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Author Topic: will a hot car hurt my gear?  (Read 3637 times)

DeadPixel

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will a hot car hurt my gear?
« on: March 21, 2012, 12:59:51 PM »
Howdy all,

I have a question about leaving my camera body and lenses in a hot car all day.  Unfortunately I work at a place with a strict no camera policy where there really is no option to bring it in with me (I even asked about an exception).

There are a lot of times I'd like to go out right after work and shoot, but have to go significantly out of my way to get my gear - so the real question is whether or not any of you have any experience with leaving your gear behind in a hot vehicle and what damage is likely to happen if any?  I know to keep the lens covers on and avoid direct sunlight.  Fwiw my body is a t3i and some L and non L lenses in a backpack.

Any input is appreciated!

DeadPixel

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will a hot car hurt my gear?
« on: March 21, 2012, 12:59:51 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2012, 01:08:50 PM »
A hot car means a rapid death for Li-ion batteries like the one that powers your camera, especially if it's got a full charge.
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SPG

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2012, 01:16:51 PM »
How hot? Arizona summer? Springtime in Canada? Heat is magnified in a car. I've seen plastic melt on the back window of a rental car in Vegas. Your camera would not survive that.
Tinted windows and a reflective sunshade will keep your car down to a more reasonable temperature, but even that's no guaranty.
The other issue here is that in a lot of places cars have a nasty habit of getting broken into. Of the dozen or so people who I personally know that have had their gear stolen, all but one were from their car when they "just left it in there for a few minutes". Even hidden in the trunk didn't keep them from getting broken into.
Does your workplace have a front desk or security station that can hold onto it for you?

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2012, 01:22:49 PM »
YES!!  As noted, batteries.  One issue is drying or flowing of lubricants.  I buy a lot of used equipment and add the good stuff to my collection.  I can always tell a lens that was kept in a car, the lube flows into the aperture, or just gets hard and dry, gumming things up.
 
Newer equipment uses better lubes, and better polymers, but heat drives off the volatile compounds and hardens rubbers and plastics.
 
I suspect that heat is a big factor in premature shutter failures, but havent seen a study.
 
One of the ways my lab tests (before I retired) rubber and plastic components is by putting them in a oven at a controlled temperature that is at the limit of their specification, and check later for weight loss and cracks, hardness, etc.  Sometimes its accelerated into a life test by using higher tempertures for a shorter time to estimate the life of a material.
 
Heat is the enemy of any item, it shortens the life, and heating beyond rated temperatures is going to shorten the life by a huge amount, if it doesn't fail outright.

DeadPixel

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2012, 02:56:06 PM »
Wow, I never thought of the battery or lubes being dried out.  I figured he battery would be unaffected if not under load, good to know.  The lube thing makes a lot of sense too, I didn't know there was lube inside the lenses.

for reference im in southern Michigan, but we're already seeing 80 degree days.

Im not really worried about theft, our parking lot is secure.  I did ask security about leaving it with them, however its a contracted group and they refused on grounds of liability.

It sounds like by far my best option is to just leave it at home then, I want these lenses and such to last!

Deadpixel

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2012, 04:10:04 PM »
I found this on the Canon Europe Website (Couldn't find a similar story on Canon USA)

Quote
Professional EOS digital cameras cope very well with hot and humid conditions. They can handle temperatures of up to 45°C and humidity of up to 85%.


http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/education/infobank/care_and_maintenance/camera_and_lens_care.do

I think that translates into 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

I believe I have read before (but can't find it now) that the heat can affect the lubricants, but that once they cool down the are usually okay. Main problem is one of using the camera while it is hot and the lubricants aren't effective. But, I think I have also read that modern lubricants are less of a problem. Similarly, I believe that the heat can temporarily result in sensor problems, but again, should be okay once things cool down.

My thought for Michigan: leave the camera at home on 90 degree plus days. Keep it in the trunk on other days. (Trunk should be cooler than inside car and safer too. No greenhouse effect in the trunk and no one can see what's in there.) To be safe, you might want to throw a thermometer in the trunk a few times and just check after work to see how hot it gets in there.
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Seamus

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2012, 04:15:17 PM »
Yah, err on the side of caution. Car temps can exceed 120 deg. And higher sitting in the sun. I once had a tape cassette and case melt together, they were on a black seat in the sun but even so....

