Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

Started Dec 8, 2010 | Discussions
steve88 Contributing Member • Posts: 905
Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

Hello:

Does anyone have a good rule of thumb to live by when it comes to this? How long should you keep your camera/lens in a zip-loc bag after coming in from the cold? Is there a general rule?

I guess it all depends on how cold it was outside and how long you were in it. Let's say I'm outdoors in 40 degrees for 2 hours. Would 2 hours in a zip-loc bag indoors be sufficient?

I guess to be safe I could just pop the CF card out real quick and leave the camera/lens in a bag overnight since I'd really only be working with the images from the card once I got home and wouldn't have a need to work with the camera. Overnight is probably unnecessary, though.

Thanks for any suggestions from those with experience. I'm getting back into photography after being away from it for awhile and plan to carry my camera with me everywhere but don't want any issues with condensation.

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Kuivaamo Senior Member • Posts: 2,248
Re: Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

steve88 wrote:

Hello:

Does anyone have a good rule of thumb to live by when it comes to this? How long should you keep your camera/lens in a zip-loc bag after coming in from the cold? Is there a general rule?

You don't necessarily need a zip-loc bag. If your camera bag has a zipper, it's sufficient to just zip it shut.

If you don't want to wait for your gear to acclimatise, take out the CF card before you go inside. You can pop it in a card reader after warming it up in your hands for a minute, for example.

If the temperature outside is well below freezing, I typically I leave the camera bag closed overnight to be on the safe side.

Bob GB Senior Member • Posts: 1,819
Re: Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

You don't have to pack in your camera at all. If you just bring it inside and let it heat up, that is the fastest way of doing it. Yes there will be condensation on the camera but that will help heating it up faster. As soon as the moisture on the outside is gone you can start using the camera. Don't remove the lens until the camera has dried up.

If you are not going to use the camera you can leave it in your bag or on a cooler place.

Best wishes to all, after several decades shooting in very low temperatures, down to MINUS 40.

CameraCarl Veteran Member • Posts: 6,551
Re: Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

By all means put your camera in a bag when you come in from the cold and let it warm up slowly. If it is in a bag any condensation that occurs will be on the bag and not inside the camera where it can do irreparable harm. I always pull my cards and batteries out of the camera before I bag it up and bring it inside. When it is below 0 F I will put the camera in a bag and then wrap that bag in a garbage bag just to be safe. As for how long, the longer the better; a couple of hours at least; overnight if you can. If you don't have the camera in a camera bag or case, you can feel the camera through the plastic bag and if it is not cool to the touch, you can open the bag. I always err on the side of caution and have never had a condensation problem after many days below zero F shooting in Alaska, Yellowstone and along the Mississippi.

schufosi777 Contributing Member • Posts: 649
Re: Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

Just do what you have to do to prevent the cold surface of the camera coming into contact with the warm moisture laden air indoors which would result in condensation on the surface of the camera. Leave it in the camera bag or a bag until it reaches room temperature. Above all dont change lenses until it has warmed up as the condensation will occur inside the camera as well. The real problem is talking a camera full of warm moisture laden air outside into the cold because the condensation will occur on the inside of the camera.

OP steve88 Contributing Member • Posts: 905
Thanks for the Advice! (n/t)

Kuivaamo wrote:

steve88 wrote:

Hello:

Does anyone have a good rule of thumb to live by when it comes to this? How long should you keep your camera/lens in a zip-loc bag after coming in from the cold? Is there a general rule?

You don't necessarily need a zip-loc bag. If your camera bag has a zipper, it's sufficient to just zip it shut.

If you don't want to wait for your gear to acclimatise, take out the CF card before you go inside. You can pop it in a card reader after warming it up in your hands for a minute, for example.

If the temperature outside is well below freezing, I typically I leave the camera bag closed overnight to be on the safe side.

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Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
OP steve88 Contributing Member • Posts: 905
Interesting

Bob GB wrote:

You don't have to pack in your camera at all. If you just bring it inside and let it heat up, that is the fastest way of doing it. Yes there will be condensation on the camera but that will help heating it up faster. As soon as the moisture on the outside is gone you can start using the camera. Don't remove the lens until the camera has dried up.

If you are not going to use the camera you can leave it in your bag or on a cooler place.

Best wishes to all, after several decades shooting in very low temperatures, down to MINUS 40.

Wow, you seem to do everything they recommend NOT to do but it sounds like you haven't had any problems so I'll take your word for it. I'd be very worried about not keeping it in a bag for at least a few hours. The thought of moisture drops on the outside and inside of my camera really scares me but I'm not saying your advice would not work. It has obviously worked for you. Thanks again for your suggestions!

