Digital Cameras vs. The Weather!

It is not always partly sunny and 72° outside, with no chance of rain. Sometimes, perfect weather is good. Sometimes, it is bad. When shooting in bad weather (or anything less than ideal conditions), you must know how to protect yourself and your camera.

Keeping equipment in a well-padded waterproof bag helps protect it from the elements. Adding a filter to the end of a lens will help protect your lens, but both are helps, and are not guarantees!

1/250 @ f/4 ISO80, Lexar digital film, Clik Elite Pro camera bag

Heat: Don’t leave your camera lying around in the sun. It’s hot and can melt things or fry whatever it doesn’t melt. It’s not only the sun you want to avoid. The hot trunk of your car and other such areas should also be avoided. LCD monitors can discolor in extreme temperatures.

Many cameras have minimum and maximum operating temperatures. Check these temperatures in the manual before going out to shoot.

This is what I found on the Canon website about my EOS 5D Mark II

Operating Environment

Working Temperature Range

Working Humidity Range  
85% or less                                     

Snow: Snow is easy to work in as long as you’re not wallowing around in it. You’re not likely to drown the camera if a little snow gets on it. The main thing you have to deal with is the cold temperatures. Be sure not to breathe on your camera when temperatures are extremely cold. The moisture from your breath can freeze to the camera and cause damage.

1/100 @ f/13 ISO100 Canon 5D Mark II, Lexar digital film, EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Black Rapid strap, Clik Elite Pro Express camera bag

: Working in the cold can make life a literal pain. Plastic and metal get extremely cold and uncomfortable to touch.  When out, keep the camera as close to your warm body as feasible.

You can’t wear gloves the size of parkas and operate a camera. You can wear thinner gloves, but they can be slippery and ineffective against the cold. If you do a lot of cold-weather shooting, check out special gloves designed with silicon “grippies” that make holding the camera easier. Some have finger caps that come off, exposing one or more fingertips to operate the camera with. Some are fingerless.

Batteries will lose power more quickly than usual, so always be prepared with extras. Be sure to keep the extras in a warmer location (pocket). Some photographers keep the batteries outside the camera until it is time to shoot. This is a great idea, unless you see something spectacular on your way to your designated location. 

When you’re working in the cold, plastics become more brittle. Be careful not to drop, bump or smack your camera or lens.

1/50 @ f/10 ISO500 Canon 5D Mark II, Lexar digital film, EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Black Rapid strap, Clik Elite Pro Express camera bag

Rain: Rain = Water.
Water = Bad. AVOID!!!

If it’s a slow sprinkle, water won’t automatically get into your camera. If you must change your lens, seek cover or point the camera downward to protect the inside of the camera.

When it is raining any more than a slow sprinkle, don’t go out without a weatherized camera and lens. If you must be out in a lot of rain, consider getting an underwater housing and using it on land.

The poor man’s solution is to make your own cover, from trash bags and duct tape. You can find instructions on the internet.

1/60 @ f/14 ISO1000 Canon 5D Mark II, Lexar digital film, EF17-40mm f/4L USM, Black Rapid strap, Clik Elite Pro Express camera bag, OP/TECH USA Rainsleeve

Humidity and Condensation: BAD! Your camera has circuits running all around inside it. Don’t shoot if your camera or lens have fogged up. When you must be in a situation where condensation will build on your camera or lens, put a plastic bag around the camera. The condensation will form on the bag and not the camera.

1/400 @ f/6.3 ISO800 Canon 5D Mark II, Lexar digital film, EF17-40mm f/4L USM, Black Rapid strap, Clik Elite Pro Express camera bag

Condensation can form when you walk out from a cool house to the hot temperature outdoors or the reverse. When brining the camera inside, give it time to adjust to room temperature. If condensation does form, don’t take the camera into the cold until the condensation is completely gone.  Condensation can be especially devastating to your sensor.

Underwater: Buy a special underwater housing that’s certified for use with your camera. Make sure to service and clean the underwater housing as directed to assure proper function of your gear.


4 Responses to “Digital Cameras vs. The Weather!”

  1. Nice photos … great Post !

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