Shooting at the Ocean Shore : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello all,

I have yet to shoot at the sea shore with my metal 4x5 (Toyo VX125). What advice would you give about caring for my equipment around all this salty air? I know that with just a few hours (or less) of walking on the beach, my glasses are coated with a fine mist of salty gunk. I presume that my camera will be too. What precautions should I take and what cleanup protocol to follow? Must be some tricks. . .


-- Scott Jones (, March 24, 2002


When you are done wipe everything with a damp cloth, and I mean damp not wet! do not use greases, wd40 etc, all that stuff is killer for your camera. When I use my Linhof TK45 by the shore is what I do. Also make sure you remove the bellows and move the standards up and down, sidewise, etc so you can clean where the standard sits. In other words you don't need any fancy cleaning solutions or gunk, a thorough cleaning with a damp cloth is best. Just like with your glasses...:-)))

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, March 24, 2002.

Hi Scott-

I had a VX125 which I used along the coast here in sunny So. CA. I just covered it with a 2 gallon zip lock plastic bag when it was in the camera bag. If you carry it mounted on the tripod (it is a very sturdy and light camera) put the bag over the camera and use rubber band to keep it in place until your ready to shoot. The few times I was in salt mist from the surf I used Jorge's suggestion and used a wet (non salt water) rag and wiped the camera off really well. It's a good idea to carry a little spray bottle of distilled water if you can for quickly removing salt water mist from your lens.

-- Jim Bancroft (, March 24, 2002.

Both a plastic bag (secured with rubber bands) around the camera, and a thorough cleaning with a damp cloth after the shoot are very good recommendations. In addition you should try to keep the lens cap on the camera while waiting for the light - or that special moment. Your lightmeter and film holders should also be protected - if possible in plastic bags. A film holder with just a single sharp quartz particle can be really bothersome as you can imagine...!!! If you plan to spend all day at the beach bring a friend. Have him or her carry a super lightweight clamp-on umbrella (clamps on to the tripod while waiting for a shot - remove from tripod when shooting) to protect the camera from wind, water spray and blowing sand...

And for yourself: bring a wide brimmed hat with black fabric under the brim and wear a dark shirt (to cut down on glare = your reflection in the ground glass)...

-- Per Volquartz (, March 24, 2002.

When you get home vacuum out EVERYTHING. The bag, film holders, and especially the inside of the camera (not a bad idea anyway).

Here's something that always gets me. I put the bag down, and the strap finds it's way into the sand. When I pick up the bag again, the sand falls off the strap and into the bag. Sounds stupid, but it's real easy to do if you're not paying attention.

Hose off your tripod if it's been in salt water.

-- Kevin Bourque (, March 24, 2002.

Hi Scott,

In addition to the above, I'd be sure to keep a good-quality UV filter over the lens if you're going to get it sprayed...better that the filter get salted than your lens!

-- Danny Burk (, March 24, 2002.

Hi Scott...

I take a very big clear plastic bag and put the camera in it and seal with tape at the bottom where the tripod met. I cut 1 hole for the lens (with UV filter as suggested above) and 1 hole for the ground glass and tape around it again...This is not the perfect solution..but at least it keep some of the nasty stuff out and you can still use the knobs for movements and fosusing... don't forget the sun lotion... :)

-- dan n. (, March 25, 2002.

Years ago I used to shoot a lot at the beach with a Canon FtQl 35mm camera and a Yashica 6x6. Spray in the air notwithstanding, I never got any rust on either camera and didn't do anything special to protect the cameras.

My biggest concern was having a UV filter on the Canon, but never had one on the Yashica.

Maybe some cameras just don't rust?

-- Roger Urban (, March 25, 2002.


I think Dan has the right idea with the plastic bag. I had a very bad experience once with a Canon A1 at the beach once. After about 1 hour, the shutter button became very gritty and failed to work. The focusing on the lens became gritty as well. It resulted in a trip to the repair shop to get things cleaned up. To this day I'm reluctant to take my 4x5 to the coast, but will use the bag technique if needed.

-- Jim (, March 25, 2002.

Salt spray has cost me $300 in repair bills to a P67 some years ago, and I know of others who have had similar problems.

Your LF camera does not have the sensitive electronics, but the camera and lens will suffer if exposed to salt spray. I live on an island, and the coastline is never far away, and even when you think there is no spray, there is. Take a stroll with a pair of glasses at what you think to be a safe distance, and look at the lenses after an hour or so and you'll see what I mean.

Shoot with a longer lens if possible, or protect with plastic and UV filter. That's an expensive piece of gear you have there, and no point mucking it up if it's avoidable.

-- Michael Mahoney (, March 25, 2002.

Don't forget blowing sand acts an abrasive, so use a sacrificial UV filter as mentioned above. All the more reason for the plastic bag.

This is one arena where a wood camera has a definite advantage. Abrade wood a little, and you have wood underneath. Abrade a metal camera a little, aand you've started oxidation.

-- Charlie Strack (, March 25, 2002.

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