Can you clean salt water out of a digital camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Free From PC, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. Free From PC macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2003
    Hendersonville, TN
    I just happened to drop my digital camera in the ocean while in Jamaica. Actually I dropped it in the sand but the tide came up right at the same time. I got the camera out pretty quick and took the memory card out right away. I was able to save the pictures on the memory card. Now though the camera will turn on but even with new batteries the battery light flashes and then the camera goes off. It's good and dry now (it's been a few months).

    I was wondering if it's worth having fixed (if possible) or should I just suck it up and buy a new one?

  2. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
  3. Free From PC thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2003
    Hendersonville, TN
  4. calebjohnston macrumors 68000


    Jan 24, 2006
    Salt water killed my mom's iPod too. Awful luck, but such things happen.
  5. tweakers_suck macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you think the camera is dead, then there is no harm in trying to wash the camera with regular water in an effort to dissolve the salt. Maybe you could take the camera apart and let it soak in fresh water a few times. The idea is to dissolve the salt into the water (obviously, no batteries installed). I would make sure that the camera is completely dry before turning it on.

    The bad news is that you already turned the camera on, so the salts may have provided a conductivity path where there should not be one and you may have shorted out an electical component.

    It's a long-shot to get it working again.
  6. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Yeah, agreed. No harm in trying now.

    I've had electronics soaked before, and letting them dry out they've come back to life. Since it's been severl months it's rpobably too late. Next time, rinse in clean water right away, adn then let dry.
  7. timswim78 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 8, 2006
    Baltimore, MD
    You read my mind! Take that thing apart, rinse, repeat.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Tide? No, I think you ment a wave or surge. "Tide" is what happens every 12 hours. Surge or waves happen on a 10 to 25 second cycle. OK I see you live in TN, you can be forgiven. I'm at the beach a couple days a week at least.

    I'm very surprized that it will even turn on. That's one well-built camera. Most are completely dead instantly even in fresh water. If you didn't get the salt out of the camera quickly before it dried you can't do it now. Once the seawater evaporate it leaves salt crystals which require days of soaking in fresh water to desolve, the days of soaking will destroy the camera.

    If you like to take your camera to the beach you can buy an iexpensive waterproof housing. It worth the (about) $150 cost so you can take the camera into the water.
    Here is a link to an example, they make them for other cameras too
  9. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    Loks like we are both not exactly correct. Here are some examples...

    $189.95 at B&H Photo for the Olympus PT-030.
    $174.95 for a case that fites a Canon Sd series camers
    $169.95 for the A-series case

    B&H is not the lowest price but they are reliable
  11. Zeke macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2002
    Greenville, SC
    The fact that it turns on is impressive. If anything like this ever happens again DON'T turn it on. Most electronics will disconnect and discharge the battery to prevent any problems if it shorts out. So, after this happens, take the camera and drop it in deionized water (freshwater really isn't that much better as it's still conductive and will leave crap in the electronics). Let it soak and dump the water and do it again. Let it soak for a long time to get all of the salt ( you could still try this since it turns on...just let it dissolve the salt). Once you're happy with how long it's been soaking (for how long yours has sat I'd let it soak for a day or so) then take it out, but it on a towel and let it dry out for a week. THen give it a shot to see if it turns on. If you waited long enough to try turning it on there may just be conductive paths that aren't damaging anything. It's worth a shot though...
  12. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    IMO, there's a 99% chance its toast..."but!"...

    Pull the battery. Always pull the battery. Salt on semiconductors will send stray currents places you don't want it.

    Use a hair dryer to accelerate drying. There's lots and lots and lots of nooks and crannies, and it takes a lot longer than you expect. After you think its dry, keep going for another 15-30 minutes.

    FWIW, on cameras with mechanical moving parts (I'm drawing knowledge here from the Nikonos UW cameras), "exercise" them constantly during the blowdrier drying process...this prevents them from freezing up.

    Good luck.

  13. Wes Jordan macrumors regular

    Jan 4, 2006
    One night while camping I woke up to a bad storm. I tried to roll over and go back to sleep but moments later the tent started to blow over. I decided to make a run through the hail to the car, so I grabbed for my iPod and ran out of the tent. When I got in the van however, I realized I had grabbed a deck of cards (thank god i saved those) and not my iPod (well they are the same size). I was devasated. I knew that there wasn't a chance that it would survive that storm.

    Well, the iPod was found floating in a foot of water in the tent. I waited a short while but I couldn't handle the anticipation, I tried to turn it on and, well, it worked just fine. In fact more damage was caused on the trip to it by other things, so I ended up replacing it when a friend offered me a iPod photo brand new for $250.
  14. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    Depends on the camera and the depth that one wants to go to. Under $200 is not unheard of for many digital P&S's.
    Back to the OP, salt water is certain death for electronics. Sometimes washing in fresh water soon after can save the gear.

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