Camera Zip-lock




Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 7: Take Pictures Without Worrying



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    58 Discussions

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

    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!

    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

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

    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.

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

    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!??

    1 reply

    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...

    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!

    2 replies

    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?

    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.

    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/>

    2 replies

    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.

    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.

    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.