Beat the Heat!

Protect your valuable camera gear from extreme high temperatures and humidity


Heat can affect your digital camera's images and extreme heat could damage the camera itself, especially if it is a relatively inexpensive one made with plastic parts. For example, if you leave a camera in a car in direct sunlight and it's over 100 degrees out, you risk the possibility of actually melting parts of the camera or degrading the lubricants necessary for its smooth operation.

There is also evidence that hot camera sensors will produce more digital noise in photos than those that are room temperature. According to an article in Le Photographe magazine, CCD and CMOS sensors tend to double digital noise for every 10-15 degrees above room temperature (65-72 degrees). While the exact effect of heat on digital sensors is subject to debate, it is clear that heat is a digital camera's enemy—as are water and condensation as a result of moving the camera from a cool place (a cooler with ice packs or an air conditioned car or building) to a hot, humid environment.

Common-sense and a bit of cleverness can protect your gear. For example, I might bring a small, white towel and drape it over my camera or gadget bag if I'm walking around in bright sunlight when I'm not using it since lighter material reflects heat. Earlier today I asked Adorama's Twitter and Facebook friends what they do to keep their gear from getting too hot in this record-breaking heat. Here are some of their responses.

Mae Mousavizadegan: “I keep my gear in a padded cooler, in my house. When I know I'm going to be out all day with my cameras, I take it with me. It stays cool for several hours and also keeps the fogging and dust down. It's also nice place to store my backup gear so I don't have to lug it around or worry about it melting in the car. Be careful which cooler you use and what you use to pad it.”

Dan Wampler: "Definitely keep your cameras out of direct sunlight and cars. I also have a khaki-colored camera bag for hot times. So many camera bags are dark in color, which holds the heat in. In addition, I always keep dehumidifier packs in with my gear.”

Jessica Goldsborough: “The humidity in the Southwest region loves to fog up my lens, so I've learned that if I take the lens off my camera before I shoot, the lens won't fog up.  I allow enough time to adjust to the indoor cool/out door humidity. I also wipe the metal mount down before I re-attach it so there is no rust (just in case).”

Michael Greer: “I never leave the camera in a locked vehicle or sitting in direct sunlight.”

Doreen Miller: "I keep my camera and lens in a large Ziploc bag for a while when going from indoor to outdoor, to keep the condensation off of the camera."

Got any other ideas for keeping your camera gear cool in a heat wave? Share them in the comments section, below!


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