Water Damage is Real: Death of a DSLR

I’m chasing the Earth’s waterfalls so I was ecstatic to visit the mighty Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border, last year.

I underestimated the power of the spray at the falls and made a few mistakes:

  1. I didn’t have a water/protective cover for my DSLR
  2. I didn’t have a waterproof backpack
  3. Didn’t wear waterproof clothes/poncho

….so my camera and I were soaked. I quickly took shots of the falls, wrapped my camera in a sweater I had, and put it in my backpack. But the damage was done. The next day, the camera wouldn’t even turn on. I was devastated. Vic Falls was the beginning of my 2.5 week trip and despite efforts to soak it in rice, and all the things they tell you to do online, the camera wouldn’t budge.

The hotel I was staying at connected me with the photographer who does their photo shoots. I rented his camera for the rest of the days I was in Vic Falls. And in Cape Town I was able to rent a camera as well. When I got back home the cost of repairing it (Canon Rebel DSLR) wasn’t worth it so I ended up buying a new camera. This was an expensive mistake and one I hope you won’t experience!

The spray from the Falls drenched me (end of May). You can see water drops on the lens.

Water/Rain Protective Gear for Your DSLR
There’s a lot of great gear out there. What you should have depends on what activities you’ll be doing, under what conditions and where you’re going.

Waterproof Bags and Covers
I bought this rain cover for my camera. I suggest you play with it before you leave. Make sure you know how to put it on the camera and get comfortable shooting with it on the camera.

Carrying the Camera
I also like this cover because it protects the camera and you’re ready to take photos vs. storying it in a bag.

For transporting your camera from place-to-place you can get a drybag or a DSLR bag with a cover. DSLR bags can be pretty expensive. Drybags are a lot less costly but they don’t have padding to protect your camera.

My Solution

  • bought a generic rain cover for the backpack that I already own
  • bought a cover for the camera body
  • bought protective pouches for my lenses
  • place padding around the camera body in my bag
  • for extra peace-of-mind, I keep extra, gallon size, ziploc bags with desiccant packets in my backpack to store my lenses and camera body. (this was overkill but after losing a camera to water damage, I wanted to over prepare).DSLR-lens-puches-traveler-blogger-internaional-wanderlust.JPG

I spent less than what I would have for 1 fancy DSLR bag and this gear will work for my future travels.

Note: If you’re going to be using your camera while kayaking or water activities I recommend a proper dry bag.

Note: the lens pouches cinch shut so water/elements can still seep inside. The key feature in these, is the padded protection they have when placing them in any bag. But since I had the backpack rain cover and the ziploc bags I wasn’t worried.

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