Heat, Humidity & Cameras

July 17, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Whew! It has been quite hot and humid in and around Washington D.C. the last few weeks.  Even at 6AM on some mornings, I have found my camera lens full of condensation and have found it difficult to allow the camera and lens the necessary time to adjust to the extreme conditions.   The Dew Point Temperature is the temperature at which the humidity in the air will condense – in other words, when water vapor in the air will become liquid again on colder objects - cough, cough - on my camera equipment.  The key is to make sure that your camera equipment is warm before you start to use it so the condensation does not form.

Since my camera bag is normally stored indoors, in air conditioning, and in areas of low humidity before I depart for a shooting excursion, I will try to get my DSLR out of the camera bag as soon as possible during dreaded days of high humidity.  Once that bag opens in 100% humidity, it needs times to adjust and warm up to the outside conditions.  I leave the lens cap on the camera (important) and give it time to warm up before removing it.  Naturally, the time required depends on the size of the camera and the difference in temperature between the air and the camera.  A good rule of thumb is that if my camera feels cold, then I leave the cap on.  Once I start shooting, inevitably, my lens gets foggy from the accumulated moisture in the air so I try to regularly wipe down my equipment and carry multiple lens cloths.  My preference for multiple lens cloths is because they quickly become damp and their effectiveness slips away with each dampening swipe across the glass.  In addition, I keep extra cloths to keep my hands dry, especially if I am handling batteries or memory cards.

Another goal is to try to minimize the number of lens changes or try not to change my lens at all in an effort to keep moisture out of the camera body.  If I’m backpacking over a couple of days, I try to change my lens at night when the humidity and temperature have hopefully died down a bit. 

My last secret weapon is to save Desiccant Packets!  Do you remember those little packets that you find in your boxes delivered by the mail carrier?  Those awesome packets are specifically designed to absorb moisture!  I tend to save a few and keep them in my camera bag.  They may not absorb all the moisture that finds its way into my bag but does make a difference when I put my equipment back in the bag for a long haul back down a mountain or returning from a long hike. If you need heavy-duty moisture absorption (maybe a trip to a tropical rainforest), splurge and purchase moisture absorbing beads to keep in your bag.

Hope this helps keep your equipment safe and photos pristine!

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