Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

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Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mr chips » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:14 pm

Hello all. These forums are great, lots of action and helpful people.

I'm a Canon 5DMKII owner preparing for my first burn, and I'm an avid event photographer. I've done a fair bit of research about keeping my gear safe and clean, but there doesn't seem to be much consensus on the subject. Some go for the DIY plastic bag method, others don't cover their gear at all, and still other go full-on with underwater housing.

I was leaning towards purchasing some kind of housing, because I don't want to take any chances that dust will damage my camera now, or in the future as things potentially rust. The problem I'm finding, is that the plastic bags seem hardly worth the effort, being that you can't rotate your lens, and I can see dust still seeping in. And a 1K+ underwater rig seems like overkill.

I'm searching for a middle ground, but nothing looks great just yet. My next thought is renting a 5D MKII body for about $160, and not worrying so much about it. Then I just need to do something to protect my lens(es).

So... has anyone rented a camera body from somewhere like BorrowLenses, or LensRentals specifically for Burning Man? Do they have policies against that? I'm afraid of the answer that I will get if I ask them directly!
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Sham » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:32 pm

Everything gets extremely dusty at Burning Man. Imagine a talcum powder storm invading everything. I tend to keep my camera in the case if there's a dust storm. There are times when the opportunities for great shots warrant taking the camera out.
You can keep the camera in a zip-lock bag and take out only if the air calm.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Eric » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:17 pm

mr chips wrote:I've done a fair bit of research about keeping my gear safe and clean, but there doesn't seem to be much consensus on the subject.
There isn't, but that's because everyone has a different aim. You get people doing it as actual event photography, and they tend to go more towards the underwater housings and the over-the-top protection, while people just looking to capture some memories usually fall into the plastic bag or no-protection categories. I'm a club photographer in real life, I refuse to bring my good camera to the playa because it separates me from what is going on around me. I did bring it my first year, it stopped working the second day, I said "fukkit" and went and enjoyed myself. Now I carry a crappy old Canon A560 with a jammed lens cover I have to manually flick open, and I only shoot 20-30 shots a year, mainly of friends, sunsets & dust-storms. I don't protect it at all, just shove it in my hip pouch. All the Big Art will be captured by pros, so why should I ruin my burn trying to capture it just right when someone else is doing it for me?

My next thought is renting a 5D MKII body for about $160, and not worrying so much about it. Then I just need to do something to protect my lens(es).
So ... you're going to trash someone else's equipment? This is the reason things get really expensive to rent for Burning Man - people don't "worry so much" about them, return them trashed, and then wonder why it's so hard or expensive to rent a _________ for Burning Man. This applies to RV's, cars, generators, everything. If you're renting something to keep your equipment at home safe, at least treat it like it's your second best camera. Protect it so someone else doesn't have to discover that they can no longer rent one.

Personally, if I wanted to shoot out there with a decent camera, but not expose my regular ones, I'd start hitting eBay and major photo equipment sites for used gear, and buy something that would work for me at a price I could afford.

Also, honestly, for your first Burn I would politely suggest leaving the good equipment at home & only bringing a point-and-shoot to capture what you absolutely have to. No camera ever (not even video) can capture more than a tiny slice of what is going on all around you, and using one pulls you out of the experience, IMHO. Not having one also pulls you out of your comfort zone, since you don't have the protective "wall" of a camera between you and what is in front of you, and it takes you away from being a tourist with a camera to being a participant. You can always bring a fancy camera next time.
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by digital » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:34 pm

Eric wrote:Also, honestly, for your first Burn I would politely suggest leaving the good equipment at home & only bringing a point-and-shoot to capture what you absolutely have to. No camera ever (not even video) can capture more than a tiny slice of what is going on all around you, and using one pulls you out of the experience, IMHO. Not having one also pulls you out of your comfort zone, since you don't have the protective "wall" of a camera between you and what is in front of you, and it takes you away from being a tourist with a camera to being a participant. You can always bring a fancy camera next time.
Eric said it perfectly. However, I want to pull this paragraph out and second it.

For me, as said above, I leave the professional photography to the professionals. Images posted after the burn are *far* better than anything my limited skill set can produce. The only exception to this is with my crew during prep when I can capture a few unique shots. Otherwise I take pictures with my mind -- The highest resolution camera available to me.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mudpuppy000 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:05 am

I've brought my 7D several times without any issues, although it's weather sealed and I don't EVER change the lenses till I clean it.