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2012, 04:15:17 PM »

prestonpalmer

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2012, 04:45:29 PM »
A trunk is a pretty safe place for equipment.  I doubt temps would reach a damaging level.  Its truly amazing what kind of abuse these cameras can take! :)

Happy viking

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2012, 05:14:03 PM »
During a diving trip i had a small fire in the backseat of my car, the 7D and 70-200 F/2.8 L survived it and still works great one year later  :) Canon can take a beating ;D




Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2012, 05:21:41 PM »
Wow, I never thought of the battery or lubes being dried out.  I figured he battery would be unaffected if not under load, good to know.  The lube thing makes a lot of sense too, I didn't know there was lube inside the lenses.

for reference im in southern Michigan, but we're already seeing 80 degree days.

Im not really worried about theft, our parking lot is secure.  I did ask security about leaving it with them, however its a contracted group and they refused on grounds of liability.

It sounds like by far my best option is to just leave it at home then, I want these lenses and such to last!

Deadpixel

The problem is that your trunk gets direct sun on it and can easily be 120-140 degrees on a hot day.

AmbientLight

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2012, 05:36:40 PM »
High temperatures cannot affect only batteries, as mentioned before in this thread. What has happened to me during a trip in the United Arab Emirates was that the electronics of my 40D began malfunctioning, messing up some of the menu functions.

It didn't keep me from taking more photos, but it still felt disturbing, because I was not sure, whether to keep shooting or to bring in the camera to the local dealer for repairs. Following my usual instincts I kept shooting.

Thankfully the camera went back to normal shortly after the trip, so there was no permanent damage, only a temporary malfunction.

My advise is to store your camera equipment safely away from the sun or anything that gets as hot as 40° Celsius or more. If you go for a trip to the desert or something similar it is best to be prepared, so that you have at least a good chance to protect your gear. Storing your camera back in a trunk is better than right behind a window, but it is even better to bring a large padded bag or similarly suitable storage device, which will not be likely to transfer heat quickly. Anything that presents a barrier to heat transfer is a good choice here.

I for one positioned my backpack right on the floor of my rented vehicle, so that it would benefit from the AC and would also be sitting in the shade.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2012, 05:39:56 PM by AmbientLight »

risc32

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2012, 05:58:22 PM »
I know that with older minolta lenses heat would certainly cause aperture blade problems. the heat would cause the lube to run to places it doesn't belong and cause the blades to stick. now, they used a simple return spring to stop the blades down after the exposure, but when they stick you end up having massively over exposed photos. With Canon's much more advanced electric stepper motors operating the aperture i don't know if a bit of lube would even cause a problem but i'm not willing to find out. the minolta(and i would guess nikon also) lenses would have to be disassembled fairly extensively to be repaired.

ryanjennings

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2012, 06:20:48 PM »
What about putting it in a cooler?  Probably not ice or anything with the water and humidity, but just dry in a good cooler.  Something with some mass to add in the bottom of the cooler like a hunk of metal might help prolong the cool temp without humidity trouble?  I haven't tried this, but it would be better than just in the car.

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2012, 06:20:48 PM »

AmbientLight

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2012, 06:38:19 PM »
Using a cooler is an option as long as air humidity is extremely low. In case of humidity being present you do run a risk of foggy lenses.

awinphoto

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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 06:52:03 PM »
As i mentioned in another thread, my 7d has been used in hot 100+ degree days and used in snow storms and rain and has been a champ... BUT... as of recently, I have a feeling my cameras weathersealing is drying up/wearing because on a few recent paid shoots outdoors in freezing temps, it is starting to freeze up on me (top LCD looks like it's working but will no focus, fire, shut off, basically non responsive... Taking the batteries out and reinstalling them is the only thing that gets it working again until it decides it's too cold to operate again... then rinse repeat.  Keep in mind i was one of the first to buy my camera in my area when it first came out and this is the first time it has ever malfunctioned on me.  It has/had wonderful weathersealing but they can dry out over time.  I would never trust a camera in a car unsupervised unless it's in the winter, but even at that, I'm skittish because it's not a cheap item to be leaving in a car.  Do you have a locker at your work?  An office?  perhaps get a small bag you can fit a body and lens or two (not a big backpack) that may be more work friendly?  Then again for me, i'm paranoid enough where even if I have to go to a store (grocery store/walmart/etc) my camera is coming with me... I may get funny looks but I know my gear is where it should be, with me. 

Lastly, regarding a rebel body, things to consider about having in in a hot car... think about glass heating up in the lenses to the point they dont focus properly... cracks in the plastic of the body, rear LCD screen, mirror, focus screen, etc... so many things could go wrong so quickly... For me it's just too much to risk damaging. 
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Re: will a hot car hurt my gear?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 06:52:03 PM »