Twenty-Five Ways to Flood Your Camera

by Chuck Tribolet

I’ve only got my tongue lightly planted in my cheek as I write this. Most of these mistakes have happened, or nearly happened, to me or to someone I know. Names are withheld to protect the guilty.

1.“Hurry up honey, you should have done that last night. The dive boat leaves in fifteen minutes.”

2. Pet fur (my personal demon).

3. Not inspecting o-rings before closing the back or installing the lens/port. Do it EVERY time.

4. Not inspecting o-rings TWICE before closing the back or installing the lens/port. Do it EVERY time.

5. Not wearing your reading glasses while inspecting o-rings. Those under forty are exempt. For a while.

6. Sand on the o-rings.

7. Leaving the o-rings out.

8. Leaving the storage o-rings in.

9. Forgetting to connect the strobe cord.

10. Not checking that the strobe connections are tight before each dive.

11. Not getting annual services done. Annual means “same time, every year,” not “some time, some years.” If your maintenance shop seems to think it means “we have a year to get it done”, find another shop.

12. Arguing with the airline on the telephone while doing o-ring maintenance.

13. Being distracted while doing o-ring maintenance.

14. Setting up the camera in the parking lot. Do it at home.

15. Setting up the camera on the dive boat. Do it at home.

16. Beer before o-rings. First o-rings, then beer.

17. Using the latch to close the back. Close the back with your fingers, THEN latch it.

18. Cotton swabs. They are a fine device for applying cotton fibres to o-ring grooves. Instead use foam swabs from Radio Shack.

19. Too much grease.

20. No grease.

21. Wrong grease. Use Nikon grease on Nikon o-rings, Ikelite grease on Ike’s o-rings, and so forth. All greases are not the same. They are matched to the vendor’s o-ring material. Some greases will melt some o-rings. Why take a chance?

22. Changing lenses underwater.

23. Using sharp tools like dental picks to remove the o-rings.

24. Cutting the o-rings on the lens’ bayonet mount.

25. Finally, o-ring maintenance is something you do after a dive, not before the next. That way you are never rushed, and the camera is all set up when the whale shark swims by. Set up for macro of course, but set up none the less.

Hey, Noah! More Ways to Flood a Camera

Chuck Tribolet

In the September issue, I wrote an article titled “Twenty Ways to Flood Your Camera.” Here’s a lucky thirteen more. These have happened, or nearly happened, to me or someone I know.

• Hotel sinks and tubs. I’ve no idea what it is about hotel bathrooms. Maybe the little bottles of shampoo are really aliens that eat o-rings.

• Beach dives – sand gets on the O-ring.

• Beach dives – entry and exit are a risk

• Thinking “It can’t happen to me.”

• Not washing your hands before servicing O-rings. Washing your hands removes hairs, skin dander, dirt, and all manner of evil things.

• Not doing a serious soak and O-ring service when you get home from a tropical trip. Tropical “fresh” water is often a bit brackish and a re-soak in known clean water at home will fix that. An O-ring service immediately thereafter dries things out before storage.

• Hanging your camera at the same depth as your hang tank. The camera is the clapper and the tank is the bell. Ding, dong, the 15 mm is flooded.

• Tag line too short and the camera gets banged on the side of the boat or kicked by a diver.

• Floods run in pairs. If you flood one camera, figure out what happened before you take the other one in the water. Then figure out WHY you did that, and double check the second camera for different flavors of the same mistake.

• Doing all but one part of an o-ring service, thinking “I’ll put that last O-ring in on the boat.” If you MUST do something like this, do something equivalent to the red “remove before flight” ribbons used to lock the controls on airplanes so you don’t take the camera in without finishing the service.

• Letting ANYONE mess with the camera out of your presence. I know one person who got his new housing all set up with the help of the technician, and left the room while the technician packed things up — and carefully removed the main o-ring so it would not be stored under pressure. The housing went straight into the pool, and filled with water.

• Being distracted by pain. In fact, being distracted by anything is the surest path to a flood.

• Not wearing a hat. A hat will help keep hair and water drops away.