Extreme cold and cameras...

Discussion in 'Digital and Video Cameras' started by Zenmervolt, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Zenmervolt

    Zenmervolt Supermoderator<br>The Garage<br>Elite member

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    Update: Now with photos from the trip. Posted below.

    So I'll be going up to the Alaskan interior in a few weeks for some rural assistance volunteer work and I'm going to try to fit in some photography while I'm there. However, the temperatures I've been tracking are between 0 and-20. Fahrenheit. I know that the specs on cameras are conservative, but given that-20 is more than 50 degrees below the "minimum" operating temp for my A700 (yes, I'm one of those crazy Minolta/Sony guys) I'm a bit worried about whether it's wise to expect the camera to operate. The alternatives are my Maxxum 7 (AF film SLR) or my really old manual Chinon screwmount.

    Anyone with experience in the cold have advice on my best option? I've done work into the low 20s/high teens before, but something tells me below zero will be a different ballgame.

    ZV
     
    #1 Zenmervolt, Jan 29, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
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  3. randomrogue

    randomrogue Diamond Member

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    I haven't tried at -20 but have read up on it. I think the lowest I've been at is 0. First thing is that the battery will barely hold a charge. So you might only get a couple dozen or less photos per battery. At 0 I went indoors after a dozen shots simply because I was miserable outside and didn't really pay attention to my battery. The other thing is the temperature difference. The camera can fog up really easily and get moisture problems. So what people do is leave it in the camera bag in the trunk of their car so that it is the same temp as the outside by the time you bring it out and use it. I think they put it in a plastic bag and seal it when they bring it inside. I didn't notice anything like this but I think it's going to depend on the dew point.
     
  4. fralexandr

    fralexandr Golden Member

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    The main issues are batteries and condensation as randomrogue points out.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5UCS0bQaS8
    a pretty handy series about photography and snow, covers various helpful stuffs beyond just the shooting aspects. He recommends keeping the batteries close to your body so your natural warmth will keep the batteries warm, perhaps an interior pocket of a well insulated jacket?

    the a700 is from the same era as the nikon d300 in that video
    also, apparently as per dpreview, a while back, sony sponsored a trip to antarctica, in which the photographer brought the a700
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/2520813#forum-post-30867933
    the alphas are supposed to be easy to operate with gloves on :D.
     
    #3 fralexandr, Jan 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  5. Anubis

    Anubis No Lifer

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    ive used mine in negative temps. up to -80 with the windchill, camera is fine, just bring lots of extra batteries and keep them in an inside coat pocket to keep them warm.

    also if you are going in-out-in a lot you will get fog on pretty much everything and you will be waiting for it to clear
     
  6. corkyg

    corkyg Elite Member<br>Super Moderator <br>Peripherals
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  7. Zenmervolt

    Zenmervolt Supermoderator<br>The Garage<br>Elite member

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    Excellent resources, thank you. I'd been mostly worried about things like LCDs freezing or shutters/irises sticking from the cold but it sounds like everything should be OK as long as I manage the batteries and condensation. That's great news.

    ZV
     
  8. funboy6942

    funboy6942 Lifer

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  9. SecurityTheatre

    SecurityTheatre Senior member

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    I've used my Nikon D700 in -40 temps, it was fine, but condensation can destroy the camera. Going indoors is a SERIOUS issue. The amount of condensation and possibly ice that forms on the camera from 100 degree temperature swings is very very bad for the electronics, so you should have sealed plastic bags for use when/if you are bringing them in and out.

    An extra large ziploc will work. Trashbags work in a pinch, I think, too.

    You must find some good gloves and ensure the camera is usable with them on. You really can't handle a metal-body camera in that temperature without causing some discomfort. I found even taking my hand out of the gloves to switch a battery was a bad idea, because even if I put the gloves back on, the hand just never warms back up from that kind of chill unless you're exercising.

    And as others have said, the batteries are shit when they are that cold, so bring extra and remember, even if it says it's dead, warm it up and it might still hold a 60% charge. :-D


    Lithium Ion batteries drop their voltage by a ton in the cold. By the time it reaches that ambient temperature, a 100% charge will be flashing low-battery warnings, or may not work at all, so keep them inside your coat if you can.

    Good luck.
     
