Feeling the Heat? Five Camera Essentials for Shooting in Hot Climates

Feeling the Heat? Five Camera Essentials for Shooting in Hot Climates

Have you been feeling the heat this summer? Taking photos out in the sunshine can be a challenge. However, it can be made a lot easier with the right preparation. Here are five of my photography hot weather essentials. 

As we enter the thick of the summer and temperatures rise, I've found myself, like many other photographers, shooting in a warmer climate than I am typically. The hot weather poses unique challenges: humidity, dust and glare-filled photos, to name but a few. These challenges should not stop you from getting out to photograph and can be solved with the proper preparation. However, fail to prepare and you may find yourself in an uncomfortable, hot, sweaty mess. Here are five camera essentials I'd recommend for shooting in hot climates so you can mitigate the heat and enjoy the summer weather with your camera.

I've been lucky enough to be exploring Bali. However, the hot weather and humidity prove difficult for photography.

1. Day Bag

I'm sure most of us have been in a situation where we are preparing our bags for the shoot, trying to decide what to bring. I have often fallen into the trap of carrying everything just in case. While this may be manageable in colder climates, despite a sore back a day later, when the temperature rises, this is a colossal error. There is little worse when out shooting than a heavy bag in hot conditions. You may tire more quickly and build up sweat uncomfortably fast in humid environments. I'd recommend bringing a secondary day bag away on your travels. I would advise that it be smaller and lighter than your main bag while still comfortable enough for an all-day shoot. I have started to use a lightweight Regatta backpack. I was given it by a family member who no longer required it, and it has done a stellar job so far while out on my current trip in Indonesia. This particular bag is not designed for cameras. Still, as I'm only putting a small amount of kit inside at once, this doesn't bother me. It is waterproof and features a waist and chest strap, improving comfort considerably. Suppose you're looking for a bag like this. In that case, I'd recommend looking in your local outdoors store or considering a smaller camera-specific bag if you'd appreciate the extra protection.

2. Peak Design Capture

The Peak Design Capture is my favorite product from Peak Design. If you are unfamiliar with it, the Capture comprises two main parts, the clip and the baseplate. The Clip is a small, aluminum two-part clip that features a locking mechanism. The Clip can be attached to either bag strap on your camera bag without excessive additional weight. The Base plate is a small mounting plate, which, once connected to your camera via the 3/4 inch screw, can be used to attach your camera to the clip. Peak Design claims the Capture can hold over 90 kg (200 lbs), which is more than enough for your daily carry. I'd recommend this clip or similar in hot climates because it will reduce the strain and friction on your neck from carrying your equipment using a strap. The camera clip will allow you to have your camera to hand without the need to hold it all the time. I've found that it also helps me photograph more, as my camera is more accessible in moments where I'd like to snap a quick photo instead of grabbing it from inside my bag. I've found it to be an invaluable addition to my kit.

3. Rocket Blower and Lens Cloths

I've combined a couple of items for this as I believe they go hand in hand, especially when it comes to hotter, dustier climates. I almost always carry a good lens cloth in my bag to clean my lens from the odd accidental fingerprint or light rain on the front element of my lenses. However, in hot weather, I find it extremely useful to have a lens cloth to wipe off any dust or pollen that may fall onto your equipment. Adding on to this, using a rocket blower ensures that any small dust particles stay away from your expensive gear. Using a rocket blower each time you switch lenses is also good practice to ensure your sensor stays dust-free. Two reasonably inexpensive items can often be found in bundles and may be crucial on your next adventure.

4. Spare Batteries

Packing extra batteries may seem obvious to some. However, we can easily forget to bring some. When shooting in hot climates, you may notice you go through more batteries than you may typically. With increased temperatures, your camera may have to work a little harder to perform in warm climates, increasing the batteries' consumption. It's never nice to see the low battery indicator flash up on your camera knowing you have no replacements, especially if you're in the middle of shooting! Avoid this by bringing spare batteries for your camera or drone so you can keep powered up throughout the heat.

