Last Updated on March 3, 2022
Going to the beach soon and worried about taking your digital or film camera? I’ve wrestled with that many times in my head before going on our beach excursion. It can be quite a damper on your beach vacation when your camera gets destroyed by sand or water (or worse, both!). Here are 10 quick tips on how to protect your camera at the beach while still having beach fun:
Tip 1: Get an Air Blower Dust Removal Tool
It seems no matter how hard you try, sand gets everywhere, and those funky-looking air blasters that look like mini rockets are great tools in helping to get sand and dust off your camera. You will want to pack this in your camera bag for your beach trip.
I use it immediately after leaving the beach to make sure sand does not stay on my camera. But remember to use this tool before you start switching lenses or changing film stock to prevent sand from getting inside.
Tip 2: Buy a Camera Protection Waterproof Case or Bag
The weather has a mind of its own and can change in an instant. If you have been to a beach in Florida, you know what I’m talking about. Summer storms there love to visit in the afternoon, and one minute it will be raining, the next the sun will be shining.
If there is no immediate covered shelter at the beach you are visiting, consider a camera bag with a waterproof rain cover that you can put over your bag if it starts to rain. It’s like an umbrella that is specifically made for your camera bag to help protect your camera. Of course, having an umbrella on hand doesn’t hurt either!
You can also get a waterproof case to protect your camera and gear from the elements. Make sure it is waterproof when you purchase the case.
Tip 3: Use a Filter to Help Protect Your Camera
Using a UV Filter or a circular polarizer are great options for keeping sand out of your lens. Plus, the added benefit of using a circular polarizer is that it adds saturation to your beach scene and cuts through the harsh reflections of the sun, water, and sand. Meaning you get less reflection and glare in your photos.
If you plan to use a filter, put it on your lens before you go to the beach, so it is ready to go and makes it less likely for sand and water to get in your camera.
If you are not using a filter on your camera, keep the lens cap on your lens at all times when you are not using your camera at the beach.
Tip 4: Protect Your Camera by Keeping It on a Strap Or Tripod
When your camera is out of the camera bag, keep your camera on a camera strap around your neck or securely fastened to a tripod. If you carry your camera around in your hands, it is far more likely for you to drop it in the sand or water accidentally.
You will want to make sure you have a camera strap that does not break easily and where the strap ties go through the camera lugs securely.
When my camera is not in its bag, I prefer to keep my camera on a strap around my neck, but you can also keep your camera securely fastened to a tripod while taking photos at the beach. Make sure your tripod is set securely on the ground where it won’t tip over easily. But be mindful if you are near the water because waves can easily tip it over.
If using a tripod, you will want to make sure the weight from the camera is distributed onto the tripod leg to prevent it from falling over.
Tip 5: Try to Minimize Changing Lenses and Film
Sand is less likely to get into your camera if you minimize the amount of time you change your lens and if you have a film camera, change your film stock.
If you have a film camera, load up your camera with film before you go. If you need to change your film while at the beach, make sure you don’t have sand on your hands and try to change the film stock in an area away from the sand and water.
Also, to keep sand and water out of your camera, you don’t want to change your lenses too many times while at the beach or not at all. I know I will be using my 17-35mm lens the most, so I put that lens on my camera body before I make a trip to the beach and generally stick with that lens the whole time unless I feel the urge to use a different lens (which I rarely do).
Tip 6: Sandy or Wet Hands? Don’t Touch Camera!
Oh, this sounds so easy to obviously not touch your camera with sandy or wet hands, but it happens quicker than you think if you do this subconsciously! I like to collect seashells sometimes, and it can be easy to come back to my stuff and pick up my camera with sandy hands to move it.
To minimize the chance of this happening, try to take your beach photos before you start to swim or touch the sand. After taking your pictures, put your camera and gear in a sealed camera bag and try not to pull it back out until you are home with clean and dry hands.
If you must touch your camera after touching sand or water, have a clean, small towel packed to clean your hands. Ensure you don’t put the towel back in the bag with your camera and gear when you are done with the towel.
Tip 7: Keep Your Camera Away From Beach Things and Only Pack What You Need
To protect your camera and its accessories, try to keep them in a separate bag or case and away from your beach things. I like to carry what I call my “beach towel bag” along with a separate, sealable bag for my camera and lens. I don’t put anything beach-related, including snacks, in my camera bag. The only things in the camera bag are my camera and the accessories.
For extra camera protection, use a bag that can be easily sealed, such as a bag with a zipper. Only pack what you need, plus, it makes it fewer things for you to carry! If you pack everything, you might risk something happening to all of your cameras, equipment, and accessories.
I have a macro lens, but for me, it’s not coming to the beach as I am less likely to use it compared to my 17-35mm for landscapes.
Tip 8: Don’t Leave Your Camera in the Sun
It would be best if you didn’t leave any camera, including an iPhone and android, in the heat. The camera will collect heat and could cause the electronics to malfunction. I’ve had this happen before with my Canon EOS-1N, where it got too hot and wouldn’t take pictures for a few minutes. Heat is also not good for plastics within the camera body.
If you have a film camera, heat is not good for the film and possibly leads to color inconsistencies if left out in the heat for too long.
Tip 9: Use Whatever Medium to Get Your Shot
I like to shoot film, and let’s face it, the beach is not a friendly environment for a film camera. As much as I want to bring my film camera everywhere I go, I know it is probably not the best thing to do.
I am so thankful, however, to live in an age where we have many options to capture our vacations on photos so we can enjoy them again at a later time. While you might not be able to take your top choice for a camera, use whatever you got! For me, it is my iPhone, and honestly, sometimes it takes better images than my film camera.
I had to do exactly that when we visited Egmont Key State Park in Florida. Egmont Key has a lighthouse, beautiful beach, and fort ruins – everything that I would want to capture on film. We had to jump into almost 6 feet of water to get onto the island since our catamaran could not dock.
I was disappointed I couldn’t take my film camera, but jumping into the water with it was out of the question. So, iPhone it was, and that is okay! I still got my images, and they look great!
Alternatively, why not consider a waterproof camera? They might take the best images, but they are, after all, designed to be in the water.
Do what works for you to get your shot, even if it means not using your top choice for a camera.
Tip 10: Not Worth It, Don’t Risk It (but If It Is, Do With Caution!)
I think the most important is to ask yourself, “Is it worth the risk?” If it is, then bring your camera and have no regrets taking your pictures!
Or, it might be worth it to bring your camera, but cautiously limit what you do with your camera. For example, the image below (left) was taken by my husband, Bill. He normally would never take his film camera out into the ocean, but he saw the silhouette of the man on the pier during sunset at Anna Maria Island and knew he had to get shot.
Taking my Canon EOS-1N into the ocean was too risky for me. Plus, I am too clumsy and know my limitations. I brought the camera to the beach to take pictures and got what I need without getting wet or damaging my camera.
Additionally, you can still get the picture, but maybe from a different angle or perspective, without having to take unnecessary risks.
At the end of the day, my goal is to capture my time at the beach with as little risk to my camera and gear as possible. While these tips above might seem simple, sometimes you don’t think about these things until you are already sitting at the beach in the sand.
I didn’t think about bringing a waterproof case or bag for Egmont Key State Park until I booked the catamaran excursion in Florida the day before. I didn’t think about picking up those seashells and then touching my camera with sand on my hands. Sometimes we don’t think about these simple things until it is too late.
Do you have additional ways to protect your camera while at the beach that was not mentioned above? Please comment below!