Brunei Darussalam

FIGHT MOISTURE WITH A DRY CABINET

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Whether you’re a professional photographer or a serious hobbyist, the tendency to over-inventorise cannot be helped. My first vertical dry cabinet while still able to accommodate perhaps one or two more lenses had become quite troublesome when it comes to storing a body and telephoto lens without dismantling. So naturally when you’re feeling vertically-challenged the obvious next step is to go horizontal and I went with another dry cabinet by Wonderful. As you can see, my favourite combo (5D and EF70-200mm sits comfortably on the top shelf and there’s still plenty of room on either side.

© Jan Shim Photography

The cabinet measures W21″ x H18″ x D14″ and I have arranged it in such as way that it sits on top of existing cabinet and adjacent to where the Lowepro bags are stored. (and my good friend WOODY sitting on the PIXMA 6700D printer posing with an EOS 5D in his hands).

© Jan Shim Photography

In case you happen to be shopping for a horizontal dry cabinet (in Brunei Darussalam), they are available from STATION 8 (Ground Floor of Hua Ho Manggis Mall next to Guardian Pharmacy). I got mine a while back but understand that they’ve just received a new shipment along with what other goodies I haven’t been told. These items are popular and they run out very quickly so don’t take your time.

UPDATE:  Readers of this article can enjoy 10-15% discount off their purchase of a WONDERFUL dry cabinet by simply mentioning this site to the owners (Ming and Hui) at STATION 8. Offer valid while stocks last. Protect your investment today!

geardrybox2.jpgWonderful Dry Cabinet © Jan Shim Photography [more pic …]

We tend to take things for granted and often forget what it takes to produce great images that you see here and on sites all over the web including those in your photo album. If you own a compact digital camera you may not think about a dry cabinet. If you own an D/SLR and some lenses (same for analog and digital) and they are critical to your livelihood, you’ll want to have them in a dry cabinet, preferably one that is electronically regulated like mine (pictured above). A dry cabinet is necessary to store items that can otherwise be damaged by rust or mould. When mould gets into camera bodies and lenses it can be very costly to service due to the complexity of modern electronics. It makes sense to look after them, don’t you think?

If that’s not compelling enough, here’s another. If you regularly bring your camera to the beach there’s a good chance salt has made its way inside (yes it is possible) and begin corroding the metal components. According to this article “the humidity must be kept at or below 35% to effectively protect precision parts and components against rust.” The relative humidity of my work place is 70%, a condition mould and rust finds favourable. We try to keep photographic equipment and optics to 40-50% to keep them safe.

The dry cabinet is not only critical to professional photographers, it’s also the perfect companion for collectors to store fine art and sensitive documents such as stamps, money and so forth and they come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. [see footnote sales enquiries]

Earlier today, I responded to a thread “Show us your Dry-box” started by Jacky Yong – LENSAMALAYSIA.com to which I attached a different picture my unit.

Fuhhh!!! I can see that you have already filled your cabinet to the brim! I can see that lightsphere thing on the floor. What happens if you were to add more equipment?

But it is an interesting picture. This is exactly the response I was hoping to get when I started this thread in the first place. Thank you very much for sharing!

When I have more equipment to store and it’s more than likely a second body to replace the 1D MkII at this time, I’ll make room. It looks filled to the brim because I double the dry cabinet to store other bulky items as well such as the Quantum Turbo  packs, Speedlite flashes that can be stored in a bag. I work with a minimal set of gear for my work and don’t possess a habit of indulging in new purchases unless absolutely necessary. The name of my dry cabinet is WONDERFUL and isn’t it so?

Also, in the picture above, you see one-third of my LowePro Rolling Lowepro CompuTrekker Plus AW. This item belonged to Roland Lim, an EOS 20D enthusiast from Hong Kong whose other profession seems to be travelling and shooting celebrity concerts.

Check out this photo I took at a super store in Japan (March 2007):
the choice of dry cabinets is just mind-boggling to say the least.

