What's best way to protect camera/lenses from cold weather?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by stephen_marcos, Jan 6, 2015.

  1. I'd like to take my recently acquired 5D out for some cold weather photography and I'd like to prevent the condensation that builds up in the lens/body when I leave a warm car and step outside into to cold weather. Also, how do I prevent condensation when I get back into the car? I'm afraid the camera or lens will suffer from water damage from the condensation.
  2. The condensation problem occurs when a cold camera is returned to a warm environment. You won't have the problem when taking the warm camera out into the cold. My practice is to leave the camera and lenses in the bag for 1-2 hours after returning to the warm house. Cold weather is more of a problem for your battery than for the camera. Some recommend carrying a spare battery in a warmer pocket and changing it into the camera if necessary.
  3. Keep the camera warm under your coat until just before you shoot. A warm camera does not build up condensation. Before you put it back in the car, put it in a zip lock bag, then leave it there until it reaches car/normal temperature. Then take it out.
    The problem arises when some part of the camera reaches the dew point temperature of the air it is in. This is a cold camera in warm air.
    Junk on the web says min. operating temp for 5D is 32F or 0C. That's probably true, but there is probably a bit of leeway there. Somebody here will know what you can get away with.
  4. As they have said, condensation only occurs when a cooler item is placed in warmer air (not the other way around). While sometimes the air inside the lens remains warm while the elements cool causing internal condensation, usually even warm winter air is dry enough to prevent a problem. If you have a zoom lens, running it a few times through it's entire FL as soon as you step into the cold will exchange enough air to prevent these unlikely issues. If not, simply unmounting and remounting the lens will do the same. - only do this going from warm to cold, not vice versa.
    In general though, bagging is a very effective technique (as the others have said). An important thing to remember about bagging your gear (an effective technique I too use) is that you should do it in the cold (dry) air - not in the warm air. I put the sealable bag in my camera bag, and bag the whole thing (a 2 1/2 gallon ziploc is usually big enough for a small/med bag - one of the vacuum storage bags works great for larger bags...) since ALL your gear is cold, when I'm coming in. Once your stuff is room temperature, you can take it out with no fear, and very dry gear.
  5. If I'm going to be shooting in the cold for more than a day, I just leave my cameras out in the car so they never warm up.
    Batteries and memory cards come inside using plastic bags. They tend to warm up much faster than a camera/lens.

    When it's time to bring the cameras inside, I just put the whole camera bag in a plastic garbage bag and seal it up. Then let it sit for a bunch of hours (usually overnight or longer). Again, the memory cards and batteries come inside separately so I can get to them sooner.
  6. The combination of a good camera bag with a zipper and the mass of the camera and lenses and you should be fine. For years I used the ziplock bag method, but I've found that, as long as the bag is as cold as everything else, and as long as you're not walking into a sauna, just zip them all up and head inside. Take the batteries and cards out first.
  7. I'm very far from expert, but I use my 5D and 5D MKII outside in sub-zero weather with no issues other than battery power. I keep two extra batteries in an inside pocket and switch as needed. On very cold days or when I have to be outside for hours, I put a hand warmer packet in with the batteries. The camera itself and lens seem unaffected by the cold as long as they are kept dry. As for condensation, I've always used the bag method and never experienced any problems.
  8. I recommend strongly that you do not put the camera under your coat when going to outdoors in cold (<< 0 C) weather as it will be exposed to a lot of humidity under your coat which then will freeze when exposed to the outdoors. When you leave indoor space to go outdoors, pack the camera and lenses with some silica gel in camera bags and close them. When going outdoors after you're done shooting put the equipment back in the bag and take the memory cards out and put them in your pocket. When you get back indoors, do not open the camera bags until the next day as there will otherwise likely be condensation that could cause damage over long term. The closed bag slows down the warming process of the air inside the bag so that the condensation forms mostly on the outer surface of the bag bag and not the camera.
  9. Hi Stephen,
    I have been shooting in Arctic for many years and especially in Arctic Ocean in 2011 & 2014 while being on the Polar Ring Expedition (I have pictures on Flickr here https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfenev/sets/72157642415646633/ and here https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfenev/sets/72157627972776110/) .
    On both trips temperature was well below zero - in 2014 I've been shooting outside in temperature -52°C often being in and out of the vehicle. I haven't used a sealed plastic bags though I had them. I would just put cameras (5DMII and 1DX) in the camera bag and zip it before I take cameras in the vehicle (inside temp was about +15°C) and won't open it for a couple hours and I had no problem with the condensation (sometime I would get it if the lens is still cold). If I needed to take pictures again I would open the bag outside of the vehicle. I had spare batteries in the inside pockets - haven't had any problems with neither batteries (not OEM replacement batteries) nor with CF cards (Lexar 1033 UDMA 7 32 & 16 GB).
  10. I shoot in relatively mild Colorado temperatures, from 40F to -10F. I simply turn on my heated driver's seat in the car and drive with one or both windows down. Basically, I minimize the temp change while in the field. Also, humidity tends to be below 20%, so that will minimize problems with fogging.
    I have much more trouble in Florida, going from a cool hotel room to very high humidity. I've started keeping the camera in the trunk of the car. (I've got insurance that covers that, so long as the car is locked. I don't let anyone see me putting gear in the car.)

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