Does the air in your house or apartment gets dry in the winter when you turn the heat on? If so, then you are like me. Usually the humidity in my house is in the range between 50-60%. As soon as the heater is on, the humidity scale drops down to 15-20%. The air is so dry, that I get shocked by a static electricity every time I touch something. Not only that but when I sleep my nose and mouth are getting dry… well… you know how it is. For that reason I usually have several humidifiers which help raising up the humidity back to about 35-40%.

I never had issues before but last winter I noticed something unusual. What I mean? As you will see on the attached pictures and video, almost every single camera body, lens or even chargers, cables, card readers, and some plastic bags, were covered in a white dust. But it is so fine that dust is probably not the correct word. It looks like something between white dust and fog.

Because it was mostly showing on my Sony gear, I first thought it is some kind of moisture or condensation, which was caused by the specific materials Sony cameras and lenses were built.

I did some research and all cameras I had – Sony and Nikon, had similar magnesium alloy chassis, and were dust and moisture resistant.

So may be the paint on top was different…? But why then the Sony screen was all white, while Nikon screens were not affected. There is no paint on the screen…

Watch the related video:

I still don’t have a good explanation of why Sony’s gear is more susceptible to this. While I was trying to solve the issue by researching what material were used in the cameras, I decided to look at the other side of the equation – the humidifiers. Exactly when I started to see the “white dust” problem I bought 2 new humidifiers. The one I had before was this:

Vicks Germ-Free Warm Mist Humidifier

Then I decided to purchase something newer, and (arguably) better, and ended up with buying this:

PureGuardian H4610 120-Hour Ultrasonic Warm and Cool Mist Humidifier

and this:

PureGuardian H1510 Ultrasonic Warm and Cool Mist Humidifier

The reason I decided to purchase PureGuardian over the Vicks humidifier was because the Vicks has a filter inside which collects the minerals from the hard water, and has to be replaced from time to time: Honeywell HMP-12P QuickSteam Mineral Absorption Pad. In just a month or so, this velvety pad turns to a crystal ball, I guess it depends on how hard your water is.

PureGuardian are Ultrasonic humidifiers and do not require mineral pads or any other filters. But that’s where the problem is. They have a small vibrating metal diaphragm. The vibration causes the water to atomize and form the mist. Instead of collecting the minerals, the humidifier was evaporating them, leaving a fine white dust because the minerals haven’t been filtered out. Again, it is nothing like condensation, nothing like usual dust, and nothing like moisture. It is like extremely refined powder, kind of like chalk residue.

A little more research and I found BestAir 3US Ultra-TREAT Ultrasonic/Vaporizer Water Treatment. Unfortunately I did not see any improvement in reducing the white dust.

I then moved all my Sony gear in another room, further away – where I was using the old Vicks humidifier. Unfortunately, the dust was spreading in my entire apartment. The solution?

I purchased a 80 liters Electronic Dry Cabinet. You can find them under different brand names – Ruggard and Forspark (sold by Amazon & B&H) or Slinger (sold by Adorama). I’m very happy with it so far. It keeps the moisture at 35-37%. It has enough space for my current gear, and it has a light, so you can easily see what’s inside.

As for the residue on my Sony cameras – please let me know – did you have similar problem? Do you know why the problem was more pronounced on Sony gear than any other camera manufacturers? May be it is a good time to share this article and video with Sony, so they can explain better. Please let me know what do you think?