Note: Those in Brunei darussalam who wish to pick one up, STATION 8 is a stockist for these dry cabinets and other photographic equipment. Station 8 is also a KODAK Digital lab and is my recommended lab for all your printing needs and is located at Hua Ho Manggis Mall (Ground Floor, right next to Guardian).

35 thoughts on “FIGHT MOISTURE WITH A DRY CABINET

  1. Cool cabinet! Its great to hear that professional users like your kindself takes good care of their equipment.

    Whats better, is that you share this knowledge out to the public. Most of the cameras that comes into maintenance or services at our place tend to have moulds collected in their lens while others just leave it in the bags without Dry Packs Silica Gel.

    Keep up the good work. Really love reading your blog.

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  2. Thanks Steven. It’s good to hear from you. I’ve updated the article to cater for a wider audience – those who bring their camera to the beach and have no idea whatsoever that salt from sea breeze can and will corrode the metal components inside.
    I’ve never liked silica gel packs as they have a shelf life and maintenance. Also DO NOT use one of those THIRSTY HIPPO packs, they are sold as “Powerful Dehumidifier” and the long term exposure to them may have undesirable consequences such as drying out of rubber and plastic components, items that ironically require a certain levels of humidity to maintain its chemical bond.
    I want to take this opportunity to thank the CANON BRUNEI Distributor, INTERHOUSE COMPANY, for their support and at times being a friend when I needed it more than just tech support.

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  3. Hi Jan,

    I hope you have found the Lowepro useful!

    It is of course always good advice to put your photgraphic gears in a humidity controlled cabinet, especially in a humid tropical place like Brunei.

    Keep up the good work!

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  4. Roland,

    Pretty soon new additions to the EOS family will outgrow the capacity of the CompuTrekker such as a second body and lenses. Sigh! The CompuTrekker is the perfect transport for my local commercial work when I need to bring my laptop. It would appear now that I also need silica gel packs for times I’m on the road for days and have no access to a dry cabinet.

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  5. We try to keep photographic equipment and optics to 40-50% to keep them safe. Some suggest that 30-40% relative humidity is generally recommended as the right level for protecting moisture-vulnerable equipment – without causing excessive drying out. But I would not recommend a setting below 40% as synthetic rubber / leather material will dry out and the lubricant in shutter and camera mechanism will be severely affected over prolonged storage.

    It’s 6.45am. I’m off to the Software Asset Management Seminar Press Conference organised by Business Software Alliance. Received an invitation from Microsoft. Catch up later!

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  6. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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  7. In the absence of the owners, “Fransiska” is the contact person to enquire the discount (don’t know the spelling either. Regardless of how it’s spelt, it still sounds the same).

    This discount has been offered since the first time I published this post and while many have purchased dry cabinets from S8, it seems no one had taken any initiative to ask (too shy perhaps or were simply expecting automatic discounts or were the prices reasonable enough to not ask for one?)

    I was there just two days ago and the S8 store is now looking quite the one-stop photography place to get your STUFF including Manfrotto tripods, ball heads and a ton of accessories enough to make your head spin! I get my studio backdrop stand and professional grade paper there too and I couldn’t help but noticed they now have budget studio umbrellas and multi-purpose reflections in stock too!

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  8. No horizontal Drycab available in S8 now, yes, it has become a one stop photography store including 3rd party accessories such as tripod ballhead, diffuser cap, macro-flashlight, bags and yes, the 5-in-1 reflector kit which is at a reasonable price. Studio Umbrella are also cheaper than other store.

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  9. and not forgetting a good selection of black pocket albums, camera (and phone) LCD protector, and let’s not forget the real reason for being there in the first place, Kodak prints!

    When I delivered my first set of prints to clients, the selection of albums were limited at best. I visited many photo labs at the time to check out their choice of 4R albums and 9/10 had those ghastly white pocket sleeves of various degree of quality. I was disgusted and couldn’t believe people were passing these sort of albums around. It was around that time I started making a lot of noise to the point I almost refused to print. Then S8 listened and sourced the great black pocket albums that you now see as standard. They were also able to custom order large 8×12 pocket albums where I could easily store my large prints without resorting to those (also mostly white) waxy magnetic pages from a decade back!

