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Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Protect Your Camera and Gear in Extreme Heat | Maris Ehlers Photography

A couple of weeks ago, I was shooting a senior session on a hot and humid Minnesota Friday afternoon.  We stopped at a location and I left my iphone in my car for no more than 25 minutes.  When I came back, I had the dreaded "Achtung!" temperature warning and the phone was disabled and would not work.  Luckily, I brought it in the house, took it out of its otter box case, and let it temper to the ambient air in our house, and all was well.

On that afternoon, the actual temp was in the mid 80's.  Granted there was some humidity to boot and it was sort of miserable, but I point it out because that week was NOTHING compared to what we are facing in terms of temperatures and heat indexes this week in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

1.  Here in Hennepin County, we are under an excessive heat warning until 9:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday, July, 20th.
2.  Temps tomorrow and Wednesday will likely be in the high 90's.
3.  More importantly though, the heat index will be in the 105 to 115 degree range.

That my friends, will be brutal.  Throw in some scattered thunderstorms and rain showers, and we are likely to be in for a tumultuous weather pattern for the next few days that will make the air feel physically wet.

As I have some evening shoots planned this week, I realized not only did I need to prep my clients that these sessions might not be happening, but it's a good time to remind people about how to protect your camera gear, whether you use a simple point and shoot or a high end DSLR.

Here are a few extreme heat tips and tricks for your cameras and gear:

1.  Do NOT under any circumstances, leave any camera or flash unit, disks, batteries, or anything else that can be turned on or uses "energy" in a closed up car for any length of time during this kind of a heat spell.

2.  This is one time that you don't want to keep your camera snugly packed inside a camera bag, especially a black one (that will attract more heat).  Cover it loosely with a white towel to keep it out of the sun, and let whatever air there is circulate around it.

3.  Know what temperature your camera is rated for.  Simply google your camera make and model with the words "temperature rating" behind it and you should get a result that will provide you with this info.  My Canon 5d Mark II is rated to 104 degrees, so if the heat index gets above 100, I will NOT be shooting or even taking my gear outside.  When a camera gets exposed to temperatures close to or above it's heat rating, the image sensors and electronic circuits can simply burn up, rendering your camera into a nice book end.

4.  If you must shoot outdoors, remember your lenses will need tempering (i.e. time to adjust / get to the ambient temperature outside) and so will the mechanisms inside your camera.  You can't simply walk outside from a 68 degree air conditioned environment into 100 degree heat and expect your camera and lenses not to fog up.  Wipe all you want, but they will continue to do so until the equipment has tempered to the ambient heat (air).  "Fog" is condensation or moisture, and so when you bring cool equipment out into the extreme heat condensation will form.  In my opinion, you are asking for moisture to get into the housing (crevices and joints) of your equipment, and this can be a big problem now or later.

5.  In order to "temper" your equipment, you should bring the temperature of the camera and lenses up slowly.  Whether you can turn up the a/c to a higher temp to help facilitate this or put your equipment in an open room without air but with circulation, it's important that you take enough TIME to do this.  Open up all areas of your camera (the battery and disk compartment as well - be sure to remove the battery) so that moisture does not get trapped into some of these areas) as the temperature comes down.

6.  Lastly, if it's not safe for your camera to be out in this heat, it probably isn't a good idea to have clients out in it, either.  Heat this severe can overtake people quite quickly, especially young children, pregnant women or the elderly, and it just isn't worth it.  Take them out for an ice cream instead.

Obviously, the same goes for computer gear as well.

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