We focus so much on acquiring all of our fancy photography toys that the topic of where to store them tends to fall on the sidelines… but did you know that keeping your gear properly stowed away is just as important? From ensuring you don’t visit the repair shop to keeping the resale value on your equipment high, take this guide on how to store cameras and lenses at home to heart!
How to Store Camera Gear at Home, 10 Tips:
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What Damages Your Gear?
One simple word wreaks havoc amongst all of our beloved electronic items, a word that strikes fear into the heart of gadgets, a word that we rush to find ways to avoid at all times…
Yup, sadly moisture is a camera and lens’s worst enemy in many different ways. From causing malfunctions on the electronic side to encouraging mildew to grow on the physical side (yes, I’m serious, lenses and cameras can have mildew), damp is no one’s friend. The entrapment of condensation is the quickest way to have you running to the repair shop.
Alongside this, cameras and lenses don’t do too well with blunt force either – so it is, of course, highly discouraged to drop your gear, or allow it to take any serious blows.
Fear not, for we have a slew of tips for you on how to store cameras and lenses at home.
1. Dry Cabinets Are Your Friends
To solve the humidity issue, we can turn to a nifty product called the dry cabinet. Dry cabinets are specially built storage boxes or units (that look a bit like a wine case) that keep humidity out entirely. They are sensitive to moisture and do everything in their power to make sure it never touches any of your gear, effectively preventing fungal growth on your $10,000 equipment. These cabinets also have the added bonus of preventing dust and dirt from finding their way to your gear, minimizing the amount of time you need to clean your cameras and lenses.
Some dry cabinets we can recommend include:
Ruggard Electronic Dry Cabinet: Thit is an electronically controlled cabinet that automatically adjusts relative humidity from 35% – 60%. The door is also fully lockable, which is a nice touch.
T.A.P LED Digital Display Electronic Automatic Dry Cabinet: The T.A.P. dry cabinet uses a condensation drying system to protect your gear. With a nifty LED inside to help you see alongside adjustable shelves, this is a great option for storing your equipment.
StateRiver Electronic Dry Cabinet: StateRiver’s product uses thermo-electric cooling technology that is boasted to be silent and heatless, helping prevent all the nasties from getting to your gear while also keeping it temperature controlled. It also has a great humidity sensor which is touted as being extremely accurate.
FORSPARK® Camera Dehumidifying Dry Cabinet: With prized user ratings, this dry cabinet has all of the exceptional features you expect for a more affordable price than comparable products.
Much of the United States and various other parts of the world suffer from moisture in the air, and this is definitely not something to skimp on. Take it from my photography pals who woke up to mold on their lens glass…
2. Pelican Cases Are Also Your Friends
These cases are my go-to. I personally store all of my gear in Pelican cases. Probably the absolute most rugged cases out there, Pelican makes hard semi-indestructible cases with either foam filling (that you cut out as an insert) or real inserts.
These cases are completely watertight and blunt force proof, built to withstand the craziest effects. Built of crushproof Copolymer-Polypropylene shell, some of the tests the company has conducted to see how sturdy the cases are can be wild! Many photographers, musicians, and other such professionals with expensive gear swear by these cases.
If you don’t quite fancy shelling out for a dry cabinet but you can see the numerous applications of a Pelican case in your photography life, the good news is, these cases do a pretty good job of keeping things dry, too! I lived in a very earthquake-prone part of California in the past and wouldn’t trust my gear with anything else. If things take a tumble when the ground makes a rumble, you’re going to want a Pelican case on your side.
3. If All Else Fails: Desiccants
If the above aren’t in the budget or you’re in a more temporary storage situation, you can use desiccants to help reduce or prevent moisture from sinking its wet hands into your cameras or lenses. You’ve likely seen desiccants without even knowing what they are; those silica beads you might find in clothing or purses are a type of desiccant.
Desiccants work by absorbing the moisture out of the air, kind of like a sponge without needing to be squeezed. Without moisture in the air, you have nothing to worry about. Just place a pack of these next to your gear and you are good to go.
You can actually find rechargeable desiccants such as Wisedry for a very affordable price. And if you frequently order things, you can even save your desiccant packs from your orders and use those!
