You’ve probably invested a substantial amount in purchasing a camera and some amazing lenses – the best you can afford right?
Well then it makes sense that you should look after them – both when handling them and when they are not in use.
Your gear is well engineered and robustly built but still need to be treated with care if you want it to continue to perform well. Don’t go chucking cameras and lenses about as if they are unbreakable – they’re not!
Take the same amount of care when storing them – ensure you store them correctly as they are susceptible to fine dust particles and moisture, especially humidity (which is the main source of fungus in lenses).
For day-to-day use get the best camera bag you can afford and for those times when you aren’t using it get the best camera dry cabinet you can afford.
A camera dry cabinet (dehumidifier) is the best way to protect your valuable photographic gear against fungus and damage from humidity during lengthy periods of inactivity.
Keeping your camera and lenses in an enclosed, and possibly stuffy, camera bag or backpack should be avoided, if possible.
A camera dry cabinet makes a fantastic gift for the photographer in your life – trust me, he/she will be thrilled to receive one of these!
- 1 What to Look For in a Camera Dry Cabinet
- 2 FORSPARK Range of Camera Dehumidifying Dry Cabinets
- 3 What People Are Saying About The FORSPARK Range
- 4 SIRUI Range of Camera Dry Cabinets
- 5 Ruggard Range of Dehumidifying Dry Cabinets
- 6 Why Get a Dehumidifying Cabinet For Your Camera Gear?
- 7 Who Should Invest In A Camera Dry Cabinet?
- 8 Silica Gel Desiccant Packets Vs A Dry Cabinet
- 9 Final Word on Camera Dry Cabinets
What to Look For in a Camera Dry Cabinet
Camera dry boxes are – well … just boxes, nothing too complicated about them but you still need to ensure you get one that suits your needs.
There are a number of different brands that are all designed do the same thing.
Looks may differ slightly and sizes vary quite a bit. It is the latter that I would consider to be the most important.
In this review I cover a couple of brands that are popular and may be of interest to you.
I’ve started with the Forspark range of humidifiers because they have a large selection of sizes, are excellent value for money, are readily available and come with excellent after sales service.
Before we go on to the actual units let’s look at some general aspects of selecting your camera dehumidifying cabinet.
Shape and Size Both Count - no matter what others may say ...
The main priority is to fit your gear in your dry cabinet comfortably – allowing for any future purchases you plan on buying – such as that extra lens you’ve always dreamed of.
Dry cabinets come in different configurations (vertical or horizontal aspect) – get one that will fit the space you intend placing it in.
Once you have your cabinet you will probably find other items that could benefit from humidity control – as I did with my binoculars and hearing aids.
Adjustable Humidity Control with LED or Analog Display
A reliable and adjustable humidity controller is the main difference between a good and a bad dry cabinet.
If you’re in the market for a dry cabinet be sure to get one where the humidity range is visible and you can tell at a glance that the unit is switched on and working as it should.
You don’t want to go opening your cabinet after a couple of weeks only to find it has packed up and your camera and/or lenses are damaged as a result.
Airtight Seals and Solid Construction
Your unit needs to be airtight to function properly – and for this solid construction is important.
Door seals should be similar to those found on a fridge or freezer. Check them regularly and if perished, or ill-fitting, replace as soon as possible.
Preventative maintenance is better than cure and always less expensive!
Correctly functioning seals ensures the unit is working at maximum efficiency and reduces the running costs of the cabinet.
Power cables that lead into the cabinet need to be equally well sealed – once again to ensure efficiency and minimal running costs.
I like a dry cabinet with a locking facility – not so much for security from theft (although it is a deterrent) but more for security from accidentally leaving it open.
And in my case innocent but inquisitive grandchildren!
FORSPARK Range of Camera Dehumidifying Dry Cabinets
Materials and Power Source.
The Forspark Range are all made from black coated stainless steel with lockable air-tight tempered glass doors.
The differences in the models are the power source, power output and physical dimensions.
All units are powered by 110 – 220 AC/5V 2A DC except the 2 larger ones (120L and 125L) which are 110 – 220 AC/DC/ 5V 5A
For the 30L – 100L range the output is 8 Watts and for the 120L and 125L models it is 15Watts.