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Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
OP steve88 Contributing Member • Posts: 905
Thanks

CameraCarl wrote:

By all means put your camera in a bag when you come in from the cold and let it warm up slowly. If it is in a bag any condensation that occurs will be on the bag and not inside the camera where it can do irreparable harm. I always pull my cards and batteries out of the camera before I bag it up and bring it inside. When it is below 0 F I will put the camera in a bag and then wrap that bag in a garbage bag just to be safe. As for how long, the longer the better; a couple of hours at least; overnight if you can. If you don't have the camera in a camera bag or case, you can feel the camera through the plastic bag and if it is not cool to the touch, you can open the bag. I always err on the side of caution and have never had a condensation problem after many days below zero F shooting in Alaska, Yellowstone and along the Mississippi.

Thanks very much for your advice. I didn't even think about the flash card needing to warm up, too. In extreme cold, I'm okay with letting it sit overnight. I agree with erring on the side of caution and taking a little extra time.

 steve88's gear list:steve88's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
OP steve88 Contributing Member • Posts: 905
More great advice - thanks

schufosi777 wrote:

Just do what you have to do to prevent the cold surface of the camera coming into contact with the warm moisture laden air indoors which would result in condensation on the surface of the camera. Leave it in the camera bag or a bag until it reaches room temperature. Above all dont change lenses until it has warmed up as the condensation will occur inside the camera as well. The real problem is talking a camera full of warm moisture laden air outside into the cold because the condensation will occur on the inside of the camera.

I didn't even think about the importance of leaving the lens on until it has warmed up...thanks a lot for that advice along with your other feedback

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samWebster123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,153
Re: Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

schufosi777 wrote:

The real problem is talking a camera full of warm moisture laden air outside into the cold because the condensation will occur on the inside of the camera.

It's never a problem taking warm equipment outside into the cold. This is not an issue at all!

A warm camera in a cold environment will not suffer condensation. A cold camera in a warm environment will!

I live in an area where it's consistently -20F and colder. I've never experienced condensation going from warm to cold.

Your camera bag is sufficient to protect gear. For larger lenses such as 500mm and 600mm I use OR Stuff Sacks which are lightweight and fit in your pocket. They have a simple drawstring but work perfectly well.

For smaller cameras, zip them up in your coat pocket and they'll be fine.

No need to let your CF cards warm up in the bag either. Take them out of the camera before you bring your gear inside and you can start downloading images right away!

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Michael G2
Michael G2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,143
My worst condensation incident was in Mumbai, India...

Completely unexpected, spent the night in a wonderful airconditioned hotel. Room temp around 68F/20C degrees. Went out in the morning to photograph in the 100/38C degree heat and high humidity and the camera lens instantly fogged over. took 45 minutes until the camera and lens were warm enough and the condensation disappeared. Never had that problem in the Arctic...

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RGBCMYK Senior Member • Posts: 2,017
Re: Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

A warm camera in a cold environment will not suffer condensation. A cold camera in a warm environment will!

While this is true, try shooting in a snowstorm when you have just removed your camera from the warmth of a house or a warm vehicle and you will see just how fast your lens will freeze over with a thin layer of ice. During winter shooting I typically leave my camera where it won't warm up. In a uninsulated garage or vehicle outside as long as the equipment is safe.

I taught photography on a ship that went around the world and the biggest problem I ever encountered was taking cool equipment out into the heat and humidity. I can't tell you how many video cameras I saw just shut down from moisture issues. Finding a hot location to keep my equipment in was the solution for the humidity.
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jon lake
jon lake Senior Member • Posts: 1,632
Can you get condensation on the sensor.....

if you don't take the lens off? If you did, would it leave any water marks, or signs that it was there once it had aclimetised and dried out?

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samWebster123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,153
Re: Bringing a Camera in From the Cold (Condensation)

RGBCMYK wrote:

A warm camera in a cold environment will not suffer condensation. A cold camera in a warm environment will!

While this is true, try shooting in a snowstorm when you have just removed your camera from the warmth of a house or a warm vehicle and you will see just how fast your lens will freeze over with a thin layer of ice. During winter shooting I typically leave my camera where it won't warm up. In a uninsulated garage or vehicle outside as long as the equipment is safe.

Can't say I've ever experienced a freezing over of my camera and I've shot in temps as cold as -45c!

However you bring up a good point...to prevent image distortion from heat thermals avoid shooting warm cameras in cold conditions...ie keep your heat off in the car and cool your lenses down (removing camera batteries) ahead of your outing.

I've had lots of images ruined shooting a warm 600mm lens out of warm car in exteme cold.

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