5. Filters

Filters are another pair of items we can not forget in hot weather for several reasons. When shooting, the right combination of filters will help you get the best-looking images in warmer conditions. First, UV filters. UV filters are a divisive choice in the photographic community due to the argument that they may reduce image quality. Despite this, I would recommend picking one up specifically for dustier conditions. It can save you the stress of excessive dust getting on the front element, which may be more common in warmer climates. These are relatively inexpensive and may save you in an accident. Second, circular polarizers. They are filters often used in automotive photography but one that can provide excellent results for all types of photography in sunny conditions. These filters allow you to cut some unwanted reflections that may cause distractions in your images. They will also cause your pictures to appear more saturated and vibrant, which may be helpful when shooting in conditions with lots of glare. Both filters are widely available from several different brands. 

Summary

Hot conditions can be challenging for photography, but with these five items, you'll have no issue taking that challenge head on. Get out and enjoy the sunshine! Don't forget to look after yourself, apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and stay well hydrated.

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20 Comments
Charles Mercier's picture

I just found out that Sony says that the working range of the A7Rii is up to 104F/40C! I live in the desert and in the summer, can get up to 110! (Though I never go out in those temps.)

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

The cameras can withstand more than you may think although it’s best not to push it too far as you wouldn’t want to have something happen of course! However it is great knowing that they can handle it if the situation arrives!

Daniel Simon's picture

Living in the UAE we often get temperatures in the 120-130 range and I've never had any of my Sony's overheat. Unlike myself, who regularly overheats...

Charles Mercier's picture

Cool! I guess Sony is just legally covering their rears.

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

Agreed! They are probably capable of more, especially in short amounts!

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

The Sonys hold up very well, they have to name a figure I guess as Charles has said but they are probably capable of a decent amount more! At least for short periods!

Tom Reichner's picture

I just spent 3 1/2 weeks in southern Arizona, on a wildlife photography trip. It was anywhere from 105 to 115 each day, and would only cool down to 90 or 95 at night. One night it was 101 degrees at midnight, which I thought was pretty neat.

I didn't take any precautions - just shot as I normally would and treated my gear like I normally would in other more normal temperatures. I had no issues at all with any of my cameras, lenses, or other gear.

I drank lots and lots of water, like I always do, so my body was fine, despite all of the hiking we did in full sun at mid day.

Heat has never bothered me or my gear at all. I honestly don't think you have to do anything different when it's hot, unless you're shooting video or something, where camera heat can build up and cause trouble. But for stills I just don't see any reason to be concerned.

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

That’s fair enough! Is Arizona dry heat? Because I think humid climates are the real tough ones, luckily our kit is well made and prepared for some tough conditions but these tips are just handy to make life a little more comfortable on those hot days!

Tom Reichner's picture

Yes, Lucas, very dry heat. Before Arizona, I was working outside in Pennsylvania, building patios. It is warm and humid there. That humidity is just awful, brings me down and makes me feel miserable. It's actually easier to work and hike when it's 110 degrees and dry than it is when its 85 degrees and humid. Probably better for gear, too, as there is no moisture to work its way into anything or to steam lenses up.

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

Absolutely that’s why I asked! The humidity is gross. In Bali it was very humid so you do need to be mindful of the moisture! Luckily no issues for me this time around. Dry heat is certainly more comfortable and a completely different scenario.

Jon Kellett's picture

The Peak Design Clip is one of those things that I can't recommend enough!

I normally take 2 bodies and lenses, having the shorter lens camera attached by the clip is super useful with the long lens camera on a PD sling - Though the sling is not perfect, especially in rough terrain.

Seconding another commenters suggestion on hydration. Winter here now, but when it was summer I went up a local volcano when it was about 30C. The black rock and scoria made it much hotter and hydration was key - I like to use Thorzt Solo Shots because they have almost zero sugar, taste good and replace lost electrolytes. Also the extra weight from using an insulated bottle was very well worth it.

