May 14, 2011, 11:14 AM
I remember a few years back a few folks here asked what bug spray they should be careful using such as, what type and brand of bug spray they apply to themselves because it could damage ones camera gear. I don't remember what brand or type was mentioned but this summer I'll be spending a good deal of my afternoons in the woods so other than a good spray to keep ticks and mosquitos away or at bay, what do most use that is camera/lens/gear safe?
May 14, 2011, 12:18 PM
DEET is the repellent that can damage plastic camera gear. Usually it is not recommended to apply DEET to synthetic clothing or plastics as it can dissolve them to some degree. Unfortunately, DEET is supposedly the most effective bug spray available. (AFAIK, high concentration DEET (>75% or so) is the only repellent recommended by the CDC to effectively protect against malaria in tropical countries) The lower concentration ones with like 30% DEET may not be as hard on synthetics or plastics, but obviously you trade off that for reduced repellent effectiveness.
Remember that the only damage DEET can do is to plastics. If you have a pro-grade body or metal lenses, they will not be affected by DEET. However, even pro grade bodies have plastic components (like the buttons for example) and I think the high end lenses are also starting to move towards plastic or composite construction in order to reduce weight.
One alternative is to use Picadirin-based repellents. In my experience, Picadirin is an effective repellent, with the drawback that it does not last as long per application as DEET. A high concentration DEET forumulation (>90%) is supposed to be effective for something like 12 hours, whereas most Picadirin repellents will lose effectiveness after 2-3 hours. However, it does not have the plastic-dissolving property of DEET and some don't find the smell as offensive as DEET. The other bonus is that it does not make your skin feel greasy or oily upon application like DEET does.
You can also try the permetherin strategy which is to impregnate your clothing with permetherin. Permetherin is supposed to be an effective repellent but it is slightly toxic, which is why you don't find it in spray form. Direct and prolonged exposure to the skin is not recommended, which is why you find it incorporated into clothing instead. There are some clothes that come like this, or you can buy a permetherin kit to treat your own garments. It is supposed to last through several wash cycles and have little to no odor. The drawback of course is that it won't protect your uncovered skin.