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Weather Or Not: Protect Your Camera From The Elements

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 12/21/2010

This article outlines weather and how to prepare for the various conditions you may (or may not) be expecting on your holidays, rain, shine, and everything in between.

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    Water, Water, Everywhere!

    Water is one of the worst enemies of the camera, capable of everything from frying out the circuits to depositing difficult-to-remove scum on the optics to destroying the LCD screen. It doesn't matter whether you're on the beach or in the rain, it's a dangerous environment for your camera.

    The best thing you can do for your camera? Don't take it to the places where water's a real risk factor. If it's pouring outside and you're going to be out in the rain all day, it's really probably not the best idea to bring it with, even if you have all the rain gear in the world. Salt water in particular can cause corrosion, which is difficult to deal with.

    That being said, a lot of times you just really need that camera around for those once-in-a-lifetime shots. There's a lot you can do to prevent water damage.

    Consider purchasing a waterproof or water resistant camera case, one that is rugged enough to stand up to both natural and human elements, for between shots. Failing that, even just covering your bags in plastic wrapping will save it a lot of moisture damage.

    Other accessories can also help keep your camera safe. Rain hoods are helpful if you absolutely have to get that shot in the pouring rain, though even with the most careful handling a few drops will always get in.

    Dry your hands before handling the camera, even so much as taking it out of the case. Also, make sure that for those small droplets that you have some soft, dry lens cloths around to wipe it off.

    For more information on how to take care of water damage, check out this article.

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    Sun, Sun, Sun

    Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much sun. Leaving your camera out in the sun can make it overheat, frying the circuitry within. If you'll be venturing to hot climes, make sure that you don't leave your camera out in the sunlight—or in a greenhouse of a car.

    Additionally, the UV in sunlight can slowly and seriously damage your camea over time, and it can take a real beating in fierce tropical sun—and even more so as you travel on through the southern hemisphere.

    While many modern cameras have some UV protection built into the lens, it's not enough. If you're going to be traveling in a very sunny environment, the intent of many travelers, consider keeping a UV filter to keep on your camera.

    For information on protecting your camera from the Sun, check out this article.

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    Changing Temperatures

    If you're in a climate with extreme hot-cold changes, or if the AC's on a bit cool to combat the hot days, then your camera is at risk for yet another environmental factor: temperature. While temperature change in itself is no real issue, add a little moisture into the equation and with rapidly cooling temperatures, you can also get condensation. This is most visible on the lens, but it can also affect the inner circuitry as well, getting water in all the wrong places.

    There are a number of things you can do to combat this. The best solution is to keep your camera in a camera bag, in its own pocket of air with a steady temperature. When you change temperature environments, slowly introduce the warm air to the bag by opening it bit by it. This should prevent any condensation, allowing the camera to warm up slowly.

    If you do get condensation on the lens, make sure you have a clean, dry lens cloth handy to wipe away the mist.

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    The Cold

    Maybe you're not hitting the tropics for travels: maybe you're out in the cold. If that's the case, then there's one simply rule for camera care: keep it out of the cold. As with the heat, the cold can seriously damage the circuits within the camera. If you're going to out and about, try keeping your camera in a warm place between uses, such as within your coat or in a hat within its camera case.

    Additionally, if the cold climate is such that you might get freezing rain or snow, make your best effort to keep it out of the elements, and keep a dry lens cloth handy. Follow the same guidelines as with normal rain.

    Check out this article for more tips on bringing your camera into cold weather.