Lookout! Camera Condensation!

I spent last week on vacation in North Carolina.  I’m still working my way through this summer’s wedding photos so it will be some time before I process my personal vacation photos.  But in the meantime, I wanted to share a rather unusual experience I had.

We had the air conditioning of our beach house in the low 70’s.  Outside, it was in the mid to upper 80’s most of the week.  I didn’t take note of the exact humidity.

I found that if I left the house wearing my cameras instead of keeping them bagged, a rather scary, thick layer of condensation formed on all the metal and glass surfaces almost immediately.

I’ve been shooting for 20 years but am not a big fan of super hot weather so this condensation thing has only happened to me a handful of times.  I posted about it social media and found that folks in other states and parts of the world struggle with this issue near daily.  I can’t imagine!

This happened to me while shooting a wedding in the Dominican Republic too.  I was entering air conditioning after a fast, humid rain outside.  My Nikon F2sb was fine shooting in the rain but when I went indoors, the viewscreen fogged and would not unfog for nearly a full half hour.  I imagined this had much to do with the interchangeable finder because the FE I shot the reception with was fine.


Anyway, so this time in North Carolina, both my FM2n and 1930 Leica not only had foggy finders but as I’d mentioned all their metal surfaces fogged up.  Within about 5 or 6 minutes, the 1930 Leica was all clear, inside and out.  But the FM2n took a good 8 or 10 minutes.  What took the longest to clear was the flipping mirror and Fresnel view screen.  I even took the lens off for a bit as they unfogged but it didn’t seem to hurry the process.  I guess that the 1930 Leica cleared up more quickly due to fewer and much smaller optical surfaces.  And certainly no Fresnel screens with concentric circles to trap the moisture.

Interesting, huh?

I posted about this experience on Facebook and the folks who deal with this more frequently recommended bagging the cams in Ziploc’s with a pack or two of silica gel.  I found that even just keeping the cameras in my Domke bag while leaving and entering the house was effective but I will certainly keep the Ziploc thing in mind!

This condensation issue makes me wonder how many cameras have rust inside or other deterioration as a result of moisture getting inside them on a more frequent basis.  It sure makes me appreciate living in a drafty historic home in Maryland where this doesn’t seem to happen nearly ever!

Has this ever happened to you?  What cameras?  What advice do you have to prevent or avoid camera condensation?  What do you think about taking a 1930 Leica onto the beach?! 😉

Follow, Favorite, Like, Add, Contact Johnny Martyr 


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