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01-15-2014, 05:55 PM   #1
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Nitromethane safe for cameras?

Heading to the NHRA Winter Nationals to watch the Top Fuel dragsters. Does anyone know if Nitromethane is safe for camera parts? The worst exposure will probably be when I'm standing in the pit when they start one up. Using a K-3 with a sealed lens.

01-15-2014, 06:07 PM   #2
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Can't be good as it is a solvent, among other things.
01-15-2014, 07:04 PM   #3
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I'd advise covering any rubber parts you can with masking tape or something of the sort. (Such as the lens mount)

I don't think petroleum solvents should really be coming in contact with your rear gasket. (Better yet, shoot with a plastic bag over it, haha)

In theory: This could be really bad.
In practice: There's probably only a 1% chance of anything noticeable happen if you don't make habit of shooting in environments rich in the substance. (Basically, you'd probably die from the fumes before your camera would)

That said, even if you cover it, be sure to wipe down your camera later with a clean rag. (To remove any residue)
01-15-2014, 07:38 PM - 3 Likes   #4
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01-15-2014, 07:49 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by 7samurai Quote
The worst exposure will probably be when I'm standing in the pit when they start one up.
Yeah standing by a nitro engine cranking up is certainly an experience . They start and run pretty rich (raw fuel comes out the pipes) but just keep clear of that. Just don't forget some good ear protection!
01-15-2014, 07:50 PM   #6
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You are obviously a true photographer. The real question is: is getting sprayed with nitromethane good for people?
But if you are not worried about yourself, you could protect your camera with a rain sleeve.
01-15-2014, 08:08 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ak_kiwi Quote
Yeah standing by a nitro engine cranking up is certainly an experience . They start and run pretty rich (raw fuel comes out the pipes) but just keep clear of that. Just don't forget some good ear protection!
If I recall reading, Nitro can burn in the absense of air can't it?

And the mixture on a nitro engine is something like 1:1? (where a normal petrol car is 12:1 or leaner)

I've never spent that much time around nitro/drags, most of the time I was with the circuit racing guys who tend to only go as exotic as E85 for the injected ones, and Avgas for the carb guys.


As others have said, I imagine it's quite an efficient solvent, so maybe use a rain cover as suggested, and consider a filter to help prevent any marks to the lens coating.

It really depends on just how much unburned fuel is around, I imagine it's actually not that much since otherwise it would be a pretty big fire risk.
01-15-2014, 10:17 PM   #8
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Have a look at this
which shows at 2:10 the fuel haze out of the exhaust. The cam figures on these engines are pretty radical and like most race engines they are not the most "efficient" at low rpm.
Biggest danger to one's camera gear - probably dropping it when a Top Fuel throttle is opened
(or walking into a pole looking at pit bunnies)

01-16-2014, 01:18 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joel B Quote
Borrow a friends Nikon!!
really............
01-16-2014, 05:17 AM   #10
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If you are truly worried about exposure to the camera etc. also consider the lens coatings. I would be more concerned about screwing up the front element if the Vapor is really an issue. The front element may be a larg mass that is relatively cool and you could get condensate.

Also, I would be concerned not as much with the seals but the plastic outer body cover of the camera.
01-16-2014, 09:03 AM   #11
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I've attended many NHRA races with my camera gear. don't worry and have fun shooting them.





01-16-2014, 09:34 AM   #12
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Nothing bad will happen to your camera... unless you drop it .
If you are really concerned, make sure you wipe clean the camera after the photo session in the pit.

The camera should be OK, you on the other hand can't promise anything. Breathing those fumes, on the long run, might not be a good thing .
01-16-2014, 04:22 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eulogy Quote
I'd advise covering any rubber parts you can with masking tape or something of the sort. (Such as the lens mount)

I don't think petroleum solvents should really be coming in contact with your rear gasket. (Better yet, shoot with a plastic bag over it, haha)

In theory: This could be really bad.
In practice: There's probably only a 1% chance of anything noticeable happen if you don't make habit of shooting in environments rich in the substance. (Basically, you'd probably die from the fumes before your camera would)

That said, even if you cover it, be sure to wipe down your camera later with a clean rag. (To remove any residue)
There's enough of it in the air to cause serious eye irritation. Nitro methane burns slow so a good portion of the burning fuel does gets expelled out of the exhaust.
01-16-2014, 04:23 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joel B Quote
Borrow a friends Nikon!!
01-16-2014, 04:24 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ak_kiwi Quote
Yeah standing by a nitro engine cranking up is certainly an experience . They start and run pretty rich (raw fuel comes out the pipes) but just keep clear of that. Just don't forget some good ear protection!
I always double up on ear protection at the races. In ear and over the ear protection.
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