenses.

Make sure you take a universal travel adapter, whether you are travelling to multiple destinations or not. There is nothing more frustrating as being unable to charge your batteries once they run out in a foreign country. Replacement cables that fit in the sockets of the country you are travelling are hard to find and can be costly.

A very important point to take into consideration is that although most modern chargers are bi-volt, meaning they can work in both 120V and 220V sockets, please make sure you check the label in the back of your charger before you plug it in abroad. If it says 110-220V, then you can use it anywhere.

Make sure that you download the existing photos on your memory cards and format the cards to have them ready for your trip. Take more than one memory card if you can just in case. SD cards easily be damaged.

CAMERA BAGS GO WITH YOU AS CARRY ON LUGGAGE. ALWAYS!

A few weeks ago an article popped up online about a photographer who decided to check in her Leica camera and lens (worth over £8,000) before boarding her flight.

Now if we all know anything about baggage care at airports is that there is none. There are various videos on YouTube showing baggage handlers slamming bags on the conveyor belt, or showing bags falling off while being transported. At the very least, your bag might end up in the wrong country or get lost completely.

So when the photographer in question arrived at her destination she should not have been too surprised to discover that the front glass elements on her £8,000 Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 lens had been shattered. Or that her camera body was no longer turning on.

In another tragic tale, a photographer spoke of his horror when a he saw US baggage handler

walking around with his shattered camera gear shouting, “who does this belong to?”

Moral of the story? Don’t check in your valuable camera gear, even if that means sacrificing your carry-on luggage as it’s OK to lose your best pair of swimming shorts than your pride and joy. Checking in batteries in the cargo hold is also forbidden as they could overheat and cause a fire.

AT YOUR DESTINATION

Take the time to read about the country you are visiting and avoid walking around with your shiny camera around your neck for all to see. In places like Brazil it can be stolen in a heartbeat.

Although modern cameras can take a lot of punishment when it comes to weather conditions, always remember that they are not indestructible. So if you are travelling to hot countries NEVER leave your camera in direct sunlight or in the car, as the heat can melt plastic parts of your lens or camera body.

Avoid taking your camera to the beach since, as we all know, sand gets everywhere. The last thing you want is your lens, shutter or mirror grinding against grains of sand. If you are going to spend a day at the beach then better use your phone to take photos. Always remember that coastal environments are not good for electronics. Oh, and never, EVER, point your camera into the sun! In an effort to photograph last month’s solar eclipse, many ended up with destroyed sensors and melted aperture blades. Don’t forget that just as the lens focuses a point onto your sensor, it also becomes a giant magnifying glass focusing the sun’s rays onto your sensor.

If you are travelling to tropical destinations avoid using your camera without proper protection in heavy rain. Putting your batteries in plastic zip-bags will protect them from getting wet.

Switch off your air-conditioning and let your camera lens acclimatise to the change in temperature before you step out. Going from a cold environment to a hot one could lead to the lens getting fogged over, ruining your shots.

If you are travelling to cold destinations then take into account that the colder it is, the less battery life you will have. So if you are travelling to Antarctica for instance, make sure you take plenty of batteries and keep them in your inside pockets close to your chest to keep them warm.

And finally, check whether your travel insurance covers you for loss or damage to equipment or do some research on whether you can insure your gear before you travel. Have fun, be safe and be inspired.

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