Humidity, dust and smoke can have a damaging effect on your camera equipment. Prolonged exposure to humidity, for example, could result in fungus growing in the optics of the lens, or cause damage to sensitive filters.
Here is an excerpt from Schott optical filter description 2013 (pdf link here):
“After a certain amount of time, the surface of highly sensitive glasses exhibits a slightly cloudy residue. Initially, this residue can be removed using glass polishing compounds. More severe attacks ruin the surface polish quality, however. This effect is caused by humidity. “
It also mentions that certain Schott filters are more susceptible to this, such as UG5, UG11, BG39 and S8612 filters; BG38 and BG40 are less susceptible. Hence it makes sense to protect these filters and your precious lenses from exposure to humidity.
In certain countries with high ambient humidity year round (e.g. Singapore, Malaysia), there are commercially available dry boxes which can be bought from camera stores. But these are very expensive, large and need to be plugged into a power socket to function.
Hence here is my take for a more economical (and space-saving) way to do this, to protect from humidity and exposure to the elements.
To do this, you will need two things:
1) an air tight container
2) a desiccant to remove the humidity from the container
For an air tight container, I use the ones with a rubber surround which keeps these containers air tight when the lid is snapped on and locked.
You might want to consider this item:
To buy the above container from Amazon, click link
To protect each piece of equipment, you can wrap them up individually to prevent them scratching each other (e.g. with bubble wrap, lens pouches, packing wrap). Then you can pack in as many pieces of equipment as the container will hold. It has a small footprint and will store away quite easily.
Once you have an air-tight container, you will require a desiccant to reduce the humidity in the container. The last thing you want to do is keep camera equipment which have just come from a humid environment, and lock them in an air-tight container where the humidity can then rise. These should bring the relative humidity down to a safe 40%, and not much lower.
There are quite a few microwave-rechargeable silica gel products in different containers available. These are the ones I bought. First is the egg dehumidifier. These have a stand which prevents it rolling about. It also has a coloured indicator on either side which change colour depending on whether it needs recharging – blue is fine, pink needs recharging.
Available at Amazon through this link
This is perfect if you have a lot of equipment in a large container, such as a Peli case where the various equipment are partitioned with separators. This egg is reusable and lasts many months at a time depending on use.
I have also bought the Pingi dehumidifier, which is silica gel contained in a cloth pouch with a Penguin label – the penguin serves as an indicator of whether the pouch requires recharging (via microwave) – blue is fine, pink needs recharging. The benefit of using this is that the cloth pouch is unlikely to scratch your camera equipment if used properly. This also lasts for many months each time in between recharging.
Available through Amazon by clicking this link
I have tried the silica gel dehumidifiers which are recharged by plugging into an electric socket, but these do not last very long between recharging, typically only up to two weeks. Hence I would not recommend them.