This Is What Happens When You Put Your Camera in the Oven

Hot days can wreak havoc with our gear, most notably when our cameras overheat and go on strike. The question is, do you know how hot is too hot for your camera?

For those in the northern hemisphere, the warmer months are almost upon us. While this is a celebration for most people, it can be a headache for photographers and videographers who shoot out in the blazing sun all day. If you check the manual that came with your camera, you should be able to find a range of temperatures that the manufacturer states the camera can operate in. This week, Gene Nagata decided to test if the ranges advertised are accurate or not. What better way to check those numbers out than placing many of the cameras that we shoot within an oven? Don't try this at home, kids.

The "oven" is a unique incubator that is usually used to hatch eggs but is perfect for Nagata's experiment, as it can maintain consistent temperatures for long periods. A few of the cameras tested include the Sony Alpha a6600 and the Canon EOS R, although a whole range of mirrorless, action cameras, and even an iPhone were exposed to the heat. Each one was placed inside the incubator from room temperature to see how long they could record continuous video before they died. Nagata tried these tests several times to see if the numbers are accurate, and the results seemed to hold up well. One freak discovery with the Sony Alpha a6600 is that it lasted considerably longer when it was already pretty cooked. For example, this camera only lasts 22 minutes when it is placed in the incubator the first time. In the final round of the tests, when the camera is slightly toasty, it manages to last well over an hour. Not all cameras fared that well, and the action cameras in particular performed worse after multiple rounds. For those starting to worry that their camera may not be up to any kind of heat, some of the bodies Nagata tested never died or even threw out a warning sign when baking for hours at a constant 40 degrees celsius.

These findings may make you change how you deal with your camera while shooting out in the heat. I know I'm keen to keep my gear in the shade as much as possible, but it seems like I don't need to stress so much. The video is a fun and exciting look at what sort of limits a camera can tolerate and is well worth a watch. I'm glad it's his cameras that are cooking for science and not mine, though. A fried camera is not something I'd like to order off the menu anytime soon.

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13 Comments

vik .'s picture

You won the prize for the most sensational click bait of the photography market. OVEN, Really?

What a stupid article! You don't trust factory specs? Why don't you throw your cameras of the cliff and see what happens.

Having lived in Las Vegas, Phoenix and the Central Valley of California, I can tell you this is not click bait.
I went to sell my 5D Mark II while living in Vegas. When I got it out of the trunk of the car it was not working. It was very hot. Extremely, but I had to bring the camera with me and by the time I got it out and showed it to the buyer it was not turning on. Fortunately people there are well aware of heat related issues. 10 minutes in an air conditioned space and it was back to functioning normally.
That was an extreme case, but there were many days shooting in the heat outside when it was well over 110 degrees F. It was always a consideration covering outdoor shoots in that part of the US during the summer.

Operating temperature spec for your camera is 0 to 40C or 104F. You tried to use your camera outside the factory spec and it didn't work. Not a big surprise.

Actually it worked outside factory spec about 20% of all the times I used it. If you shoot outside in the SW US during summer months, there is no avoiding it.

There is an easy way to shoot outside in hot ambient environment. Instead of regular camera bag use soft-sided cooler and gel packs to chill your camera before you take it out. It will give you sufficient time to shoot before your camera overheats. Generally you will overheat well before your camera does.

The camera never overheated to failure except for the one time it was stored in the trunk on it's way to being sold.
I shot many all day shoots outside in 110 degree plus days with no ill effects to me, or the gear. I was honestly much more concerned with all the sand and wind than I ever was about the temperature. A little shade and a lot of water to drink worked for me.

Anybody that's ever been to Vegas of Phoenix during the summer knows the feeling of opening a door from an air conditioned space to the outside. It literally feels like opening an oven door.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Hey...I need to check my cameras to see how much heat they can take. I know...I'll just put them ALL in the oven and crank it. Yeah, that's it. I can either test the heat tolerance or use whatever melts together right out of the oven.
Who the fuchckk....and I mean...FUCHCKK would ever submit their cameras, expensive or not, to such a damn dumb test? USE YOUR COMMON SENSE...if ya got any.

Mark Harris's picture

A colleague and I once wondered whether balloons burst differently at different temperatures, and so spent a day in a sauna, photographing ~ 100 balloon bursts at temps from -5 C to +80 C, and I was really impressed that all my gear survived the ordeal, especially as I used cheap, retired gear including a Nikon D90. Ironically the only casualty was an oven thermometer that melted, because half of it was designed to be outside the oven.
And in case you're wondering, yes, the way the rubber disintegrates changes as you pass 70 C.

Deleted Account's picture

"This is what happens when you put your camera in the oven"

Just think about that. Take all the time you need.

"How are you coping with lockdown?"
"Fine, I've just started cooking my camera collection."

For a more interesting view, here's what happens when you put a camera right next to a rocket engine right when it blows up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-4n-2MtECE