Storing Your Photography Equipment

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When we were first starting out in photography, it was enough that we wiped our gear clean and stored it in a camera bag with a small packet of silica gel. That was until we started seeing photos of lenses with molds in them.

mold
CC Photo by the prodigal untitled13

The most important factor that contributes to the growth of fungus and molds is relative humidity or how much moisture is in the air. This is where desiccants and other types of dehumidifiers come in. Dehumidifiers absorb excess moisture in the air to keep everything dry. The thing to keep in mind though is that if the air is too dry then that can kill the lubrication on your lenses which is also bad. The safest range of Rh (relative humidity) to store your gear in is between 26-60Rh. In this range, the air is dry enough to avoid the growth of molds and “wet” enough so as not to mess with your gear’s lubrication.

The cheapest way to store your gear is to keep it in a clean place with a desiccant dehumidifier. Take note though that non-electric dehumidifiers like the one in the photo will just absorb as much moisture as it can even if the relative humidity level falls below 26Rh.

desiccant
CC Photo by urijamjari

To be safer, you can add a hygrometer to your storage container. Hygrometers measure the Rh in the air so you can check if the range is between 26-60Rh. If the humidity is too high then you can add more desiccants in. If it’s too low then you just need to open the container every now and then to let more moisture in.

The absolute best way to store your gear is in an automatic dry box/cabinet. Dry boxes have built in dehumidifiers and hygrometers. You can set the level of Rh you want the dry box to maintain and just forget about it.

drybox
as seen here

Prevention is always best. Once you start seeing molds on your lenses then the only way to get it off is to have it professionally cleaned and even that can sometimes not be enough.

We’re still saving up for a dry box ourselves. In the meantime, we store our gear in a cabinet with a desiccant dehumidifier. It’s not airtight so the equipment won’t dry out, but the dehumidifier keeps it dry enough. It’s not the coolest thing ever, but it does the job. How do you store your gear?

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