Underwater camera housings have a window through which the lens looks. When the camera surfaces, a couple of things can happen, and I've seen both captured in the camera footage. In one case, water clings to the window, resulting in a distorted or obscured image. In the other case, streams of water may briefly be seen flowing over the window, but this quickly subsides to allow a clear view. I assume the two different observations are due to surface characteristics of the window.

My question is: what accounts for the difference?

What role (if any) does surface tension play? What, at the molecular level, is producing two different results? Is it due to specific surface materials or treatments, or just the level of cleanliness and presence or absence of surface defects, scratches, etc.?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking why water forms "beads" on some surfaces and not on others? $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Oct 25 '15 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ I'm asking specifically about camera housing windows which avoid the obscuring or distorting effect of residual water when they are brought from under water to above the surface - what is done to allow this and what is the underlying physics behind it. I'm not asking about beading unless it applies to underwater camera housing windows. $\endgroup$ – Anthony X Oct 25 '15 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ Any images or videos that might show what you're talking about? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Oct 25 '15 at 13:30

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