Handle With Care

What not to do with your equipment


Photography is an expensive proposition. We invest in top-notch equipment as and when we can, but the matter does not end there. One must maintain that equipment with utmost care.


I learnt this lesson the hard way last year when I subjected my variable Neutral Density (ND) filter to my DIY experiments.


camera-lens-filter
My variable Neutral Density (ND) filter

This variable ND filter gives a two to four stop variation. I would use mine for outdoor shoots or for creative landscape shots in the evening.


During the pandemic, when life and livelihood had come to a standstill, all my camera gear was safely kept in a moisture-free cabinet.


At the end of 2021, when work started coming in again, I was asked to shoot a quick video for a brand launch. So, I searched for the variable ND filter all over and finally found it in one of the many pockets of my camera bag.


I had accidentally missed out on keeping my variable ND filter in the dry cabinet. It had been lying there since my last shoot which took place long before the lockdown… that’s almost three monsoons!


For those of you who don’t know what this filter looks like, let me explain the structure. A fixed ND filter has only a single glass, but this variable ND filter has two glasses that rotate to offer a variable density of light.


I noticed a residue of fungus between the two glasses. In my desperation to salvage the situation, I hastily opened the filter to separate the two glasses. Then I wiped them both with a lens cleaning cloth, edge to edge from the inside.


Even as I was doing so, I realised my mistake. I stopped in my tracks, but the damage was done!

In trying to rid the glass of the fungus, I had also wiped out the coating from inside the glass. The coating on the inner side of the glasses cuts the refraction of light and enables true colours while shooting.


I stopped my misguided DIY and checked the filter on my lens. The colours had gone for a toss and there was a patch in the places where I had wiped the filter.


I quickly called the dealer to check if he could fix it for me. He enquired with the brand’s office in Mumbai but was told that they’re not fully functional due to the pandemic lockdown. So, I had to let it be.


The variable ND filter still sits pretty in my camera bag, waiting for a restoration. I do hope that the dealer or the brand can help.

 


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