Serene Life

by garik

submit your photo


Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This happens when the temperature is coolest often late at night or early in the morning. Few days ago I did night shots and every 4-5 minutes I had to clean filter from water (mist). Is there any (lens safe) facility to stop condensation of moisture on the surface of a lens or a filter, or maybe to slow this process.

share|improve this question
1  
Possible duplicate.. photo.stackexchange.com/questions/26808/… –  vivek_jonam Sep 3 '12 at 16:07
1  
ya. But let it get answered. Don't duplicate it again. –  vivek_jonam Sep 3 '12 at 19:34
1  
@vivek_jonam I have read it. LOL. Do you see small difference between my question and your one? I don't need any information about "mist formation inside the lens" :) –  garik Sep 3 '12 at 20:53
    
Possible duplicate.. photo.stackexchange.com/q/3730/21 –  Rowland Shaw Sep 6 '12 at 12:45

5 Answers 5

Added:

  • The cure is to ensure that camera surfaces are always at least very slightly higher than ambient air temperature - either by heating or other means.
    See here for DIY low cost heaters
    And here re Dew Shields & heaters

  • BUT see at end for an explanation of how the apparently reverse mechanism occurs so that apparently cold air causes condensation on apparently warm surfaces, and why heating overcomes this problem.

  • The "mystery factor" which causes theory and practice to apparently not match is the loss of energy to "space" due to radiation, and the fact that the equipment radiates more readily than air does.


Original:

  • Experience shows that if equipment and ambient temperatures are allowed to equalise the problem vanishes.

  • The best solution is to leave the equipment in an environment that is at ambient temperature for some hours before use.

  • As equalisation can take several hours, a source of blown air at local ambient temperature is liable to greatly hasten the process.

  • You could arrange a "blower" - perhaps as simple as a battery fan, to blow air over the equipment to hasten and/or maintain temperature equalisation.

  • There is good reason to expect that this would help greatly. See below.

  • Note that condensation forming on warm equipment in cold conditions is the opposite of what essentially every web reference on condensation talks about. Notionally condensation should only form on objects which are too cold (below dew point) in a warm atmosphere. However, this opposite to expected situation is commonly experienced and needs to be dealt with.

The moisture holding capacity of air decreases with decreasing temperature.

Technically, condensation occurs when air with moisture in it is cooled below the point at which the air is able to hold all the moisture that it contains. This is referred to as, not totally surprisingly, the dew point. Very dry air will have a very low dew point. If you can dry the air striking a surface then the surface needs to be very cold relative to the air for condensation to occur.

Theoretically you'd expect that a cold lens introduced into a warm atmosphere would cause condensation, and this is what you see in e.g. tropical butterfly houses when cold cameras meet tropical temperatures. In that case the more enlightened establishments have a warm air blower to heat cameras with on entry. Near instant fix.

In the case of bringing a warm camera into colder air you might expect that the problem would not occur as the warm camera surface would heat the air, increasing its dew point and water carrying capability. Everyone who has taken a warm camera outside on a cold night knows that condensation happens. I looked at several dozen web references on condensation and none adequately explained this effect. Even a USGS school science site did a poor job.

SO there is obviously a complex effect where the combination of energy transfer and air movement results in some of the air falling below its dew point. Experience shows that if temperatures are allowed to equalise the problem vanishes. As equalisation can take several hours, a source of blown air at local ambient temperature is liable to greatly hasten the process.

Here is a typical and excellent example reference on "Cameras, humidity & condensation" where virtually the whole discussion relates to cool equipment in a warm environment.


ADDED:

A clearly explained and elegant explanation of why introducing a camera or other equipment from a warm environment to a cold one results in condensation in an apparently opposite manner to what is expected in theory is given on the site mentioned by @garik on the page Telescope Performance & Cool-Down Vs Dew Heaters. The solution IS a heater, but the reason is worth understanding.

See the above page for details, but in summary

  • Energy is lost via radiation from a hotter to a cooler surface.

  • In this case the equipment radiates energy to the cold night sky rater better than the air does, so it is possible for surfaces of the equipment to fall below ambient temperature.

  • Where there are still thermal differences inside the equipment air circulation will occur and the combination of colder than ambient surfaces, warmer than ambient internal parts and air circulation can set up conditions where relatively warm air is presented with relatively cold surfaces and condensation can occur in the normal and expected manner.

  • Applying at least 'just enough heating" so that all equipment surfaces are always at least just above air ambient allows theory and practice to match.