All models are very economical and silent.
Controlled Humidity Range:
25% – 60% (+/- 5%)
Size options, Internal dimensions and shelving:
- 30L – 11.34″ x 11.42″ x 14.37″ – 1 adjustable shelf
- 50L – 11.34″ x 11.42″ x 20.87″ – 2 adjustable shelves
- 80L – 21.06″ x 12.95″ x 17.72″ – 1 adjustable shelf
- 100L – 14.88″ x 14.09″ x 27.17″ – 4 adjustable shelves
- 120L – 28.5″ x 27″ x 18.5″ – 2 adjustable shelves
- 125L – 38″ x 18.8″ x 18.4″ – 4 adjustable shelves
All units come with a thin sponge/foam on each shelf to stop your gear sliding around.
Images on the right link through to the latest prices, specials and packages from Amazon.
The image on the top is the 30L followed by the 50L then the 80L and the 100L.
For more information on the 30L dry cabinet – click here
For more information on the 50L dry cabinet – click here
For more information on the 80L dry cabinet – click here
For more information on the 100L dry cabinet – click here
For more information on the 120L dry cabinet – click here
For more information on the 125L dry cabinet – click here
The 50L and 80L models are highlighted here as they are the most popular sizes.
- A wide range of sizes and configurations (horizontal or vertical) to choose from
- Options available to suit all budgets
- Simple to operate and inexpensive to run – very functional units
- Slim and standard lines that look good
- Lots of very positive reviews for all models
- High demand for the units may mean you have to wait a few days for delivery – this could be worse than normal due to the effects of Covid on shipping.
What People Are Saying About The FORSPARK Range
As always I take time to read reviews before I buy, or recommend, a product and the FORSPARK range of dehumidifiers had nothing but great reviews – the following is a handful of them.
SIRUI Range of Camera Dry Cabinets
Made in China and distributed from Australia the SIRUI range of camera dry cabinets/dehumidifiers are proving to be very popular world-wide.
SIRUI are better known for their tripods, tripod-heads and a number of other photo accessories.
They have an overwhelmingly positive range of reviews for all their photographic products: a sure indication of a company that prides itself on quality.
Like the other brands featured here the main difference between the 4 models is essentially capacity.
The following interior measurement are height x width x depth
SIRUI HC50: 50L capacity – 18.1″ x 14.2″ x 11.8″
SIRUI HC70: 70L capacity – 24.4″ x 14.2″ x 11.8″
SIRUI HC110: 110L capacity – 29.9″ x 17.7″ x 15″
SIRUI H200: 200L capacity – 46.9″ x 17.7″ x 16.5″
The folowing is applicable to all units.
- RCM approved for use in Australia (Ozzies will know)
- Warranty is as follows – 6 Years for the cabinet and 3 years for the electronics
- Designed to protect your gear from dust and humidity
- The controllable dehumidifying system provides for a humidity range between 25% and 65%. The LCD indicates a humidity range of between 20% and 99% letting you know at a glance if the hmidity is too high or too low
- Easy-to-Read LCD Screen
- Adjustable Shelving:
the 50L has 1 shelf, the 70L has 2, the 110L has 3 and the 200L has 4 within two vertical lockable compartments
- The material used in the frames is 1.2mm thick steel welded together to provide an airtight enclosure
- The lockable doors are made with tempered glass fitted with an air-tight seal
- All units are silent running and energy efficient.
- Ideal for long term storage of sensitive electronic equipment
- Button controlled exterior panel for programming required settings
- The bright LCD screen displays humidity level as well as internal temperature of unit
- The shelves are adjustable and the interrior is lined with foam to protect your gear from breakage
Shipping from Australia adds to costs and delays for overseas customers.
Amazon carry some stock but not all the models at any one time. The “More Info and Pricing” button above will link you to Amazon where you can learn a bit more about them.
Ruggard Range of Dehumidifying Dry Cabinets
Ruggard 235L Electronic Dry Cabinet
The Ruggard range is a popular range of dry cabinets in their own right and the 235L unit is the flagship model.
