Summer is here and that means hot weather. So it is time for a “save your camera gear” reminder. Camera gear has a temperature and humidity rating. A top of the line Canon camera body has a limit of 115°F and 85% or less humidity. A black camera on a hot day can easily exceed that limit. Less expensive cameras of any brand have lower limits so it is important to protect your gear.
Originally posted June 2, 2019. Revised and re-posted June 24, 2020.
Never leave your camera gear in a hot car!
Hot weather is bad for camera gear. I learned my lesson the hard way.
Many years ago I wrapped my telephoto lens and left it in the trunk of my car for one hour. That is because the trunk of a car is not as hot as the passenger compartment. The temperature was in the low to mid 80s.
But that was hot enough to melt the lubricants for the aperture blades in my lens. The blades stuck together and would not work properly. It cost $260 to have the lens dismantled, the aperture blades cleaned, re-lubricated, and the lens reassembled. Painful lesson learned.
I had followed the standard advice at the time (1980s) to wrap my lens up and leave it in the trunk, but the standard advice back then did not protect my lens.
So don’t leave your camera gear in your car on a hot day.
Use a Cooler
Some professional photographers have a cooler in their trunk with a divider to keep their gear dry and above the cold packs. So that is an option if you have to leave your gear in the trunk for a shorter period of time.
You can also take the cooler and cool packs with you to your shooting location when you are shooting on hot days.
All bets are off if you drive an SUV because the back of an SUV gets as hot as the rest of the car.
Don’t Leave Your Gear Sitting in the Sunlight
Don’t leave your camera sitting out in the hot sunlight for an extended period of time. If I stop in the middle of shooting to grab an out of the trunk picnic meal, I put my camera in the shade. If my camera is sitting in the sunlight on a picnic table next to me, I put a piece of cloth over it.
Bad things can happen to your camera if it is sitting around somewhere and the lens is pointed at the sun, especially if it is a telephoto lens. Watch this video.
Cover Your Camera While You are Shooting
On really hot days, cover your camera while you are shooting. Put a light colored cloth over everything but the front of your lens.
Shoot from the Shade
If it won’t mess up your composition and there is shade nearby, shoot from the shade.
Keep Your Gear in the Shade
If you have to shoot in the sunlight and there is shade nearby, leave your camera bag in the shade. If there is no shade, cover your camera gear/bag with a light colored cloth.
If you have two cameras, shoot with one for a while, then switch to the other. Keep the camera you aren’t using in the shade. If you don’t have two cameras, take shooting breaks to cool your camera down.
Minimize Heat Producing Camera Settings
The “live view” setting generates heat. Use it as little as possible. Minimize use of the LCD to review your images.
Cover Your Car to Create Your Own Shade
If there is no nearby shade, and if your car is close to your shooting location, cover your car with a light colored sheet or blanket and use a window shade. Keep some or all of the windows down, and if you have an SUV, keep the hatch up. Leave the gear you aren’t using in the covered car.