When was the last time you maintained your dry box? Well, not the box itself but the desiccant within, i.e. the drying agent - typically silica gel beads.
One of the most common must-have descriptive in the B&S section when refering to condition of equipment on offer must be "kept in dry box when not in use"; which implies well maintained equipment ... or not.
Thought I'd share this little experience with CSers who sleep really well knowing their valuable equipment have been stowed away in an air-tight dry box, safe from dust & Singapore's fungus causing humidity.
To make a long story short - I found a < 1-year prime I wish to purchase in B&S, buyer & seller met, inspected lens under bright light & spotted several small spots of fungus that have just taken root. Seller was shocked because the otherwise pristine lens was kept in a dry box most of its life and used only a couple of times. Which led me to ask how long he had the dry box - 2 years; when was the last time he dried out the silica gel - right there he gave me a long puzzled look ... didn't know what I was talking about. Bottomline - his dry box wasn't dry (basically the drying agent has absorbed all the moisture it can hold and has stopped functioning). Dust free maybe, but definitely not dry.
So CSers who love your equipment, when was the last time you checked your dry box's contents, particularly the condition of the silica gel?
Ways to keep your equipment 'dry' ...
1. Dry box & silica gel - the most cost-effective method. Buy a dry box that meets your storage requirement, buy bottle(s) of the deep-blue silica gel beads enough to line the bottom of your dry box. The typical ones on sale in shops should be 'self-indicating silica gels' and while they remain deep blue to blue, they retain their moisture absording properties. Once they turn clear, it's time to take them out and dry them out. A quick & simple method would be to pour them onto a metal tray and pop them into a small toaster oven (the $30 ones) at low-heat for a couple of minutes. Once the clear translucent beads turn a deep-blue again, they're ready to be redeployed. Let them cool down before pouring them back into the dry box. That's it.
2. Dry Cabinet - electrically operated steel cabinets which I personally prefer. Convenient to use but needs power to run. An average unit only costs the low hundreds - your usual photography vendors and even Carrefour stocks them.
3. Piano heater, which is a basically an electrically operated rod that you can hang inside a cupboard or wardrobe to keep humidity under control. Works well only if you deploy a timer switch which periodically turns on the heater.
4. A consistently air-conditioned environment, like your typical office, which generally has very low humidity that would allow you to simply plonk your equipment into just about any storage cupboard or filing cabinet in a well ventilated room.
5. Self improvised container and moisture absorbers (think the 'Hungry Hippo' type ads) but basic maths tell you that it's not going to be cheap.
6. Let's hear from the rest of CSers regarding your equipment storage habits & tricks ...
That's it; this message may just save a few pieces of equipment out there that are the verge of drowning in 'air tight humidity'. Btw, the above sale that I mentioned did not go through - I'm still looking for the prime and our bro will be sending his lens to CSC for cleaning; costs $85 and takes about 5 days
The next time you read, "kept in dry box when not in use", take a closer look
Sorry for this winded piece, hope it's of use. Cheers.