    These 8×12 black pocket albums are also available in stock in case you didn’t know.

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  10. Jan, I’m interested to set up a mini studio at my home. Would you kindly show me (in your post and/or email me) your studio set up?

    Like you mentioned in your post, Station 8 has the backdrop stand and professional grade paper. May I know the exact name of these items so that I could ask there?

    Thank you in advance for sharing.

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  11. Pleased to. When you enquire at S8, ask for studio backdrop stands, they come in a pair and are air cushioned. This means the extension does not come crashing down when you release the lock. I don’t have a close up picture of the stand itself but you might get an idea from the images below:


    I don’t know how high my ceiling is but the stand extends right up there easily (remember when you have it this high, the chance of it toppling is also higher so take care). The one I have comes with four hollow extension rods each measuring 3 feet to give you a combined total of 12 feet. I believe this is quite the standard for more budget and even professional stand offering. These rods connect by a simple ‘turn and lock’ system which are secure enough for studio work.

    Also, commonly available studio seamless backdrop paper are 9 feet wide. To give you an idea of the colours available, I have uploaded a copy of the colour chart for your reference (actual stock may vary).

    The crinkled cloth (muslin) backdrop you see above isn’t mine. I borrowed it (also 9 feet wide) from an associate in the beginning before I had any papers to work with. There are expensive and lasts forever but rather old school for my taste. I tend to go with solid colours such as white, black and gray that are most versatile.

    I don’t do much of studio work at home and have taken the stands to shoot on location a few times. They’re easily dismantled just as easily re-assembled. When I do need the setup, my subject is lit with 32″ and 60″ umbrellas using my any of my EOS Speedlite (550/580/580II) additionally powered by Quantum Turbo battery pack

    The flashes are triggered remotely by the Canon ST-E2 transmitter the same way I manage my directional lighting setup when photographing CEO portraits …

    http://www.shimworld.com/gallery/portraits/corporate/

    These were shot much earlier back but the lighting technique hasn’t changed. It’s a very simple but effective setup which works for me. Given another opportunity to post-process these pictures I would most certainly deliver them differently. Perhaps a more recent portrait that people can relate to is the one of RanoAdidas when he visited me during Chinese New Year!

    https://shimworld.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/ranz-in-da-house/

    Hope this helps!

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  12. thank you for the reply Jan Shim. I really appreciate it. Your explanation complete with the pictures are really helpful. I shall go to S8 to look for the stand. Thank you again.

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  13. Jan, I’ve got a quick question on your lighting set up. I noticed in the potraits gallery, your subject has gradual lighting from bright to dark from one side to the other. If you don’t mind sharing, what flash power did you use on the potraits? 1/2 on main light and 1/4 on fill?

    I recently took potrait during the hari raya using 2 lighting methods:

    First was cross directional lighting on shoot through umbrella, both flash on 1/2 power. 1st light set up

    The second set up was similar like your set up where my main light was set on reflective umbrella on 1/2 (slightly higher than the subject) and my fill light was on reflective umbrella on 1/4 (slightly lower than the subject). 2nd light set up.

    If you could share your comment on this set up & pictures and how I can improve on my potrait photography, that would be brilliant! FYI: I’ve using Gadget Infinity wireless transmitter and receivers for the flash. Flash used was a 580 ex II and SB 600.

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  14. Hi. You don’t waste time, do you? The examples you posted esp the first one looks like it can easily be achieved using a single on-camera flash with a Lightsphere diffuser. Meaning to say, the lighting is pretty much even all round if this is the result you had intended I’d say you’ve accomplished this.

    The corporate CEO portraits, believe it or not, were shot with only one light for the directional lighting effect. And this one light is nothing more than a remotely-triggered Lightsphere PJ and a Speedlite 580EX on a light stand. Placement of the subject before their interview is key to ensure ambient light before I place my light. I have very little experience playing with light ratios since I shoot ETTL-II a benefit of shooting with the ST-E2. I work within the limits of my setup to get the results I need.