4. Industrial Shelving for Storage
If you’ve opted to store your gear through meeans other than standing dry cabinets, you’ll need to place your lenses and cameras onto something – right? Industrial shelves can be the way to go.
Built much stronger than your run-of-the-mill shelves, built-ins, or wall units – industrial shelves are standalone and built for very heavy use. On average they tend to be able to hold about 200 lbs per shelf! The Amazon Basics Industrial Shelf can hold up to 350 lbs.
Many industrial shelves are also able to be folded or adjusted, so this can be a storage solution that can keep adapting to your needs. Some even sport wheels, so you can use them as a mobile cart!
5. Tool Chests Are for Cameras, Too
Did you know that you can use tool chests for cameras and lenses too? Depending on the size of your gear and the size of the chest, this can be another great idea that doesn’t necessarily break the bank!
Tool chests often have thinner pull-out shelves at the top as well, creating a great way to organize batteries, filters, and other smaller accessories. Part of storage is being organized after all! You can add foam padding to the bottom of the tool chest for your cameras and lenses, creating a similar system to stacking multiple Pelican cases.
6. Caps Aren’t Suggestions (Don’t Lose Them!)
Honestly, we don’t need to spend a lot of time in this section. The lens and hood caps you receive when you buy a camera and/or lens, they aren’t suggestions. Treat them as mandatory. You don’t want anything getting into the connector components or worse yet, your camera sensor. Keep them on when your gear isn’t being used!
7. Lens Down and Aperture Narrowed
As a general rule, photographers will tell you that when actually placing your lenses into storage, make sure that you are putting the lens face down and that its aperture is narrowed.
The reason for keeping the lens down is to ensure that the oils on the aperture blades are minimized. Although this doesn’t tend to be an affliction most modern lenses suffer from, it’s still a good practice to keep. If you’re using older gear (or come across some beautiful vintage lenses), oil can gum up your aperture blades.
On the topic of aperture blades, it’s also not a bad idea to store your lenses with the aperture set to its narrowest point (whether doing so with a manual aperture ring or using the camera to set the aperture). Apertures work on a spring and like most springs, this can fatigue and wear.
8. Screen Protectors and Lens Filters
For systems bearing LCD screens, using a screen protector is a pretty good idea to keep the resale value at a high scale. The more dings and scratches, the lower the value. Using protectors helps alleviate this risk. Plus, it’s mighty convenient to be able to just switch out screen protectors when it gets scuffy and then you have a perfectly new screen to look at!
Lens filters do a great job protecting your lenses while working and at home. Should a tragic accident happen and the lens falls, the filter itself will absorb much of the shock; saving you thousands of dollars in damage.
For the purpose of protection, I just use regular glass lens filters, nothing fancy.
9. Remove the Camera Battery and Cards
This tip may not be as intuitive as some would assume- but you should remove your camera battery and any memory cards when storing your gear. We all, admittedly, fall victim to leaving it all inside the camera, but if you want longevity you need to break the habit.
Even with our fancy-schmancy modern gear, batteries can swell and damage our gear. If you’re using older equipment, they can even leak. Mitigate this risk by removing them when not in use.
Memory cards can be finicky things and can damage relatively easily. Just do yourself a favor and keep them in a safer spot!
10. Be Mindful of the Storage Location
If your gear isn’t being stored in a dry cabinet, you definitely need to be mindful of the storage location. Use spots that will not be found in direct sunlight (heat is no good for camera gear!), look for areas that won’t be prone to extreme cold, and most importantly, avoid putting the camera near any electronic items that produce a magnetic field. Long-term exposure to a high magnetic field might harm the LCD screen and other similar components (especially in a mirrorless system).
How to Store Cameras and Lenses at Home: Conclusion
In conclusion, the real secret of how to store cameras and lenses at home is finding the appropriate containers for all of your equipment. Look to eliminate humidity altogether to prevent fungal growth on your gear. If you’re in an earthquake-prone area, Pelican cases can give you the ultimate peace of mind. If all else fails, pair some desiccants with a set of industrial shelves and you’ll be pretty solid!
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