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PSA: Sunblock is Bad For Your Camera

by Chris Gampat on 08/29/2014

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Product photos Canon 5D Mk III (4 of 10)ISO 200

Reader Ronald Stein sent us a really awesome tip the other day. Despite the fact that summer is about to end for many of us, lots of us are still going to try to get out and soak up as much sun as we can. Then, you’ll also need to consider the fact that you’ll need sunscreen. But before you go to pick up your camera and shoot, make sure that you wash your hands.

Why? Well believe it or not, sunblock deteriorates the exterior of your camera. According to Ron:

“It is a known fact that if one uses a sunblock, most any brand, that the residue left on ones hands, attacks the “Polycarbonate” that some camera manufacturers use in their manufacturing of the camera body handles. There is a substance in the sunblock that will melt and deform the handles on some camera bodies. So, be sure to wash your hands after applying any sunblock on any camera outing. It would also be wise not to even carry a supply in your camera bag due it leaking or a cap coming loose. Be safe – not sorry!!!!”

We checked the information with some of our friends at B&H Photo Video Pro Audio who lead us to this piece on the stress cracking of polycarbonate due to sunscreen. Apparently, it can have the most effect on curved edges of a camera.

To be fair though, I’ve taken our cameras to the beach often during testing right after applying sunscreen to myself. After that, I usually wipe my hands down on my towel and go around to shoot. None of my cameras have ever become deformed.

Either way, we’d still recommend that you stay on the side of caution.

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