  • See above page for excellent explanations with diagrams.

share|improve this answer
    
thanks, Russell. –  garik Sep 4 '12 at 21:29
    
@russel, its really simple. The lens and the air in it are warm and have water vapor in them. Take the lens out, say Canada or Alaska in the winter, and the lens cools down rapidly, which condenses the water vapor as it reaches the dewpoint. At first, it only condenses on the inner surfaces of the lens body. As the lens continues cooling, even the glass cools and that condenses even more water, fogging the lens. –  Pat Farrell Sep 5 '12 at 4:21
    
@PatFarrell - I do not think it is really simple, alas, having thought it through. The "proper" transition for dew formation is cold surface into warm air. User body heat and water vapor may be involved. But for warm equipment and cold environment the air should be being heated so as to have a lowered dew point. You say "the lens cools down... which condenses the water vapor" which is what web explanations tend to say BUT is the opposite of what makes sense. The LENS does not have a dew point. Cooling it does not "make" water. Cooling air does, BUT release water BUT it's being heated. –  Russell McMahon Sep 5 '12 at 12:58
    
@PatFarrell - see my additions. The maddening missing factor was differential radiation to space - the camera on average radiates better than air does and parts of the camera can cool to BELOW local air temperatures. Case solved! :-) –  Russell McMahon Sep 5 '12 at 15:39
    
what about wide-angle lens. dew-shield should have wide angle form. so heater should be more powerful. –  garik Sep 6 '12 at 20:09

I'd like to apologize for the rough render with poor detail. This answer does not use any magic, but rather chemistry!

Heated UV Protection Filter

The lens warmer uses two two fins, each with a hand warmer rubber banded to it to heat the glass element. The heat from the warmers will quickly get the filter element above ambient temperature, at which point it will no longer condense.

Quick render of a proposed lens warmer

Usage

  1. Attach HPF (heated protection filter) to camera before entering concerned ambient conditions.
  2. Open one or two hand warmers depending on severity of conditions.
  3. Hold one warmer over the glass to quick heat the element.
  4. Attach warmers to HPF warming fins.
  5. Use camera as normal, taking care not to damange the attached HPF.

Physical Implementation

This would be somewhat difficult to physically implement with the tools commonly available. I would consider using a step up ring and a filter larger than necessary. Then glue the aluminum heating plate to the step up ring, and glue (thermal adhesive please!) the filter on top of the plate. A hole has been previously drilled in the plate to allow light to pass.

share|improve this answer
    
thanks, Phil +1. Where can I buy it? any information, please... –  garik Sep 3 '12 at 20:55
    
@garik Sorry, it does not exist yet. I designed the device for you. –  Phil Sep 4 '12 at 5:25
    
O. great. thanks that you push me to start a small investigation. I think, that there is some device or equipment to solve this problem. One thought at first: this "bar" should be made from the copper (high thermal conductivity material) and this device should be thermal isolated (foil)... –  garik Sep 4 '12 at 5:44
    
If you are interested in the idea of making something I could draw some more detail. –  Phil Sep 4 '12 at 5:49
    
Phil, hi. How the warmers should be implemented (is it electrical, chemical element)? –  garik Sep 7 '12 at 14:24

My early cars without A/C taught me that in cold, avoid breathing out anywhere towards glass that should remain transparent. The escaping air has been warmed up your body and reaching a colder surface will trigger the dew point, just like Russell has described in his answer. Blow air out via a corner of mouth if the important surface (like a windshield, or a lens) is straight in front of you. Photography got me hooked me years later, and even running out to take pictures in 40°C / 70°F below room temperature, I've only experienced the problem of foggy lens when forgetting that simple rule.

When looking specifically for a facility, any device directing breath away from camera, e.g. a curtain or a snorkel, would do. But these are not really necessary, just paying attention will do.

share|improve this answer
    
Good advice, thanks –  garik Sep 5 '12 at 5:48

When shooting outside in cold temperatures (or even at dawn when the air temperature is close to the dew point, its the warm air inside the lens that is causing the fog.

The solution is simple if you have some time. Put the lens in an air tight plastic bag (a bread loaf bag works for long lenses), seal it up, and take the lens outside for a couple of hours. Let the lens get down to the outside temperature.

Then you can open up the bag, and shoot happily.

Just remember to put the lens back in the bag when you go back into the heated area, to prevent the warm wet air inside the house from condensing on the cold lens.

share|improve this answer
    
I got condensation on the filter and I was shooting more than 1 hours (star trails). No changes. I had to clean filter every 5 minutes :(. Thank you, Pat. Your suggestion makes sense, but it should be in other case. –  garik Sep 5 '12 at 5:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

What I have found:

1) Answer goes from other field: astronomical observation. Phil was right: it should be some heating device. Here is a sample.

2) Super device from DewBuster and hand-made anti-dew system

3) Hand-made without heater (maybe it will work): Anti-Dewer: long tube, horn made from cardboard or plastic, it can be covered from the inside with black barhotom (only natural, it is better artificial), and outside paint matt black car paint for better protection from the elements. Get two in one: Anti-Dewer and blend together. Here is a sample.

4) We can use thin sheets of black foam :)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.