Asking this now as a "just in case" measure. I may be creating photos this weekend in an environment which has a greater-than-zero chance of involving tear gas.

Anything I should know about from a photography perspective? I have a Kata rain cover, would it make sense to have that handy and put it on if things get hairy? If gear does get exposed to the chemicals, what's the best method of cleaning?

  • 1
    +1 for the most disturbing question I've read on this site so far
    – AJ Finch
    Nov 11, 2011 at 10:57

2 Answers 2


CS gas is a dry powder having the appearance and behaviour of smoke. It will clean off of the equipment relatively easily, but you need to take the same precautions you would if you were knowingly going into a very dusty environment -- that is, it's better to have a sacrificial filter on the lens than to risk scratching the front element, avoid changing lenses (for the sake of rear elements, the sensor, shutter, mirror hinges, etc.). The stuff is irritating to the mucus membranes (and will burn sensitive skin if you're wet or sweaty), but otherwise harmless (other than the potential for abrasion).

A sealed camera shouldn't pose any problems, but consumer/prosumer level stuff would probably benefit from the rain hood, just from the dust exclusion point of view. Oh, and keep whatever camera bag you may be carrying tightly closed, and do give everything a good going over with a vacuum cleaner before putting it away, lest you accidentally transfer any of the evil stuff to a sensitive area weeks later.

Be prepared, though, for pepper spray as well. That's a liquid, and will ingress the same way as any liquid, but its oily nature may be damaging to some rubbers and rubber-like synthetic components (seals, grips, etc.). If you happen to see that stuff coming and don't have a real enclosure for your SLR, you might want to put it away and use a cheap P&S for a few shots.

Oh, on a side note: if someone with a shield and a truncheon tells you to move, move. It's not that they're fascists out to trample your rights (though, undoubtedly, some are of that nature), but that my own experience with riot duty while in the Canadian Forces tells me that at least half of them will be on the verge of soiling their drawers -- they're in a highly adrenal state, expecting rocks, bricks and Molotov cocktails, and reason will not work with them until things calm down a bit. It's not a good time to assert your rights, if you know what I mean.

  • "ut that my own experience with riot duty while in the Canadian Forces tells me that at least half of them will be on the verge of soiling their drawer" and most of the other half will be in a rush to get an unpleasant job over with as soon as possible and go home.
    – jwenting
    Nov 11, 2011 at 6:41

Check your gear insurance

It is worth checking your insurance.
You may not be covered for civil unrest or similar.

Other than that... good luck, and be careful out there.

  • Ooh, good point. I'd been considering using an older body just in case.
    – ahockley
    Nov 11, 2011 at 19:45

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