Five Ways to Safeguard Your Digital Camera

Back when disposable cardboard cameras were a popular vacation accessory, an unexpected disaster meant losing only your $15 investment in film and processing. But these days, a digital camera mishap can set you back hundreds of dollars--not to mention the value of all the photos locked on your precious memory card. If your camera is equipped properly, though, you can take it out in the rain, over treacherous trails, and even underwater. Whatever your lifestyle, accessories are available for your camera that will let you snap photos almost anywhere, without worrying about whether your camera is tough enough.

Prevent lens scratches: Scratch or scuff your lens, and your photos will suffer--regardless of how well you care for the rest of your camera. That's why many photographers attach a protective Skylight filter to the front of their camera. Such filters are available at any photography store for as little as $10. And if you ever ding it, just replace the filter--it's a lot cheaper than buying a new lens. Not all digital camera lenses will accept screw-on filters, but all interchangeable lenses for digital single-lens reflex models will.

Protect the LCD: Your camera's other prime danger zone is its display. Delkin's Pop-Up Shade ($20 to $40) is a protective cover that shields your camera's display, preventing damage that might otherwise break the screen. In addition, it pops up to provide shade from direct sunlight, improving the screen's visibility. Pop-Up Shades come in a range of sizes that are suitable for many popular camera models.

Add a second skin: If you put your camera in harm's way--such as by taking it on hiking trips through the mountains--consider encasing it in a protective skin. Camera Armor ($50 to $80) completely envelops select camera models (including Canon and Nikon Digital SLRs) in a rugged, rubberized, shock-absorbing covering. In the package you also get an LCD shield and a flexible, elastomeric lens hood.

If you can't find Camera Armor for your model, try a Snug-It camera skin ($15). Designed with point-and-shoot cameras in mind, Snug-It coverings protect the camera body and the lens--whether it's retracted into the camera body or extended for use.

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