Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's in the bag.......

Here's a quick little tip that will keep you out of trouble when going from a cold space to a hot & humid one.
 As I get into another winter of shooting I thought I'd pass along this little bit of advice for taking care of your camera gear when going from one temperature extreme to another.
Here in Canada, it gets cold in the winter, but the humidity level is usually very low. In our homes however, we have to add humidity to the air through our heating systems, or via a stand-alone humidifier, to compensate for the dryness that can cause anything from painful static electricity shocks in the home, to drying and cracking of furniture and skin.
If you wear glasses you know what happens when you come inside to a warm home from the cold outdoors -- your glasses fog up. The reason for this is that the cold surface of your glasses causes higher humidity level in the house to condense on the cold glass surface. 
Well the same thing happens when you bring your camera in from the cold. The much higher humidity level inside causes your camera lens to fog up. Why is this a potential problem? Some higher end pro and semi-pro level cameras are weather sealed, but many consumer level cameras are not and this can potentially cause a build up of moisture inside the electronics of the camera, but more apparent, inside the actual camera lens. Once it is in there, there really isn't any simple way of removing it.
So, what's the solution? Easy, just make a habit of carrying a large plastic freezer bag with you when you are old in the cold. After you are finished shooting for the day, place your camera in the bag and seal it up. When you take your camera from the cold into the warmer, humid air inside the home, let it sit for an hour to "acclimatize" itself in the sealed bag. The sealed plastic bag keeps the camera away from the humid air, until the camera warms up and the danger of condensation is gone!
Winter is not the only time you should be concerned about this though. Let's reverse the situation to going from a cool and dry air conditioned space to the hot and humid outdoors. For example, you are on a cruise ship where they tend to keep the ship's interiors at "meat locker" temperatures. You decide to take your camera outside to capture some images of the port you are pulling into and low and behold, the camera is all fogged up. Yes, the fogged lens will eventually clear when the camera warms up to the outdoor temperature, but this could eventually cause problems. This is very common on Caribbean cruises.
Speaking of the Caribbean, I am about to head there soon for some R&R and of course I hope to get some great captures while I am there. If you want to See some of my past images from that region, head over to the website at
Oh, and one other reason to carry a plastic bag is that it gives you a safe and dry place to store your camera if you get caught in a sudden downpour!
Until then, happy shooting!
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