How to prevent condensation in camera / lens? What cause it?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by andry_hermawan, Nov 2, 2003.

  1. Hello,
    How to prevent condensation in camera / lens? What cause it?
    I never worried about condensation with my point&shoot, but I'm a bit
    worry with d100 and some lenses. I'm planning to travel to Seattle,
    the rain city, any tips on how I should care for my gear? I hate if
    I'm not able to shoot when traveling.
    Thanks alot in advance

  2. Condensation on camera gear isn't as big a deal in Seattle as you might think (I'm a native).

    Number one cause of condensation is taking a cold-soaked camera into a warm moist environment. Where the cold surface contact moisture laden air, water droplets will form, just like an iced-tea glass. This is a bugger if it's *inside* your camera or lens.

    The usual first line of defense for this form of condensation is to seal your gear in individual zip-lock bags with all the air squeezed out. You do this while you're still outside in the freezing air. Then you bring your camera bag inside and let it warm gradually by itself. When the temperature neutralizes, you can unwrap the baggies.

    It's not often that cold around here. Now if you go up in the mountains to one of the ski areas, it's a different story.

    For typical wandering around Seattle in our normal drizzle, I don't take any particular precautions. I'm usually wearing a jacket that's big enough to 'shield' the camera if it really starts coming down (though that usually fogs the eyepiece from body heat). I carry a cotton bandanna for wiping water off the surface of the camera and barrel of the lens.

    I don't shoot much with a D100, so if they're more sensitive, I wouldn't know. I've used F100, N90s, F3, F2, FE, FM around here in the rain, no problems.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    We worry about condensation when we travel to cold places such as Antarctica. Essentially condensation forms when you bring cameras and lenses from the cold outdoors into a warm room. It is like taking a can of cold drink out from the fridge, and it "swets" after sitting in room temperature for a while.

    I don't think it is cold enough in Seattle to cause a lot of condensation problems. However, I would try to keep the camera dry (from rain). A shower cap may help.
  4. I had condensation probelms at times while my wife and I were living in Abu Dhabu, on the Arabian Gulf. This was not about taking a camera from a cold environment inside to a warm one. We had problems with taking cameras from an air conditioned room or car (even one that seemed warm) into a hot (35C or 95F), high humidity outside. The earliest it happened to me was one summer morning at about 6:15am.

    It was nuisance, but it never affected my Nikon F3 or FM once the condensation was dried up. Mind you, these are relatively simple cameras compared to the digital goodies out now.
  5. The problem of condensation is very simple. If your camera or lens cools air next to it to the point that this air can no longer hold it’s moisture it will give it up to your camera or lens. A convection flow of air will continue until your camera or lens temperature equalizes with the environment. If the camera is cold enough beats of water will form. This is just like a glass of ice water v. one of room temperature water. You know which one will sweat.

    The colder air becomes the less moisture it can hold, conversely warm air can hold much moisture. Warm ocean currents build hurricanes while colder land kills them and they dump their moisture quickly as very heavy rain. Maybe some kind scientist type will come along and explain in a more scientific way.

    To stop condensation stop the flow of air. The easiest way is with a plastic bag like a ZipLoc bag. A down vest or parka that has NOT been used for a few days will work also. A water proof camera cases will likely work also.

    If you have specific concerns about repeated cycles I’d ask a camera repairman or woman who has seen camera damage from condensation.


  6. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Andry, you don't need to worry about your camera in Seattle unless exposed to the rain itself, and even then a tea towel covering your body and lens is good enough until you get back into a warm room and open everything up. Come up to Vancouver while in the area too!

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