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11-17-2012, 01:05 PM   #16
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Although not arctic--for winter backpacking in Adirondacks I prefer an all mechanical camera--and for long trip in arctic I think it makes sense to have an independent back up--1 digital and one film camera. I have used my K20D in cold and screen came of after a while, and I was left w/ my Nikon FM2.

I happen to use the Nikon FM2 (not my pentax kit) for winter--but you can find out if pentax film camera needs special winter overhaul--or if used lubricants are OK. I suggest an all mechanical unit that works if battery dies, and a handheld selenium cell meter. I have K1000 and spotmatics--but have not used in sub-zero.

Also I suggest you plan on using one lens on the camera most of the time--my preference would be to choose 50mm macro for the digital and a moderate wide angle (24~28 mm) for digital--point being figure what you do mostly and have that on camera--it is tough to stop and switch lenses under cold conditions--especially when your goal is to cover 20 miles/climb a mountain/etc. You are as likely as not to skip the shot if it means switching lens (and I would not trust a zoom). Also helps if you practice estimating exposure--again less you rely on, and better you are with grabbing the shot, the better.

11-17-2012, 06:08 PM   #17
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I've used the DA*16-50mm, the DA*50-200, the LTD's (15, 21, 31, 43 & 77) in all Arctic conditions on the ist DS, K20 & K5. Plus assorted M's, K's, F&DA's. I've never had a problem with equipment at any time. You may encounter humidity in the tent if the tea is boiling; play it safe and use the ziplocks. Yup, batteries and cards; consider a D-BG4 with AA's. Either way, the day's batteries should be in an inside pocket close to your body. None of the batteries will actually drain out due to the cold itself but their useful life when cold is minimized - you'll be exchanging with warm ones frequently. I get 30 - 40 minutes at most when it's below -20C and that's keeping the camera inside my parka between shots. You're skiing so gloves may be most practical but I prefer mitts with light glove liners for most work. Mitts are a good deal warmer. Either way, I have a couple of pair of the liners available in outer pockets at all times.
March is generally one of the coldest months despite the return of the sun but the archipelago you'll be at is still heavily influenced by the Gulf Stream so you are not likely to get the extremes of -40C. And I don't know about Scandinavia but the Canadian Arctic has been significantly warmer in the last two decades - expect lows of no more that -30C. Windchills will make if feel a lot worse though.
Remember the aurora too! Widest lens you're carrying set at widest aperture and prefocused to infinity (I tape it so it doesn't shift). The 16-50 will do well - f4 for 25 to 30 seconds; probably a good starting point for the Rokinon too. A cable release or remote plus a tripod is a necessity - I have a light Induro which works well. Consider a good polariser, a medium Grad ND and UV. You won't need the WR for the spindrift but the snow makes a mess on the lens and the UV is easier to wipe with no risk to the lens when frequently wiping it dry. Carrying a small wipe for this.
If you're along the coast especially, remember that polar bears are swimmers. Watch 360 degrees. We don't expect bears to come at us from that angle normally. And check the gun frequently; nothing smaller than a 30-06 will really stop one, it'll just make him mad.
P.S.
The coldest trip I took was with our dogs around Bisset in Northern Manitoba. One night it warmed up to -43C. I had my Spotmatic II c/w the kit 50, strapped to my chest with a long, wool scarf. Even the l'il exposure needle continued to function throughout the expedition.
Good luck

Last edited by jac; 11-17-2012 at 06:59 PM.
11-18-2012, 05:04 AM   #18
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You already have gotten lots of good advice. I've been walking in Iceland and in the Norwegian Hardanger Vidda in winter, through snowstorms and quite severe cold. My experience is:
- aperture blades can get slow and sticky, depending on the lubricant. You can have your lens apertures lubed with special lubricants, that won't freeze
- batteries will drain rapidly, if expsoed to the cold. Twenty minutes might be enough, but at -20 deg C they always worked longer than that. But if held warm, in the internal pockets of a jacket, you can exchange between several batteries, when one gets depleted. After getting warm again, that battery is ready for the next cycle of useage.
- I would definitely take a manual film camera as a backup with me. A MX body would be my preferred choice, it is virtually undestructable and you can use all your modern lenses with it
- Snow never proved a problem for the cameras. I once had my camera bag packed full of snow during a snowstorm, but just digged out the LX and kept on shooting. At these low temps the snow is dry and won't cause harm
- I kept my cameras inside my sleeping bag during the nights, to prevent them from fully freezing up during the night - not really comfortable, but very effective
- once the mirror of my LX got stuck in the upper poistion (due to lack of battery power I assume and it won't come back down after changing the battery. I simply pulled it down and the camera worked nicely after that. I did the saqme to my K10 without causing damage

