storing film cameras

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by japster, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. Hello folks...
    I have a collection of about 40 cameras, various makes & models, - 35mm auto compacts, 35mm rangefinders, 35mm SLR's from 70's, 80's, 90's, and onwards. And one 6x6 Nettar. Very recently I decided I wanted to centralize the storage of all these cameras into a central spot, near my computer workstation area in the living room. I had (2) wooden dresser sets with 3 drawers each. I figured (6) dresser drawers would be enough storage space for all the equipment. So I carefully dusted down and wiped clean the (3) drawers in the first dresser. Then I removed these cameras from the camera bags they had been living in and relocated just the cameras and a small number of interchangeable lenses to the wooden dresser drawers. Again, the drawers have been wiped down, so the cameras are sitting there in the dresser drawer. So now I have 3 dresser drawers full of my film camera collection. All the 'accessory' pieces will be stored in 'kit bags' (sealed Ziploc bags) in drawer #6.
    I know the usual doctrine from the manuals - store your gear in cool, clean, and dry environments, and thet dust, fungus, and humidity are the real killers of stored cameras (not to mention forgetting to take out the camera battery, which leads to battery corrosion camera-killing-cancer).
    Assuming I do my part, and keep these dressers in the coolest, cleanest, dryest part of the house.... is this approach to storing my cameras acceptable - if my goal is to keep the cameras in good usable state for a long time to come - both for my own use and also in the event I want to sale any of them.
    The batteries will be removed from all the cameras, and all lens caps and things like that will be in place.
    I guess I'm just fishing for 'second opinions' from folks with a lot more camera experience than myself.
    Thank you for any contructive comments...
    Atlanta GA
  2. Keep bags of silica gel packets around the gear, Atlanta is a humid place in the summertime. Also, it's a good idea to exercise a camera shutter every month or two if possible.
  3. I concur on the silica gel. Whenever you get a little bag of silica gel in some package, save it (as long as it feels dry) and pack it in with your cameras and lenses. Throw out the old ones occasionally since you live in a humid climate.
  4. The wooden cabinet sound good. My father was a machinist and his precision
    micrometers, calipers and other measuring tools came in wooden cases. This was B4
    plastics, ha! He said the wood absorbed moisture and kept the instruments from rusting.
    The silica gel should also work if fresh and dry.
    Best regards,
  5. Not much you can do in humid Georgia. Send them to me, and I will store them for you in dry Colorado.
  6. I think you have a good setup. Way better than mine, anyway.
    Two further thoughts toward the "ideal" setup though. (1) Would it be best to keep the cameras out in the air, where there's circulation? and (2) Would it be best to keep the cameras out in the light, even with the lens caps off, as an anti-fungus measure?
    These would suggest that a nice airy display case would be the best storage solution. Unfortunately that's too expensive for me, especially when I factor in the cost of the divorce proceedings that it would likely provoke.
  7. Thanks guys for your helpful comments.
    Yes, it does indeed get humid in Atlanta in the summertime. So my plan is to move the cabinet to the bonus-room and run the window AC 24/7 to keep air nice and cool and dry. Thats what I did this past summer and it worked pretty good. You could look at the window AC from the outside and just see all the H20 dripping to the ground.
    Anyone know the best place to get 'standard' silica gel packets cheap? I cant remember ever seeing those in the stores in my locale. What's a good price for those???
    The idea about a light-transparent cabinet sounds intrigueing. Does it matter what type of light? My overheads are those economy 120V twirly-florescents. There is a large sunny windows nearby. But I suspect if I put the cameras directly in sunny daylight they are gonna get real warm and then after dark get real cool. I dont think repetitive temp variations like this are going to be good for these cameras & lens. I'm thinking one stable temp like say 67 Deg Far would be best.
    Not much I can do about the humidity in this room other than run the AC and possibly look into getting a dehumidifer.
    Thanks for the helpful comments so far. If any other readers have any thoughts, please feel free to chime in... AP
  8. I live in humid Alabama; I think you're on the right track. The wooden dresser is fine, and will keep too much dust from settling on anything. The A/C is sufficient to control both temperature and humidity -- however I wouldn't keep anything in Ziploc bags.
