So you just got back from a wonderful week in Maui and enjoyed mountain biking, surfing, snorkeling, and Scuba diving. You have hours of HD video to show your closest 200+ friends on Facebook. You finalize the videos, upload them and now you are done until your next trip. Three months later you win a free trip to Belize and you throw everything in your suitcase and jet off to your new tropical destination. You are ready to go diving in the Great Blue Hole near Lighthouse Reef and pull out all of your gear, suit up, and grab your GoPro. You try and turn it on and it makes a weird grinding sound in the power button. You notice the lens cover on the case is scratched, and the water tight seal is hanging off the back of the case. No footage for you!
Taking care of your equipment is not only good for it, but a necessity if you are expecting top performance out of your HD video action cam. High definition only works if your camera has a clear, unobstructed view. So there are a few tips, tricks, and habits that will give you years of HD video viewing pleasure.
Wash the External Case
Probably the easiest thing to do in order to keep your action cam in top shape is to actually take care of the external case. Since mud, dirt, salt, and oils typically end up coating the outside of the case, using something fairly aggressive with no scouring ability is what you should use to clean these housings. Dish soap, such as Dawn, can not only clean the casing, but using it to clean the lens cover can actually help prevent fogging.
Take the action cam out of the external case and submerge the case in a warm bowl of water with a few squirts of dish soap. Use your fingers to rub the casing and making sure to get in tight around the lens cover and power/start/stop buttons. Then rinse off all the soap or else you may get soap stains which could interfere with your image quality. If you want to be extremely diligent in cleaning the housing, use distilled water to rinse as this will flush away any dirt and soap, while making sure not to leave behind any chemicals or deposits from tap water on the external case.
After washing the housing, dry with a paper towel to absorb all of the moisture you can. Once dry, then use a bottle of compressed air to blow out additional moisture from the button housings, as well as the pivots, and lens cover. Once you are sure the case is dry, use a lint free, non-abrasive pad to remove any lint and remaining debris. Also, apply some UV resistant Silicone based rubber dressing to the seal around the back of the external case. However, make sure it does not contain a cleaner as that will dry out the rubber seal and allow it to fail in water.
If your GoPro lens cover has minor scratches, you may be able to "buff" them out with brass or silver polish and a soft rag. Or if they are fairly deep, try using a white toothpaste and rubbing circles on the lens cover with your finger and rinse when complete. This should bring out the clear lens cover, at least better than before. If needed, there are always lens repair/replacement kits available online through various sources.
Keeping the Camera Body Clean
This should be minimal work as the HD video camera should be protected by the external case. However, if you are using the GoPro action cam without a case, you may end up getting oils, dirt, or other corrosive agents on the lens or body of the action cam. In this case, take a less direct approach and lightly clean with an alcohol-free wipe, taking care not to touch the lens. When cleaning the lens, use an alcohol based cleaner, like a typical lens cleaning solution you can purchase at your local camera store, and apply directly onto a clean lens cloth, not directly onto the lens. Gently rub around the outside edge of the GoPro lens and then the middle, making sure no oils or lint are left on the lens.
Once dry, and the external case is dry, replace the camera into the case and clip the top, but do not seal the case in order to allow any excess moisture to escape. Leaving the camera in the external case protects it from any further damage.
Action cams, like the GoPro, should always be stored in their protective cases. However, those cases also need to be protected. On way of doing so is to place the GoPro action cam into a small bag, like a purple Crown Royal Whiskey bag. However, if you don't have one laying around, maybe take a look as some alternatives. Also, when storing your HD video action cam within a bag, throw in a couple sachets of silica gel, this will keep the moisture down and keep the buttons on the housing from rusting due to high humidity or water left from cleaning.
Keeping your action cam happy and clean will make your vacation time much happier as well, knowing that you have your precious memories recorded for years on end. However, it is not easy to remember to take care of your equipment like this, but the extra effort will reward you in the long run. We'll be looking on Facebook for that great footage of your dive in Belize!
Brian Teal is a tech guru, an amateur videographer and participates in various extreme sports.
Crazy diver getting wet image from Shutterstock.