For three years I worked at Wex Photo Video, during which time I saw some pretty sorry looking cameras. I’ve sent cameras off for repair that were so severely water damaged, it looked like they’d been submerged for years. I’ve had people try to trade in lenses that contained so much mold, you couldn’t see through them. And I’ve seen camera bodies with the lens mount well and truly jammed onto it.
On the whole, people take pretty good care of camera equipment. After all, even the best cheap cameras (opens in new tab) cost a good chunk of change, let alone the best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab), so few people can afford not to treat them with care. Accidents happen, though, and even the most careful people can be caught off guard when on a shoot.
In a recent post (opens in new tab) on the brilliant Lensrentals blog, the team put together a list of the most common ways that camera equipment is ruined. It’s no definitive guide, trust me, but it's fascinating given that some of them can be easily avoided…
It’s the phrase nobody wants to hear, especially when making an insurance claim as it feels so often that water damage isn’t covered. While everybody knows it’s not a good idea to get your electrical items near water, it’s actually the minerals, salt and dirt it has in it that will eventually ruin your kit.
Pure, distilled water generally wouldn’t damage your camera or lens if it’s just being splashed, but water containing impurities can shorten the lifespan of your kit.
Sand and dust
As good as the sealing is on your camera, sand has a way of finding its way inside your kit. Sand can easily get lodged in the crevices of your camera and interfere with the electronics, which will eventually stop working completely. And if you get sand in your lens, you’ll be left with a focus and zoom ring wheel that grinds when you turn it – which not only feels horrible, it makes it much harder to use and wears the mechanism down.
Those who have experienced sandy shooting conditions know that changing lenses is an absolute no-no; the last thing you want is to invite sand onto your sensor, but sometimes you have no choice. Lensrentals recently received some kit back that had been taken to Burning Man (a very intense festival that takes place in the desert), but is now completely useless even though Canon claims that the Canon EOS R5C (opens in new tab) has the same high-quality weather sealing as the Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab).
If you ever get the opportunity to shoot Holi, or a color run inspired by the Hindu festival, I cannot stress how important it is that you cover up your camera properly. You can either use one of the best rain covers for your camera (opens in new tab) or make sure that it’s wrapped up well in plastic bags and secured with duct tape.
Powder paint is very fine, so it will get everywhere, and once it’s inside your camera equipment there’s virtually no getting it out.
This is perhaps the most common form of damage, but maybe the most unavoidable. My heart really goes out to people who have done everything in their power to look after their equipment and still ended up with damage. Sometimes all it takes is a big gust of wind to knock over a tripod, or a moment of losing balance and your camera and lens can fall from great heights.
Luckily the best camera straps (opens in new tab) and the best camera bags and cases (opens in new tab) will help keep your kit secure at all times and reduce the chance of dropping it. Impact damage is often an expensive repair; most cameras can survive a little knock here and there but, if you consistently drop it, it’ll give up eventually.