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Silica desiccant for travel

  
 
aCuria
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Silica desiccant for travel


Does anyone carry Silica desiccant for travel photography?

How much do you need to bring?



May 09, 2022 at 07:20 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Silica desiccant for travel


Never. Unless you are going to be in some pretty unusual conditions it seems entirely unnecessary.


May 09, 2022 at 09:18 AM
chez
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Silica desiccant for travel


Where are you going and for how long. If you spend a few months in SEA during the monsoon season, I know your clothes never feels dry and your camera bag could develop mold if not properly vented.

It's so light and compact...why not?



May 09, 2022 at 10:18 AM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Silica desiccant for travel


aCuria wrote:
Does anyone carry Silica desiccant for travel photography?

How much do you need to bring?


Yes, I do, when I'm in India during the monsoon season when humidity is very high. I drop one of these in both my camera bags and carry a couple of extras.

I've had fungus get into one of my lenses years ago, later cleaned out by an expert tech based in Colorado. If you're going to high humidity locations, you know now what to do.



May 09, 2022 at 10:27 AM
BidinTime
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Silica desiccant for travel


Why do you need to buy something?
Just about every box I receive has one in it. And if they can stand up to the rigors of postal handling I'm confident they can stand up to airline travel.



May 09, 2022 at 12:59 PM
aCuria
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Silica desiccant for travel




gdanmitchell wrote:
Never. Unless you are going to be in some pretty unusual conditions it seems entirely unnecessary.


Does 24/7 95+% humidity count?



May 09, 2022 at 03:27 PM
pe1125
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Silica desiccant for travel


When we were on an Amazon trip with Nat Geo/Lindblad one of the photograper guides had a block desicator that you could recharge via USB power. It was a lifesaver when my D500 got moisture inside from water drops on a battery. Dried it over night. You can find them on Amazon searching "rechargeable dehumidifier." Packs that can be recharged in microwave are also available if you have a cess to a microwave when you need it.


Edited on May 10, 2022 at 06:38 PM · View previous versions



May 09, 2022 at 09:04 PM
dhachey
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Silica desiccant for travel


chez wrote:
Where are you going and for how long. If you spend a few months in SEA during the monsoon season, I know your clothes never feels dry and your camera bag could develop mold if not properly vented.

It's so light and compact...why not?


It would be quite useless. The small amount you're likely to carry would quickly become saturated, unless stored in a water vapor impermeable pouch. Ziplock bags are not completely water impermeable, mylar would be better. I'm not sure there's a good solution on the market right now for travel purposes, though a dry box at home would be ideal.




May 10, 2022 at 11:16 AM
chez
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Silica desiccant for travel


dhachey wrote:
It would be quite useless. The small amount you're likely to carry would quickly become saturated, unless stored in a water vapor impermeable pouch. Ziplock bags are not completely water impermeable, mylar would be better. I'm not sure there's a good solution on the market right now for travel purposes, though a dry box at home would be ideal.



I always carry them in my packs and luggage when traveling. Useless I don't know...but not having any would the useless...that I know. You say they will become saturated...well right there they have done something already.

The bottom line when I've traveled to parts that have high humidity, my clothes that hang on racks are never dry...but my camera bag is never wet. I think I'll continue doing what I'm doing as it seems to be working.



May 10, 2022 at 11:53 AM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Silica desiccant for travel


chez wrote:
I always carry them in my packs and luggage when traveling. Useless I don't know...but not having any would the useless...that I know. You say they will become saturated...well right there they have done something already.

The bottom line when I've traveled to parts that have high humidity, my clothes that hang on racks are never dry...but my camera bag is never wet. I think I'll continue doing what I'm doing as it seems to be working.


After I started using the desiccants, I have had no issues. My hunch is that they don't have to work at full efficiency to be effective. Even a modest reduction in humidity should help.




