Parinita Studio

Don’t do this with your lighting gear (and what to do instead)

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I recently had to throw out a (not inexpensive) video light. I hadn’t used it in a while, and when I pulled it out from the back of my lighting gear cupboard, I was horrified to find out what had happened to it.

Usually I’m pretty good at avoiding this problem. I have a system. This time though, I must have been busy, rushing to get the job done, maybe… and the poor old video light paid the price. I’ve learn my (expensive) lesson… I hope!

One thing you should never do to your lighting gear

I should have known better. I’ve done it to toy robots. My son’s Lego Stunt Racer with articulated tracks (it has two compartments! I didn’t know about the second compartment!)… and to countless torches.

I left the batteries in it. They leaked. They leaked so badly that they ruined the entire thing.

I think I put it away thinking, “I’ll need that later this week. It’ll be fine just this once.” But then I forgot about it, didn’t need it, and never went back to take the batteries out.

Usually, at the end of every job, before my gear goes away, I spend ten minutes pulling batteries out of everything. Not my main camera, but flashes, radio triggers, everything else that doesn’t get used regularly.

This time somehow I missed it. I couldn’t even use some steel wool to file the battery contacts clean again. It was like a crystal forest in there.

battery compartment ruined acid
There’s no coming back from this.

It was so bad that the crystal stuff had gone all the way from the battery compartment, through the body of the light itself and was peeking out of the underside.

lighting gear battery broken
Yeah… that’s not good.

Poor little guy. I felt bad but into the bin he had to go. There was no saving it. He’s dead, Jim!

What to do with your lighting kit before you put it away

Pull those batteries out! Never put your lighting equipment away with batteries in. I’m talking:

  • Flashes
  • Radio triggers
  • Video lights
  • Ring lights
  • … and anything else in your kit that takes AA, AAA (etc) batteries.

Take all the batteries out and pop them in a Tupperware. Write “Used, Not Dead” on the Tupperware so you know it’s batteries with life still left, but not brand new. Remember the instructions on every battery packet ever: Don’t mix old and new batteries. This makes them more likely to leak and ruin your gear.

lighting gear battery compartment
Don’t do what Donny Don’t does.

If you’re even more organised than me maybe you’ll have little zip lock bagies for every set of batteries for every device, so that the matching set always goes back in. That’s too much for my busy brain, so I just try to make sure I keep pulling from the “Used, Not Dead” box of batteries – and chuck them immediately when they are dead!

Have another box with “Brand New” batteries in it, and only start on it once all the “Used, Not Dead” batteries are gone. This system has kept my gear functioning without crystal forests and corrosion from batteries acid for years.

Well, almost all my gear…

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