Today’s Question: Quick note to add to your cold-weather advice. Humidity may be a major problem when coming inside from the cold. If you’re going from say 20 outside to 70 inside, condensation may be a major problem. I think the best way to deal with humidity is to have a dry bag and put the camera in it before moving from outside to inside. Let the bag warm up before opening and you’ll be safe from condensation. If you repeatedly go from outside to inside and back, it’s easy to cause problems even internally with a camera. The dry bag will eliminate that problem. You might also want to remove the battery and memory cards before putting them in the bag so you’ll have access to them immediately.
Tim’s Quick Answer: I completely agree that when you’re done with cold-weather photography and ready to head indoors, putting your camera into a dry bag before going indoors can help prevent issues with condensation.
More Detail: Today’s follow-up “question” is really just a bit of additional advice from a reader in response to an answer I recently shared about cold-weather photography tips.
As noted in my previous answer, condensation isn’t generally a problem in the cold, because cold air can’t retain high amounts of humidity. However, going from a cold environment to an indoor environment that is warm and potentially humid can be risky for your camera and other electronics.
The issue here is similar to what many photographers have faced when going from an air-conditioned environment outdoors into the heat and humidity. The camera will have gotten somewhat cold indoors, and therefore the humid air will form condensation all over (and inside) the camera as soon as you step outside.
Similarly, going from a cold environment outdoors to a warm and more humid environment indoors can quickly lead to significant condensation, which can cause problems for your camera. In this scenario it isn’t critical to warm up the camera quickly, so you can simply put the camera into a dry bag while still outdoors, and close up that bag. Bring the bag indoors, and let the bag (and contents) get up to room temperature before opening the bag, and you won’t have an issue with condensation.