Condensation Redux


Today’s Question: [As a follow-up to a question earlier this week about condensation risks when bringing your camera in from the cold] Any suggestions for the opposite time of year, a cold room on vacation going out into the heat of the day? You said a couple hours to adjust, but when on vacation that isn’t always an option. I have read that you shouldn’t leave the camera in a car because it gets too hot.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to minimizing condensation on a camera is to have the temperature of the camera match the air temperature. Therefore, you want to take steps to keep the camera warm, since a cold camera brought into relatively warm and humid air is likely to result in condensation.

More Detail: The first thing I would do in this type of situation is try to make sure that the camera doesn’t get cold in the first place. For example, keeping the camera in a well-insulated bag (or adding insulation to the bag) can help keep the camera a bit warmer. You could also increase the temperature of the air conditioning, or turn off the air conditioning an hour or two before you’ll be leaving.

You’ll also often find that some areas of a home or hotel room either don’t have air conditioning vents, or have vents you can close. For example, the bathroom in many hotels tends to be minimally affected by the air conditioning in the room. You can keep the camera in such an area to further help prevent the camera from getting cold.

If the situation enables it, you can also place the camera in a different location altogether. It is true that a car in the sun will tend to get extremely hot, and thus isn’t an ideal location for your camera. But a car that is in the shade can be a good location. You might also be able to find an area outside where the camera can be safely kept, such as a balcony. A garage can also serve as a good place to keep the camera, since it is relatively secure and generally not air conditioned.

The key is to figure out a way to minimize the extent to which the camera will be cold when taken into a warm environment. With a little bit of planning in advance, you should be able to find a solution.

Of course, in some cases such as with extreme humidity levels, even keeping the camera warm won’t prevent condensation. In those cases having a few extra lens cloths available can be tremendously helpful, so you can remove any condensation from the lens before capturing a photo.