Lost my camera in the snow; is it worth trying to find it in the Spring?
December 28, 2013 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I dropped our point-and-shoot today while sledding with the kids. I figure the camera is a write-off, but I may be able to find it when the snow melts. Will the SD card still be good?

It's a Canon SD940is, for what that's worth. Dropped into around 6"+ of Minnesota snow. Unless someone finds it or there's some seriously weird climate tut, it will probably remain under snow and wet until at least early March, and subjected to lots of subzero freeze-thaw cycles. I'd like the photos, obviously. I just don't know if it's worth being vigilant about.

posted by werkzeuger to Technology (11 answers total)
Nothing is guaranteed, but I'd I've done some pretty rough stuff to SD cards - including running them through the washer and dryer and had them come out totally fine.
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:42 PM on December 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Years and years ago I dropped a cell phone in 12" of Michigan snow and found it the following spring. I took it apart, cleaned it with rubbing alcohol, and it was as good as new.

If your main concern is the SD card, it should be okay. Clean it with contact cleaner and try it out.
posted by DonSlice at 2:56 PM on December 28, 2013

Seconding the above - the camera might not survive, but the SD card will most probably be fine. Just make sure you clean it and dry it extremely well - maybe stick it in a rice bag for a couple of days - before you try to read it.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:03 PM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Would a metal detector be of any use in finding it now rather than later? Cursory googling seems to indicate that a metal detector will work in snow.
posted by XMLicious at 3:08 PM on December 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

The card will probably be fine, SD cards are quite tough. Just dry it out. I like XMLicious's idea of using a metal detector to find the camera -- if you can get to it before the snow melts and lots of water gets in, it may be OK after spending a few days in a bag of rice. Plus, you'll then have a metal detector for you and the kids to play with!
posted by Scientist at 3:24 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have lost an SD card when switching them out, in my backyard, it survived huge wildstorm, being submerged for 2 days while the back yard dried out and then being mowed over several times. It was out in the back yard for 6 months and still worked. I think the metal detector idea is a good one as cold is probably better for it than the water from it all melting in spring.
posted by wwax at 3:26 PM on December 28, 2013

Response by poster: Would a metal detector be of any use in finding it now rather than later? Cursory googling seems to indicate that a metal detector will work in snow.

I considered that too, but I assumed the optics would be ruined already from seepage (it's an oddly warm day here with wet heavy snow and lots of meltwater). Maybe I should reconsider?

In any case there seems to be a consensus that it's worth trying to recover the card. Thanks everybody!
posted by werkzeuger at 3:38 PM on December 28, 2013

I don't think the optics would be ruined. If there's water in there it'll probably come out when/if you do the bag-of-rice trick. I suppose there might be some residue left which would cloud the lens in an area where you can't get at it to clean it, but it would be worth a shot. I would be more concerned about the electronics; they'll probably be fine for a while as water is non-conductive, but if the water sits there long enough then it'll dissolve whatever gunk has accumulated inside the camera and will become conductive/corrosive, causing damage.

I think it would be worth a shot in any case, and would allow you to get your SD card back sooner with less chance of it being destroyed and/or scooped up by an opportunistic passer-by. Also, as mentioned, you'd get a toy for you and your kids! Metal detectors seem to start around $30 on Amazon, though I don't know how much you should expect to pay for one that is actually worth a damn.
posted by Scientist at 6:03 PM on December 28, 2013

SD cards have survived tsunamis so I figure you've got a good chance of recovering it (before someone else does maybe not so much). I wouldn't bet on the camera though.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:48 PM on December 28, 2013

I would suggest the metal detector as well, just in case someone else finds it before you/the-Spring-thaw, doesn't know who it belongs to, and erases the card or something (unless you happened to lose it while sledding in your own front yard or something).
posted by blueberry at 7:30 PM on December 28, 2013

I work with three ski resorts, and they find so much stuff under the chairlift once the snow melts it's not funny. All sorts of electronics survive the winter, including phones and cameras. You'd be surprised. (The best loot is the cash under the floorboards at the ticket wickets.)
posted by furtive at 7:34 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

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