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

Absolutely! I didn’t focus all too much on hydration but that is of course absolutely essential in hot climates.

I also can’t go anywhere without the PD Capture, it is definitely one of my favourite camera accessories!

Tom Reichner's picture

Lucas, I just want to thank you for writing this type of article. I really appreciate when a writer here writes their own article, instead of just piggy-backing on someone else's YouTube video. Original content is the best!

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

Thank you Tom, that really means a lot! I am really enjoying it and will continue to do so. Keep an eye out for more soon!

Desert Vulture's picture

Like some of the other posters. I live in the Sonoran Desert. I create weather timelapses with my Galaxy S10 on a tripod for up to 30 minutes. At 100F+, it tends to overheat & shutdown without saving. What I do is hold an umbrella over my setup for shade with one hand & hold a freeze pack over my phone with the other. Problem solved! I also hang a 5# dumbell from the center post to minimize vibration from the wind. So if you see me out there (Bush Highway/Apache Trail) stop by & say hello!

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

I’m quite far out from there but if I ever pass by I’ll check it out! That is a pretty serious solution but glad it works out! Those temperatures in the desert can be pretty crazy!

Kevin Harding's picture

Seriously ?! Sorry Lucas you do not give this article anywhere near enough thought or depth (even for a short article of 7 paragraphs there are many other issues you could have raised).

Those aren't hot weather tips, they are just basic procedure for virtually any temperature shoot. And personally I wouldn't use the Peak Design Capture as it not only exposes the camera to higher temperatures (we are typically at 35C to 45C and VERY high humidity all Summer here in Shanghai) but also to excess dust and fumes. YMMV depending on location & use but the title says Hot Climates not moderately warm.

If I was giving tips off the top of my head I'd start with :
a) look after yourself FIRST. Water intake is critical, stay in the shade wherever possible, definitely wear a hat (with a neck shade) and carry a small towel (to wipe the continuous flow of sweat off) ! Take regular breaks out of the sun to rehydrate and wear suncream to protect your skin. Wear sunglasses on a neck-rope so that you can quickly take them off without having to worry about where to put them.

b) Camera/Lenses : be aware of condensation issues moving from air conditioned buildings (or your car) in/outdoors - keep a large plastic bag and desiccant and put your camera/lenses/bag in that until they acclimatise to the ambient temperature. That large plastic bag can also be used to change lenses in if in a dusty environment.

etc.etc.

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

Hi Kevin, thanks for your response. Of course water is essential. But the title of the article is Camera Essentials so it wasn’t quite the focus. Climates make a big difference, but having shot in Asia I haven’t had any issues with the Peak Design camera clip and my cameras. Perhaps you’ve had a different experience and that’s great, because every climate differs!

Cameras these days are built pretty well so plastic bags may not be as necessary as in the past, perhaps older DSLRs suffer more from this but modern mirrorless cameras can take a lot of abuse, I know from experience living in the U.K. with ridiculous amounts of water!

I think you can agree, that covering every weather and climate you could possibly face would be pretty much impossible having not experienced them all!

However whatever techniques work for you are the best. This is what worked for me and I was simply sharing my experiences. Glad to hear your opinion and I’ll keep it in mind when I visit Singapore in the future.

Cheers

Kevin Harding's picture

Lucas - you missed the point I made of the plastic bag. It's not to protect the camera per se, it's to :
a) stop condensation appearing and preventing you shooting and ...
b) prevent dust getting on your sensor when changing lenses in a dusty environment (not something that bother me too much but I know a lot of people do worry about it).

Good luck in Singapore - it's not generally as hot there as up here (being much closer to the equator and so with steady temperatures around 30-31C most of the year round) but it is very humid and Singaporeans have their AC permanently set to "freeze your b&^%*^ks off"! The plastic bag and desiccant may come in handy there.

Lucas Johnson Faustino's picture

Apologies, I miss read Shanghai for Singapore! Thank you for your insights!