Poor Man DIY Dry Box
This is basically my current budget DIY dry box where I stores all my camera and lens... not sure of how long I will use this but as it is now, it works fine though I fully understand as well that this does not replaced the dedicated electronic dry box/cabinet.
For those of you who already knew and/or have your own DIY dry box or the electronic dry box/cabinet - don't bother to read further...
For those of you who still do not know and still interested to read this.... based from what I read from other website, blogs and forums, here and there, dry box is very important to avoid fungus appear on your photography stuff - mainly the lens and the camera body perhaps....
This fungus fucker can just appear magically out of no where especially in the weather condition of South East Asia (and perhaps some other Asian region or other continent as well) where humidity level of 70% is normal.
The typical electronic dry box/cabinet with 30 liter capacity will cost about SGD 150 (about roughly USD 120) being the cheapest and you can go all the way to several hundreds of dollars depending on the size and quantity of your camera/lens equipment or what ever stuff that you need to put into that dry box/cabinet.
At the moment, I only have 3 camera, 1 long zoom digicam with fixed lens (Panasonic FZ28) and 2 are DSLR camera (Canon 1000D and Panasonic G1). This is nothing if compared to the more serious or professional photographer who probably have lots of stuff amounting to several thousands of dollars.
Although eventually I will use the Panasonic G1 almost on daily basis, the other 2 camera (Canon 1000D and Panasonic FZ28) will only have their chance once a week - during the weekend.
After reading lots of information form the web, I feel worried about this fungus and humidity and longevity issues and then finally, I decided to worry no more and take action instead - it's now or never.
So at the time being, I decided to choose the "DIY path"
As I mentioned earlier, the cheapest electronic dry box/cabinet will cost around SGD 150 (about roughly USD 120) but this "DIY" solutions will cost slightly lesser and cheaper....
This 50 liter contena or plastic box cost SGD 16.00 (about roughly USD 13.00), should be cheaper if you buy the smaller size.
And then I bought this Hygrometer;
I found this from the car accessories shop, eventually they sell it as 2 in 1 package together with the thermometer for SGD 20.00 (about roughly USD 16.00) but it happen on that day they give me 50% discount - so end up the net price is only SGD 10.00 (USD 8.00)
According to Wikipedia;
Hygrometer is an instrument used for measuring the moisture content in the environmental air, or humidity. Humidity is difficult to measure accurately. Most measurement devices usually rely on measurements of some other quantity such as temperature, pressure, mass or a mechanical or electrical change in a substance as moisture is absorbed. From calculations based on physical principles, or especially by calibration with a reference standard, these measured quantities can lead to a measurement of humidity. Modern electronic devices use temperature of condensation, changes in electrical resistance, and changes in electrical capacitance to measure humidity changes.
Again, from what I read in some forums, the safe humidity level should between 40% to 55%.
However, there is this 1 website or blog that mentioned about some sort of thumb rule about the best possible level to keep your camera and lens safe and that is by referring to your product "User Guide" or "Manual" and in the "Specification" section, they always mentioned about "Operating Environment" or something like that.
So basically, for storage purpose, you need to halved the "Operating Environment" humidity level.
For example, I did check on Canon 1000D use manual and it says the "Operating Environment = 85% RH", while both the Panasonic G1 and FZ28 says "Operating Environment = 80% RH"
That means, 85% for Canon is 42.5% while 80% for the Panasonic G1 and FZ28 is 40%.
And thus I believe that from what I read in those forums, 40% to 55% are quite relevant and correct. I'm no scientist, I also depend on what I read.
So I guess, 43% RH would be the most perfect though I think anything between 40% to 50% is not bad either.
Last but not least, I bought this "Thirsty Hippo" moisture absorber for cupboards and small spaces. In other words, this is those disposable dehumidifier or something like that.
Other alternative solutions include using silica gel;
Usually when you buy new bags or shoes, you will find this thing inside the box. You can also order this from E-Bay, some Chinese sellers do sell it at reasonable price.
As for me, I prefer the easy solution, Thirsty Hippo, I can buy easily in the local supermarket.
According to product information, usually it will last about 2 months but in fact they also provide some sort of indicator label or marking. So once the things inside goes lower than that "mark", just change it with a new one.
I bought this 1 pack with 6 boxes for SGD 13.00 (about roughly USD 10.00)
So depend on the "humidity percentage level" I see on the Hygrometer, I can/will use up to 2 or even 3 boxes or more - if I really want it.
Oh yeah, for fuck sake, I also put the "non-slip mat" inside so that if I move the plastic box here and there, the thing inside wont move much.
And that's it - my poor man DIY Dry Box....
Now, I'm not sure how long will I use this method, so far it works, but even so, I'm not saying that you should ignore the electronic dry box/cabinet and go for this option instead.
The amount I spent so far;
50 Liter Contena = SGD 16.00
Hygrometer = SGD 10.00
Dehumidifier = SGD 13.00 (for 6 boxes - I just use 2 so far)
Non-Slip mat = Free - I got left over from some other purpose, it's cheap anyway.
At the end, make your decision based on your own needs and cash.... Naturally many will say the best solution is to buy the dedicated electronic dry box/cabinet. It's not logical to spend few thousands for camera and lens and not just a few hundreds to keep it safe - this opinion is very true.
But my other friend also say, even if you spend several hundred dollars for the electronic dry box/cabinet to keep the camera safe but at the same time you are also clumsy in handling your equipment, drop it here and there.... at the end, the thing will broke and damage also.... quite true indeed....
Bottom line is, ff you can afford to buy better thing, why bother with cheap solution, but sometimes not everybody can afford everything.
It's normal that for all human, if they can afford it, everybody just want to pay and get what they want quick and fast and they want it to be perfect.
Sometimes, cheap solution is better than none and you get what you pay - simple as that....