Growing up in Hawaii, it was no big deal to see people storing their cameras in coolers at the beach. In fact, I did it for years. I’d simply deposit my camera into its case, place it in a Ziploc bag and tuck it into a cooler somewhere near the soft burger buns and away from hard soda cans. Frankly, I thought it was one of the most ingenious ideas around. After all, it’s never a good idea to expose a camera to excessive heat and humidity for long periods of time. Likewise, a cooler can also protect your camera from wind blown sand and salt air which can wreck havoc on the optic system and inner mechanics.
Well, it turns out the camera-in-cooler idea is not as brilliant as I once thought. Here’s why: When your camera has been kept in a cool environment (such as a cooler or an air-conditioned car), and then thrust into hot, humid air at the beach, it may cause condensation to appear on the lens. To avoid this from happening, consider storing your camera in a shady spot other than a cooler with ice, or allow your camera time to acclimate to the outside temperature prior to shooting.
If you are taking pictures at the beach, you should also be mindful of salt air. Salt can also condense on your camera, especially on the electronic parts inside. Consequently, it’s never a good idea to open your camera’s battery compartment and expose it to the ocean spray. If you notice that the interior areas are moist, gently wipe them with a clean chamois. To extract sand from crevices, try using canned air or a compressed air blower. If tiny grains of sand are still present, use a sable or mink brush and very delicately wipe the area, being careful not to scratch the lens or sensitive circuitry.