Salt as camera-gear enemy

Salt damages camera gear by accelerating oxidation (rust) on metal components, and salt air and saltwater also deposit a messy, oily film onto lenses and photo sensors. When you’re shooting on a beach or near saltwater, you’ll want to be ready to clean your equipment and protect it from too much exposure when changing lenses or opening card slots.

That said, salt was far more damaging to cameras of yesteryear because they had more metal parts rendering them more susceptible to rust. Today’s cameras can be superficially affected by salt, but generally it doesn’t hurt too much inside the camera unless you have serious saltwater penetration inside the camera (which is really more water damage than salt).

The other most common way salt can get into your camera is through long-term exposure to your sweat. If you shoot in warm conditions or if you naturally perspire more than average, you may find that over time various external parts of your camera that come into contact with your skin may deteriorate and wear out faster than areas you don’t touch as often.

Some things you may want to consider doing to protect your camera and lens from salt — whether that is from salt air or perspiration — include using an ultraviolet (UV) or haze filter on your lenses to help prevent salt from getting to your lens. Remember though that the filter will still get a film on it from salt air and will need to be cleaned regularly. For superficial exposure to salt-water or heavy perspiration, wipe off your camera with a soft, clean, lint-free cloth. Lenses need to be cleaned carefully, and using a liquid lens cleaner applied to a cloth will normally remove the salty film on their surfaces. One of the big problems with salty areas is they usually come along with bigger problems, such as sand. Make sure you remove any grains of sand on lenses or other components before you begin rubbing them with a cloth.

Photo sensors are another story, and require more specialized treatment for a salty film. Obviously, using a bulb blower won’t work to remove it, so you will need to use a sensor cleaner that actually comes into direct contact with the CMOS — and it may take several attempts before you really get it clean. I address this later in this chapter in the section on sensor cleaning.


Never apply liquids of any kind — cleaner or otherwise — directly to any part of your camera or to the lens. Always apply the liquid to a lint-free cloth.

Category: Camera care

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