My first couple years I ran around everywhere trying to capture all the "big" stuff, the burns, etc. Yeah, someone else is going to do that better. Now If I bring my camera out at all its mostly to document more intimate things, like running our camp, or various small gatherings/adventures.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by trilobyte » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:18 am

I can't possibly imagine that you'd ever be able to get your deposit back on a rented lens. If you're unsure about your ability to keep the gear safe, don't bring it. Spend some time doing your own research (there is a wealth of information about camera gear on the playa both here and elsewhere on the internet), and figure out what you're comfortable with or willing to do and gamble with that (because there are no guarantees).

My advice, especially for a first burn, is to keep it simple. You'll already have the most important tool in your arsenal - you. Your eye, your style of shot composition and choosing subjects and all the other stuff that comes from being a human that loves photography. From there, you want to bring something versatile (so you don't have to screw with lens changes, etc), affordable (because one decent mistake can trash gear in that hostile environment), and easy to use. Small enough and compact enough that you can take it with you as often as possible (the best camera is the one you have with you), and quick and easy enough that you can stow it in a heartbeat if the dust kicks up. You'll still capture some incredible moments and take some fantastic shots that you'll really love. :)

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mr chips » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:53 am

I have shot events professionally (my fav), and I've been dreaming of the chance to capture images at this event for a while now. It's one of my main reasons for attending! I meant to put a "please don't suggest that I take a point-and-shoot instead" disclaimer in my original post, but it probably wouldn't have mattered, ha. And I appreciate the concern, but I've been to enough rodeos to know that you can only focus on one thing at a time... either making great photos, or experiencing the event. Doing both is like trying to read a book and watch TV at the same time, it don't work. It's never easy to put the camera down, but you can make it work if you plan ahead and stay disciplined. I usually need to be off on my own when I'm in true photog-mode anyhow.

Actually, I pinged a photographer who's work I found in a BoredPanda article, and he said he used a DiCAPac underwater bag-housing solution at Burning Man, and had success with it. I had seen those online, but wasn't sure if they were any good. Now I'm swaying that way. Might need to modify the bag a bit (I may hack the bag near the eyepiece and end of the lens, so they aren't covered by plastic), but it's more affordable than a full rig and more robust than ziplocks. The dust storm pics are the best pics, can't miss those!

I checked eBay for used camera bodies, but they're too pricey to buy for this purpose, at least the 5DMKII is, which I'm accustomed to. I'm a low-light shooter. And no, my plan has never been to take other people's things to burning man and trash them! If anything, I'd be the one shedding a tear for cameras that aren't properly cared for on the playa. Camera rental companies have pros that clean and service their gear regularly... and their prices reflect that.

Not being able to change lenses is going to be tough, though. Guess I'll go with the good old 24-70mm or a 50mm prime.

I'll keep you posted on my current bag-hacking plan, but keep the suggestions coming!
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by SnowBlind » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:24 am

I don't have any sage advice on keeping your camera clean, but I'll leave you with these three pictures of cameras post burn:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgoralnick/2840320194/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/extramatic/3015088750/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/carnivillain/2827287540/

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mr chips » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:29 am

And... I assume those aren't your cameras? They look like the walking dead to me!
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by SnowBlind » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:20 pm

They are not my cameras, nor pictures I took. At least one of the three photographers (carnivillain) had previously commented on here about that picture. I think he used the camera to document a lot of the DPW work.

From what he said, it was his own camera, and was working fine afterwards.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by rideincircles » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:06 pm

I was wondering about this subject myself. Those pictures highlight the obvious effects dust will have on the camera.

I was thinking of finding a used canon t3i ($300 or less) and possibly using a 50mm f1.8 or the kit lens for photos, but am still debating the best course of action. I have a Canon 60D with a 17-55mm f2.8, but don't want to sacrifice them to the dust or deal with bagging them, but will play it by ear as I look into this. I want to be able to get some great shots, but my goal will not be to spend all day taking pictures.

I plan on bringing my Canon SX1 which is near the end of its lifespan to get some good HD videos, but I only plan on using it near the end of the festival so the dust doesn't get to it early. Still considering all options.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by some seeing eye » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:36 pm

Thanks Snowblind, good introduction for people who have not yet experienced the event! If you do video, it is very difficult to get good sound, there is a lot of ambient music and wind noise. That is why most BM video has dance music added as the sound track in post.
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Eric » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:44 pm

some seeing eye wrote:If you do video, it is very difficult to get good sound, there is a lot of ambient music and wind noise.
You'll also notice that 99.9% of professional night shots are done without flash, for the simple reason that the air is filled with dust. If you shoot with a flash, you'll just have a crappy picture.
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by DrYes » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:04 pm

mr chips wrote:I have shot events professionally (my fav), and I've been dreaming of the chance to capture images at this event for a while now. It's one of my main reasons for attending! I meant to put a "please don't suggest that I take a point-and-shoot instead" disclaimer in my original post, but it probably wouldn't have mattered, ha. And I appreciate the concern, but I've been to enough rodeos to know that you can only focus on one thing at a time... either making great photos, or experiencing the event. Doing both is like trying to read a book and watch TV at the same time, it don't work. It's never easy to put the camera down, but you can make it work if you plan ahead and stay disciplined. I usually need to be off on my own when I'm in true photog-mode anyhow.

