Underwater photography and videography are fantastic ways to remember your dives. But if a camera floods during a dive, it definitely puts a damper on the experience and can cost you quite a bit of money to replace the camera. Here are a few tips for beginners on how to keep your underwater camera from flooding.
Resist the temptation to open your camera
New divers often want to take their camera out of its protective housing straight away to show their photos/videos off or to change a battery for the next dive. Resist this temptation, because it is the cause of most camera floods in the short term. Small water droplets often sneak into the camera housing’s seal when you open it while wet. If the housing isn’t dry before you next use it, these small water droplets can allow a bridge to form across your O-ring and thus can create a camera flood. The camera can also fog up if these droplets remain inside, ruining any photos or videos you take.
Wash your camera housing after every dive
It is extremely important to wash your camera housing after every dive. There are usually wash tubs containing fresh water on dive boats specifically for cameras. Make sure to use these facilities by letting your camera soak so as to remove any salt that can damage your main O-ring. Also, be sure to press all the buttons on the housing. This ensures that the small O-rings on the buttons remain salt-free. Keep a lens protector handy that you can attach to the camera before you place it in in a freshwater tub. This will keep anyone else’s equipment from scratching your own.
Grease your O-rings correctly
Most cameras have a main, rear O-ring and bigger setups will have multiple large, main O-rings. These keep water from entering the camera by providing a seal between two solid pieces. You must keep them in top-notch condition and change them every year or two to ensure they continue to perform well. To make them last, you must apply a thin layer of grease around the ring to keep it from becoming brittle and breaking.
Make sure to use a special O-ring pick to remove the rings when so as other methods often cause small tears or stretching, thus ruining the O-ring’s sealing ability. Once you remove it, apply a thin layer of O-ring grease — make sure to use the correct type. It is worthwhile to buy it directly from the housing manufacturer even if it is a little bit more expensive. Avoid big globs or applying too much as this can also keep a seal from forming when the camera is underwater.
Do a final check every time
Some main culprits for camera flooding are stray hairs or strands of fabric that get stuck accidently across seals, especially if you have pets near your camera gear. Always do a final check of the seals/O-rings to make sure they are free from anything that may form a bridge between the inside and outside of the housing. Even an eyelash can cause a flood. And, although it should go without saying, double-check that your housing is secure each time you splash into the water. As the dive guide is handing you your camera while you’re bobbing beside the boat is not the time to find out the housing isn’t properly sealed.