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Usually when photographing cool breezy areas like beaches in the evening, I have experienced mist formation inside the lens. Once this mist formed, it stays there for at least an hour even after keeping the camera inside the bag.

How to protect the lens from these kind of mist formation? Is this really harmful for the lens?

Also what are the safe ways to get rid of the formed mist quickly?

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1  
by the way, have you looked at the [condensation] tag? There are a lot of interesting questions, more or less overlapping with yours. Take this for example: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/11288/… –  Francesco Sep 2 '12 at 11:26
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The answer provided by Francisco is perfect. Just one warning since you said beach: Do not let spray splash your lens. The salt in sea water can damage the optical coating used on the lens surface. –  Itai Sep 2 '12 at 14:53
    
@Itai Any advice to protect mist formation while shooting? –  vivek_jonam Sep 2 '12 at 14:59
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Wish there was a way! In practice it forms at transitions between temperatures, so its not that common but there are cases such as indoor/outdoor events and odd environmental conditions. –  Itai Sep 2 '12 at 15:17

2 Answers 2

I have found the best, most practical way to avoid condensation on cameras is to ensure that they are in the same environment for several hours before a shoot. For example, if I plan to shoot at sunset at the beach, I put my camera equipment in the trunk of my car, or on a porch, around 2 or 3pm (several hours before) the shoot. This way the equipment is acclimatized to the warm, moist air, and no condensation occurs.

I know from experience that one hour is not enough. And its best to make sure the camera bag is open, allowing the moist air to get in. Sometimes the thick bag insulates enough to cause issue. The heat and humidity won't damage the camera, so don't worry about it.

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You have to gradually let equalize the temperature. Don't bring the camera and lenses straight from a cold place to a warm place or viceversa: if you'll shoot in the night let the equipment outside some hours earlier.

Then, to avoid mist formation, you can put the equipment inside a plastic bag with some silica gel, and only then bring it back home: this way the moist will form on the exterior of the bag and your equipment will be safe. At a minimum you can put everything in the camera bag well zipped.

As for harmful: once it happens, it has happened and probably nothing bad will come from that. But it is really something that you should avoid. If the equipment get really wet don't turn it on.

PS: obviously the same reasoning applies to all the optical equipment: binoculars for instance.

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Can you add something for avoiding mist formation while shooting(if thats possible) –  vivek_jonam Sep 2 '12 at 14:58
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In a very humid environment it is more or less impossible to completely avoid it: but you should be able to reduce it drastically. Weather sealing (both of camera and lens) could help but I doubt it can possibly be enough. Apart from extreme environments where... you will judge if it's the case to risk, you should use the "enclose camera in a bag and let it out only after the temperature is the same" approach both when going OUT and when getting back IN. This way while you're outside the camera will be already "cold" and when you'll bring it back it will have the time to warm. –  Francesco Sep 2 '12 at 15:34

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