There is one problem with shooting the night sky for a prolonged amount of time. If the temperature of the lens drops below the dew point, condensation occurs. The new Haida Anti-Fog Belt will prevent this problem.
I have been shooting night skies since my childhood. Modern digital cameras make this kind of photography very rewarding. The high sensitivity of digital sensors allows the capture of faint details like deep sky objects. For this, you need to shoot for an extensive amount of time to gather enough light. This also applies to shooting star trails or meteor showers, for which the camera needs to continue shooting for an hour or more.
During that time, the temperature of your camera and lens will drop. If that temperature drops below the point when condensation occurs, the front lens will get covered in dew. If that happens, you won’t be able to get rid of the condensation anymore.
This problem is unavoidable in moist climates, like in the region I live. There is a solution for this problem, one that amateur astronomers have already used for a long time. Using heat tape prevents the equipment from cooling down. This way, the temperature won’t drop below the dew point.
There is also a nice DIY solution. Heat packs can give the necessary protection against condensation, as I already explained in my previous article. The heat tape used by astronomers is a better solution. I bought Dew-Not heat tape, which I connected to a simple battery pack. For that, I needed to adapt the connection. It worked, but the connection I made was very fragile.
The Haida Anti-Fog Belt
Now, Haida has released a ready-to-use Anti-Fog Belt, a solution for photographers that need to fight off condensation during a long night outside. At Haida, it is called the Haida RED by some for obvious reasons.
It is nice heat tape with a control unit and a USB connection. This way, it is easy to connect it to any power bank for the necessary 5 V, 2 A power. It is made from high-tech graphene that heats up faster and more evenly than other materials. It has Velcro for easy installation, and it can be used up to 11 cm diameter lenses. The electric cable is 150 cm long.
The Haida Anti-Fog Belt has three power levels. The low level will bring the temperature of the belt between 35-45 degrees Centigrade, the second level between 45-55 degrees Centigrade, and the high level will reach a temperature between 55-65 degrees Centigrade. The lens won’t reach these temperatures, though; it’s just the belt itself.
Using the Haida Anti-Fog Belt
Although I tried the Haida Anti-Fog Belt a few times, the first real use was during the annual Perseid meteor shower. Although I didn’t intend to compare the benefit to heating tape, I did notice how well it worked while shooting with two cameras simultaneously, of which only one had the Haida Anti-Fog Belt installed.
I have to admit, the camera without the Haida Anti-Fog Belt was less dense and massive. That made it cool down much faster. But on the second night, I had two similar cameras shooting. The Haida Anti-Fog Belt kept both the lens and a night filter free from condensation until I went home, a little over four hours later. The other lens suffered from condensation after only one and a half hours.
It is easy to install the Haida Anti-Fog Belt. It fits nicely over the lens and the cable is long enough, perhaps even a bit too long. I used the bag that is provided with the Anti-Fog Belt as a pouch, hanging it from my tripod. It has enough space for a power bank, and I could stuff the long cable with a controller in it. Nevertheless, I will get another bag that is a bit more robust.
You have to be careful with the focus ring of your lens. Placing the Anti-Fog Belt will rotate a focus ring unintentionally, and manual focusing afterward will be difficult with the belt installed. This is unavoidable, of course, and not specific to this particular anti-fog belt.
If the Haida Anti-Fog Belt is installed, it can be turned on. Just press the button for a second or two and the heating starts at full power. You can switch between the three available power levels by repeatedly pressing the power button. The blue LED is exceptionally bright, especially during the night. I was happy to place the controller inside the pouch to get rid of the light. But I like having a light that indicates the belt is activated.
There is not much more I can say. The Haida Anti-Fog Belt prevents the lens from cooling down in a very efficient way. There is no condensation, and you can continue shooting until the power bank is dead. You probably will run out of memory or camera battery much sooner.
I used the Haida Anti-Fog Belt with one power bank for over seven hours during three nights. I had no condensation whatsoever, even with a night filter installed. The belt is of high quality, and it’s easy to use. The best thing is it isn’t very expensive.
There are a few minor issues I have with the Haida Anti-Fog belt. The electric cable is a bit too long for my liking. I think one meter would be more than enough. But that is my situation. The other thing is the LED. It is much too bright. Perhaps it’s okay during daylight, but not at night. I solved this by putting the controller inside the pouch.
The Haida Anti-Fog belt can be found online, although it is not yet widely available. I hope that will change very soon.
Things I Like
- Easy installation
- Heats up quickly
- Up to 11 cm lens diameter
- Electric cable connection at the outside of the belt
- 150 cm electric cable
- USB power connection
- Controller with three power settings
- The belt can be used up to minus 40 degrees Centigrade
- Pouch is included
- Price is reasonable (somewhere in the 20-dollar range)
Things That Could Be Improved
- The cable is perhaps too long
- Indicator LED is extremely bright
- Better quality pouch with a better way of hanging it on the tripod
The items that could be improved are only minor things that are not difficult to work with. If you love shooting stars at night as I do, and in a cold environment also, the Haida Anti-Fog Belt is a must-have product. I can recommend it to everyone.
It makes me a little nervous to wrap my $x000 lens in a cheap Chinese gadget that gets up to 113F degrees on the low setting—and that is assuming it is working to spec. The bright blue LED suggests it wasn't designed by a photographer who tested it in the field. That said, if I was going to use one, it would probably be this one. At least I recognize the brand name.
I don't consider Haida a cheap Chinese gadget. The temperature is nothing special. Hand warmers are getting just as hot.
I had this warmer around my hand for some time to test how hot it gets and you have nothing to worry about.
I use one or two chemical hand warmers wrapped around the lens and held in place by a couple of wraps of vet wrap tape. The ones I use are from Yaktrax and can last up to 8 hours. The nice thing is that there are no hanging pouches or long USB cables for me to trip over, not are there any annoying blue lights to mess with my night vision. The downside is that these are made in China.
Just like this Haida Anti-Fog Belt. ;)
Problem with the hand warmers is the one time use and the fumbling with tiewraps or elastic bands. It is possible to tie the long cable together. You won't trip over it, I'm sure.
I was told decades ago to use the cheap hand warmers. No batteries required, they always work, can be held on with a rubber band or athletic wrap or painter's tape.
BTW, after focusing, put a piece of painter's tape around 1/3 of your focus ring to lock it in place. THEN add the warmer.
I know about the painters tape or gaffer tape for fixing a focus ring. Unfortunately it won't work if the focussing is internal. But on mechanical focus rings it is a good sollution.
If it’s too cold I would put this anti-fog belt around my neck. So buy a second one for the camera…
Or you can keep your drinks warm ;)