May 10, 2022 at 12:04 PM
 


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dmcphoto
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Silica desiccant for travel


I spent some months on a few occasions in Southeast Asia and have used desiccants. They can work fine if you use a large quantity and keep it together with the camera equipment in an airtight bag or container overnight, or whenever the equipment is not in use, to dry everything out. I purchased a 1kg (2.2 pounds) container. I split that in half, keeping one half dried out and ready to use and the other half in use. I swapped them them when the desiccant changed color indicating it was saturated. The saturated desiccant was then dried out by heating for 3 hours at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), and the cycle repeated.

IMO it's not practical to use desiccants inside a typical "working" camera bag. The big issue is that these bags are opened frequently, filling the bag with humid outside air each time. Even when not opened they are not airtight, so the desiccant is exposed to an essentially infinite source of humidity and becomes saturated (and useless) in short order. These desiccants hold only about 40% of their weight in water, meaning the small 40 g desiccant containers they sell at B&H can hold only about 16 g of water. Then you need to spend three hours heating them (don't forget to add the considerable cooling time from 300 degrees F) to make them capable of picking up another 16 grams of water. Larger quantities hold proportionately more water, and have more surface area so it works faster, but carrying a couple pounds of desiccant around in the jungle all day isn't worth doing.

IMO



May 10, 2022 at 03:48 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Silica desiccant for travel


aCuria wrote:
Does anyone carry Silica desiccant for travel photography?

How much do you need to bring?


Where are you traveling? When? For how long?



May 10, 2022 at 05:16 PM
aCuria
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Silica desiccant for travel


gdanmitchell wrote:
Where are you traveling? When? For how long?


1) Regionally in South east asia

2) I live there so year-round

3) 2-3 weeks per trip away from the dry cabinet



May 11, 2022 at 08:30 AM
dmcphoto
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Silica desiccant for travel


IMO:

1. If your equipment can periodically (more or less daily) spend time in an air conditioned environment, or even laid out indoors on a table in a relatively airy and dry indoor environment that is not air conditioned but where the air is free to circulate around it, I think you can get by without desiccant. The worst thing you can do is to leave everything sealed up in your camera bag where air cannot circulate.

2. If you are staying within in dense a jungle/rainforest environment, even in a permanent structure for three continuous weeks, I would use a desiccant as I described earlier to let your equipment dry out overnight. Those conditions are very close to 100% RH. I have had condensation form on the viewfinder eyepiece of cameras that were at ambient temperature and had not been in any air conditioned environment, when I put them up to my eye. In order to use them I had to keep a gap between my eye and the eyepiece for the whole evening, so it was not a matter of letting the camera come to ambient temperature.

A few continuous days without drying things out is no big deal, but problems start to happen, including intermittent problems with camera electronics, after longer periods. Dealing with desiccants, is a hassle, especially on a trip, due to the need to monitor them and spend hours "recharging" them when they become saturated. I consider them something of a last resort, but the only option under some circumstances. FWIW, silica desiccants can be dried in a microwave oven or even in a pan over a fire if necessary, but there is no good way to control the temperature in either of those cases. I'm pretty sure they get too hot and dry out on the surface of the beads more than the interior of the beads and are thus not fully "recharged". Just just watch the bead color and when they indicate "dry" let them cool off and put them in a sealed bag or container before they are completely cool (but not so hot they melt the bag/container). If you let them completely cool they will begin to take on moisture immediately.

Good luck!

Edited on May 11, 2022 at 09:29 AM · View previous versions



May 11, 2022 at 09:20 AM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Silica desiccant for travel


I don't know the exact details of where the OP will be.

In my case I operate either out of my home in India (day trips for photography) or from a hotel room (if I'm away from home base). I use desiccants as stated earlier, but I also make sure to set the AC at a setting that primarily takes away the humidity while not cooling the room all that much (that is, when I step outside I don't want the equipment to be suddenly subjected to a big temp differential). Goa, Kerala and other areas in S India can get very humid in the monsoon season. They are humid year round but the monsoons bring on the extra moisture.