Ben
11-18-2012, 05:28 AM   #19
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Ditto to Ben's comments. If you do take film, keep a roll or two in that same inside pocket - the leaders can get very brittle. And take the time to think things through. The biggest problem we see up here is people in a rush. That can literally be a killer.
John

11-18-2012, 06:13 AM   #20
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Thanks for all the advice,

I should have mentioned I will be taking a small point and shoot Canon powershot camera which I have used on a previous arctic trip temperatures down to -25C. It worked fine with Li-ion batteries by keeping it in my internal fleece pocket. So if worse comes to worst i know i have a camera to get some stills, although not to the standard that I want.

I don't think I will take any film as I will then need to change the film every 36 shots or so and i'm not great at that in the first place, plus tearing the film will put me in a bad mood and I need to keep my mind in a good place to do my job properly. As well as looking out for bears, sea ice and incoming weather systems on top of the other jobs that I will need to be doing on a daily basis and 5 minutes to change a roll of film will add up in the longrun. So this isn't really an option for me.

With regards to temperature, due to the elevation changes I will be going through the minimum estimate that I could hit is -50C being at 1500m (4500ft) above sea level in a cold snap. However I will be moving down the ice cap if this comes in. This is not likely, but could happen and i need to be prepared for it. I will not be touching the cameras at this temp as the metal shutter could snap easily enough.

I've got a tripod and will be getting a cable release for the longer exposures and landscape stills in a couple of weeks time.

With regards to the bear defence system I have a 7.92mm bolt action rifle with snub nose rounds, small flare gun and a large flare gun and a full perimeter wire trip system for the evenings. But hopefully none of them come round for tea.

Also I spoke to Pentax and everything is only rated to -10C, the best they could say was that people do use them in such conditions but they could not guarantee that they would survive the cold.

I will report back on how everything goes up in the Arctic, there will be a website going live in February for the expedition and I will link it here when it does go live. There will also be a short film about it too around July of next year.

Again thank you for all your input it is much appreciated, and I will let you know how I get on once I am back in April.

Liam.
11-18-2012, 06:40 AM   #21
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you might consider ditching the tripod (unless it is the benbo, and you're proficient at using the benbo..

here is why...

I found in the arctic I never used my tripod as much as I thought I would it takes up space adds weight and is cumbersome.

never carry anything that has only one use if you can avoid it. adding a 1/4 bolt to a walking stick.... used as a mono pod, walking stick or lean-to shelter pole... makes it multi purpose and therefore worth carrying.. (a benbo and an emergency blanket can be used as an emergency tent... or break wind for your fire...)
11-18-2012, 06:54 AM   #22
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Very much hope you'll show us some of the pictures you take here. Best of luck!
11-18-2012, 07:07 AM   #23
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Hi D0n,

I receive my final delivery of equipment in the next 3 weeks apart from a few small items I will post the complete amount in once picture its quite a lot. a 1.2kg tripod is worth the weight if i can get some good aurora pictures. I also want to do some time lapse pictures and so the tripod will be essential. Everything will be in a pulk/sledge and so size isn't a big problem although too much weight could be an issue on the ice.

thanks for the hint on the Bembo i will look into that.

Also no trees on Svalbard so no fire. Due to remoteness of my expedition my emergency tent is my pulk and so I can zip myself into it if I need to, this is a worse case scenario of course. Emergency blankets would be useless with the amount of down/merino wool clothing I have with me.

Thanks again.

