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Author Topic: High humidity destination: gear precautions  (Read 2380 times)

lvanzijl

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High humidity destination: gear precautions
« on: July 26, 2013, 10:17:03 AM »
I am going on a trip to Costa Rica this september and am a little bit worried about my gear. I've got good insurance but that won't protect me from not being able to take pictures because of broken gear.

Rain forest especially sounds scary, but I'll have to decide day by day what I am going to do and if I should bring my gear or not.

My lenses are not weather sealed (35L 85L 135L) and body is 5dIII. I've got a backup eos-m with 22mm prime.

- I'd like to hear some experience with such environments and precautions I can take to decrease the change on damage to my gear.
- What about switching lenses, is the plan to do it inside a plastic bag safe, any other ideas?
- Any places where I should just accept to not bring the camera (thats ok, photos are not my primary objective ;)).
- Any other tips?

So far I've heard:
- Gear in the hotel, either no airco or put gear in bathroom at night.
- Get plastic bags to put stuff in
- Get Silica Gel bags (for anti-moist)
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High humidity destination: gear precautions
« on: July 26, 2013, 10:17:03 AM »

privatebydesign

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2013, 11:06:44 AM »
I spend a large part of my time in the tropics. For a short visit I would recommend you do absolutely nothing, seriously, it really isn't that challenging an environment.

Obviously don't get stuff soaking wet from rain, and if your room has AC then give your gear a short while on leaving the AC to let the condensation evaporate, better yet, just turn off your AC and enjoy the tropical air.

As for changing lenses, I have never, even when living in the tropics, taken any kind of precaution regarding humidity ingress. Even "weather sealed" equipment is not environmentally sealed, there is no point to changing lenses in a plastic bag. Not much point in storing them in them either. Relax and enjoy your trip and don't worry about your gear, I never have and it has spent years down there.
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matt2491

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2013, 11:11:05 AM »
I agree with privatebydesign.

cwild

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2013, 11:44:43 AM »
Also be aware that despite the marketing promises, the weatherproofing on the 5Diii is not great.

Mine died in conditions that my 1D Mk iv would not have batted an eyelid at (light rain). The repair charges were less than I expected (£250), but they had to replace two circuit boards.

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D.

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2013, 02:05:29 PM »
Agree with privatebydesign. I live near Miami which is classified as having "tropical monsoon climate" according to Wikipedia. It is crazy humid from May - September. At any rate, I don't have any issues with humidity and my camera or lenses. If I go outside from an air-conditioned environment and the humidity is near 100% outside, the front element of my lens has fogged on occasion; however, I just wait a minute or so and the fog dissipates

Jura

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2013, 02:27:02 PM »
I spend a large part of my time in the tropics. For a short visit I would recommend you do absolutely nothing, seriously, it really isn't that challenging an environment.

Obviously don't get stuff soaking wet from rain, and if your room has AC then give your gear a short while on leaving the AC to let the condensation evaporate, better yet, just turn off your AC and enjoy the tropical air.

As for changing lenses, I have never, even when living in the tropics, taken any kind of precaution regarding humidity ingress. Even "weather sealed" equipment is not environmentally sealed, there is no point to changing lenses in a plastic bag. Not much point in storing them in them either. Relax and enjoy your trip and don't worry about your gear, I never have and it has spent years down there.

I dont think I could have put it any better myself!

Regardless of how weather-sealed you think your camera might be/not be a short trip to the tropics probably wont cause any damage. I'll be in Costa Rica myself in September (part of a 6 week hitch-hiking trip through Central America) and have used various iterations of the XXD series in every type of climate you can imagine, from -35 to 6000 metres altitude, the steamy tropics, sahara desert, Indian ocean and scaryest of all a British summer and never had any of them skip a beat. Cameras in my experience are a lot tougher than most people imagine. Saying that for my upcoming trip I will be taking one or two small precautions and these are mostly about how I carry and  storing the body and spare lenses whilst I'm hiking etc.

