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Camera and lens care in Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Joanne Dixon , Jul 05, 2010; 10:37 p.m.

I'd appreciate any advice on taking care of my gear down in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Going for 17 days, splitting the time between the two countries. It's rainy season in many areas, high humidity. Taking my one Nikon D90 body, and two lenses, a Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8. Also a back up point and shoot, the Canon G9. Will have a Storm Jacket cover, (and Ziploc bags!) but really wondering about storage during at the end of the day when not in use, lens changing tips in these conditions, basically anything you can offer! Leaving this Thursday, July 8th. Thanks!

Responses

Marios Forsos , Jul 06, 2010; 03:01 a.m.

The rain, while problematic, is something your rain cover can easily handle (along with some care on your behalf). What will be a bit more of an issue is humidity. And more to the point, the differences in humidity between your hotel room and the outside. For that purpose, your ziploc bags will come in very, very handy.

Whenever you walk in or out of the room (actually, just before), place your camera WITH a lens attatched into a ziploc bag, push out all the air and close it tightly, forcing all the air out. Then carry the camera inside (or outside). Once there, leave it to aclimatise for approximately 10 mins (depending on the differences in temperature and humidity) and THEN take the camera out.

In terms of cleaning the lenses AFTER a day's shooting, make sure that whenever you open your camera you do so AWAY from any airconditioning unit as it WILL blow particles into the camera. Place a clean cotton cloth on a steady surface, away from windows, etc, and carefully clean your camera with a dry cloth. Avoid alchohol-based solutions as the humidity will alter the chemical composition of the liquid and create more problems than it will solve.

In terms of sensor-cleaning, take a blower with you AND a wet cleaning solution. Humidity WILL cause some particles to stick to your sensor and you will need a liquid solution to remove them.

I hope this helps. Take care and have fun

Ian Millar , Jul 06, 2010; 05:32 a.m.

Interesting answer... I am curious as to why you do the ziploc technique. Is this to prevent fogging? or somethng else?
I was going to suggest just prepare your glass before you do want to shoot. When your pulling a lens out of your bag it will likely be fogged depending where you are, so try and think a head. It usually only takes a minute or so to defog from my experience.

Michael Liczbanski , Jul 06, 2010; 08:51 p.m.

Joanne - shooting in Nicaragua is no different than shooting in any other place on earth, just reasonably protect the camera from water/rain and you'll be fine: humidity is no greater than in Washington D.C. :-) Changing lenses is easier now because winters (i.e. rainy season, in Nicaragua 'till November) are not dusty at all. I never do the ziploc bag routine described above even in 100% humidity but YMMV, some people are more anal about real and perceived dangers of short-term shooting in the tropics. If humidity is condensing, wipe off/pat dry the equipment with a dry towel and air it after use. I always carry a bandana and moist towelettes to wipe off the equipment and clean my hands from sweat. Unless your camera bag is water proof, carry a big ziploc bag (the one with handles) to protect your gear if you get cought in a downpour (it doesn't rain all the time in winter in Nicaragua but when it does it'll soak you the the bone in a nanosecond...)
The most important thing in the tropics is to actually use your equipment and expose it to the sun (UV kills fungus) as often as possible but that part is really irrelevant when shooting just for a few weeks. One note: should you use mosquito repellant with DEET (advisible this time of year if you are near the coast and/or mangroves, lakes, etc.), don't put it on the equipment.
Actually, I'll be shooting in Nicaragua next weekend, too :-)

Joanne Dixon , Jul 08, 2010; 02:32 a.m.

Thank you gentlemen, great advice. I will take a little of everything and apply according to shooting conditions. Thanks again for bothering to take the time to help me out, very much appreciated!

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