Your underwater photography equipment most likely required a significant investment. There are some very simple tips to remember to ensure that your underwater photography equipment lasts for a very long time.
Rinse in fresh water
This rule is critical. Whether your are scuba diving or snorkeling in sea water or even just having fun in your backyard pool, always rinse all of your equipment with fresh water.
For professional photographers, you will even want to take it a step further and invest in a rinse solution available from your dive shop or photography store. The rinse solution is like a light weight wash that strives to protect the equipment even further from the elements found in natural water.
The purpose of washing your equipment is to rinse off any salt or material build up found in sea water, or from chemicals that exist in pool water. Let’s use sea water as an example. If you leave your equipment out to dry after being in sea water what happens? First is when the water evaporates it leaves behind particles of salt and other minerals. If these pieces of salt and minerals get on your equipments rings that create the water tight seal they can puncture or damage that water tight seal. it may be so small that you don’t even notice it. However once you jump back in the water you will see either a leakage or a fog build up within your equipment.
The same principle applies for pool water. Chemicals such as chlorine, if not cleaned off, will damage your seals, hinges, and other pieces of equipment. Always use fresh water to rinse of your equipment or if available a specially designed rinse.
Lube your O-Rings
After each dive, take time to clean and lube up your o-rings. This is accomplished by putting a little bit of oil on something such as a q-tip and applying it to your various seals and o-rings. Such as your battery compartment, housing door and your strobe lights.
This is a rule that a lot of divers often overlook. The reason being is that it is easy to think, oh I am diving again tomorrow, I’ll just do it when I am done for the week. Or they might think it to be like an oil change of their car that only needs to happen once every 5,000 miles. Unfortunately this is not the case. The oil gets removed when opening and closing the doors, it can be removed when exposed to salt water, it can dry out when left in the sun, etc. There are lots of ways that the oil and seal can dry out. it is better to take a few mins and properly clean your equipment to help is last for a very long time.
Keep out of the sun
When you are on the boat or on the beach, keep your equipment out of the sun. This might seem like a no brainer, but when you are managing a dozen other things, this is a tip that is easily over looked. The sun will quickly damage your rings and seals and deteriorate your equipment.
In addition, direct sunlight to your housing can cause condensation to build up in your equipment once you are under water. A good recommendation is to add a couple of decadents into your housing. Those are those little bags the absorb moisture (but don’t eat them).
If you have no shade and your equipment is in the direct sunlight, you may want to consider hiding it underneath a wet towel or t-shirt. The wet towel or t-shirt will keep your underwater photography cool and help protect it.
Be careful in the rinse tank
It is easy to drop your equipment in the rinse tank and for get about it while you are preparing for your dive. Be very cautious doing this as others might throw all kinds of things into that tank or jostle stuff around looking for their gear. Only keep your equipment in the rinse tank for the amount of time that is actually needed before or after your dive.
For those unfamiliar with the rinse tank, this is a generally a bucket or container that scuba divers will place their masks, camera gear, etc in before a dive to prepare it or after a dive to help clean it. Generally the rinse tanks are made with fresh water and a combination of some sort of lens cleaning solution.
Cover and protect your gear above water
Some lenses or light strobe may protrude out from their housings. These pieces of equipment are particularly vulnerable to scratches and damages. Keep your covers and cases handy and cover your equipment anytime you are above water.
When you are getting in and out of water, do not jump in with your photography equipment. Most importantly, do not jump in with it attached to your BCD. The reason why is that as you enter the water your equipment will hit the water with force almost as if it were being dropped. Second is that your euipment could fly up when it hits the water and result in hitting another part of you, your tank or the BCD. It may hit a part of your equipment that could damage a lens, the housing, a light, etc. it is always better to enter and the water safely and have someone else hand you your photography gear once you are in.