I have often been thwarted by condensation when an outdoor grab-shot opportunity presents itself. The only cure I know is to wait for the glass to warm up. My question is, what can I do to hasten the process?

  • Should I put the camera in direct sunlight? I wouldn't with film, but what about digital?
  • Should I remove the lens so that the rear element and the mirror can warm quicker, or should I keep the cooler/dryer air trapped in there?
  • How can I really tell when the condensation is sufficiently cleared?
  • How do you tell an animal to hold that pose will waiting? :)

(This related question, How do I prevent condensation..., is about condensation developing over time.)


1 Answer 1


The faster the transition, the greater the chance of causing damage to your equipment. If you want to protect your equipment from failure due to water(ie condensation issues) a slow gradual transition of about 20mins is the best idea. With that said, I have some tips below and if you follow them, you should be able to safely speed up this process.

The issue is that the air surrounding your lens is cooled to an extent that the air can no longer retain the moisture within it. When your cold lens is exposed to that warm, humid air you will get condensation. If the temperature of the lens is a lower than the dew point of the air around you, that is when you see trouble.

First off, don't remove your lens after you get into the new environment. The only thing that will do is expose your mirror and inside of the lens to the moisture, potentially causing much greater issues then the outside version.

I did find evidence that a smaller lens will acclimate quicker to a change in dew point faster then a larger lens, so one possible option is to put down your huge zoom lens and throw on a smaller prime before you head outside.

So onward toward the tips/tricks:

  • Put your camera/equipment into a zip-lock bag. This lets the condensation build up in the bag sides instead of on your lens. I've found it allows you not to wipe off the lens once it has been acclimated too.
  • Throw a stash of hand warmers into your bag, the moment that you think you are going to head outside for "the shot" activate the hand warmers, and your lenses will start the acclimation process.
  • Why not keep your equipment in the garage or car when you think the opportunity might arrive?
  • Get a black gear bag, and put it in the direct sunlight for a few minutes before you ever get the camera out. The bag will heat up the equipment faster and get you shooting.
  • Move out of this high dew point location that you live in, that sounds real bad.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great stuff. I wish I could double vote this one. And yet no advice on talking to the animals. Fortunately today's frog was a patient subject... \$\endgroup\$
    – Chris Noe
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chris Noe - As far as the animals - I can only offer the advice of my favorite outdoorsman - Lenny Pepperbottom - youtube.com/watch?v=Hm3JodBR-vs \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 20:16

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