Introduction: Camera Zip-lock

Picture of Camera Zip-lock

You've got a snazzy digital camera, but you want to take it into a wet, dusty environment. Protect it with a simple zip-lock bag and a filter.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

You'll need:
- Zipper lock bag: 1 Gallon size is fine for a DSLR and a medium zoom lens.
- Filter to fit your lens: You probably want a transparent "Skylight" or "UV" filter. I got cheap ones for this project because I expect them to take some abuse.
- Sealing tape: I used electrical tape, but duct tape might provide a superior seal. The tape will only touch the bag and the outer ring of your filter, so if it leaves gunk behind, it's no big deal.

- Marking implement: Fine-tip sharpies write well on plastic bags.
- Cutting implement: A small pair of scissors works well.

Step 2: Trace Filter

Picture of Trace Filter

Trace the outline of your filter on the zip-lock bag. You don't have to be very precise, just get the basic shape and size down.

For short lenses you can put the filter smack in the middle of the bag. This will help to keep the zipper away from the controls. For longer lenses, you may have to arrange the camera diagonally.

Step 3: Cut Filter Hole

Picture of Cut Filter Hole

Cut a hole in one surface of the bag. It should be a little smaller than the filter. I found a quarter-inch margin was about right.

Step 4: Put Filter on Lens

Picture of Put Filter on Lens

Screw the filter onto the lens, but leave a gap between the two.

You can also do this using two filters and attach the lens later, but that means you're putting more layers of glass and air in front of your lens, so you risk more reflections and worse optical quality.

Step 5: Put Filter and Lens Into Hole

Picture of Put Filter and Lens Into Hole

Push the lens and filter through the hole in the bag, from the inside out. Get the stretched hole to fit snugly in the gap you left between the filter and the lens. Then finish screwing the filter into the lens threads.

Step 6: Tape Around the Hole

Picture of Tape Around the Hole

For extra sealing, wrap tape over the joint you've just made between the filter and the bag.

Step 7: Take Pictures Without Worrying

Picture of Take Pictures Without Worrying


Marilik (author)2007-09-11

Awesome... here's my photo

chatrooms (author)Marilik2014-01-31

lol, are you underwater?

aneel (author)Marilik2007-09-11

Wow. Fully underwater? That's great. Did you do more to seal the opening?

Marilik (author)aneel2007-09-11

Actually aneel, i did! I Wrapped the camera in plastic wrap before putting it in to the Ziplock Bag. But to tell you the truth, i don't see it being very necessary. I did however try to suck most of the air out. This was just to have the camera nicely positioned inside. I also Taped the ziplock opening closed with Electrician's Tape. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! You've opened up a new form of photography in my world!

softenersreviews (author)2013-03-02

So simple and clever at one time!

cory.smith (author)2010-07-30

I wish I had thought of this before heading off into a local cave for some pictures. =/ Instructable for underground photography is in the works....=D

jamoskirk (author)2010-04-22

If you had a Pentax DSLR you wouldn`t need to protect it from water or dirt =)

jameslkieb (author)2009-09-22

Well done. I also did something quite similar to keep my "one and only" safe at Burning Man. I cut the corner out of a bag and used a big, thick, blue elastic that is commonly used to hold broccoli stalks together. A UV filter protected the front surface of my lens and gave me more contact point for the elastic. I I left tabs around my hole cutting and folded them back over the elastic and used a second one to secure it. This stayed on without adjustment for a whole week. I positioned the other bottom corner of the bag near the scroll wheel of my 1000D. Accessing features was very easy. The "sip" of the bag fit at the bottom to stay out of the way. I screwed my trooped mount through bottom of the bag with an extra piece of rubber on the inside to keep the seal. The only problems I had were trying to manual focus at night through the obstructed view finder and having my auto focus bind up a bit with the twisting of the bag. I used a fairly heavy grade of bag. A little pre shot adjustment was all that was needed. Cheap, easy and completely non destructive. Not one speck of dust got on my camera.

Jaysn (author)2009-07-28

You could make a more secure seal with one of those vacuum sealing machines they actually melt the bag closed. Just a though.

triggersnappy (author)2009-04-12

WHOA!!!! call me old fashion or a sucker for the pro gear but there is no WAY i am whacking my 5D Mark II and an L lens in a ziplock bag taking it for a dive! in the rain maybe ... and a coupla of hundred dollars point and shoot perhaps but a DSLR!??

aneel (author)triggersnappy2009-04-12

Sounds like you've got the budget for an Ikelite housing or something similar. That's what I'd recommend for a dive, and even those aren't foolproof. This is for dusty areas, or places where there will be some splashing. I wouldn't personally trust bags like these for immersion. But some commenters in this thread have gotten nice results...

Thelonelysandwitch (author)2009-03-04

I do this all the time with my cell phone, just with special bags.