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  15. I was looking at my blog stats and came across a link to this post by a photographer who DIYed a dry box to store her camera and lenses and in neat compartments too.

    http://infairness.multiply.com/journal/item/24/DIY_Dry_Box?replies_read=4

    Women are just inherently better at these things than men. Men, on the other hand, buy professional looking cabinets (a must have) and then chucks everything inside. Then the dry cabinet becomes a black hole much like a women’s bag—lots of stuff get in there and never come out 🙂

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  16. I have bought it since yesterday, there is something I could doubt about- the dos or donts but while a most of the guidelines manual instruction. I do some of them. but there is one thing i should have wondered if the body cap of the body camera should be taken off while inside the dry cabinet. is that way possibly? help me! thanks

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    1. It’s not necessary to leave the “doors” wide open when placing your equipment inside the dry cabinet. Camera body and lens seals aren’t air tight and regardless of how they are kept inside the cabinet, it’s the dry environment that keeps them safe from moisture and other nasties.

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  17. Do you think I should open the caps of the lens and camera body in the dry cabinet for an hour or a day long? My friends told me that camera and lenses should open freely inside it. Would they be clear easily?

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    1. Under normal use of your camera and lenses there’s no reason you need to remove the caps unless of course you’re nursing an accident. I once dropped my EOS 20D body into the river and when I got home, I set the humidity setting to its lowest and then left the 20D with the battery door open and lens mount cap open. It took 3 days before the camera was sufficiently dry and operational again. So to answer your question, it may take a day or longer for things to work …

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  18. Hi there, how are you? Great info… I actually stumbled upon your web when I was looking for some answers about dry cabinets. I’m actually planning on buying one from Wonderful.

    But here’s the thing… I own a 450D and another analog EOS 1000FN camera from Canon, together with 2 Canon lenses. But that’s not just it… I also own several analog cameras ca 1950-1970. Now I’m a bit confused… would it be okay if I buy the largest Wonderful dry cabinet and store everything in, considering that I put the ‘new’ and ‘old’ cameras together? I mean is it safe to place both, and what should I do with the humidity level, what to adjust?

    Should I buy a medium-size dry cabinet for the new cameras and perhaps a simple dry box for the old instead? What do you think?

    Thank you very much for answering…

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    1. Hi Irma,

      Thanks for explaining your situation in such detail. Take one step back and you’ll be able to figure this one out for yourself. The idea is this .. protect your most delicate items and the rest are OK. i.e. delicate items in this case are your digital body and lenses. Mechanical analog bodies are much easier to look after and easily serviceable (according to an associate who owns them) compared to modern digital SLR bodies that house complex electronic circuitry. Even with older non EF lenses, there are people who can dismantle them to clean and put everything back nicely. With the EF lenses, returning them to Canon for service and parts replacement are a costly exercise so please take care fungus don’t creep inside them.

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  19. Hi Jan, I really need your help about my wonderful box! First 2 days after i bought it, it sets correctly on 50%, however, after I bought 70-200 lens, the humidity starts to fall to 60%-65% in 3 days already and I already set it to H. I called the shop, they say it’s ok, but I am afraid if my lenses get fungus. Your help is deeply appreciated

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    1. Hi there. H stands for High and your hygrometer would seem to be working properly if it went up to 65% RH from 50%. I have mine set to a range between (M)edium and (L)ow. Try adjusting the dial and see if reading goes down — preferably 45% RH.

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      1. Hi Jan.. Thanks for such a quick response, I trully appreciate it! 🙂
        I just set the dial to between M and L, I hope tomorrow will go to 45%. Will inform you tomorrow.. Thanks a lot 🙂

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  20. Hi,
    Could you please help me with my new dry cabinet, it’s a 20ltr i cabi,
    1) Do I need to keep switch on 24hrs everyday or turn it off and on?
    2) First time Humidity level went to 39 then I turn it off and turn it on after few hours but again it’s getting to 38-39 (Too dry area in meter) , the back side circuit switch in “M” at the moment, will it come to normal around like 45 or it will drop more below 38? If so what should I do? Plz help
    Thank you dear

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