Fly Fishing Photography Tip: Beating Condensation

One of the main problems I’ve had shooting fishing is condensation. Whether traveling in the frigid north or the sweltering heat of the flats, a lack of planning can produce the same effect. Bringing your camera from an air-conditioned room out into the heat, or from a heated cabin into the cold, results in a massive and quick build-up of miniscule water droplets covering camera and lens. Literally making your camera sweat. This happens over all surfaces. The lens, camera body, and even the sensor.

I’ve had cameras malfunction and literally shut themselves off, basically saving themselves from certain death by shorting out. They have turned back on, but typically it can take hours. Bottom line, cameras and water do not mix. Even if you can get the camera to work, typically the lens is so covered with fog (inside and out) that it will be impossible to shoot.
Here’s a simple solution that took far too long for me to figure out. Leave your camera outside overnight. I’m not kidding. If you can find a safe area (balcony or porch) where it’s protected from the elements and/or people you’ll never have to worry about condensation when leaving for fishing the next morning. Your camera and the temp outside will be the same and life will be good. Also make sure the camera is in some kind of waterproof enclosure overnight — even something as simple as a trash bag will work. But thinking about temperature changes and planning ahead could save you some serious headaches next time your on a fishing vacation.

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  • Great advice! And as I recall some of the coatings on Nikon lenses (at least in the past) were coated with compounds that have organic components. Condensation inside can create a farmtown effect, and that’s quite difficult to see through.

  • bob elliott

    An extremely effective method to prevent condensation is to purchase a few small bags of silica gel and a small waterproof plastic bag. Keep your camera in the bag with a few silica gel packets. If condensation should form when your camera is out of the bag, put it back in the bag, seal it, and the condensation usually disappears in a matter of minutes. I have used this technique in the most extreme situations for decades, for example when photographing huge kiln areas, in high-temp, high-humidity power generation facilities, and, of course, when flyfishing. Silica gel and waterproof bags are available from various sources by doing an internet search.

  • Fred Rickson

    Internal condensation on electronics, and lens fogging, are two different, unrelated problems. From forty years of photographing in tropical rainforests, I offer the following. Protect the electronic workings of your system by storing your equipment in silica gel in humid climates. Avoid surface lens fogging in quick situations by bringing your system to ambient temperature BEFORE you might need a shot. That’s it. Overnight in silica gel; out in the air on the river.