Tips for Using Your Camera in a Hostile Environment

1. Get some specific camera insurance. Your standard travel insurance policy is probably no good – it usually has a clause limiting loss associated with a single item and the chances are that if your a semi-serious photographer this amount is a lot less than your kit is worth. It’s probably good practice to have insurance even on a day to day basis anyway, because it has the added advantage of giving you the confidence to take occasional calculated risks with your camera.

2. Make sure you’ve got a good camera bag to keep all your kit in one place, dry and secure. You don’t need to spend a fortune on the latest poser-pouch but you need to get something that’s specifically designed for DSLRs – shoving all your kit in any old bag isn’t so wise. Things get lost, or broken.

3. Try and limit your camera’s exposure to risk as much as possible – whether that’s stowing it securely in an identified place when not in use, using a rain cover to minimize exposure to moisture/dust/salt etc., or even fitting a proper waterproof (and thus everything-else-proof) case, remember that careless treatment costs cameras. One note about the rain covers though, some say that there can to be issues with condensation, so if you’re repeatedly moving from a cold to warm environment you need to take extra care.

4. Make sure that anybody with you understands that your camera is a precious object. Assuming you trust them not to run off with it, some people just don’t understand that they need to be careful with your stuff. Anybody who doesn’t know about cameras probably wont think that your shiny 7D (or whatever) is anything special, is fragile, or that it needs treating with care. Make sure they understand, assume nothing.

5. Don’t put your camera down there! – anywhere that it is at risk of being sat on, soaked, covered in noxious substances, falling off, being stolen or anything else…put it back in your bag. This is a pain and that you’ll miss shots, but you’ll miss many more when your camera is dead or gone. There are bags which purport to offer quick-access opportunities…great, so long as they allow you to keep your stuff all together and that they really work, and you’re willing and able to carry them around all the time.

6. Wipe your camera free of potential contaminants as soon as you can. If it’s light moisture from drizzle you need to do that with something absorbent that itsn’t just going to push moisture into the area around the buttons. If it’s dust or anything else that might find its way onto the sensor of your camera you need to clean it carefully. Pay attention to the seal around the lens. Get some cotton buds or similar.

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