Cameras and lenses can be susceptible to certain environmental elements, and the summer can be particularly perilous for camera gear with warmer temperatures, trips to the beach or vacations in tropical locations.  However, with a few extra precautions, you can help safeguard your camera equipment from potentially hazardous conditions.

Try to avoid placing your camera in direct sunlight or keeping it in a car for extended periods of time.  In hot weather, the temperature inside a car can be a very hazardous place for camera equipment.  The sensitivity of a camera's sensor can fluctuate with the temperature, and extreme heat can potentially damage equipment.

If you must leave your camera in the car, be sure to stow it in the truck as opposed to the main part of the car with the direct sunlight beating down on it.  Even if you have a short drive, it's still a good idea to place your camera out of the direct sunlight just to be safe.  Covering your camera with a light colored jacket or towel is better than having it exposed to the direct sunlight as well.

Waterproof Nikon AW100

While it's lovely to photograph, water is certainly something you want to avoid getting on or in your camera.  Whether you're at the beach, hiking near a stream or taking snapshots by the pool, always remember to be careful when you're photographing near water.  There are some great waterproof cameras like the Nikon Coolpix AW100, but it's not always practical to purchase a waterproof camera.  However, there are things you can do to help prevent water related incidents.

For one thing, be aware of your camera.  Know where it's at, and if it could potentially end up in harm's way.  Always use a neck strap to prevent your camera from falling into water.  Have a UV filter on your lens to protect against water spray.  You may even consider bringing a large Ziploc or plastic bag to protect your gear.

Even if you aren't near a body of water, it might be a good idea to have a plastic bag on hand in case you're out on an expedition and you get caught in the rain.  In the event that you do drop your camera in water, turn the power off and separate the battery and memory card from the body.  The best thing you can do is let the camera dry out.  Sometimes the camera can recover if it fully dries out, but sometimes you may need to take it to a professional for further inspection.          

Desiccant Packets for Moisture

Condensation is another hazardous factor to consider when safeguarding your camera gear.  Many cameras have delicate electronic circuitry, and moisture is definitely something to avoid when at all possible.  Moisture can cause rust, mildew and corrosion that can destroy any type of camera, old or new.  To cut down on condensation, place the camera outside thirty minutes prior to heading off for the day.

It might be the perfect time to have a relaxing moment on the outside patio of your hotel room before venturing out.  The camera will reach the same temperature as outside, thus reducing condensation that may be caused from going from the AC to a warmer temperature.  Of course never leave your camera outside unattended!  For long term trips, or even for storage at home, consider using desiccant packets for moisture as an extra precaution.

When you're outdoors, it's essential to protect yourself from the sun or pesky insects.  However, be sure to use caution when applying sun screen or insect repellent.  Let it dry thoroughly before handling your camera gear.  Also, make sure to wash any excess sunscreen or insect repellent from your hands before using your camera.  Sunscreen and insect repellent can get on your lens, LCD screen, and generally cause a sticky, smudgy mess on your camera equipment.

Be Careful When Applying Sun Screen & Insect Repellent

When your camera is not in use, the best practice is to stow your gear in your camera bag.  This can greatly reduce any unnecessary exposure to heat, water, and other potentially hazardous conditions.  One thing to keep in mind is to never store your sun screen, insect repellent or even your water bottle in the same bag as your camera gear.  It might be tempting, but if one leaks it won't be worth it if your camera gear gets damaged.  Put your sun screen, inspect repellent and other liquids in their own plastic bag, and store them in a completely different bag when at all possible.

Sand, dust, dirt and other forms of debris are elements to consider when protecting your camera gear from harm.  Before heading out, make sure to install your memory card and battery before hitting the beach.  The less you have to open up the internal compartments of your camera, the better.  Also, when possible, change your lens before arriving at your destination.  One gust of wind could cause sand or dirt to get inside your camera.

It's also important to remember to keep all caps on your gear when not in use.  If you're at the beach, you may even want to put your camera in a Ziploc bag, and then place the camera inside your camera bag for extra protection against sand.  Never place your camera directly on the sand, and you may try wrapping your camera in a clean, dry towel to protect it from sun exposure, water or sand when not in use at the beach.        

Use a UV Filter To Protect Your Lens

Another simple thing you can do to safeguard against sand is to always protect your lens with a UV filter.  The filter on the end of your lens is your first line of defense against sand, salt water spray and other damaging conditions.  Sand can get inside your camera, scratch your lens, ruin electronics and clog buttons.  If you think sand may have gotten in your camera, don't turn it on.  Cameras have moving parts, and gritty, abrasive sand has the potential to damage delicate camera equipment.

Take caution when wiping your lens, as a piece of sand can scratch the lens glass if not removed properly.  Once you are back in a clean area, you may want to try some simple cleaning tips like the ones found HERE.  If the situation is more than you feel comfortable with handling, always seek a professional repair shop's help!  It's better to be safe and have a professional clean your camera once you get home.

With a few easy precautions, you can enjoy using your camera in a variety of environmental conditions and avoid damaging your gear.  Whether it's heat, condensation, water, sand or other liquids like sun screen or insect repellent, these simple tips can keep you focused on photography instead of battling with the outside elements.