Toolbox: BRNO Dri + Caps

One of the topics that I really enjoy writing about is gear. I mean, at some level every photographer lusts after gear. In the beginning you can't get enough, you read every catalog, memorize every spec, and make crazy lists of stuff that you want. What eventually happens is either you grow tired of photography and move on to the next phase, or you become too busy hunting for that next killer shot to care anymore and you lose a little of that gear lust. For me, it was the latter. I became busy enough with trying to turn photography into a way to support myself to spend much time thumbing catalogs or searching the web for the latest and greatest. If I do buy something new, I am rarely what you would call an early adopter and the folks who get paid to write reviews or blog about such interesting things have probably written said bauble to death. That is why I was pleased on several levels to find the BRNO Dri+Cap. Those of you who shoot in the extreme cold or in humid climates are probably familiar with the effects that all the moisture exposure can have on your expensive gear. Bring your stuff in to a warm humid base lodge from a cold day on the hill and watch the fog appear.

This is enough to scare some people away from using their camera in the cold altogether, but guys like me don't really have a choice in the matter. Camera manufactures have helped by making cameras and lenses more weatherproof with seals and gaskets but that sort of protection only goes so far. Making your gear "splash proof" does not protect against to slow creep of moisture from long term exposure.

The best defense here is to make sure you store your gear in a dry place, that way the air can absorb that pesky moisture and keep things from growing inside your lenses. The problem here is that, if your like me, your gear spends most of it's like in a bag or case in the trunk of a car either heading to or from a shoot. And those non-shooting days tend to be filled with other important things, I would guess that my gear spends the better part of the winter in some sort of wet conditions whether it be snow or a damp camera bag.

Let me be clear here, I try my damndest to take care of my stuff, I'm not trying to give the impression that put my gear in a wet bag and leave it, we're talking about the 95%+ humidity condition, where there is too much moisture in the air to allow your stuff to dry out after use.

Anyway, I have been using these rechargeable desiccant bricks for a few years now. They work pretty well. I have two sets for every kit that I own and dry one set out in the oven while the other set is being used. They offer piece of mind because you know that your gear is dry until the indicator tells you that the brick is saturated and needs to be swapped out for a dry one.

The problem is that the sometimes need to be changed every day or more often when used in wet conditions. During these times its tough to keep up with recharging them, especially when traveling.

This it where the Dri+Cap comes into play. Not only does it add an another layer of moisture absorbancy, they actually seal the rear of your lens, or the inside of your camera against moisture, basically closing up the most susceptible part of you gear.  This also means that your lens gets dry faster and stays dry even if your bag does not.

The Dri+Cap is a two piece plastic affair with the main body of the cap having a small chamber where the desiccant packet lives. That chamber is sealed with an o ring and another smaller cap and the surface that seats against the lens has an o ring as well. The whole system is only slightly larger then the standard Nikon caps and arguably cooler looking (though, that is a matter of taste). The only real downside is that they currently cost like $20 a pop. Not cheap. But when you consider the cost of having to replace or rebuild a 70-200 or 24-70 then it starts to look like cheap insurance. If you don't think you can afford to outfit all your lenses with these at once, get a few for your most expenive glass now, and skip a few coffees until you can afford the rest. Besides that, you only have to buy the caps once and they can be reloaded indefinitely. The build quality is pretty good and they definitely should last for the life of a pro lens.

-Joe