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How do you avoid Condensation on your lens ?

steve stuff , Nov 11, 2004; 03:29 p.m.

I am looking forward to taking pictures this winter. I am concernd about condensation issuse with my new Canon "L" leses and wondered what the approach is to avoid condensation when you take your camera from a warm environment into a cold environemnt or vis versa.

Responses

Frank Uhlig , Nov 11, 2004; 04:12 p.m.

Let the camera/lens adjust to the new temp slowly.

If I walk from a cold room 60 degrees into summer 100 degree weather, my glasses always fog up, those on my nose. But the ones in my case do not fog if I take them out a while later.

Same principle works for lenses. So wait to take your lens out; 2 minutes or 20 depending on degree of temp change.

Jean-Baptiste Queru , Nov 11, 2004; 05:01 p.m.

What Frank said.

In addition:

-Most condensation happens when placing a cold object in a warm place.

-When going from a warm to a cold place, the problem is with the moisture in the air that is trapped in the lenses. If you seal your lenses in a zip-loc while in the cold, take them inside (without opening the zip-loc) then take them back outside and re-open the zip-loc outside you should be fine.

-Be careful not to breathe on your cold lenses.

paul RON , Nov 11, 2004; 10:30 p.m.

Keep the camera under your coat till you are ready to shoot. If you are camping out, be sure to keep the camera in your sleeping bag with you so it stays warm. My frineds have used solid fuel hand warmers in their packs to keep the camera equipment warm with good results.

Manuel Garcia , Nov 12, 2004; 01:23 a.m.

The advice you received it right on the mark. Condensation is more of a concern when your in a humid climate. Going from your hotel room with the A/C blaring into the heat and humidity. That's when you really have to be careful.

David H. Hartman , Nov 12, 2004; 07:10 a.m.

When a cold object is moved to warm air there is a convection flow of air that flows down the side of the cold object. This brings more warm air in contact with the cold object. Warm air can hold more moisture but as it’s cooled it must give up that moisture as condensation to the cold object. It doesn’t much care if it’s a glass of iced tea or your lens. You need to stop the flow of air.

One of the easiest ways is to use a plastic bag. If you don’t have that you could wrap the lens in a clean dry bath towel. That’s one from the closet not one hanging by the shower door! Anything that is dry (really dry) and stops the air flow will do the trick.

The towel will also provide insulation so the lens will warm up slower than in a plastic bag especially if most of the air is squeezed out of the bag. A Zip Lock back limits the amount of moisture to volume of warm air when the bag is closed. A dry cleaning bag can be twisted on both ends to limit the supply of warm moist air. I’d only use a dry insulator like a towel if a clean plastic bag is not available.

Regards,

Dave Hartman.

John Vandehei , Nov 12, 2004; 12:04 p.m.

I agree with the method of putting the camera in a plastic bag when taking it inside from the cold outdoors. A trick I found usefull when travelling in hot and humid locations (I figured this out in Guangzhou, China this past August - the place was like a suana outdoors) is to heat up your camera gear with a hair dryer. You don't have to get your gear hot, just warm enought so its close to the outside temperature. Do this just before going outside and condensation shouldn't be a problem.

David H. Hartman , Nov 16, 2004; 02:23 p.m.

A little more on insulation. First it’s not really an advantage over a plastic bag. It’s a stop gap. Second the way it works is it stops the convection flow of air. Inside the walls of your house you many have fiberglass. It’s light and it impedes air flow. The more density a material the faster heat can transfer. You get cold in 27?C (81?F) water but not in air of the same temperature. Primarily fiberglass insulation stops the flow of air circulating in the wall. Clothing does the same. In a still room there is a convection flow of air raising from our bodies. If the body gets cold exposed hair stands up in an attempt to stop air flow. A diver’s wet suit stops the flow of water next to the body and a dry suit insulates better with a layer of air in dry clothing.

A clean, dry camera bag that zips shut (make sure it’s really dry) will stop the transfer of moist air in and dry air out. If you put a lens way with condensation, rain or snow on it the bag might start dry but it will be wet. I once put a lens away with just enough moisture from a very light sprinkle that condensation occurred between the filter and lens. The moisture must have been in the threads of the filter as I wiped down the lens before putting it away for the night. This was on a back packing trip in the Eastern Sierra Nevada range of Central California. I air-dried several lenses and my cameras the next morning, no harm, no foul. Use common sense, stop the flow of air safely.

The best thing is to plan ahead and have Zip Lock or Heft One Zip bags. Freezer bags with the zipper thing are really nice. Plastic doesn’t necessarily stop the convection flow but if airtight or nearly so it denies a fresh supply of moist air. If a plastic bag has most of the air squeezed out the bag may sweat but only on the outside.

---

On a similar topic if you have refrigerator cold film and want to warm it faster put it in your pocket while still in the air tight packing. It will take a long time at near body temperature to do any damage. Here the air tight packing denies a fresh supply of moist air. Even if there is sweat in your cloths the packing locks it out.

Regards,

Dave Hartman.

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