Actually, I pinged a photographer who's work I found in a BoredPanda article, and he said he used a DiCAPac underwater bag-housing solution at Burning Man, and had success with it. I had seen those online, but wasn't sure if they were any good. Now I'm swaying that way. Might need to modify the bag a bit (I may hack the bag near the eyepiece and end of the lens, so they aren't covered by plastic), but it's more affordable than a full rig and more robust than ziplocks. The dust storm pics are the best pics, can't miss those!

I checked eBay for used camera bodies, but they're too pricey to buy for this purpose, at least the 5DMKII is, which I'm accustomed to. I'm a low-light shooter. And no, my plan has never been to take other people's things to burning man and trash them! If anything, I'd be the one shedding a tear for cameras that aren't properly cared for on the playa. Camera rental companies have pros that clean and service their gear regularly... and their prices reflect that.

Not being able to change lenses is going to be tough, though. Guess I'll go with the good old 24-70mm or a 50mm prime.

I'll keep you posted on my current bag-hacking plan, but keep the suggestions coming!
You can protect it. I've bought both rented and my own equipment without a problem. I just don't take them out of the plastic bag it lives in (inside my backpack) when it's really dusty, and as others said, no lens changes. Then I just get meticulous about cleaning the outsides after. Never had any dust on the sensor issues, and never needed to use the insurance (though I always get it) or gotten any hassle returning the equipment. Again though, I definitely do not shoot with them in duststorms.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mdmf007 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:40 pm

My mate brings a suite of high end stuff out and then spends weeks disassembling Zeiss lenses and cleaning - but i think he enjoys it. Seriously though heed the advice above, dont bring it if you cant live without it. The playa is so unforgiving on electronics and with tight clearance things. It gets everywhere - Inside lenses, inside laptop screens...
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Eric » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:31 pm

One of the joys of cheap point & shoots? I can bring them out in dust-storms without a worry, because I just don't care! :lol:
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by rideincircles » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:44 am

The Dicapac case seems like a decent option. The DSLR version is $80. They make cases for most every kind of camera and smartphone it looks like.

http://www.dicapacusa.com/product/WP-S5 ... tml?cid=13

I also came across this article the other day.

http://burners.me/2012/08/23/camera-tip ... ious-josh/

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Elorrum » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:16 am

I don't take many pictures, just mainly my camp and friends. Great photos of all the big installations are available online. When I tried to take photos of art pieces, I usually did it only as a way to relate to friends what it was sort of like. To me, I knew they barely captured what I saw. A cheap point and shoot is my recommendation too.

I second the rule of not bringing what you wouldn't mind ruining (or losing). Even if it still works, it probably won't be the same, and might have a much reduced working lifespan.
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Lokidal » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:27 am

I used my crappy old T2i with a 50mm prime and didn't care too much if it got ruined. that being said, i kept it in a waterproof/dustproof backpack and didn't change the lens the whole time. Took some really nice pics if i do say so myself. To be honest though the camera on my phone probably netted me with the same quality pics and ultimately i think i used it more.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by rideincircles » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 pm

I came across this how to while looking up info on cameras. It came from an old eplaya thread.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Camera-Zip-lock/

Now that I have learned about the Dicapac, I may go ahead and bring my dslr with the intention of never removing it from the bag unless I need to change batteries. It is far cheaper than buying an extra dslr and gives more allowable shots per battery and much better image quality. I guess the biggest downside would not be able to use a tripod, but I don't think I would haul that around anyways. It sounds like a few people have taken them out there with no issues.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mr chips » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:11 pm

Thanks for posting the ziplock instructions, I like the detail of how they attached the UV filter. Seems decent.

AquaPac sounded good, but apparently it doesn't fit my camera. Smaller bodies would be fine, though: http://usstore.aquapac.net/slr-camera-case-uss458.html

I feel a bit apprehensive about using DiCAPac and AquaPac, etc... because you're shooting through a plastic tube that doesn't seem to be fixed in position from the end of your lens, wouldn't yet get varying degrees of glare, like all the time?
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mr chips » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:27 pm

Has anyone actually used a Dicapac, a Tteoobl, or any similar "underwater" bag housings on the playa? I am curious, because the more I think about it, the more I think it would be a horrible solution. There's a big chunk of plastic in front of your lens with those bags, which isn't fixed to your lens at all, it's just hanging there, moving around every time you touch the camera, or the wind blows... so (I assume) you would get alll kinds of glare and diffraction problems. Not such a worry when you're underwater, I guess.