Shaeren (author)2008-08-12


any thoughts on the Aquapac SLR case?

knoj (author)2008-07-28

I have been using this method for a while with great results. I trust it with splashes and dust, but I don't trust it under water. The auto-focus doesn't turn the bag much, just leave some extra room for the bag to twist a small amount. I took the picture below just yesterday. Good luck!

aneel (author)knoj2008-07-28

Sweet. That's a water balloon, right? Did you do anything special to get the timing right? Or just run through a bunch of trials?

knoj (author)aneel2008-07-29

Yeah water balloons, nothing special, just put the camera on continuous shoot. I shot about 200 shots making sure to get as many frames as possible. Pick a sunny day so you can speed the shutter up. Don't be afraid to get close. We're definitely doing this again, it was fun for everyone.

baliboards (author)2007-12-10

No more worries for dust, grim, splash or swimming. No need for zip lock. Of course, you gotta pay out a bit, but it's worry free. We were using the ziplock solution here in Bali a while back. We'd sign onto American sites <a rel="nofollow" href="">Zip</a> and get samples of little size bags delivered to us in Hawaii. This was OK for the flat digi cameras in mild surf. But no need anymore - good waterproof cameras are selling for 130 Euros. Mine is Pentax. It gets pounded - still works fine. And it's over a year old, so new ones must be better. Forget the big SLR's, that's for the pros. Check out <a rel="nofollow" href="">SurfMag</a>. You can't compete with that; better stick to snapshots. And use the ziplocks for clothes and stuff.<br/>

aneel (author)baliboards2007-12-10

Of course you can compete with that. The pros don't have some kind of magic that amateurs don't. The only difference is that the pros have convinced someone to pay them for what they're doing. Don't stick to snapshots. Don't just point it in the right direction, press the button, and hope it comes out well. Aim the camera. Figure out what you want. Take pictures until you get them to come out the way you imagined. If one shot doesn't work, keep shooting and trying different things. Each of those surfing magazine cover shots is probably one out of a thousand pictures that the photographer took that day, and one out of tens of thousands that the photographer took on the way to figuring out how to get that shot. You can get there. That said, I think the advice to get a waterproof camera (or diving housing) is solid if you're actually trying to shoot in surf. I wouldn't trust a zip lock bag and a bit of tape against saltwater immersion.

baliboards (author)aneel2007-12-15

You're spot on. I'm with you all the way. And I like the intensity. I was thinking - 130 Euros is no big deal for me, rich Aussie in Bali, but it's 8 months wages for the typical villager. Older cameras tend to be shared amongst relatives and friends. What are they to do when taking pictures of religious ceremonies on the bay or parades in the rain? Simple solution - put their camera in a zip lock. Which brings us back to your original idea.

Ribs (author)2007-11-28

Instead of usind desicant packs just hold the zip-lock in front of an air conditioner for a few mins, this shold make the air dry and solve the vapoure problem.

dolpolens (author)2007-10-11

I can't belive you guys are risking expensive equipment in these cheap bags. I spoke with my friends at and (they own the patent on ziplock bags) and both companies stress that neither the seal nor the material (polyethylene) is waterproof. Furthermore, internal condensation is possible. Maybe has a solution. In the meantime, be careful.

Ribs (author)dolpolens2007-11-28

i went to the goretex website and couldnt find anything to do with cameras where should i look?

the guys at gore tex tend to be quite gay about their material. I wouldn't count on it, seeing as by gay, I mean they don't sell to anyone besides "qualified gore-tex distributors". yeah, they can suck it. Me? I use the water sealed 50 cal ammo boxes with a bit of piping, a camera lense, and two O ring rubber seals. if you need to go underwater, use counterweights. but yeah, goretex dosn't sell to individuals. it says so right on the website.

I guess that Gore-Tex needs to protect the reputation of their product. Maybe their own R & D department can work on a clear waterproof membrane. Of course, your idea sounds like, and has proven to be, the safest solution. But I'm still intrigued by the idea of a super lightweight malleable wrap that can protect the camera underwater. I see that they now make ziplock bags from an ultra clear plastic (the kind used for notecards) and that it is less permeable than the household variety foodbag. A Google search finds and among others that sell these new bags. In theory, the pictures should turn out a lot clearer. Someone else can risk their camera then get back to me. Good luck!

k3nt (author)2006-10-27

thanks for posting this. i live in vancouver canada and have been itching to get out and photograph in the rain. there's a red colored construction tape available in hardware stores that bonds very well to plastic.

wikityler (author)k3nt2007-10-27

Tuck tape. It's well suited for this purpose, because it is intended to seal vapour barrier.

je1330 (author)2007-08-19

aneel, I made one of these for my Olympus e500, thanks so much for the idea! A friend was having her little girl's first birthday party at a city park with a lot of water features. I never would have gotten close enough for this picture without the ziplock enclosure. For anyone trying this out, as has been said before, it's certainly not water proof, but it is completely splash proof. The two things you have to worry about are droplets on the filter, which you'll be able to see through the view finder, and fog on the lens. When looking through the bag into the viewfinder, everything looks foggy anyway, so remember to keep checking the front often. Next time, I'm going to take some wetnaps or something like them, your shirt just doesn't work once you get wet too. haha -- jason

je1330 (author)je13302007-08-19

Here's the image, hopefully, it didn't attach before...

bryankennedy (author)2005-08-30

i am a little confused. wouldn't this get a twisted up as soon as you need to focus the camera? or once the auto-focus kicks in? maybe i am just missing one of the steps.