  10. randomrogue

    randomrogue Diamond Member

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    I forgot about that. The thing that made me probably the most miserable was trying to operate the camera without taking my gloves off. Since that didn't work I took my gloves off (and I really only took it off one hand) and then I was miserable.
     
  11. SecurityTheatre

    SecurityTheatre Senior member

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    Same. I had intended to not go indoors and was all set with the camera ready for the cold.

    But I ended up going in and out a lot because my damn hands were too cold to use the camera. I brought thick thick gloves that were warm, but made the camera unusable, and tried some thing gloves as well, but they offered almost no protection.

    Best to pick a settings and leave it there. The shutter is easy to operate with a gloved finger. :)

    I would strongly recommend grabbing some of those activated charcoal hand warmers for stuffing in things. They will help a ton too.
     
  12. cantholdanymore

    cantholdanymore Senior member

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    underwater case?
     
  13. Zenmervolt

    Zenmervolt Supermoderator<br>The Garage<br>Elite member

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    Pretty much everything on the A700 and Maxxum 7 has it's own dedicated button or physical switch; it's actually comparatively easy to operate with gloves on (based on my usage in 20-30 degree weather). I'll make sure to have some Ziploc bags and silica gell ready for going back indoors.

    Appreciate all the advice. :)

    ZV
     
  14. corkyg

    corkyg Elite Member<br>Super Moderator <br>Peripherals
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    Going back to lessons learned from attending the Army's cold weather survival school at Ft. Greeley, AK (way back when!) I recall that in order to operate sensitive electronic equipment, cameras, etc., we wore what were called anti-contact gloves under our Arctic mittens. This allows you to touch sub-zero metal knobs and buttons without exposing bare skin. I find there are still such items used:

    http://www.northernoutfitters.com/arctic-mittens-anti-contact-glove/

    The Arctic mitten is essential for hand warmth. Keep spare batteries close to the body. A small, P&S camera carried next to the bod could be a good tool at times.
     
  15. iGas

    iGas Diamond Member

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    The coldest that I took my camera to was -19C, and my EOS 10s did fine because I keep the batteries warm under my jacket before I need them, but the camera and lenses was left out in the cold to climatized. My Canon F1n did great at -19C.

    Film will be brittle and break easily in extreme cold, and susceptible to static streaks/discharge on image.

    IMHO, electronic and mechanical cameras going to have problem in extreme weather, because the batteries can't handle it, or the mechanical gears freeze up.

    Good luck.
     
  16. randomrogue

    randomrogue Diamond Member

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    A remote shutter was pretty convenient. Mine has a huge button.
     
  17. nOOky

    nOOky Senior member

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    Good call about the gloves. I actually use a thin pair of glove liners with conductive thread sewn in the finger tips for operating my cell phone also. I wear mittens over them, so when I take the big gloves off I still have some protection from metal and the wind etc.
    I've used my G5 down to 20 below, I leave it around my neck and it works just fine.
     
  18. tommo123

    tommo123 Platinum Member

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    i went up grouse mountain (i think) in vancouver 2 years ago and my canon 550d froze and wouldnt power on after a while. was fine later on that day with the same battery.

    was very cold up there
     
  19. Zenmervolt

    Zenmervolt Supermoderator<br>The Garage<br>Elite member

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    Never got a chance to spend more than a 30-45 minutes outside, so the worries about the cold didn't really materialize to a substantial degree, but the glove liners / anti-contact gloves were an incredibly good idea.

    Also, the photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/picvolt/sets/72157632849971782/

    Thanks to all for the help!

    ZV
     
  20. RossMAN

    RossMAN Grand Nagus

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  21. Zenmervolt

    Zenmervolt Supermoderator<br>The Garage<br>Elite member

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  22. The Stigenator

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  23. RossMAN

    RossMAN Grand Nagus

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    Must be an HP EliteBook, it appears a business class notebook.
     
  24. Zenmervolt

    Zenmervolt Supermoderator<br>The Garage<br>Elite member

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    Definitely the type I've only seen used by businesses, but it didn't come close to my ThinkPads. Of course, I've been spoiled by the ThinkPad keyboard and the TrackPoint (which the HP had, but it's just not even close to as well done as the ThinkPad's TrackPoint). Of course, I'll admit to being a ThinkPad fanboy.

    ZV