Water Damage: Don't Loose Hope
cjstepney | Help | Published Feb 22, 2012
Water damage is something that can be fatal to any camera at all if not dealt with properly. Any photographer's nightmare is to watch their recently purchased DSLR with a brand new lens hit the water of a muddy puddle.
This happened to me and you can read the entire story of what happened to it in the EOS1100 forums, but this article is for solving the problem.
Water damage can cause countless problems, including short circuiting, sensor damage, corrosion, fungal growth, jamming, and physical component failure.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you are solving the problem of water damage is not letting it happen in the first place. Always carry your camera in a bag that will either prevent or slow the entry of water, any bag will do this.
Water damage is curable, despite what so many forums like to say. Numerous sources claim that as soon as your camera hits the water it is a writeoff.
Background On This Article
This article is written from experience and a lot of research. My experience is actually having a DSLR submerged for a decent about of time.
- Silica Gel Packs - These can be ordered online or found in most new bags or electronics boxes.
- Rice - It is extremely absorbant and takes the moisture out of the air.
- Heat - Not too much, as it can damage the camera more. The best way of knowing how much is too much is: if it hurts your hand, it hurts the camera.
- Air - The most important thing.
Please note: All of the following solutions can, and should, be used simultaneously.
Silica Gel Packs
These are amazing. However, they won't last all that long if your camera was submerged for any amount of time more than and splash. Do not use old silica gel packs as they will already have lots of moisture in them. keeping a few sealed ones in your camera bag is always a good idea (unless you're shooting in the Mojave dessert).
- Insert camera into a large sealable plastic bag or box. This will prevent the silica from just sucking the water out of your house's air.
- Place as many silica gel packs in the bag as possible. The more the better.
- If condensation begins to form on the inside of the bag, restart the process, this means you are making progress.
- Continues the process for at least 24 hours. This will ensure that all moisture is removed.
- Removes water quickly and effectively.
- Very small and portable, to have on you at all times is very easy.
- It is slightly more expensive but it is cheaper than payign $400 for service on the machine.
Rice should be your immediate reaction, before going off to search for Silica Gel. Almost as absorbant as silica gel, the rice should be used in the same way. Be careful: rice has a lot of starch, which, when in contact with things, makes them sticky.
- Insert camera into a large sealable plastic bag or box. this will prevent the rice from just pulling the air out of the air of your dwelling.
- The camera should be on a plate to prevent direct contact to the rice.
- Put as much rice as you can inside the bag without causing rice to camera contact.
- If condensation forms, recycle the process.
- Continue for at least 30 hours. This will ensure that all moisture is removed.
- Cheap and you can get your hands on lots of it for a low price, and you don't have to go searching. It is available at all supermarkets.
- You can eat it after.
- Starch can form a sticky layer, and if any gets in your camera (especially on the mirrors or sensors), you are very lucky if they will have a long life.
- Can be slightly messy.
Heat & Air
Heat and air are necessary to be combined with all of the following.
- Preheat oven to the lowest temperature possible. During this time the camera should already have bene inserted into the bag with either/both silica gel and/or rice.
- Allow it to cool until your hand will not hurt after one minute of exposure. Place the bags on porcelaine/ceramic trays/plates, and leave in the oven until the condensation is on the surface of the bag. Repeat the process two to three times.
- After those times, remove the camera and all desicants from the bags and place in a very warm and dry location (heater, mantle, etc), and drape with a thin cloth allowing the air to circulate around the camera and to allow the moisture to leave. Allow to sit for many hours, even days.
- 100% safe if instructions followed.
- Very slow and may be slow enough to cause corrosion.