How to Save Drowned Camera Gear - Cramer Imaging - Quality Fine Art Photography
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How to Save Drowned Camera Gear

How to Save Drowned Camera Gear
Ever drop a valuable piece of camera gear or other electronics in water?  Then you know that sickening feeling of thinking your precious device is ruined forever.  You feel like you just wasted money and you hope that your insurance is still good and will cover this.  Recently, I had a similar experience but it didn't end tragically.  I saved my gear.  Here's how I did it.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality product photograph of a Nikon SB-700 removable camera flash unit in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
This is the flash unit that was dropped in water.
Well do I remember how sick I felt when I was attempting to photograph a bridge from out in the middle of a stream and my flash unit dropped off the camera into the drink.  It was not secure on the flash cord and I knew that.  This was an issue we knew about and worked around.  However, there does come that painful moment of forgetfulness and focus on a different problem.

The soft plop of the flash breaking the surface is a sound I still remember.  It ended my photo trip in a hurry that day.  We fished it back out of the water and vented some feelings about our dismay and disappointment.  Determined to not have just ruined an expensive piece of gear, we went home to find a solution.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality product photograph of a removable camera flash and AA batteries in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Remove the batteries to prevent the unit from frying the circuits.
Thankfully, there were solutions.  We removed the batteries and did not attempt to power on the device since we knew that would be a risky move.  If we would have turned it back on, we ran the risk of shorting out the electronics and permanently destroying my best flash. A little internet research into the subject later, and we had our answer to save my flash unit.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality photograph of a removable camera flash in a bowl of white rice in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Bury your device in a bowl of rice like this one and leave it for at least 48 hours.
We learned that you can save many of your drowned electronics by removing the batteries and submerging them in a bowl of dry rice for at least 48 hours.  This needs to be in a cool and dry location.  Light is not a factor in this.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality product photograph of a Nikon DSLR camera with removable flash unit in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Bury your camera gear in dry rice and leave it in a cool and dry location, where it will not be disturbed, for at least two days.  The rice, a trick also used to keep salt for clumping, will absorb the moisture from within the device.  You can check on it after about 24 hours if you're in a rush to have your device back.

This will save many and electronic device, camera gear included, from water damage.  This process must be started as soon as possible in order to minimize initial damage of your important device.  The longer you wait, the more the water can seep into other regions in the circuitry.

Hopefully, this rice drying method will save you some heartache and some money.  I know that burying my flash in rice for two days saved us those problems.

Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee that you will not have voided out any warranty on the product by taking this method instead of returning it to the manufacturer.  If fact, I would feel much safer saying that you probably did just void your warranty.  However, if your electronic device is already outside of the window of warranty, then you really have nothing to lose and much to gain by trying this.

If you still are under the warranty period, then my advice is to contact your manufacturer and see if this damage is covered.  If so, then this is a far better route to take.  If it is not covered, then you still have nothing to lose with the rice method.

This method should not be attempted with electronics where there is an opening directly into sensitive areas.  Getting rice stuck in there may damage your equipment beyond repair, that is assuming that it wasn't beyond repair already.  This means that you don't bury your camera bodies or high end lenses in rice.