Protect Your Camera at the Beach With These 10 Tips

Are you going to the beach soon and worried about taking your digital or film camera? I’ve wrestled with this fear many times, wondering if bringing it is worth the risk. Having your camera destroyed by water or sand is one way to put a damper on your beach vacation!

To help keep your camera safe while capturing memories, here are 10 tips below on how to protect your camera at the beach.

Tip 1: Get an Air Blower Dust Removal Tool

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, sand gets everywhere. Everywhere. And those funky-looking air blasters that look like mini rockets are great tools in helping keep sand and dust off your camera.

I use the air blower immediately after leaving the beach to ensure the sand does not stay on my camera. But remember to use this tool before switching lenses or changing film stock to prevent sand from getting inside the body of your camera. You can find one of these tools here.

An air blower blaster is useful for getting sand and dust off camera.
The air blower blasters work well for getting sand and dust off cameras.

Tip 2: Buy a Camera Protection Waterproof Case or Bag

The weather has a mind of its own and can change instantly. If you have been to a beach in Florida, you know what I’m talking about. Summer storms love to visit in the afternoon; one minute, it will rain, and the next, the sun will shine.

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 pour. It’s like an umbrella specifically for your camera bag to help protect your camera. Of course, having an umbrella on hand doesn’t hurt either!

There are several camera bags with rain covers, but we use the Think Tank bag, and it does its job well.

Another option is to purchase a waterproof case to protect your camera and gear from the elements. Make sure it is waterproof when you buy the case.

Tip 3: Use a Filter to Help Protect Your Camera

A UV Filter or 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, always keep the lens cap on your lens 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 ensure you have a camera strap where the ties go through the camera lugs securely and won’t break easily. Using a tripod, you’ll want to set it snugly on the ground, so it won’t tip over from waves. While setting it up on rocks is tempting, this might be a bad idea if it’s unstable. Remember to keep the camera’s weight distributed onto the tripod leg to prevent it from falling over.

Two film cameras on tripods at the beach under a pier.
We securely fastened our cameras to tripods while taking sunrise photos at Tybee Island.

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.

Load 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.

Try to determine which lens you want to use at the beach. 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 the Camera!

This tip may be common sense, but this 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 swimming or touching 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 swimming, have a clean, small towel packed to clean your hands and possibly a water bottle to wash them if there is no nearby beach shower. Remember to store the towel away from your camera when you are done using it.

Tip 7: Keep Your Camera Away From Beach Things and Only Pack What You Need

To protect your camera, keep it and the accessories in a separate bag or case away from your beach things. I like to carry my beach towel bag and have my camera in a different bag that zips up. I don’t put anything beach-related, including snacks, in my camera bag. The only things in the camera bag are my camera, film stock, and 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. For example, I have a macro lens, but it’s not coming to the beach since I am less likely to use it than my 17-35mm for landscapes.

Tip 8: Don’t Leave Your Camera in the Sun

It would be best to leave no camera, including an iPhone and Android, in the heat. The camera will collect heat, which might 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 also not good for the film stock, possibly leading 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, but 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 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 with various mediums so we can reminisce on the fun we had. While you might not be able to take your top choice for a camera, use whatever you have! For me, it is my iPhone, and honestly, sometimes it takes better images than my film camera.

I had to do precisely that when we visited Egmont Key State Park in Florida. Egmont Key has a tall lighthouse, a beautiful beach, and historical ruins – everything I want to capture with my Canon EOS-1N. But since we had to jump into almost 6 feet of water to get onto the island since our catamaran could not dock, I decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to bring it. Even though I was disappointed, I still had my iPhone and got incredible shots!

Alternatively, why not consider a waterproof camera? They might not take the best images, but they are designed to be in the water.

Do what works for you to get your shot, even if it means not using your favorite camera.

A catamaran sits in blue water at Egmont Key State Park with a bird flying overhead
I couldn’t bring my film camera to Egmont Key State Park, but I got some nice pictures with my iPhone instead!

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, bring your camera and have no regrets about taking your pictures!

Or, it might be worth bringing your camera, but cautiously limit what you do with your camera. For example, the image below (left) was taken by my husband, Bill. He usually would never take his film camera out into the ocean, but he saw the man’s silhouette on the pier during sunset at Anna Maria Island and knew he had to get shot.

But I’m clumsy. Taking my Canon EOS-1N into the ocean was too risky for me. So, I took the safe option and snapped the photo below on the right.

You can still get the picture, but maybe from a different angle or perspective, without taking unnecessary risks!

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, my goal is to capture my time at a beautiful beach with minimal 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 consider 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. But with some preparation, you can help protect your camera and enjoy the beach, too!

Do you have additional ways to protect your camera while at the beach that was not mentioned above? Please comment below!

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