Drying out soaked lenses

Very wet Nikon 50mm lens

Very wet Nikon 50mm lens

During the Snow King Pond Skim contest, my Nikon 50mm f1.8 received a thorough soaking. My D800 stood up to the water perfectly, except that a little bit of water was in the microphone port, so the sound was muffled.

The perpetrator

The perpetrator

The skier who did the soaking was quite skilled, as he was able to drown myself, the people standing around me, and the two babies sleeping a few feet behind me. At least they were sleeping before they received a face full of 40 degree water. We were standing in the splash zone, so it was fair that we were wet. It was something you have to accept while standing there.

I searched around to find the best technique for drying out the lens quickly and effectively. Most people said to put the lens in a Zip Lock bag with some rice and wait a few weeks. As I need this lens, I need something a little bit quicker. So I thought to put the lens in a bag and leave it in the sun. That sounded great, but a winter storm hit yesterday, so I couldn’t do anything but watch snow fall.

Lens drying setup

Lens drying setup

So, I figured out to use a candle warmer, a mug, some rice, and the lens. The candle warmer gets too hot and would melt the lens. That’s bad. And I needed a desiccant to draw the water out with. With a mug acting as a heat conductor, and the rice acting as an insulator, I found a way to very quickly suck huge amounts of water out of the lens. The one trick was to leave the lens face down rather than F mount side down. I didn’t want water drawing through the body of the lens.

After 2 days, the water that was sloshing around inside of the lens is gone. Now there are only a couple of water spots inside of the front element. Not too bad for a complete drenching. This technique saved me from having to purchase a new lens. All I have to do is figure out how to remove the lens front mount and clean the front element. That’ll be another blog posting once I figure out how to do it properly.