I have a film SLR that I don't plan to use for a very long time (if ever again), but I want to keep it. What is the best way to store it and its lenses so that they remain in good shape?

I know heat is a problem for lenses with them getting oil on the aperture.

This may seem similar to this question, but I'm not talking about a couple of weeks or months. I'm talking greater than six months to years.


"What is the best way to store it and its lenses so that [they] remain in good shape?"

If you want to keep the camera in good working order (as opposed to keeping it in good cosmetic condition), then what you need to do is NOT wrap it up in bubble wrap and packing tape, but use it! You don't need to run film through it, but you need to exercise the shutter a few times and keep mechanical parts moving, i.e. stopping down lenses, etc. I have read suggestions of doing this once a month. Once a year might not be often enough.

Store it with batteries out. It should be stored somewhere that is neither damp/humid nor subject to extremes of temperature; room temperature is good.

  • to be clear - I added the emphasis, not to point out the original typo, but to focus on the aspect of maintaining/storing a camera in good working order. – osullic Mar 23 '15 at 14:55
  • I'm not accusing you of such, but it is something that I should have done before posting the question. :) I digress, is it because of stopping down lenses that you say not to wrap it in bubble wrap? – SailorCire Mar 23 '15 at 17:07
  • You need to activate the mechanisms becouse if not the metal parts get stuck together. Probably once a year is fine. – Rafael Mar 23 '15 at 17:21
  • By all means wrap everything in bubble wrap if you want. My point was just that you need to access/handle/use the equipment, and you can't do that if it's all packed away. – osullic Mar 23 '15 at 20:18

Here's how I would do it.

I'd clean each piece, remove any batteries and put on lens caps and body caps, and wrap it up with a soft microfiber cloth. I would wrap that with a layer (or two) of bubble wrap and tape that up with some plastic shipping tape. I would take all of the pieces and place them in a box with a tight sealing lid (Tupperware, Sterilite, etc) or better yet, a moisture-proof Pelican case. I would add in a number of packets of dehumidifying agent (DampRid is one brand to look for), then close it up and seal the seam between box and lid with shipping tape.

Keep that in a place where it won't get jostled. Moisture/humidity is the most likely enemy you need to worry about, especially if you live in a humid area. Assume any electronic contact will oxidize during storage and need cleaning when you pull it out again.

The cloth will protect the items against any degradation by contact from the plastic in the bubble wrap. The DampRid will keep the humidity low. The bubble wrap will protect from bumps and minor drops during moving of the box, and making the seal as airtight as possible will minimize moisture getting in in the first place, so to me, that's what you want here. Store in a dark place and away from significant heat or temperature changes (so a closet, not the garage).


The second answer is spot-on. The first answer is very good for transport, not so much for long-term storage.

Ever see a wall full of used cams and lenses in a camera store, all sitting there apparently getting dusty? There's a reason for that. Darkness is the mortal enemy of optical glass. A few pawnshops know this, too, and display accordingly, but some don't.

Put rearcaps and clear filters on your lenses and stand them on their rears in a dry, not-too-dimly lit spot. Store cameras standing up, with bodycaps on them. And exercise both monthly, as the other answerer said.

  • can you point to a reference for this? I'd love to see some data on this! – chuqui Mar 25 '15 at 22:37
  • I sold film cameras and lenses on Ebay for a number of years, during the course of which I did a fair bit of online research regarding this. Mostly based on the experience of others who had been selling longer than myself. I had to research fungus at one point, and during that research I found this information about light. In fact, that is the main reason darkness is bad: as with almost anything, darkness breeds fungus, and fungus is the main thing that will make a used lens useless (barring other, more obvious factors like water, salt, grit, and impact, of course). – user38702 Mar 25 '15 at 23:00
  • can you point me to links on this? I'd like to see the science behind it. I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm curious. (or as wikipedia would note, [citation requested] – chuqui Mar 25 '15 at 23:10
  • That would take some digging on my part, just as it did originally when I was finding this out. It's been a few years, so it would be rather time consuming for me. A good search term for you to start on - assuming you might want to research this a bit yourself, that is - would be "lens fungus". Also "camera lens storage". Hope this helps. – user38702 Mar 25 '15 at 23:29
  • My concern with these keeping them in the light is the possibility of getting them too hot and then getting oil on the aperture. It is glass after all. – SailorCire Mar 26 '15 at 15:01

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