Keeping your Camera Cool
by Tim Farmer
Summer is here and the heat is on. What do you need to know about your camera to keep it working and your photos looking great in the heat? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Most DSLRs and other digital cameras do not like to operate in extreme weather, be it the bitter cold or the heat and humidity of a STL summer. Check your manual, but most camera manufacturers recommend avoiding temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and/or over 85% humidity; these are no-goes.
- Keeping your camera in a padded camera bag not only protects it from impact but will also insulate your gear from hot and humid summer air.
- When you transition from a cool house or car into the heat and humidity try to do so slowly so your equipment has time to warm up. Keep the lens caps on for several minutes after taking a camera or lens out of the bag to allow them to fully acclimate to the new temperature and humidity. This will help avoid condensation.
- Get some silica gel packets and keep them in your camera bag. These are those little bags that come with new electronic equipment like some camera, lenses, and bags. They are great at keeping the inside of your camera bag dry. You will need to change them when they change color, so keep an eye on them.
- Keep your equipment clean and dry. Make sure you have a lens cloth with you and use it often. Also carry a nice cloth for wiping off all the non-glass parts of your gear. Dirt and moisture can cause mildew to build up.
- Do not store your batteries in your gear. Heat and humidity are leading causes in battery corrosion when they are in contact with the equipment. Remove them, dry them off, and keep them in separate containers when storing your gear for any long period of time.
- Use a headband to keep your viewfinder from fogging up. Sweat from your brow as you hike through the woods or to the perfect location can cause your viewfinder to fog. It can also get on your LCD screen and camera body. Wearing a headband will help reduce this and help in keeping your camera clean.
- Plan ahead. Check out new locations and the weather beforehand. If you are meeting a client, make sure you know where the shady areas are so you can meet under a tree and keep cool. I always make sure I have plenty of water for clients, crew, and talent when I am on a shoot.
- When shooting, avoid using settings that generate heat. Heat build-up inside the camera is even more critical in hot weather when it is harder for the heat to dissipate away from the camera. You can damage the equipment and your image quality will be degraded if your equipment gets too hot.
- Limit Live View shooting. If you are shooting video, rent or buy an external monitor when recording. This will turn off the camera’s LCD and reduce the camera’s internal temperature.
- If you are able to use the AC adapter, use it to reduce the heat from your battery pack.
- Try to avoid long exposure. Your camera’s sensor will build up heat during any exposure. The longer your exposure, the more heat is generated and will need to be dissipated.
- Limit the amount of image reviewing you do when out in the heat.
Remember, if you can see condensation on your lens or the outside of your camera, there is a good chance there is condensation on the inside you cannot see. This can cause havoc with your camera, so do your best to let your camera acclimate, keep it clean and dry during your shoot, and clean and store it so it will dry out and stay dry.
Don’t forget to keep yourself safe, cool and hydrated. And…
NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAMERA IN A HOT CAR!!!