As I'm sure you know Sept isn't exactly dry season in Central America so rather than fretting about changing a lens when the sun is out you'd be better investing in a few good canoe dry bags for storing gear in whilst its bucketing it down outside and your gear is in your rucksack etc. My last trip to Central America (10 years ago now) as a fresh faced 18 year old was a real eye opener as to just how spectacular rain can be. I heard it best described as "the sea trying to reclaim the land by airdrop". I tend to find that when it is throwing it down and I'm out and about I'm not really in a taking pictures mood and want my camera to be tucked up snug and dry in my rucksack leaving my hands free to string hammocks/tarpaulins etc etc. In this type of situation a good canoe dry bag is your best friend. When strolling around Patagonia I also found that by clipping a macro lens in its dry bag to my rucksack strap I could have it quickly accessible whilst not in the way of hiking type movements.

It's worth pointing out that I use the canoe dry bags because I dont take a camera bag of any type. I'm there to do 3 day - 2 week hikes and camera bags are just excess weight and hassle on such a trip. for my gear I take 3-4 dry bags (5 if I take a flash).
For the upcoming trip the three of us will be loaded up pretty well with camera gear: I'll be taking a 5d mk2 and 4-5 lenses, my brother a 40D and 2 lenses my girlfriend a Powershot SX280 HS and between us we'll also be packing 2 GoPro version 3 black editions. The GoPros will obviously be fine and for the rest its canoe dry bags with a few silica gel sachets thrown in to store gear in whilst monkeying around in the rainforest.

Oh I forgot 1 last tip. when using canoe dry bags its possible to put a jumper/fleece/walking socks in there too as cushioning and then not properly vacuum seal them so you also get a little air cushioning too. Handy if your stuffing gear in an overloaded bag!
Look forward to seeing your photos when you return and hope you have a truly fantastic trip.

Ps. hopes this makes sense I'm just back from a Romanian beer festival.....
5DII, Olympus XA, 24-105L, 40, 100L, 70-300L, Pentax 50mm F1.4 SMC Takumar, Kenko DGX 1.4x, 430EX II; on shopping list 16-35 f4, 400 f5.6, 7d2?

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2013, 02:27:02 PM »

photonius

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2013, 02:46:50 PM »
I spend a large part of my time in the tropics. For a short visit I would recommend you do absolutely nothing, seriously, it really isn't that challenging an environment.

Obviously don't get stuff soaking wet from rain, and if your room has AC then give your gear a short while on leaving the AC to let the condensation evaporate, better yet, just turn off your AC and enjoy the tropical air.

As for changing lenses, I have never, even when living in the tropics, taken any kind of precaution regarding humidity ingress. Even "weather sealed" equipment is not environmentally sealed, there is no point to changing lenses in a plastic bag. Not much point in storing them in them either. Relax and enjoy your trip and don't worry about your gear, I never have and it has spent years down there.

I dont think I could have put it any better myself!

Regardless of how weather-sealed you think your camera might be/not be a short trip to the tropics probably wont cause any damage. I'll be in Costa Rica myself in September (part of a 6 week hitch-hiking trip through Central America) and have used various iterations of the XXD series in every type of climate you can imagine, from -35 to 6000 metres altitude, the steamy tropics, sahara desert, Indian ocean and scaryest of all a British summer and never had any of them skip a beat. Cameras in my experience are a lot tougher than most people imagine. Saying that for my upcoming trip I will be taking one or two small precautions and these are mostly about how I carry and  storing the body and spare lenses whilst I'm hiking etc.

As I'm sure you know Sept isn't exactly dry season in Central America so rather than fretting about changing a lens when the sun is out you'd be better investing in a few good canoe dry bags for storing gear in whilst its bucketing it down outside and your gear is in your rucksack etc. My last trip to Central America (10 years ago now) as a fresh faced 18 year old was a real eye opener as to just how spectacular rain can be. I heard it best described as "the sea trying to reclaim the land by airdrop". I tend to find that when it is throwing it down and I'm out and about I'm not really in a taking pictures mood and want my camera to be tucked up snug and dry in my rucksack leaving my hands free to string hammocks/tarpaulins etc etc. In this type of situation a good canoe dry bag is your best friend. When strolling around Patagonia I also found that by clipping a macro lens in its dry bag to my rucksack strap I could have it quickly accessible whilst not in the way of hiking type movements.

