View Full Version : Car Camera

Steve Hamley
23-Jul-2009, 15:27

O.K., everyone tells you not to store cameras and lenses in a car in the summertime, with good reason. Maybe even more so for film.

BUT, if you wanted to do just that, as in going to work then heading to the mountains, sea, whatever that required the gear to be in the car during the workday, what would you choose?

Obvious options seem to me all metal cameras, lenses with no cemented elements with removable glass like some Artars, and so on. Of course if you're going to do this, bellows and shutter life may be shortened and there seems no way around it. Carbon fiber seems inferior to plain 'ol aluminum for tripods.

So what gear would you throw in the car to do what every manufacturer tells you not to do?

Cheers, Steve

Doremus Scudder
23-Jul-2009, 16:10
Step 1: Camera gear in cooler (no ice or water of course).

Step 2: Cooler goes into car

As long as exposure to direct sun is not excessive and the cooler lid is not off a lot during the hottest parts of the day (or when you are not in your closed car), the gear will remain very close to the average daily temperature.

If you load cool gear into a cool cooler, park in the shade, etc. you should have no problems. Don't use artificial ice packs, no matter how well sealed, or an electric cooler since they often cause a lot of condensation, which you don't want.

I find that travelling with the air conditioning on, having a white vehicle and cooler, and a little common sense keeps all my gear cool enough even in summer desert conditions. No need for special gear.


Doremus Scudder

Ed Richards
23-Jul-2009, 19:01
I have never heard of any modern equipment having problems in the heat. Color film may be a problem, but I have never had problems with black and white stored in 6-pack coolers. Might be different in Death Valley, our top temps here are low 100s - but so is the humidity.:-)

John Kasaian
23-Jul-2009, 21:29
The biggest isue I had with heat was awhile back---I had my gear in a translucent rubbermaid tote (instead of the ususl plastic cooler) that acted like a greenhouse, even though it wasn't hot, the heat built up inside the rubbermaid and made most of the stuff inside too hot to hold :eek:
I went back to using a cooler for storing my photo gear in the car (I still have 6 holders loaded with FP-4+ left over from that adventure, labelled with a "poss. heat damage?" note)

Steve Hamley
24-Jul-2009, 06:38
Excellent information. Thanks much!

Cheers, Steve

24-Jul-2009, 07:12
I keep my leitz tiltall aluminum tripod in the trunk of the car all the time, and I usually have speed graphic laying around too. I keep film and light meter in a yellow pelican case, but a cooler would work just fine too. The light meter is the most valuable part of the package, and least attention drawing.

24-Jul-2009, 07:42
It's a great place to keep that old digital camera which is too outdated for prime use, but too good to throw away.

Brian Ellis
24-Jul-2009, 09:16
The trunk is better than the seats at least in hot, sunny conditions. I wouldn't worry about heat unless you're in the Sahara or something. I've kept cameras in the trunk of my car in Florida in the summer during the day and never had a problem.

Ivan J. Eberle
24-Jul-2009, 14:26
I expect heat to be potentially much more injurious to your film than to your cameras.

Numerous old metal folding technical/press cameras are still clicking along and light-tight. Later ones with synthetic bellows like the Super Graphics might work out well. I have a Meridian 45B that's 60 years old with the original bellows, unpatched and light tight. Can't imagine leather bellows would hold up nearly as long if subjected to high heat (if you must, treat it with conditioner and keep it conditioned). In the car, rubberized cloth bellows will be more likely to rot from ozone emissions from traffic than synthetic (and probably even leather) ones. Similarly a Speed Graphic with synthetic bellows but with a rubberized cloth focal plane shutter, maybe not the best choice.

Modern lenses, while not immune from having the grease dry out and cake up over time (which occurs over a decade, more or less) most all now have cemented lens elements that'll be unfazed by the commonly encountered heat of a closed up car in summer. I'll venture this is a much more valid concern with older lenses containing balsam cement (largely replaced by the 1960's).

If like me you shoot color transparency and have concerns about accurate color, it's always a good idea to have a small container handy--one of those fold-up insulated six pack coolers is about ideal-- to spirit away all the film someplace cool for times when you don't get somewhere early enough to score a spot in the shade for your vehicle. (But then you would have to remember it at day's end.) This is only a partial solution though; it's also a good plan to consider whether your exposed film might suffer from a long sit on the tarmac waiting for takeoff while being air-couriered to a distant lab in the midst of a heat wave. If I've got a situation where I can't avoid subjecting color film to high temps, now given the choice I'm taking a DSLR instead.

But you can also do any number of things to drop the temp in the interior of your car. Roll down your windows ever so slightly-- it's good for a 10-15˚F reduction. A reflecting dash cover or pop-out mylar shade in the windshield is a tremendous help over a black dashboard in the sun.

Frank Petronio
24-Jul-2009, 18:11
I've had the grease migrate out to the aperture blades of the shutters on some lenses, most likely due to heat in the car (over a couple of years). A few Summer-time days and nights in the car shouldn't hurt anything though.