SLRs need sunblock too.

PLEASE DON’T SMEAR SPF 30 all over your camera. But if you’re taking it to the beach, the lake, the desert, Burning Man, or the Earth’s core, these inexpensive items can help prevent your camera from damage.

Polarizing filter

This isn’t so much for protecting your camera as it is your photos. Chances are that if you’re someplace hot, you’re dealing with a lot of daylight, which isn’t always ideal for photography.

Polarizing filters absorb 1.5 stop of light and help eliminate reflections. Using one will deepen the colors of your photos, even during the brightest time of day.

UV filter

UV filters serve the obvious purpose of blocking UV rays, but the protection they offer your lens is far more valuable. Imagine standing ankle-deep in the ocean trying to shoot the sunset. A gust of wind splashes you and your camera with foamy saltwater. Either it ruins your $800 lens or the $10 UV filter you’ve screwed onto it.

Ice chest and ice packs

A regular or styrofoam cooler can do a lot more to help your camera get back to a normal temperature than a camera bag. Line the bottom with ice packs to keep it chilled. Goes without saying that none of your equipment should actually touch the ice.

Cameras require a little acclimation time when moving from extreme heat to extreme cold, so don’t climb into a hot car after an hour of shooting in 100+ degree weather and toss your gear in the cooler. Give it a few minutes in the shade before transferring it over.

Ziploc bag or Tupperware

Ziplocs can be useful both for protecting your camera in the ice chest, as well as shooting in windy conditions. When trekking the beach or the desert, keep your camera ready in a Ziploc, then take it out just before your shot.

Tupperware can serve as good hardcases for the camera body and lenses while they’re in the cooler, preventing them from knocking into one another.

Umbrella

Shade is essential for both protecting your gear and your shots (not to mention your scalp). Take an umbrella along to use when you find a place to shoot.

If you don’t have an umbrella, get creative; you can easily make a temporary shelter if you have access to trees, branches, towels, t-shirts, and the like.

Paintbrush

Photo by raulsantosdelacamera

Accidents happen. If you drop your camera in the sand or dirt, having a small paintbrush handy can help get your gear cleaned off quickly.
Rocket Air Blower

That said, sensor dust can be impossible to see and seriously damaging to your gear. The Rocket Air Blower comes in various sizes and, with just a squeeze of the hand, delivers a strong burst of pressured air.

Absolutely essential for cleaning your lenses and filters after a day of shooting outside.

Tips
  • Whether inside or outside, be careful where you leave your camera. Just a few seconds of direct sunlight can be damaging if your lens is at the right angle; don’t just toss it in the backseat and assume it’s safe.
  • Pick a wind-free spot in the shade to change out equipment such as lenses and memory cards, which require exposing the more sensitive parts of your gear to the elements.
  • Before heading out, choose only the most essential lenses and filters, and leave the rest at home. You’ll not only expose less of your expensive equipment to heat and dust, you’ll also minimize the risk of missing a shot because you’re too busy swapping lenses.