What makes this cabinet stand out from the others is that it is essentially 2 dehumidifiers in one, with individual access to either side via twin doors with individual locks.
If you have a lot of gear this could be the model for you.
It’s a big beast weighing in at 76 lbs (34.5 kg) and measuring 31.8 x 14.6 x 34″ externally.
It has some cool features like adjustable shelves with padded shelf liners, internal LED lighting, adjustable feet for levelling and a multi-voltage power supply.
Humidity ranges from 35% – 60% and adjusts within 3 hours.
- Looks good and is solidly built
- Effectively 2 units in one
- 4 Shelves on each side
- Silent operation
- Internal LED Lighting
- Multi-voltage option
- Level adjusting legs
- It’s heavy
- Price – might explain why not many are purchased
- Lack of customisation – you can get two smaller and different shaped models to suit your exact requirements at half the price
- Check shipping options and costs
- Not always readily available
Ruggard 180L Electronic Dry Cabinet
This is another two-door (double) unit from Ruggard – this time in a vertical format.
External measurements are 14.9 x 15.4 x 52.9″ making it a tall slim model.
The 180L model shown here is also quite heavy at just a tad shy of 58.5lbs.
Like it’s bigger brother it comes with adjustable padded shelves, internal LED lights, 2 level-adjusting feet and multi-voltage selector.
The humidity range is the same at 35% – 60%
- Ideal for a specific space
- Effectively 2 units in one
- Silent operation
- 8 shelves in total with 4 in each section
- Internal lighting (LED)
- 110 – 240V
- Adjustable legs for levelling
- Fairly heavy
- Not always readily available
- May not ship to all countries – check with vendor when purchasing
Ruggard 120L Electronic Dry Cabinet
Based on the number of positive reviews the Ruggard 120L is the most popular of the Ruggard models .
The size and price point and the 5 adjustable padded shelves (one of which has profiles for lenses) probably have a lot to do with making this the most popular model. There is heaps of space!
This is an upright (vertical) unit with a single door.
Like the bigger models it has internal LED lighting, a lockable glass door and multi-voltage (110 – 240V) selector with a humidity range of (you guessed it) 35% – 60%.
The LCD display is well sighted and easy to read.
Adjustable levelling feet come as a standard feature.
The unit weighs in at 44lbs and has interior measurements of 14.9 x 14.2 x 37″
- A good size
- Well made
- Great price point
- 5 Adjustable padded shelves – 1 with a built in lens profile
- 110-240 volts
- Plenty storage space
- Great reviews
- May not ship to all countries – check with vendor before buying
- Not always readily available
Ruggard 18L Electronic Dry Cabinet
This is a small unit – don’t even consider it if you intend buying more gear.
Only 1 real compartment for storage with a mini-shelf (for a laptop/iPad/mobile phone etc).
Humidity range is the standard 35% – 60%
Comes with a 110 – 240V multi-selector, has a well placed LCD display, lockable glass door and is neat and tidy.
The feet are not adjustable
- Good looking
- Functional (within limits )
- Inexpensive – but even that is debatable
- Really small
- Not customisable
- No shelving to speak of
- You will outgrow this unit as soon as you unpack it
Why Get a Dehumidifying Cabinet For Your Camera Gear?
Digital cameras are ruggedly built and designed for regular use and manhandling. Many of them come with weather sealing, as a standard feature – so why should you spend more money on a dry cabinet?
Fungus … that’s why.
Moisture is your camera, and your lens’, worst enemy – dust is a close second.
The truth is …
No weather sealing is 100% and in most cases the sealing applies to the camera body whereas it is lenses that need the most protection – particularly from humidity.
If you’ve got a great waterproof camera bag or backpack it’s a good idea to air it completely, once in a while. When your camera’s not in use give your bag a break and store your gear in a camera dehumidifying cabinet.
Heck if there’s room in the cabinet chuck your bag in too.
Camera bodies are regularly replaced and upgraded but your expensive lenses stay with you forever – or at least until you change systems or brands.
Should you plan to sell your equipment one day it is much easier to get a good price for a well looked after fungus and dust-free lens (or camera body for that matter), than it is to sell a fungus infected one.
