You can imagine the utter dismay I experienced when one day I discovered a bunch of fungus spreading across the rear glass of my Nikkor 85mm f1.8 lens. I had never seen or really experienced fungus with my photography equipment before, but as soon as I saw this I knew I needed to act.
What happened was that I had moved from a relatively low humidity environment to a subtropical climate with high humidity: the perfect stomping ground for fungus to thrive. I hadn’t used the lens for quite a while which probably gave it ample time to settle in and get started.
Fungus can be a real pain to deal with so it’s definitely better to take a preventative approach rather than finding a cure, or whatever they say.
If you’re in a humid climate like I am, or you’ve just got expensive equipment, then you should be looking to pick up the best dry box or dry cabinet to suit your needs. This usually boils down to the amount you’re willing to spend, the quality of the setup you’re after and the space you need to fit all your gear.
When it comes to proper storage you’ve really got two options: either a dry box or a dry cabinet.
The Best Dry Box For Your Camera
If you’re looking at running right down the budget end of the spectrum, then a simple solution is to buy a couple of silica gel packs, go down to your local supermarket or discount store and pick up a couple of airtight plastic containers, and put your lenses and camera bodies in these with the silica packs.
Otherwise, for not too much more you can get yourself something like this:
The 9L case from Patu comes with a built in hygrometer which is an essential to control your humidity. It also has a renewable dehumidifier that you will need to replace at the end of its lifetime. There’s enough space to fit one DSLR and two lenses, if you’ve got more equipment you’ll need to upgrade to the 23L version which will give you enough room for two DSLR bodies and four lenses – if you’ve got more then that opt for a dry cabinet.
The unit works by using a dehumidifier (supplied) to dry out the silica packs and including these in the airtight container. You’ll need to maintain these every couple of months with the dehumidifier. It’s a more hands on approach to storage as compared to a dry cabinet, but a benefit is that the case gives you the option of safe portability.
The Best Dry Cabinet For Your Camera And Lenses
For only a couple hundred bucks, opting for the Forspark dehumidifying dry cabinet is probably a no-brainer, particularly if you’re sporting several thousand dollars worth of gear. The unit features a thermoelectric technology that is fast and quiet which makes it practical to store pretty much anywhere. More importantly, it features relative humidity control down to 25% and up to 60%. While it’s less important, it’s still nice to know it maintains your humidity to within 3% of your desired setting. If you’re looking to store two DSLR bodies and a couple lenses, this is the best dry cabinet for you.
Why Should You Use A Dry Cabinet Over A Dry Box?
Dry boxes are great for the short term. However, issues can arise over the long term with the lack of control over the humidity in the box. If your camera and/or lenses are subjected to a very dry environment for an extended period of time it may affect the rubber and lubrication of the equipment resulting in it wearing out faster. It’s for this reason that camera equipment be stored at a relative humidity of around 40%.
I’ve been photographing for 13 years and have a penchant for 35mm and medium format film. Black and white street photography is my go-to. My work has been featured in online and print media through a few publications like Shutterstock, Brooklyn Resource Mag, Off The Rails and Collective Quarterly.