This week I thought we’d take a look at how I store my camera gear when it’s not in use. I use a Ruggard Electric Dry Cabinet that I got from B&H Photo.
This lockable cabinet helps to dry your gear out thoroughly after wet and cold shooting sessions by giving you control over the temperature and humidity. In the short term, it’s obvious why you don’t want to store your gear wet. Water and electronics don’t go well together. In the longer term, mildew can develop on lenses if they are stored in an environment that is too humid.
Since I live in the mountains and spend a lot of my time out in the snow, it’s obvious why this is a useful storage solution to me. High ambient humidity isn’t an issue here, but it certainly could be if you lived somewhere like Florida where things aren’t as dry. Even if you live in a warmer climate than me then, there’s still a good reason to consider this as a storage solution.
The Ruggard cabinet is available in many different sizes, but the one you see in the photos is an 80L version. I can fit a couple of big super telephoto lenses in it, along with 2-3 cameras and about 4-5 other smaller lenses. With this kind of capacity I think it will suit the majority of photographers. Even if you don’t have that many lenses, you can fill it up with other items such as flash gear.
Not only is it good for your gear, but it’s also a convenient part of my routine. Things come home, get cleaned and go back in the cabinet so I always keep track of things instead of having them spread around in various different camera bags.
While the lock on the cabinet door won’t keep a determined thief away from your gear, it might be useful to you if you have kids and you just want to stop them picking up cameras and lenses and potentially damaging something with an accidental drop to the floor.
The 80L cabinet sells for about $250, but there’s a smaller 30L one for only $150 if you decide you really don’t need all that space. These cabinets are very nicely made and they seal really well with a big rubber gasket. Controls are clear, and current temperature and humidity details are easily visible.
Inside the cabinet is an LED that can be activated with a button on the control panel. One improvement I would suggest fir the future is to for them to add a second LED. At the moment the light is on one side of the cabinet. If you have a lot of gear in there, it blocks the light reaching the opposite side. A central rear light, or better still a light on both sides, would solve this.
Is it worth it?
I understand that some people might turn their nose up at the $250 price, but hear me out. When my cabinet is full there is $40,000 worth of gear inside it, so the cost of the cabinet is less than 1% of the gear that it’s protecting. To me that’s worth the peace of mind that I’m doing everything I can to keep my gear in good shape.
If I ever want to sell some gear down the road I definitely don’t want to put “has some mildew” on the advert because that would have a seriously negative effect on the resale price. Much more than the cost of the cabinet!
My personal gear is well used for my work, but I’d also have one of these if I had a collection of older cameras. Not only would they stay in great shape over several decades, but it would also be a cool way to display them behind glass!