Digital Camera Care: 15 Tips for Keeping Your Camera in Tip-Top Condition When Traveling

Digital Camera Care

01

Use a camera bag. To protect your camera and its accessories from bumps and bad weather, use a camera bag for larger cameras and a camera pouch for smaller ones. If the pouch is not well-padded, wrap bubble wrap or a piece of relatively thin styrofoam around the camera before putting it in the pouch. Shoulder bags and backpacks designed for cameras are also available. Some backpacks even allow photographers to carry a camera body, a lens or two and a laptop.

In some places, it’s desirable to carry a backpack rather than a camera bag. Most camera bags identify you as a camera owner and might make you a target for thieves.

02

Accessories for your camera bag. Keep on hand lens-cleaning fluid and tissues designed for camera lenses. Also have a brush with soft bristles for cleaning dirt off the camera body. Use a separate brush for cleaning the lens. Keep fingers off the bristles because hands have natural oils on them.

03

Protect unexposed film. If you use a film camera, buy a special shield bag from a camera store to protect unexposed sheet and roll film from damage by low-dosage X-ray machines that check carryon luggage at airports. Or, put the film in a clear plastic bag and ask the security people if they can inspect the film by hand to avoid the X-rays.

04

Load film carefully. Put unexposed film into a camera and remove exposed film only in a very dark place. Never let light reach your film, as it will ruin it. Camera stores sell special changing bags.

05

Identify your memory card. Consider putting an address label on your memory card in the event it’s lost. Better yet, order some labels with your phone number on them.

06

Store memory cards carefully. If you have more than one memory card and do not have a slot in your camera bag for them, prevent loss by keeping them in a small freezer bag.

07

Protect your camera from the elements. Keep two plastic bags for each camera stored in your camera bag. For larger cameras, use two-gallon bags. For smaller ones, one-gallon or one-quart sizes will do. Use one bag to protect your camera from rain, snow and dust when you are not using it.

With the second bag, cut a hole just large enough for the lens of the camera to peek through in the end opposite the closure. The bag should be large enough to cover the camera body and give you space to operate the controls.This bag allows you to take pictures in rainy, snowy and dusty conditions.

08

Guard against condensation. Another use for the large, uncut plastic bag is to protect the camera against a serious danger: condensation or droplets of water on the electrical circuits or the lens. And when you go from a cold environment to a warm one or vice versa, condensation may appear on your camera.

So, before you go inside after taking pictures of your dog playing in the snow, put your camera in a plastic bag, add a silica pack to the bag and seal it up. A silica pack is the tiny white packet that comes shipped with so many items we buy to protect them from moisture. You can purchase these packets online. With the camera in the sealed bag, condensation forms on the outside of the bag, not the camera. If you are in a hot climate and staying in a hotel with air conditioning, try to keep your camera in a warmer area such as the bathroom.

09

Never check your camera with your baggage. Always carry it onto the plane, bus or
train.

10

Never leave a digital camera in direct sunlight or a hot car unless a window is rolled down. The camera could catch fire or explode.

11

If the photos you will be taking are very important and you’re not traveling with a laptop to download them to, consider buying a storage device. These devices include inexpensive flash drives and so-called pocket storage devices, which are small gadgets that store lots of photos. Another choice is a portable storage drive made just for photos that allows you to view the photos on the screen of the device. But they can be expensive. Another choice for storing photos is a cloud service, which allows users to store photos offsite if they have WiFi or another means of connectivity.

12

Take more than one memory card. Sometimes a technical glitch “corrupts” a memory card so you won’t be able to take any more photos or download or upload the photos already on it. A second memory card also means that the first one can stay full.

13

If traveling abroad, buy a voltage converter, which is also called a voltage transformer, to charge batteries. U.S. electrical outlets use 110 volts but overseas many countires use 220 volts. Charging a battery charger designed for 110 volts can damage the batteries, pose a fire hazard and, if the camera’s battery is charged by plugging the camera directly into the outlet, can damage the camera itself. Voltage converters allow you to use a 110-volt device where 220-volts is the norm. Some voltage converters called dual converters allow you to go from 110 volts to 220 volts and vice versa. Others allow you to go only from 110 volts to 220. Others allow you to go only from 220 to 110.

(We’re speaking here only of voltage converters for charging batteries for cameras and other items of relatively low wattage. Items such as hair dryers and laser printers may require more powerful voltage converters.)

Also, you will need a plug adapter to plug the voltage converter into the electrical outlet. Electrical outlets have many configurations, and many adapters are available. You can buy one recommended for the country you’re going to before leaving the U.S. However, even these recommendations don’t always work, and it’s sometimes better to buy an adapter once you reach your destination. If you’re staying in a hotel, it may lend you an adapter for a small fee but beware that hotels have a limited number of adapters.

14

Carry a hand towel. Wipe wet and dirty hands to protect your camera from moisture and grains of dirt and sand, which can cause it to malfunction.

15

In cold weather, always carry spare batteries because cold shortens the length of the charge.