It’s January and in Italy it’s midwinter: there are just a few hours of light, the days are cold, humid, rainy and especially in the North it’s snowy. The comeback from a photographic excursion can set aside some unpleasant surprises if you are not prepared, the more so if your gear is not weather sealed.
Aside from paying attention to not expose the camera to a direct rainshower or a snow storm, it’s better to keep in mind the effect that the jump in temperature causes to it when entering in a warm place: in just a few seconds the condensation invades the exterior and interior parts of camera and lenses, probably resulting in hassles.
The condensation makes the camera impossible to use, due to fog on the lenses and, in some cases, disturbs system’s electronics. But the worst issue is the non immediately visible one: putting back the lenses with a minimal quantity of condensation inside them can cause the formation of microscopical mould and fungus. If these micro organisms grow inside the barrel’s optical elements, there is nothing else to do than send it to assistance, hoping that the lens will come back as new and that this procedure does not cost a fortune.
To prevent all of this, it’s possible to carry out some strategies and use particular products, not necessarily expensive. Personally, I think that a simple, efficient and cost effective method to prevent condensation, mould and fungus is to put your gear inside a sealed bag with Silica Gel before entering in a warm place: then just wait some minutes for temperature stabilisation and open the bag without worrying (sometimes if there is a big thermal jump, it can need up to half an hour).
If you are coming back from a long trip in which your gear has been exposed many times to high variations of temperature and humidity, as well as showers, it’s advisable to perform an “anti-mould” treatment, using the dedicated product (it’s a small bag similar to the Silica Gel one).
A common mistake that you absolutely have to avoid is to leave your gear resting inside your bag or backpack: inside the padding, the humidity persists much longer, creating the perfect microclimate for mould and fungus proliferation. So it’s better to take out everything from the bag and leave the latter open in a dry and ventilated place.
At home, the best solution is to keep the camera body and all your lenses in a drybox, provided with a sealed cover, together with some bags of Silica Gel: in this way you’ll be 100% sure that your equipment will be stored in a dry, sealed and safe place. Personally, I rely on a drybox equipped with an hygrometer that allow me to quantify the percentage of humidity inside it and keep it stable; moreover, I prefer to use a small electric dehumidifier that contains the same spheres of Silica Gel, but as a plus it can be “recharged” through a wall socket: in this way I can use it many times with maximum efficiency.
I hope that this article could be useful to anyone who want to preserve the photographic equipment as long as possible and use it at their best also in unfavorable weather conditions, without meeting with unpleasant suprises, which are difficult to solve.