Lens fogging is a problem that all photographers will experience at some time. When the temperature of your front lens element drops below the dew point, condensation will form on it and ruin your photos.
Sometimes this effect will be immediate, such as when you take your camera out of a cool air-conditioned vehicle into a warm, humid environment. Sometimes, more problematically, condensation will form on the lens during prolonged periods of astrophotography or time-lapse shooting.
If changes in atmospheric pressure alter the dew point while your camera is shooting and cooling in the night air, your lens could fog up without you even knowing it. Many a time-lapse has been ruined due to fog forming on the lens halfway through the night.
To prevent fog from forming on your lens, you need to keep the temperature of the front element above the dew point temperature. Elastic bands and single-use chemical hand warmers used to be a popular solution, but now Haida has come out with a bespoke Anti-Fog heating belt to solve this problem once and for all.
Haida Anti-Fog Belt Specifications
- Specially designed for camera lenses and telescopes (110mm lenses and less)
- Rapid heating with Graphene material
- Fits outside diameters less than 4.3″ (110mm)
- Three power settings: Low (35-45° C), Medium (45-55° C), and High (55-65° C)
- Runs on external USB battery (not provided)
- Hook-and-loop fastener
- Price: $20
Graphene Heating Band
The Haida Anti-Fog Belt consists of a piece of graphene wrapped inside a neoprene belt. The black neoprene protects the graphene and gives you a soft material to wrap around the lens. The end of the neoprene is a section of red elastic that sticks to the neoprene belt, allowing you to tighten it around lenses with varying diameters, up to 110mm. I was very impressed with the quality of the stitching on the belt and the choice of materials. It feels like a much more expensive product than the low price tag would suggest.
One issue that I did run into is the obstruction of the focus ring on the lens. On every lens that I use for astrophotography, the Anti-Fog Belt obscured the focus ring. The belt gripped onto the focus ring with some lenses, and I could rotate the entire belt to adjust my focus. On other lenses with thinner focus rings, the belt grabbed too much of the lens body and the added friction caused a jerky rotation, making accurate focusing more challenging.
The simple solution for lenses with electronically controlled focus is to manually focus on infinity, using your live view preview as usual. Then disable the focus ring before applying the Anti-Fog belt. For those using mechanically coupled focus rings, I would advise you to focus as you usually would, then apply some gaffer tape to the focus ring to stop it from moving during the application of the Anti-Fog Belt. Not a big deal, but best to be aware of this before you’re out in the field.
Remote Control and Cable
A 1.5m long USB cable with an in-line remote control runs from the Anti-Fog Belt. The cable is long enough that you can keep your USB battery power source in your camera bag, placed on the ground between the tripod legs. For the aurora photographers out there, often working in cold climates, this is useful. A battery that is kept in your bag away from a cold will last longer.
The remote control has a single button that turns the anti-fog belt on and cycles between three different settings – low, mid, high. The LEDs in the remote are unnecessarily bright. If your image includes nearby foreground, you will need to cover the remote with some black gaffer tape to avoid the LEDs contributing to the light in your scene.
- Low – 35-45° C (95-113 F)
- Mid – 45-55° C (113-131 F)
- High – 55-65° C (131-149 F)
The heater defaults to the high setting, and Haida doesn’t provide guidance on when you might want to use the others. In theory, you want to heat your lens elements to the point that they are warmer than the dew point temperature. Most people will have ambient temperatures below 95F, but remember that the heating belt is not wrapped directly around the lens elements. Instead, you need to heat the lens barrel to the point where enough heat is conducted to the lens elements to raise their temperature.
In my testing, I left the heater on the high setting and didn’t experience any issues. This is a simple solution. If you are concerned about the battery life of your USB power supply, you could experiment with the lower power settings and keep an eye out for fogging on your lens.
Another thing worth noting is that it only takes a single short press of the power button to turn on the heater. If you leave it plugged into your USB battery bank, I can see this button being pressed accidentally and running your battery down in your bag.
The power button would have been better to require a long 2-3 second push or multiple pushes in quick succession. Strangely, the user manual does say to “press and hold” the power button to turn it on, but in my experience, no holding was necessary. This line may be a typo. The entire manual has been poorly translated from Chinese and is rife with typos.
USB Battery Bank Required
You will need a USB battery bank to power the heater. Haida doesn’t provide any specifications for power usage in the three heating modes, so it’s not easy to say how large a battery would be ideal. Short of sitting with the heater around my wrist for hours on end, I don’t have a good way to estimate battery life.
What I can say is that in my testing, I used several different 10,000mAh and 20,000mAh USB battery banks and never ran out of power on an average night of shooting. I like the rugged BioLite Charge PD battery banks for outdoor usage, so my current recommendation is this.
I suspect that after an entire winter aurora photography season using the Anti-Fog Belt, I might start to get a better sense of just how much power the various settings use over a few hours. At that point, I’ll come back and add those findings.
Secondary Usage: Camera Warmer?
For now, this will have to be a question, but I do wonder whether there is any mileage in using this heating belt to keep my camera warm while shooting the Northern Lights in extreme temperatures.
I live in the Yukon, where we regularly get winter nighttime temperatures that dip down to -40 C (-40 F). These temperatures don’t bother my cameras for quick shoots, but once I start leaving them out for hours at a time, usually for time-lapses, I have seen issues once camera temperatures get below about -35 C (-31F). Screens become non-functional, battery life is terrible, and in some cases, the camera gives up until resuscitated indoors in the warmth.
As I write this review, it’s November now, and we haven’t yet had temperatures below -15C. Once we get into those freezing nights in the coming months, I will experiment with using the heater on the camera body to see whether it can alleviate some of these issues. Of course, I will update this review once I have some answers.
I love it when I find a simple, highly effective solution to a problem. In my testing of this retail-purchased product, the Haida Anti-Fog Belt ultimately resolved the issue of lens fogging when leaving my camera out for several hours. I was also suitably impressed by the quality of construction and materials. So much so that I immediately purchased a second one.
The Haida Anti-Fog Belt is something every astrophotographer and time-lapser should have in their kit. You won’t need it on every shoot, but when the dew point and temperature are just right, this relatively cheap accessory will save the day by eliminating lens fogging and condensation.
Where to Buy
The Haida Anti-Fog Belt is a niche product. It is difficult to find it at smaller camera stores, but it is carried on Amazon.
7 thoughts on “Haida Anti-Fog Belt – No More Lens Condensation At Night”
Yikes, it’s 20 USD but the moment I switched to Amazon.ca the price shoots up to over 80 CAD. I haven’t run into condensation issues before but it might become a problem soon with increased aurora activity this year.
Check kiwifotos lens warmer. Its essentially the same thing as haida, just black and 5 bucks cheaper
Should you still pre temperate your camera by just leaving it outside before you start or just go out straight like it is and just put on the heater before you leave?
This device really prevents fogging that builds up when the environment changes during a shoot. I wouldn’t worry so much about what happens right at the beginning.
So just take it out from the warm into the cold?
Thanks for the info!
Yes. If it fogs right away, that’s really not an issue for time lapses and astrophotography. You can clean it off and then put the belt on the lens and leave it running. If you don’t want to bother about cleaning it off, put it in a plastic ziplock bag before you go outside. Then the moisture will form on the bag and not the camera.
Also, to be clear, just taking something from warm to cold does not guarantee that it will fog. Fogging is caused by the change in dew point, not the temperature. I live in a dry climate and I can go from indoors (20 Celsius) to outdoors (-20 Celsius) and have no fogging at all.
Thank you very much Dan for the insight! Can’t wait to be in Finnland soon, hope that I’ll see some auroras.