  9. Yes, there is one Ziplock bag per camera, containing the usual pieces & parts that come along with any camera - body cap, rear lens cap, instruction manuals, warranty sheets, extra batteries in sealed 35mm film containers, etc. I dont want these in the main drawers cause then everything gets really cluttered, which defeats the whole purpose of the project. So I'm electing drawer 6 to be the 'accessories' drawer.
  10. Instead of ziploc bags, try some velvet Crown Royal bags; they breathe better than plastic. I don't have an available wooden dresser or chest to store my bodies in (like you, I have 40 or so) so they go in the CR bags and get lined up on shelves. Makes it a real pain to find that one camera I have a hankering to use that day though...
  11. I just assembled this cabinet set from Ikea. Some of the trim was cut away and two cabinets were bolted together. The doors fit pretty closely together, enough so that dust will not be a concern. I have 4 unit packs of desiccant placed around for humidity control. There is no way I can use A/C for that task. This is still a work in progress. I will need to fabricate some tiers to place on the shelves to stack the cameras for better visibility. If need be, I will be able to add weather stripping to better seal the drier air inside the cabinets. I like the open feeling of the light color and abundant glass. Check the photo and comment. Thanks Paul in Palm Harbor Florida
  12. Hello Paul, thank you for contributing. NICE cabinet!
    Here is your picture downsized to 700 dots wide.
  13. Do not store camera with shutter cocked. Exercise the camera periodically as there are fluids in the mechanisms. Some cameras can freeze up or grow stiff in there focusing or other mechanisms.
  14. Anyone know the best place to get 'standard' silica gel packets cheap?​
  15. You DON'T have to throw away your silica gel packets. They can be revitalized by placing on a clean cookie sheet and baking in an oven for at least an hour at a low setting like 150 degrees. Some have a built-in color indicator that shows when they have absorbed too much moisture. This will be seen to reverse itself after the baking.
    Seems there is something I read about care when storing things in a wooden enclosure, to the effect that the wood has to be "aged" or "cured," or something along those lines, because certain types of wood, when reasonably fresh, emit vapors similar to evaporating turpentine. Soft woods like pine were the worst. An older piece of cabinetry shouldn't be a problem, though.
  16. Anyone know of any 'alternative item' for std silica gel packets?
  17. The Ikea cabinet looks great and I will show it my wife. I sometimes express my worry that exposed in that way would encourage burglary, to which my wife always responds with either, "I hope so!", or with "Who would want that junk?".
    So my preferred means of storage is cardboard boxes obtained through liquor stores. My favorite boxes are those used for "Crown Royal" for the large bottles which have six compartments separated by very sturdy thick cardboard and each compartment can hold a good sized camera. The Crown Royal is pretty good, too, and the ads on the sides make for interesting decor.
    Over 50 years ago, after an Air Force Tech School, I was assigned to Marietta Georgia, suburb of Atlanta, and I could not afford air conditioning. I thought it was hot and humid, but then I was transferred to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, just east of Pensacola, and I discovered what humid really meant, plus salt spray. I am told that one should not store cameras in things like ziplock bags without a dessicant, because it can result in mould and fungi.
    I now live in the Seattle area, normally thought of rainy, but humidity is not a problem, nor is salt spray from Puget Sound, because the mountains protect us from the winds that cause surf.
    I try to use lithium or silver batteries in all my cameras, and I wonder if anyone knows whether these rust out as the alkali batteries tend to do.
  18. Many places sell the silica gel packets, including And it's quite right that they can be used over and over; just dry them out.
  19. I live in a humid area, and store my old cameras in closed plastic boxes.
    I buy bulk silica gel in chemical suppliers' stores. Each box gets a small silica gel cloth pack, maybe using an old sock or cloth pocket. Like this:
    No fungus, no dust - it works for me.
  20. Silicagel usually contains a Cobalt salt as a moisture indicator. Blue (the colour of the dry Cobalt salt) = dry. Red (the colour of the Cobalt ion in solution) = wet. As was pointed out earlier the process is reversible, so the red stuff can be dried in the sun, on the central heating radiator or in an oven. High temperatures are not needed but won't harm either. The Siicagel with indicator can be obtained from chemists or other shops that sell chemicals.
  21. Here's a link to a source for nicely packaged gel:,43326 A great company to deal with and a terrific source for woodworking tools and supplies.

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