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05-08-2021, 05:07 PM   #1
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What gear to bring to dusty/desert locations and how to take care of them

Hi everyone, I will be traveling to places like Arizona and Dubai and plan to document what I see on those trips, and if time allows, casually shoot some astro (I've been wanting to try the Astrotracer feature). I would like to know what kind of gear I should bring and how I should take care of them to prevent issues such as dust getting inside my camera or lenses, temperature and humidity differences causing condensation inside the lenses, and any other potential issues I don't currently know about.

It would be great if you guys can share your experiences going to such places, the precautions you took, and whether those preparations were worth it to you.

I currently have a K-1 ii, D FA 24-70mm f/2.8, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, A 35-105mm f/3.5, DA 35mm f/2.4, DA 50mm f/1.8, DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited, some UV and ND filters, a CPL filter, and a tripod. I think I should mainly use the D FA 24-70 WR to prevent dust and sand from getting inside my camera. I've had sand get under the focus rings of some older Sigma primes and it's annoying to feel. The D FA 24-70 should cover the majority of my use cases as well. Would putting a UV filter on prevent scratches from sand blowing at the front element of the lens? Am I worrying too much?

I would also like to know how to prevent significant damage to my car's paint from parking my car in a sandy and windy area in the sun for a while. Would paint sealant last me at least a month or two?


05-08-2021, 05:49 PM   #2
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I have not been to those places, but I do go to the beach often, and to an area with unpaved roads and a lot of dust or mud seasonally. First, the beach is usually windy and sand is blowing, I just don't change the lens there, a couple time I have had to I've used my body as a wind block and held the gear as close to myself as possible. For the other place with dirt roads, it is much the same if it is dry and dusty, or raining. I have two cameras and I will take them with different lenses if I know I may need them. Or change them inside my vehicle if it is close by. I guess if you are shooting into a very strong wind a UV filter may help, but it will also possibly degrade your images. If you are shooting into a wind that strong you're also going to need PPE, personal protective equipment like safely goggles, gloves, etc. Paint protectors may help your car, hopefully a desert dweller will chime in. I have heard of pitted paint and windshields in those type of areas, but don't have any idea of how long it takes.
05-08-2021, 09:34 PM   #3
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I'm sure the K-1 could stand up to the rigours of a desert trip but I can understand why the OP might be a bit hesitant.....I would be as well. I'd probably take a camera that you wouldn't be too upset if it wasn't in the best shape afterwards. Something like a K30 or K50?

I certainly wouldn't change lenses out in the open so get the most versatile lens you can to minimise changes.
05-09-2021, 02:49 AM - 1 Like   #4
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As many have said above, resist the temptation to change lenses in the field. Pick a lens and camera combo, stick with it until you get inside a tent, building, or a vehicle, any place you can close the door and wait for the dust to settle before changing lenses. Consider a carrying second body and lens if you plan on switching between a zoom and a prime. If you plan your day, though, you can guess what type of lens you need. I think your 24-70WR would be the best choice. From my own travels there, I used the wide end of a zoom far more than I zoomed.

FWIW, I travelled and hiked though Arizona with a K-1 and and a non-WR lens, the FA 24-90 IF AL. No issues in daily use, but I recommend a CPL, it not only protects the lens, but it cuts the glare in the same way sunglasses do for your own eyes. Also consider an ND filter, because the light can be so intense that even the lowest ISO will still push to the highest shutter speeds, and ruin the contrasts.

The Arizona desert conditions are different from the deserts of the Arabian peninsula, the sand is a fine grit that gets into everything and fine particles get carried by the slightest breeze, which is why I recommend NOT changing lenses in the field. I travelled through Iraq and Kuwait using a K-5 and an 18-135 WR almost exclusively. Again, I had a CPL on, better than a UV for the same reasons I mentioned above.
I also recommend a a soft brush and blower bulb to clean with.

Unlike what Hollywood shows in films, sandstorms do not scour the pain off cars, not flesh from bones. If you were out in a sandstorm, you would want some good sunglasses that fit closely to protect you eyes, I have some Wiley-X sunglasses with a gasket around the eyepieces, more comfortable than goggles. You would also want some type of scarf or mask to cover your mouth in a sandstorm. When I was in the UAE, some of the locals showed me useful a head covering , Kaffiyah is for the desert.

The dust/sandstorms won't affect your car over a month, and if they did get that strong, you'd have bigger problems than chipped paint, best thing to do is wash and wax (preferrably by hand with something like Turtle Wax) for protection before parking.
Don't leave anything electronic in direct sunlight, though, I lost a point and shoot camera that way.

Last edited by robgski; 05-09-2021 at 04:59 AM.
05-09-2021, 03:18 AM   #5
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I've had absolutely no problems with KP and WR and non-WR lenses after using them across Morocco (admittedly more urban/beach areas than real desert). Made sure to shake the sand/street dust off them before putting back in the bag and change lenses quickly turning my back to the wind. Didn't notice any problems/ wear, unlike my peak design leash which got from brand new to looking tattered during that trip. Afterwards, I got a slingshot backpack (an old Vanguard I had used some time ago) because I wouldn't need to drop it on the ground to take something out and I'm pretty sure it could survive an occasional puddle of mud or a dusty corner.
05-09-2021, 03:41 AM   #6
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My hiking kit was: K-30 ( AA battery ) + Sigma 17-70 2.8 - 4.5 Macro ( non HSM ) + Pentax DA 18 - 250.
Had no problems at all.
Both lenses are not WR but survived mud , rain and dust , of corse with some protection and common sense.
I haven't done "dirty" traveling for a few years now and my K-30 is not happy any more ( needs new solenoid ) .
The car , just hire it , I would not use my own car in very dirty and risky conditions. Sand storms are extremely bad for windscreens / windows and paint.
I do not think I will be doing much of this kind of activities , our borders are still closed + getting older.
05-09-2021, 04:41 AM   #7
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just remember

the old fashion " rain gear " could offer some protection against blowing dust and sand

camera rain gear - Bing - Shopping

05-12-2021, 07:56 AM   #8
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I went to UAE years ago (2015) with my K5 and 18-135 and the 50mm 1.4 lens. I was also involved in a sand storm, and my camera bag did take a tumble in a water fountain there too.

the 50mm 1.4 was kind of a waste (for me) due to its soft focus wide open. I brought it solely for portraits, and worked fine, but would rather have something sharper.

anything WR should be fine for you.

as to avoid condensation, you can keep your gear in a ziplock back when you're inside. As soon as you are out, take off the ziplock back, and remember to put it back on when you are heading in.
though that has been a rare occurance for me, and Ive traveled with various pentax gears to several parts of the world over the last 6 years, and haven't really had any issues.

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