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Old Feb 25, 2010, 6:40 AM   #1
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Default cameras and humidity

I hope this is the right place to ask this. I couldn't see anywhere better so here goes.

I have two cameras. A Sony A200 DSLR for stills and a Kodak Zi8 for video.

Can I use these in relatively humid environments or will it kill them? I'm not talking underwater or even in direct rain, I'm talking just kind of mist in the air that could maybe get inside it, in the electronics, in the lens or whatever?

I'm more worried about the Zi8 because I don't take the A200 to as many places. I just like to take the Zi8 around with me but sometimes I get too scared that I'm going to kill it to turn it on.

I know the picture isn't going to be great in mist anyway but I'm just more worried about killing them.


If this is a problem, is there anything I can do like buy a case for it that will keep the humidity out or just tape a plastic bag up around it or something?
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 7:05 AM   #2
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The problem isn't humidity, it's condensation. If a camera has been exposed to high humidity, and then moves into a cooler environment, condensation will form, The best solution is to use those silica gel packets to reduce the humidity as the temperature drops. If you keep one or more of those packets in your camera bag, simply placing the camera in the bag when you come back inside, will help.
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 8:40 AM   #3
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OK thanks for the info

So it's safe to use at that point?

From water cooling computers I know that you can pretty much dunk electronics underwater if you discharge them first and don't turn them back on until they are thoroughly dry (which is why I'm more scared to actually turn them on), but I assume cameras have problems like water getting behind the lens or something?


I usually use my phone in this situation and I can see it covered in drops of water by the end of it and it still works even though it has a sliding mechanism and you can see inside, it has a speaker etc, but phone cameras suck I just use it because I don't care if it dies.
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 8:47 AM   #4
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The problem of condensation is caused when the camera has been cold or cool, and is brought into a warmer, humid environment. If the temperature change is small (just a few degrees), there isn't much of a problem.
Conditions which can be problems include leaving an air conditioned building during Florida Summer, or entering a heated building during Vermont Winter. When in these extremes, placing the camera in a plastic bag (Zip-loc or similar) until it has warmed thoroughly to the higher temperature, is your best protection. I also place Silica gel packets in the bag to absorb any moisture which enters. This is the equivalent of using belt and suspenders.

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Old Feb 25, 2010, 12:58 PM   #5
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Condensation happens because, at different temperatures, air can hold different amounts of moisture. Cold air can't hold as much water as warm air, which is why humidity is expressed in terms of 'Relative Humidity', which is a measure of the percentage of water in the air compared to the maximum amount of water it is capable of holding at a specific temperature.

When the temperature changes, any water that was in the air at a particular temperature will condense as the temperature drops and the air can't hold it any more.

When you bring a warm camera into cold air, the water in the warm air inside the camera and lens will condense as the air cools. When you bring a cold camera into into warm air, as the warm air come in contact with the cold surface, it will cool and excess moisture will condense.

So condensation happens whichever way you're going.
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