I just wanted to make a little public service announcement for friends and colleagues who work with cameras in cold weather. Pack Ziploc freezer bags with you that are big enough to put your camera into.
Now you’re thinking that I’ve totally lost it! Poor guy has been chained to his computer too long. Well, just check this out…
Once you have taken your photos outside for long periods of time, your camera will get cold, especially if you have a DSLR that you can’t put into your pocket. The cold shouldn’t have much effect on your camera (depending on the model and make) other than quicker battery degradation. The concern is when you go back inside a warm house or vehicle. Moisture in the air will collect on the cold surfaces of your camera just like it does on windows or on the outside of a glass with ice water in it on a hot day. It’s only December and I miss those hot days already. Now imagine what that moisture would do to your sensor or your circuit board or your optics… Yikes! Say goodbye to the performance of a camera worth several thousand dollars!
So what do you do? This is where the Ziploc bag comes in. Place the camera in the Ziploc before you get inside; try to squeeze out as much air as you can. Bring the camera into the warmth and let it warm up inside the bag. You may notice some moisture on the outside of the bag, that’s okay… thankfully; it is not touching your camera.
Once the camera is warm enough, remove it from the bag and you should be fine. I like using a pelican case for this same reason. After a wintery outdoor shoot, seal the camera back into its case and let it warm up before opening it.
If you are reading this from a warm part of the world, please stop laughing. I’ve taken photos at -46 degrees Celsius (-51 Fahrenheit) and my kit survived.
FYI: This is friendly advice and should not be taken as a 100% solution to water/condensation damage. Use this as a precautionary step to help the life of your camera. I will not be liable to replace any of your equipment if anything should go wrong. There are so many circumstances outside the example I’ve given, so please be careful. I just hope this saves you and your camera any expensive frustrations.