I've tried the plastic rain cover bags, too, but you'd still have to modify them to seal the camera inside because the arm holes are open, and the lens opening is just a pull-tight string.

DIY protection seems like the only thing that would actually work - tape up the openings in your camera, seal a plastic bag to a filter over the end of your lens and the camera as best you can, and hope for the best.
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by rideincircles » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:09 pm

I am still deciding on what option to use myself. You could order the dicapac and just test it out to see how it handles and then return it if doesn't suit your needs. When looking at a cheaper dslr, the biggest issue is battery life for me. My 60D can take 1000 photos on one charge. That would be sufficient for a ton of pictures and not have to open the camera at all. I may just get the 24mm f2.8 pancake and seal it off. That seems like the best option without putting my main lens thru hell and back. \\

I did post a question on the amazon questions from the dicapac, but I think I got a response from someone who hated it in the first place.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Eric » Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:17 am

When I brought my SLR (pre-"D"), I did the basic plastic-bag method, which just need a ziplock, a basic UV filter and some tape.

Cut one corner, or the bottom, of the bag slightly smaller than the filter, screw the filer on and use it to hold the bag to the lens (the "zip" part of the bag should be towards the back of the camera). Add tape around the area where the filter/ bag meet to keep out dust. Done.

You can now open the bag if needed to get to the camera without touching the lens side, and since you're shooting through the filter nothing is getting in the way of your shot. Bring a good chamois to clean the filter as needed, dust will build up on it.

A fancy version:
Image
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by maladroit » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:08 pm

Definitely looks better than nothing. It's not like the dust is self-aware trying to crawl into your electronics.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:00 am

ePlayans might enjoy some lens/camera teardown descriptions. They illustrate why deplayafying your lens and camera might be expensive, and all the seals that might have to be replaced after all the parts are cleaned ultrasonically. http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/categor ... n/teardown
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by rideincircles » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:06 am

I am now thinking of just getting a used Canon 1d Mark 2. They are around $250 used on ebay and are weathersealed. It is only 8mp, but it would be nice to have something that dust does not make a huge impact on. Not sure what lens I would get if I do, but something relatively cheap and possible fixed focal length. Possibly the 40mm pancake.

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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Jun 23, 2015 12:31 pm

Used retro manual lenses, even good ones, are extremely inexpensive. For day you don't need wide (expensive), you need ND darkening filters. Most SLR bodies have lens mount adaptors to other systems. So if you want Super Takumar bokeh on your Canon Rebel Xti disposable you can do it. The adaptors are easily resalable and not affected by dust. Then you have a sacrificial event lens and body. Of course if you are a person that can't deal with manual/ can't read an analog watch, you are SOL.
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by Eric » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:43 pm

rideincircles wrote:It is only 8mp,
Unless you're planning on making HUGE prints from your images, the megapixels are not going to matter that much. You're already a photographer, I can pretty much guarantee you that you could go out there with a 4mp camera & get better finished images than most of the amateurs shooting at 24mp's, simply because you understand how to actually use a camera. I say get it and free yourself of the stress. You'll take way better pictures when you're not worried about the equipment.

Also, like I said at the beginning of the thread, I highly suggest taking time away from your camera to allow yourself to be immersed in the event. Yes, you will absolutely miss shots - but guess what? You could stay awake 24/7 with the camera glued to your eyes & you would still miss the majority of shots that could be taken, just because you can't be everywhere. Accept that, put it down for large chunks of time, and go enjoy yourself. This comes from someone who would have laughed in the face of anyone who gave me that same advise my first year - there was no way I was going to put my camera down with so much amazing stuff out there! When my camera broke on day 2 I had to rethink that - now I hardly pick it up, and have one of my best weeks of the year, every year, out there.
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Re: Best way to protect DSRL camera - Renting?

Post by mr chips » Tue Jun 23, 2015 2:49 pm

@Eric - I am going to try to baggie method, thank you for posting the pic. The problem with sealing the bag to the lens hood, though, is that dust will still get into the front elements of the lens. Especially if it's a telescoping lens like the 24-70mm that I might use. I'm going to try w/o the hood (ugh), a mid-range filter over the front, and sealing the bag right to the filter. Would be easier with a prime lens.

@rideincircles - I agree with Eric, megapixels aren't a big deal. $250 is nothing... it costs that much to rent a body. What you may want to consider, though, is low-light performance, if you want to snap pics at night, when all the neon and fire comes out. I'm not that familiar with the 1d line and its sensor/ISO performance.
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