ELF (author)bryankennedy2007-07-28

Depends on the lens. The standard 18-70mm for the D70 got internal focus and even though it will be tough to turn the zoom ring, the front wouldn't twist, so you wouldn't twist the bag... :)

dolpolens (author)2007-07-25

I see where they are making padded ziplock bags now (Bubble Zip). This site has some: Cheap, but the minimum seems to be 100 bags. Also, I would prefer they use the slide zipper rather than the traditional ziplock closure. Anyone find some?

cprogrammer (author)2007-07-10

You could put silicone sealant around the gap. These sealants can be found in any aquarium shop (The are used for sealing aquariums).

power (author)2007-03-31

can it be putted into the water? just to make sure

marc92 (author)power2007-04-25

You could just buy a disposable, waterproof camera at your local drug store.

aneel (author)power2007-03-31

That's probably a bad idea. This kind of bag doesn't create a great seal. See the other comments for some ideas of how to improve the seal.

the fat hobbit (author)2007-04-19

great idea my ish is always getting dirty and its a bitch to clean though a zip lock would make changing settings hard wouldn't it??

l8ntpianist (author)2007-02-26

i knew a couple of fellows in the navy that were into diving and snorkling. they would use a disposable cam and a ziploc. the pics were beautiful.

buildingteen (author)2007-01-14

for the dessicant packs couldn't you use kno3 and tape it inside of an old hand warmer pack? and i made one that attaches to a graduated filter the ring stays centered but the piece with the slots stays stationary because my 75-300 has external focus and also my bag is made of shower curtain liner and since my friend made a heat sealer for a diferent project i was able to seal it water tight and the back is zipper heat sealed on with two water tight zippers so it works great for like shallow water pictures! and is that a D-70/D-70s?

aneel (author)buildingteen2007-01-14

The camera in the pictures is a D70.

CanDo (author)2006-10-26

How about creating/reinforcing the seal by using bicycle innertube instead of/in conjuntion with tape?

dll932 (author)2006-05-18

Warning! Beware of moisture condensation in the bag-it should be vented from time to time, or the inside of the camera will rust.

Myself (author)dll9322006-05-31

Easy enough to toss a few desiccant packs in there. Reactivate them first: Any desiccant pack that's been sitting around the house for a few weeks should be considered "full", as it's probably absorbed as much water as it can. Using a milligram balance, record the mass of each pack beforehand. Throw all your desiccant packs on a cookie sheet and bake them overnight in an electric oven at 200 degrees or so. The flame of a gas oven produces moisture making it unsuitable for the task. (Solar ovens would be ideal!) Compare the mass afterward to get an idea of which packs had the most to lose, which (assuming they were all sitting in the same moist house air beforehand) tells you which ones grabbed the most out of the ambient air. Throw an aggressive one in your baggie with the camera.

pdc4770 (author)Myself2006-10-14

To revive dessicant packs, just pop them in the microwave for one minute. If you wrap them in a kitchen paper towel that will soak up the moisture nicely. Watch your fingers, the packs could be hot. I find you could safely leave the dessicant in the microwave for 5 minutes at full power, but one minute is sufficient.

dad_of_four (author)Myself2006-07-25

Wondering what the cost if heating your oven overnight vs. the cost of buying new packs? Any idea?

Corvidae (author)dad_of_four2006-08-08

Why not just go try on some shoes and snag a few out of the boxes. Or wait till a companion buys a purse or practicly anything made of leather that comes in a box or closes. If you ask at a shoe store they may have some. I bet people leave them on the floor all the time.

kalechi (author)2006-08-23

You can also use the Conkin adapters, they are cheap ($5) and they have a flat front. I glued 2 together with the zip-lock bag in between, then cut out the hole. Acutally I used a dry bag, for carrying items in a canoe. it was thicker and actually waterproof.

Nachimir (author)2006-08-23

This is excellent, thanks. I suppose a spare UV / 1A and a step ring could be used to make an easily reuasable one.

zachninme (author)2006-08-22

If you are that worried about it, use duct tape to seal it up.

coreyb (author)2006-07-31

I don't think I would take my camera underwater, out in the rain, but not underwater. I don't trust a ziplock to keep my sandwich dry, much less my camera... It is not the tape I worry about, it is the seal and the corners of the bag itself. Ziplocks have a tendency to pop open when you need them most.

Marcos (author)2006-07-26

I wonder if you could put a wrap of Teflon tape on the filter threads. Does anyone know if the lens to filter tolerances (much tighter than a hunk of water pipe) are big enought to let you get the filter threaded back on properly?

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