How Do I Prevent Camera Condensation When Moving From the Cold Outside to Warm Indoors?

It’s that time of year. 

A plush layer of clean, fresh snow is engulfing everything. 

People and cars are quietly gliding through the blinding, silencing whiteness. 

You grab your jacket and your camera, heading out to capture the untouched landscape, but then it strikes you. 

How Do I Prevent Camera Condensation?

Tips on how to avoid camera condensation

Avoiding condensation is easier than you might think. We can summarize it in three quick steps:

  • Protect Your Equipment
  • Keep The Camera Warm 
  • Let Your Photo Gear Acclimatize

Now let’s break it down in more detail.

What Is Lens Fog, and Should I Worry About it?

Ways to Prevent Camera Condensation When Switching From the Cold Outside to Warm Indoors

Lens fog is external condensation (moisture) settling down on the surface due to temperature differences. 

It’s no different than what you see in front of you when exhaling or talking in sub-zero conditions. Luckily, lens fog is entirely harmless but can be a nuisance.

Can Condensation Damage My Camera Gear?

While light surface condensation can’t ruin your camera, repeated and prolonged exposure can. 

Suppose your equipment is not weather-sealed nor has a magnesium alloy body. In that case, the moisture can get inside. 

Here, it can wreak all kinds of havoc like corrosion and mold—and you want neither inside your camera or lens.

How To Prevent Camera Condensation

How to prevent camera condensation

There is hope, even if you don’t have a fully weather-resistant camera. 

Here are some easy steps you can take to protect your beloved photo gear. Let’s break them down, one by one. 

Protect Your Camera and Lens (before)

Step one is protection. Since plastics become somewhat brittle in cold weather, a protective camera bag can help reduce the chance of damage. 

Keep The Camera Warm (during)

Optimally, you want to keep the camera nice and toasty, along with your batteries and memory cards. 

Realistically, though, this is not always practical. That’s why you can resort to using an all-weather camera cover with room for heated elements. 

Let Your Photo Gear Acclimatize (after)

The last step is when you return to your home or car at the very end. Put everything inside an air-tight bag to allow the camera gear to acclimatize while staying dry. 

Don’t take it out until all of the moisture has dissipated. 

Cool! But What If There Is Already Condensation?

How do I prevent camera condensation when going from a cold environment to a warmer one?

The acclimatization step deals with this to some extent.

However, it’s not always enough. Here are some tips to quickly deal with existing condensation build-up on your photography equipment.

Never Wipe a Foggy Lens

Forget all about wiping a lens while it’s fogged up.

You’ll just leave ugly streaks that are tough to get rid of. Instead, simply let the camera and lens sit outside for about half an hour—this should allow them to defog. 

If you drive, leave the gear in the trunk on the way to the location. Always keep a microfiber cloth at hand. 

Finally, a dew shield could save the day, especially during longer sessions at nighttime.

Do Not Detach The Lens While Acclimatizing  

It should go without saying that you should not remove the lens while it’s attached and not yet readjusted to the indoor temperature.

Also, remove the lens caps during the process. 

Place Your Camera in an Air-tight Plastic Bag

Every time you shoot the snowy landscape in sub-zero, carrying a couple of plastic bags should be second nature. 

Upon your return, simply place your DSLR and lens in the tightly sealed bag until it has acclimatized and all the condensation is gone.

We can’t stress enough how this simple hack can help protect your gear!

Consider Silica Gel & Dehumidifiers

Hydrosorbent silica gel is a life savior for camera gear – just do not eat it. 

Not only are dehumidifiers great to have around your photo equipment when in storage. Indeed, they can also help suck any air moisture when dealing with cold weather.

Deal With it in Post

Sometimes, waiting long enough is not an option. While fixing condensation in post is not a silver bullet, it can make a big difference if the fogginess is not too severe. 

Carefully adjust the contrast and clarity sliders in Lightroom, and remember a bit of dehaze as well. 

Final Thoughts

Follow the basic steps outlined above to avoid condensation on your camera and lens.

To recap, it’s as simple as protecting, keeping warm, and acclimatizing. Bringing an air-tight plastic bag is a no-brainer, but silica gel and a weather cover can also help. 

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