Summer Care for Your Camera
It's officially summer and in some places, that means the temperatures are hot enough to fry an egg on the asphalt (but don't do it. It leaves a huge mess). Most cameras are fairly rugged when it comes to dealing with normal temperature ranges but there are still a few things that any photographer should make certain to take care of to ensure that the summer sun doesn't fry their camera like that aforementioned egg.
1) Don't leave your camera in the car -- Just as you wouldn't leave your kids or pets in a hot car, you shouldn't leave your camera (or any electronic equipment) in the car. Not even overnight. Cars are enclosed spaces (even with the windows cracked) and that amplifies the temperature -- even at night. Again, most cameras are pretty sturdy but if you melt or warp the sensors or chips inside because of the heat, there's not a lot that can be done to fix them cheaply.
2) Sunsets and sunrises are great but the sun is very bright -- Never aim your camera directly towards the sun unless you have special lenses and filters to protect the sensors. Direct sunlight through the lens can damage the sensors inside which is not something that is easily fixed.
3) Thoroughly test any waterproof casing ahead of time -- Most waterproof casings will come with a test device that you can put inside where your camera would go and then submerge the case in water to make certain that it really is waterproof. After doing that, test it with your camera but carefully -- don't dunk the camera in the housing in a pool or something. Place it slowly in the water submerging it inch by inch and removing it frequently to check to see that the waterproof casing really is as advertised.
4) Waterproof doesn't necessarily mean salt-waterproof -- Most waterproof cameras are fine to use in a swimming pool or freshwater river/lake. However, be careful about taking them to the beach or into the ocean. The salts in the ocean water can be very corrosive and can damage the casing, letting water (and salt) get inside the camera. The salt, sand, and other fine particles can also cloud or scratch the lens.
5) Waterproof doesn't mean rated for SCUBA depths -- The average consumer waterproof camera is good for up to 30 feet of water. After that, the additional atmospheric pressures can damage the housing. If you're interested in underwater photography with a SCUBA group who plans to go deeper than 30 feet, ask around about the best camera to use. Aside from needing to be waterproof at depth, there are other features a deeper-water camera will need to have to be effective.
6) Photography while skiing is a bad idea -- If you've got one of those active-life straps or helmets and housings that are rated for use while waterskiing, then feel free to ignore this point. If, however, you're using a rugged waterproof camera, try to remember those old physics equations about velocity and rate of change because dropping a camera or falling three feet while holding one when you're going less than 3 MPH swimming is a different kettle of fish than falling or dropping one three feet at 30 or more MPH.
What other things would you suggest to novice photographers who are interested in really capturing the summer months? Let us know in the comments below!
-- da Bird