Dust and moisture can easily get into to the smallest of openings and both are very difficult to remove.
This is where good care, maintenance and storage plays a big part in preserving your gear – not only from a resale point of view but also to ensure continued top performance from your equipment.
Who Should Invest In A Camera Dry Cabinet?
This is a pretty good question because not everyone should go to the expense of a big electronic unit that takes up a fair amount of space.
Bear in mind that even if you do have a really good camera bag it is not the ideal place to store your camera gear for any length of time – you could well regret it.
Maybe you don’t have much by way of gear – in that case a well-sealed storage unit with a few silica gel desiccant bags will do the job just fine. Remember to recharge or replace the bags regularly.
You should consider getting a camera dry cabinet if:
- You live in an area that has high humidity.
Phoenix Arizona is pretty dry all year round I am told whereas Florida has high humidity for a large part of the year.
I live in New Zealand where we get a lot of rain and a fairly big variance in both humidity and temperatures – we definitely need one here.
- You live in an area with extreme weather conditions.
If you can keep your camera stored in an environment that is constant in both temperature and humidity you will get more consistent results and your camera will last longer.
Cold weather is not a camera’s best friend!
Obviously you have to take your camera out to take photos but as soon as you are done get it to room temperature as soon as possible and then store the camera body and all your lenses in a dehumidifying cabinet. You won’t be sorry.
- You have a lot of $ invested in lenses.
Camera bodies come and go but we keep our lenses forever – especially the expensive prime lenses we have invested in.
Keep their performance and resale value high by looking after them and ensuring no fungus gets the opportunity to grow and breed in them.
Once it is takes hold fungus is difficult and expensive to get rid of it.
- You don’t use your gear often.
Surprise, surprise! You thought storing your seldom used gear in a dark cupboard will be fine. Well the truth is those are the exact conditions under which fungus thrives.
Ever seen fungus grow in an area that is constantly exposed to sun?
Nope never.. Sun is fungus’ worst enemy
Ever seen fungus in areas that are dark and never get the sun?
- And if …
You just want to look after your gear properly. It’s not a huge investment to secure high-end items.
For example …
- You wear hearing aids.
Yes you “heard me right”.
Expensive electronic items like hearing aids also suffer from moisture getting into them. I’ve had two hearing aids go on the blink because of moisture and at NZ$4000.00 a pop (I know – insane right?) they now reside in the dry cabinet when I’m not wearing them.
Silica Gel Desiccant Packets Vs A Dry Cabinet
Don’t get me wrong …
Silica Gel desiccant packets are a great dehumidifying option – but only in small and well sealed containers.
I use them all the time and have several in my camera bag at any one time. But that is as far as it goes – they are not a long-term storage solution because:
- once saturated they either need to be recharged or
And there is my problem – I tend to forget when they need to be replaced!
My advice is to keep these on hand and in your camera bag for short term storage but not to rely on them for the long term.
I wouldn’t think that a $5.00 – $10.00 purchase is going to be a long term storage solution to my expensive camera gear – would you?
And guess where I store my silica gel packets?
You got it – in the dry cabinet!
There are two types of Silica Gel Desiccant bags; the rechargeable ones as per the top image below, and the cheaper, throw away ones pictured at the bottom.
Final Word on Camera Dry Cabinets
The world is currently in COVID turmoil – for me it seems like it has been a 100 years of it and one of the biggest impacts has been on shipping costs and delays.
To avoid even longer delays I strongly suggested that purchases from retail outlets such as Amazon, whose business depends entirely on delivering, are the way to go. They have a very strong vested interest in getting your purchases to you!
On that basis (and for the reasons stated above) I highly recommend one of the FORSPARK range of camera dry cabinets carried by Amazon.
Forspark cover all options in terms of size and budget – the most popular sizes are the 50L and 80L models while the 100L ones have also proved popular.
Definitely buy the right size first time around – excess space is a much better problem to have than too little space.
Let me know which you prefer and if you have found other brands you’d like me to research I would be more than happy to do so.
Leave all your comments, questions and suggestions below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Until next time …