Keep It Dry

If you live in a place live Hong Kong where at least half the year is humid, then you will need to protect your cameras and lenses from humidity which may promote the growth of mold. Once you get mold on your lenses, even if you clean the mold off, it may permanently damage the coating or the glass. The lens will usually be too expensive or impossible to repair and the only resort will be to buy a new one, which will be quite costly.

The ideal relative humidity to keep camera and lenses is somewhere between 30 to 50%, 40% being the middle of that range and is probably best. Above 60% is where most mold will grow. Too dry may not be good too, as some type of mold actually grow in very dry humidity (less than 20%).

There are a few ways to keep the humidity down. You can keep the air-conditioner on. Despite what some people claim that air-conditioner cannot keep relative humidity below 60%, in my experience, air-conditioner can easily maintain a relative humidity of between 40-50% in a room so long as the air-conditioner is not under-power for the room. The disadvantage of using an air-conditioner to keep a room dry is that it uses a lot of electricity and not cost effective and environmentally friendly as a method to keep humidity down. It is also not a good method to use when the temperate is low, but the humidity is high.

You can also use a dehumidifier. The problem with these is that you will need to constant keep emptying the water tank. When the tank is full and you don’t empty the tank, it would stop working.

The best way to store camera and lenses at the ideal humidity is to store them in a dry cabinet. There a few brands of dry cabinets, although all brands claim they are the best or have some proprietary method for keep a constant humidity inside the cabinet, they actually all use very similar mechanism. Most brands are actually just OEM models and they share exactly the same design. Only the brand names are diferent. So it probably does not matter which brand you get. Any brand is probably just as good as the next. The size of the dry cabinet is usually measured by volume, the smallest one around 40L and with sizes going up to as large as 1000L or more.

I recently invested in a 200L model and I am very happy with it so far.

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11 thoughts on “Keep It Dry

    • Hi Laura,

      I bought the dry cabinet at a shop in Mongkok. I can’t remember the name. I am looking for the invoice to find thier name and address. Once I find it, I’ll give it to you here.

      • Thanks Roland! I’ll check back for your answer. I’ll probably go search out Echo to get the 5D Mark too so I’ll let you know what price they charge me!

  1. Hi Roland,

    Congrats for the nice dry cabinet (I found your blog while searching for one)!
    I wish I could buy one in Spain or Portugal, but I am afraid the sole solution is to order one from HK or the US (Australia is out of question). Quite a bad prospect due to high postal fees (and the “kind” attention of our customs’) …
    I live in a coastal town facing the Atlantic (Oporto). While the typical relative humidity level indoors at home is well within reasonable limits during summer (around 45%), in winter with low temperatures and rainy weather on the outside, it is normal for it to jump to 60% or more. This has ruined a binocular for good and some lenses (Tokina, Olympus and – sigh… – a splendid Leica Elmarit 28/2.8 I use on my Minolta CLE). I was able to have the lenses professionaly cleaned, but the binocular was a total loss…
    So, this is really a issue for me (I own a small collection of classic cameras, RF mostly, a few modern SLRs and RFs, plus a couple of digital wonders)…

    Btw, excellent price for what surely is a great value-for-money piece of equipment !

    Regards from not-so-sunny Iberia !

    Alexandre

  2. Hi Roland,

    Nice to hear you liked the food! Did you taste traditional dishes (which surprisingly include little or no fish in Oporto) or seafood is neighbouring Matosinhos?

    As for the dry cabinet, I will go for a 103 L type, probably. As surreal as it may seem, I couldn’t find a dealer stocking such items in the entire Iberian Peninsula (well, yes, but only veeery expensive models for scientific and laboratory usage).

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