Jake on the ramp captured by D750 / 24-70f2.8

Way back when, I was working on a project with the endangered Mohave Ground Squirrel outside of Death Valley. The squirrel was only active during the daylight hours in the summer (otherwise it was hibernating). I was shooting with the F4, that’s how long ago this was. Anyways, I started the second day and put my eye up to the viewfinder and jumped back like someone had shot me! Turns out the day before the camera prism had gotten so hot it had given me a blister on my eyebrow. I thought I had been taking care of my gear and the heat but that proved me wrong. I had to find a solution fast and the answer turned out to be real simple, the white hand towel from the lodge. With the heat wave currently gripping the globe (and not going away anytime soon), I’ve had a few emails asking about the Z 9 and heat. The answer to that question applies to all camera gear, all brands!

Heat alone probably won’t hurt most gear. The Z 9 for example, the instruction book says 104º is its upper limits. It was 98º when I was photographing the House Wren and it was out in full sun cranking away no issue. If you’re on the ramp at an airshow, there is the real possibility you and your gear could reach that temp. First, YOU need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Next, when you’re not shooting, give the gear a break and shade it. You can drape it with a white towel. You could hang it on your shoulder and stand so you provide it shade. You could put it back in the bag and a white towel over that. Unlike your iPhone that will tell you it’s overheated and shutting down, your camera gear depends on you. If you’re wearing sunblock (and it you’re not, why?) and sweating a lot, that combo on camera gear in the heat can cause issues. If you have humidity, it alone can be an issue in such temps for you and your gear. The combination of heat and humidity can be really hard on us, our subject and camera gear. The best solution is, common sense. My rule of thumb is, do for my gear as I do for myself. On hot days, I hide under a wide brim hat so the camera hides under the white towel. If I can sit in the sun comfortably, so can my gear. If I can’t, then I find shade for myself and my gear. I DON’T set my gear down on the hot tarmac, be it by itself or in a camera bag as the ground transfers a whole lot of heat!

Depending on your body, you might have heat warnings that appear on the LCD / viewfinder. Most cameras have a sensor and/or card heat issue warning. We’re not talking about that kind of hit issue. I’ve never had a camera tell me by a warning or shutting down that its overheated (my iPhone sure has). That holds true for a lens as well. The goal is to avoid arriving at that place where a gear has to warn us it’s hot. You and your gear can work in the heat, just think it through and take care!

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