Lensrentals has seen a lot of broken cameras and lenses over the years. Even if everyone who rents gear is careful – and we're sure that nearly everyone is cautious – some accidents and mistakes are inevitable. In a new blog post, photographer and Lensrentals editor Zach Sutton has outlined some surefire ways to break or otherwise disable cameras and lenses. Of course, these aren't helpful hints to destroy gear, but rather, things to keep in mind to help you keep your gear fully operational.

Water is a major wreaker of havoc on cameras and lenses. Although, more accurately, it's the stuff in most water that causes the problems. The minerals and dirt in water will frequently cause electrical shorts, quickly destroying the sophisticated electronics inside your camera gear. Saltwater is a huge culprit. Even if you don't submerge your camera in the ocean, shooting in salty, humid air in coastal locations can cause damage over time. As Sutton writes, 'This is why Roger [Cicala] once said he’d never buy used camera gear from a coastal location – the salt in the air will slowly creep its way into the seams and eventually cause damage to the electronics.'

This image shows salt buildup inside a Sony a7S III that was submerged in the ocean. Even if your gear is in saltwater for a second or two, the damage can be significant.

Another camera destroyer you encounter along the coast is sand. While saltwater most often destroys cameras, sand can cause significant damage to lenses. Even though lens gaskets are helpful, they can't prevent every ingress. If even a grain or two of sand passes a gasket and works its way into your lens, it spells trouble. Burning Man was a few weeks ago, and Lensrentals received gear used at the festival, including a few Canon R5 C cameras. The R5 C features good weather sealing, but 'sand always wins.' As Lensrentals has written about before, Burning Man is bad news for camera gear.

Headed to Burning Man next year? Have fun. Don't bring your camera. These Canon R5 C bodies were at Burning Man and came back riddled with sand and dust.

Another major culprit is fall damage. If you've ever dropped a camera or lens, you know that the split-second it takes for your gear to hit the ground is the longest split-second ever. Unlike taking your gear into high-risk situations where you encounter water and sand, dropping your gear isn't necessarily a sign of negligence or ignorance. It happens. Being careful will help reduce the likelihood of dropping your gear, but using good straps helps, too. Lensrentals ships all its cameras to renters with straps attached. Sutton adds, 'Sure, camera straps aren’t cool, but they work well at keeping your gear attached to your body.' Agreed, straps aren't cool, but dinged, dented or destroyed cameras and lenses are much less cool.

To read more about common causes of camera and lens damage, read the article at Lensrentals. The topic of gear damage also comes up on the Lensrentals podcast, including in this episode about how to break a lens. If you'd like related reading, check out these Lensrentals articles: Wild bear destroys camera gear, rental camera gear destroyed by the solar eclipse, and a Fujifilm GFX 100 battles salt water.

Images courtesy of Lensrentals and used with permission