I have been hearing quite a few stories of cameras that are getting severe internal corrosion damage. It appears at first glance that perhaps newer, file based cameras are less well built than older tape cameras, but there is more to this than meets the eye. I have heard several stories of EX’s and PDW’s that have required expensive repairs due to corrosion. I’ve also found similar stories with other manufacturers solid state cameras. So what’s going on? These are worrying stories especially considering what I do with my cameras, so I have looked into the problem in some depth and found a couple of things.
In all the cases I have heard about, the cameras have been stored after the shoot in Pelicases. Pelicases are excellent at keeping moisture out, but also at keeping it in and this may be preventing the cameras from drying out. This is not a criticism of the cases, they are excellent and I have several. It is the way they are being used which is at fault. A camera with condensation on the inside will not dry out in a sealed Pelicase, giving the moisture time to do it’s evil work. Prevention is better than cure, so the best thing to do is to never put a cold or damp camera in a Pelicase. The other thing to do is is to keep large packs of silica gel in the pelicase. The silica gel should be re-charged regularly by baking in an oven. Storing cameras in Pelicases long term is not always wise. I store my cameras in soft bags and this may be why I have not had any problems despite the harsh hurricane and extreme weather environments I work in.
Perhaps just as importantly, there is I think, also another factor at play here. With a tape camcorder if there is condensation inside the camera you get a “dew” warning. As well as preventing recording it also tells you that you have moisture inside the camera. At this point most people will do something to dry the camera out, it also makes you take more care in the first place as you don’t want a dew warning to prevent you from shooting. So I think that camera manufacturers should re-instate “dew” sensors on cameras. It could prevent a lot of unseen damage, perhaps it would just be a warning to tell you about the moisture but not prevent the camera from being operated.