Your DSLR is a “Rainforest of Bacteria,” But It’s Probably Okay


Did you know that 90% of the cells in (or on) the human body are bacteria and other microorganisms? Have you ever thought about how many bacteria live on your DSLR camera? Chicago Tribute staff photographer Alex Garcia recently dove into this second question while visiting the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago.

He met with environmental microbiologist Jack Gilbert, who’s working on a project that involves taking and analyzing microbe samples of ordinary things used in everyday life (e.g. phones and shoes).

Gilbert decided to take a sample from Garcia’s Canon 1D Mark IV DSLR. When Garcia received the results, he says he was treated to “an alphabet soup of taxonomic units that required more analysis than you would want to read on a photography blog.”

Turns out the camera had around twenty different species of bacteria on its surface, with “Mycoplasma” being the most common genus.

Although there may be bad bacteria on your camera and in your body, your body is generally balanced and strong enough to keep everything under control. In certain situations, however, they might make you very sick. Garcia, who lost his father-in-law to a hospital infection, recommends that photographers be careful as they take their cameras from assignment to assignment:

Wash your hands during this cold and flu season, and watch what you handle on assignment – especially if you’ve just undergone a round of antibiotics or have a compromised immune system.

To learn more about this issue, check out Garcia’s blog post over at the Chicago Tribune, which features a video interview in which Gilbert discuss cameras, bacteria, and the human body.

“Your Camera is a Rainforest of Bacteria” [Chicago Tribune]

Image credit: Photograph by Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune

  • Oliver Lea

    And so is your phone, your car keys, your keyboard, pretty much anything you use regularly… I mean, sure, clean your stuff but don’t go nuts. We’ve lived around this stuff for thousands of years, and we’re still here.

  • Renato Murakami

    As soon as people learn how much bacteria is EVERYWHERE, including nasty ones, it’s easier to leave the OCD aside and just live with it.

  • Jake

    Everything, everywhere is covered in bacteria, and always has been. The only downside is that people freak out, disinfect everything with hand gels and lysol, and lower their natural immunities.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Strange. Despite all of the times I’ve told models to make love to the camera, none of the pics have gone viral yet.

    On a more serious note, I’m actually more worried about fungi rather than bacteria when it comes to photographic equipment given that the climate where I live in is constantly over 70%RH.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Since I don’t plan on licking my camera anytime soon, I’m good.

  • Eziz

    You gotta have a little bit of bacteria to enforce your immune system :)

  • Francois

    “By the way, did you know that about 90% of the cells in the human body are bacteria and other microbes?”
    I’d like to know where this number comes from, because it is highly over evaluated. Just think about the meaning of the sentence.


  • Igor Ken

    you just don’t love it enough.

  • Guest


  • Heath Collins

    90% of the cells in (or on) a human body are microbes. Not “make up.”

  • Timothy

    my buddy’s step-aunt makes $65 hourly on the internet. She has been
    fired for seven months but last month her pay was $18492 just working on
    the internet for a few hours. Read more here­ ­ ­A­s­k­2­5­.­­c­o­m­

  • Burnin Biomass

    Apparently not! :)

  • mgbmdmph

    Ye gads, obsessing over the fact that bacteria outnumber human beings by many factors of ten. I’ve been a physician for more than a quarter century and that ranks among the least of my concerns.