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5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Lenses from Fogging up

Jourdan Aldredge

Here are the best ways to prevent foggy lenses, and practices for keeping your lenses clean, clear, and ready to shoot in inclement weather.

If you’ve worked in film and video (or photography for that matter) for long enough, you’ve probably experienced the annoyance of foggy lenses. Fogging can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common ones come from traveling to warmer climates and quickly taking your gear from cold air-conditioning and into hot air.

If you wear glasses, you’re probably also quite familiar with this phenomenon. However, despite urges to just wipe your camera lenses with your shirt (or, more appropriately, with a microfiber cloth), please note that this will not solve the issue of fog. Instead, managing foggy lenses should be tackled in how you store, protect, and acclimate your lenses and gear.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to prevent the fogging up of your lenses, and the best practices for keeping your lenses clean, clear, and ready to shoot no matter where you might be traveling.

Understanding How Condensation Works

Ah, science in an article about camera lens maintenance? That’s right, according to sciencing.com, condensation is simply defined as “the process where water vapor becomes liquid.” You see condensation more often than not on glass surfaces, like a drinking glass or the windows to your house. 

You can also think of condensation as the reverse of evaporation, and the most common cause of condensation is when air is cooled to its dew point—most often from a sudden temperature change.

The same principles that cause condensation on your glass of soda or your glasses in a steamy shower are at play when you take your camera lenses with you to the beach. And, from a photo and video perspective, the effects of condensation can be quite bothersome.

Keep Gear Covered and Protected

The first step to combating condensation and the fogging up of your camera lenses is to always remember to keep your gear covered and protected. We’ll get into some tips for acclimation in a bit, but even before that, safety should always be your first concern.

Regardless of temperature or location, you should always keep your gear stored in a safe, dry, and secure location, especially when traveling. Investing in camera bags, packs, and cases, as well as having solid luggage for your travels, should be the first step in keeping your gear safe. If you’ve yet to make an investment in bags and gear, here are some helpful resources to check out:

Get Your Lenses Acclimated to the Weather

The next big step for keeping your lenses fog-free is the most important. Before heading out to start your shoot, get your lenses acclimated to the weather! This is 100% the best, and pretty much only, way for you to truly “de-fog” your lenses in a safe and scientific manner. Don’t try to simply wipe your lenses clear, as this can risk scratching the glass or fogging things up worse.

As you can see in the video above, depending on your gear and locale, even just leaving your gear outside of your cool building and in the outdoor weather for as little as ten minutes is all it takes to get your gear and lenses acclimated. But, there are other tricks you can try too, including keeping your gear in air-tight plastic bags, in sealed cases, or by storing your gear outside in a car or storage area, when possible.

Tips for Defogging Faster

Photo Lens
Remove your gear from its protective bag to acclimate to the weather. Image by Virrage Images.

While the best bet for keeping your lenses fog-free will be to simply let your gear and lenses acclimate, there are a few ways to speed up the process. However, I only recommend trying these if you feel that your location and gear is safe enough to warrant it. 

The first tip is to actually remove your camera, lenses, and gear from your bag or container as you leave it outside and in the hotter weather. Keeping it sealed and protected would be ideal while you keep your gear inside, however, to speed up the lenses’ acclimation process if you remove as many barriers to direct contact as possible. In theory, it should speed up the condensation and acclimation process.

Other Defogging Accessories

Silica Gel
Silica gel helps protect your gear from moisture damage. Image by jakkrit pimpru.

Finally, for those who really want to exhaust every means necessary to combat the natural effects of humidity, condensation, and fogging, there are a few resources still available to help out: 

Again, while these accessories can certainly help, the main and best way to keep your camera lenses from fogging up will be to understand how and why condensation occurs, and plan to safely and patiently let your gear acclimate to any new weather for true fog-free videography.

For more camera, lens, and gear news, tips, and tricks, check out these articles:

Cover image by alexeenko alexey.

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