It's worth pointing out that I use the canoe dry bags because I dont take a camera bag of any type. I'm there to do 3 day - 2 week hikes and camera bags are just excess weight and hassle on such a trip. for my gear I take 3-4 dry bags (5 if I take a flash).
For the upcoming trip the three of us will be loaded up pretty well with camera gear: I'll be taking a 5d mk2 and 4-5 lenses, my brother a 40D and 2 lenses my girlfriend a Powershot SX280 HS and between us we'll also be packing 2 GoPro version 3 black editions. The GoPros will obviously be fine and for the rest its canoe dry bags with a few silica gel sachets thrown in to store gear in whilst monkeying around in the rainforest.

Oh I forgot 1 last tip. when using canoe dry bags its possible to put a jumper/fleece/walking socks in there too as cushioning and then not properly vacuum seal them so you also get a little air cushioning too. Handy if your stuffing gear in an overloaded bag!
Look forward to seeing your photos when you return and hope you have a truly fantastic trip.

Ps. hopes this makes sense I'm just back from a Romanian beer festival.....

Well said. Rain forest doesn't mean always rain, just humid, and rainy season means usually pouring rain for 1  hour in the afternoon. Best look up the yearly weather forecast for your exact destination, it can vary a bit depending on winds, mountains etc.
As to humidity, if you are there for a short time, it should not be an issue. In air conditioned rooms it's no issue at all, the air is dryer there from the air-conditioning.  Transitions from cold to hot - humid air are something you have to be careful of, as has been pointed out, i.e. going from a cold airplane, or cold room outside into humid air, you will get condensation on your gear. Let the gear warm up.    If not, you can take scenic pictures with your front lens fogged up.

t.linn

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2013, 03:03:34 PM »
Also be aware that despite the marketing promises, the weatherproofing on the 5Diii is not great.

Mine died in conditions that my 1D Mk iv would not have batted an eyelid at (light rain). The repair charges were less than I expected (£250), but they had to replace two circuit boards.

This is a topic that always interests me.  When I remember to bring it with me, I do find FM Photography's "Shutter Hat" very useful for shooting in the rain.  It's small, inexpensive ($35 at B&H), and easy to use.  I'd definitely recommend it for a trip to Costa Rica.

That said, when I don't remember to bring it with me I still don't hesitate to use my 5D3 in the rain.  I've used it several times in pouring rain including a month ago in monsoonal rain on the Oregon coast.  Water was dripping off the camera everywhere.  No issues.  I've done the same thing with a 5D2 and the 5D before that.  No issues.  Yet there is no denying that others, like you, have had breakdowns under far less severe conditions.  Is this the result of body-to-body variability or is one group using this body differently than the other?  I'd love to know the answer. 

Joynt Inspirations

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2013, 03:34:40 PM »
I've taken many photos in poor conditions, from the inside of a rain forest, to being on a boat in the ocean photographing whales, to inside of an abandoned coal mine, and outside in the frigid cold (-45ºC). The only issues I've ever had were condensation in the viewfinder, and on the front element of my lenses. I usually keep a microfiber cloth in my bag at all times, but I also keep silica packs in all of my bags. So that if there is any moisture or condensation, when I return the camera to the bag overnight any moisture will be drawn out.

Just my own experiences.

Dylan777

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2013, 04:31:26 PM »
I got just back from a business trip - HongKong & China. The humidity over there is really bad @ this time of the year. EOS-M + 22mm works just fine.

Can't say much about Costa Rica
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lvanzijl

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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2013, 07:23:21 AM »
First of all, thanks a lot for all the suggestions, I am a bit overprotective of my gear but I realise that I have to get that sorted if I want to fully enjoy costa rica photographically.

@neuro: thanks for the link, I've not read it yet but sure will :)
@jura: I have thought to get a rain cover for my camerabag but never realised that it won't be enough for real bad weather, I will look into some drybags
@t.linn: I've seen that shutter hat but don't think I'll bring a tripod most of the time so don't think I can use that. If it really rains I won't take photos :)

The only place in costa rica I am afraid for my gear is monteverde (cloud forest), but I guess that's the place I am preparing for the most :).

Taking the photos is secondary for this trip but I hope to get enough material to practice my landscape photography a bit, too much empty walls at home :). I almost never upload any photo's anymore but I hope to post some good shots when I get back.




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Re: High humidity destination: gear precautions
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2013, 07:23:21 AM »