Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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India has an annual "festival of colors" where participants throw colored powder on each other. The idea is apparently spreading.

A LensRentals blogpost titled "How to Ruin Your (or Our) Gear in 5 Minutes" says that the color gets everywhere:

The color dust is very fine, tiny specs, made to stick on people as they run by. Because of this, the lenses’ weather sealing, front filters, etc. don’t even slow this stuff down. It’s throughout the entire lens stuck on every element, on the gears and helicoids, and in the mirror box of the camera too. And yes, that includes pro-level lenses on pro-level cameras, all of which are supposedly weather sealed.

If I want to take pictures of something like this, how can I protect the camera?

Would it be sufficient to wrap the camera in a plastic bag? Or would you need the kind of waterproof housing made for underwater photography?

Is anyone willing to share their experience?

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3  
See this earlier question on dealing with a non-protected camera after Holi: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/21038 –  mattdm May 9 '13 at 16:20
    
Is it an option to cheap camera and lenses, possibly one already near the end of its lifetime, that you don't mind destroying? –  Zsbán Ambrus Jun 8 '13 at 9:29
    
@ZsbánAmbrus I suppose I could resurrect an old compact camera. I think the "glorified plastic bag" sounds like the best option for when I want to bring my DSLR. –  j-g-faustus Jun 8 '13 at 18:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

They key would be to get something air tight as opposed to weather proof. An underwater enclosure would work but might be a bit expensive. One of the lower depth water proofing solutions (basically a glorified plastic bag with reinforced seal) would probably do the trick though. Just be sure to wash and dry it thoroughly prior to breaking the seal after you are done. You can find pretty decent solutions for up to 15ft depth for around $100 to $150.

I don't have any direct experience to know for sure what does and doesn't work. But I don't see how a waterproofing system would fail and I don't think I'd personally want to risk trying to use simple plastic wrapping as you need to clean the powder away before opening it which likely means submersion.

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2  
Sir, your language. That's a " a glorified plastic bag with reinforced seal and a cheap 'protection' filter", if you don't mind... –  user2719 May 9 '13 at 17:46
    
Thanks, makes sense. So something like this, I guess: dicapacusa.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=WPS10 –  j-g-faustus May 9 '13 at 18:05
1  
The dust from colour is really, really fine. If you don't want to use a waterproof enclosure, or perhaps even with one, you might be well-served by using a long telephoto lens to take your shots from a good distance away. Your composition and the intimacy of the photo might suffer a bit, but your gear won't! –  Chinmay Kanchi May 9 '13 at 18:37
    
Another idea might be to keep the enclosure wet, at least near the opening. That would further trap the dust before it could get inside. –  AJ Henderson May 9 '13 at 18:51

If your gear is going to be exposed to such fine particulates floating around in the air, you need an enclosure that is air tight. Weather sealing is not enough protection when the particles you are concerned about are small enough that air currents influence their motion more than gravity.

Any kind of enclosure that is rated for immersion in water should be more than adequate, and will allow you to spray the powder off before opening the enclosure and removing your camera. This would include rigid boxes designed for deeper diving as well as the sealed plastic bags with an integrated protection filter designed for use on or near the surface of water.

If you insist on using just a protective filter and a rain hood, be sure to use a fixed focal length lens or a zoom lens that uses internal focus and internal zoom elements that do not breathe. And stay far enough out of the action that your camera is not directly exposed to the powder bombs flying through the air.

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+1 for "no breathing" lenses. –  D. Lambert May 9 '13 at 21:59

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