May 11, 2022 at 09:27 AM
dmcphoto
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Silica desiccant for travel


The areas we were in were national parks (mostly Taman Negara) on the Malaysian peninsula and parks and preserves on the island of Borneo. We were there once during monsoon season, which was in retrospect a mistake. I think it rained, often so torrentially you can't see very far through it, nearly 80% of the time we spent there that year.


May 11, 2022 at 09:43 AM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Silica desiccant for travel


dmcphoto wrote:
The areas we were in were national parks (mostly Taman Negara) on the Malaysian peninsula and parks and preserves on the island of Borneo. We were there once during monsoon season, which was in retrospect a mistake. I think it rained, often so torrentially you can't see very far through it, nearly 80% of the time we spent there that year.


On the other hand, the southwest monsoon in India is one of the greatest weather shows on the planet, a minefield for photography and for just enjoying the life-reviving phenomenon that it is.

See, for instance -

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/37614.Chasing_the_Monsoon



May 11, 2022 at 09:49 AM
aCuria
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Silica desiccant for travel


dmcphoto wrote:
The areas we were in were national parks (mostly Taman Negara) on the Malaysian peninsula and parks and preserves on the island of Borneo. We were there once during monsoon season, which was in retrospect a mistake. I think it rained, often so torrentially you can't see very far through it, nearly 80% of the time we spent there that year.


Well, it will take me only a couple of hours to drive to Taman Negara from home so I think you know exactly what 95-100% relative humidity is like.

Cameras are usually kept in a dry cabinet here, but when travelling regionally thats not an option

My current idea is to bring disposable calcium chloride dessicant, maybe 2 x 600ml of it per week, put them at the bottom of the hotel cupboards and use the entire cupboard as a makeshift dry cabinet. It will then be disposed of before leaving each hotel since that stuff becomes a liquid. It costs roughly US$1 for 600ml, cheap insurance.





May 11, 2022 at 09:59 AM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Silica desiccant for travel


Related story - the original Canon 5D was susceptible to the mirror coming detached in humid conditions. Not every one was affected, of course, but there were enough reports on DPReview around 2007. Apparently the glue used in that body was sensitive to changes in humidity.

And then it happened to me, when shooting in Kerala on a monsoon morning in June 2007. Fortunately, I happened to be in a major city that day with a Canon repair centre. The tech glued it back and the day (and trip) was saved. After this experience, I always work with two bodies in the field.

I took a snap of my saviour.










May 11, 2022 at 10:10 AM
dmcphoto
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Silica desiccant for travel


aCuria wrote:
Well, it will take me only a couple of hours to drive to Taman Negara from home so I think you know exactly what 95-100% relative humidity is like.

Cameras are usually kept in a dry cabinet here, but when travelling regionally thats not an option

My current idea is to bring disposable calcium chloride dessicant, maybe 2 x 600ml of it per week, put them at the bottom of the hotel cupboards and use the entire cupboard as a makeshift dry cabinet. It will then be disposed of before leaving each hotel since that stuff becomes a liquid. It costs roughly
...Show more

I have no experience using the calcium chloride desiccant but your general idea seems reasonable. Whether calcium chloride or silica, any desiccant will work better if you can isolate it together with your equipment from the ambient environment. A simple garbage bag and a few of those spring clips people use on potato chip bags can do that. Another idea is a large plastic food container with a lid that fits well. The silica can probably work long enough for your purposes if you are very diligent about isolating it from the environment.

Calcium chloride will remove a lot more water per gram than silica, but it turns into a liquid brine that you definitely don't want in contact with your camera gear. All things considered, in your shoes I'd probably try the silica in the manner you describe. You can buy the beads in bulk and keep them in a cloth bag (or those finely perforated vegetable bags if you can find them) for use, with all of that in a zip-lock plastic bag when not in use.

If your hotel has air conditioning, all of this is probably unnecessary.



May 11, 2022 at 11:51 AM
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