11-18-2012, 07:41 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Liamw Quote
Hi D0n,

I receive my final delivery of equipment in the next 3 weeks apart from a few small items I will post the complete amount in once picture its quite a lot. a 1.2kg tripod is worth the weight if i can get some good aurora pictures. I also want to do some time lapse pictures and so the tripod will be essential. Everything will be in a pulk/sledge and so size isn't a big problem although too much weight could be an issue on the ice.

thanks for the hint on the Bembo i will look into that.

Also no trees on Svalbard so no fire. Due to remoteness of my expedition my emergency tent is my pulk and so I can zip myself into it if I need to, this is a worse case scenario of course. Emergency blankets would be useless with the amount of down/merino wool clothing I have with me.

Thanks again.
no problem... just an addendum to what I was saying earlier ... if your cooking with something with fire you'll need the wind breaks for your stoves.. also this.. a mono pod/walking stick can be used like a tripod if you brace it with snow or gear... a makeshift bean bag can be both camera support, and emergency food ration... a clamp (manfrotto super clamp and ball head) on your sled or backpack is a good suppport...

man I envy you... been years since I was up in Great Slave Lake and yes we were at the northern tip of the tree line so we had access to some wood where we were...
11-18-2012, 08:04 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Liamw Quote
Hi D0n,

I receive my final delivery of equipment in the next 3 weeks apart from a few small items I will post the complete amount in once picture its quite a lot. a 1.2kg tripod is worth the weight if i can get some good aurora pictures. I also want to do some time lapse pictures and so the tripod will be essential. Everything will be in a pulk/sledge and so size isn't a big problem although too much weight could be an issue on the ice.

thanks for the hint on the Bembo i will look into that.

Also no trees on Svalbard so no fire. Due to remoteness of my expedition my emergency tent is my pulk and so I can zip myself into it if I need to, this is a worse case scenario of course. Emergency blankets would be useless with the amount of down/merino wool clothing I have with me..
Liam, if I understand correctly, you are going to either use a sledge or a Pulka. In both cases I would forego the tripod and mount a camera clamp to the sledge/pulka instaed. If it is really cold, you won't like the hazzle of setting up a tripod. I also read a longish report by a German outdoor photographer, who shied no cost, when preparing for an arctic tripd and bought a very expensive Gitzo. Nevertheless the locks did not lock properly anymore, when it got seriously cold...

I understand your hesitation about using film, but I would highly recommend a film body as a backup. I never had problems loading film. The simple point is, if it is really stormy and/or cold, you are hardly taking any pics anyway - so you won't need changing film all the time...

Ben
11-18-2012, 10:56 AM   #26
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Not sure if Pentax made one for another camera body, but there used to be a “Remote Battery Cord” for the Pentax 6x7 & 67 bodies which was designed for cold weather shooting

It worked by removing the battery from the camera body and putting it in a small remote battery box which you put in an inside pocket near your body. The other end of the 1 meter cable had a connector plug which inserted into the empty camera body battery chamber. The result was the battery was kept near body temperature instead of freezing.

Phil.
11-18-2012, 01:24 PM   #27
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Having been up to the Arctic Circle and beyond in Feb this year (Tromso and upwards on a Northern Lights hunt, about -10 to -15 plus wind-chill), I found that the K10 I had at the time was actually good with the 18-55WR lens. I've read somewhere that you also need to remove filters...so I did. I had a 50 f1.4, the stock zoom and a sigma 17-70 with me, as well as a carbon fibre tripod. The problems I had were were condensation (take ziplock bags with silica gel in them) for each item and that the sigma just stopped working. Also take plenty of batteries as people have said, as well as a couple of cable releases as if it is really cold then they can freeze. Tips from me - mittens with inners and a red head torch. Also had a Canon S95 which I kept in my pocket - again, no problems with this.
11-18-2012, 03:24 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Not sure if Pentax made one for another camera body, but there used to be a “Remote Battery Cord”
There was a similar arrangement for use with LX's also.
11-21-2012, 11:45 AM   #29
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Thanks for all the advice guys. I received the 18-55 mm WR and 50-200 WR lens today so will be putting them in the freezer over the weekend to see how they cope with the cold and taking some pictures.

Liam.
11-21-2012, 04:41 PM   #30
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When you take them out of the freezer, remember to wrap them in something as you pass through the house. Otherwise, you'll get your first lesson in fogging
John
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