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02-02-2012, 12:56 AM   #1
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K-5 cold weather tips

I am planning on taking my K-5 for a spin on World Pentax Day on Saturday. The weather foreceast in my area says expected temperatures of below -17C.

I would really like to use my FA31, but I am a little bit worried about condesation, once I get back to my appartment. Is it an advantage to use a WR-lens to avoid condensation problems when the camera returns to normal temperatures? I searched the forum, but could not find an answer to this particular question.

-17C is really not that cold, but I still would like to be on the safe side, so I plan to put the camera with lens in a sealed plastic bag, and let it adjust in the fridge for a couple of hours, before I move it to house temperatures.

Any one else have experiences with cold weather shooting, or insight they would like to share?

02-02-2012, 01:16 AM   #2
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I must apologise that I have no cold weather tips for you, but want to say, where you say " -17C is really not that cold".....

Hell yes it IS cold!!!!
02-02-2012, 01:34 AM   #3
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Hi,

I have used my K200D and FA limiteds in cold weather for years, and they work just fine. There are few things to remember.

- Take your gear out in a decent camera bag.
- Keep spare batteries in a pocket close to your body, this way they will keep their charge better.
- Before going indoors, itīs good to take out the SD card and keep the rest of the gear in the bag. The condensation will occur if you take the cold equipment into room temperature. But if you keep your gear in the bag with the bag closed, and let the temperature gradually acclimate, then there shouldnīt be any problems.

Have fun!
02-02-2012, 01:51 AM   #4
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I have used my k20 with the kit lens at -18 for a whole day, many days. just be careful of water condense when you enter a warm place. better leave the camera outdoor in the same temperature. cover your nose/hold your breath when looking through the vf. battery will drain quickly but regain power in room temperature. lcd might be a bit darker, light sensor might give darker result that photos are over exp, even under exp due to white snow. use manual mode. change lens is ok, but dont until the gears are normalized with one temperature.

02-02-2012, 02:27 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnTaylor Quote
I must apologise that I have no cold weather tips for you, but want to say, where you say " -17C is really not that cold".....

Hell yes it IS cold!!!!
well check out OP's location - lillestrom....that's norway.....-17 is like refreshing for Norwegians
okay seriously - two tips - keep batteries warm ....and on return put camera in plastic bag and wait hour or so till you pull it out....
02-02-2012, 02:32 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by vrrattko Quote
well check out OP's location - lillestrom....that's norway.....-17 is like refreshing for Norwegians
okay seriously - two tips - keep batteries warm ....and on return put camera in plastic bag and wait hour or so till you pull it out....
Try and suck as much air as you can out of the bag, and keep it sealed. If you have some, put silica gel pouches in the bag, or dry rice, which is said to also absorb moisture.

Ideally, try and move the camera/lens slowly through a number of increasingly warmer environments; it's the extreme change in temperature you want to avoid.
02-02-2012, 02:54 AM   #7
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It's the warm air that condensates on the cold surfaces, keep the camera well sealed in bag when returning home and don't remove the lens.

Scandinavia = cold.
02-02-2012, 03:05 AM   #8
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it's a weather sealed camera with a solidly built lens, even with the condensation your'e not going to hurt the camera or the lens (unless you disassemble the lens right after you bring it in. it is good to keep the camera in the bag and let it warm up slowly, but even if you don't i wouldn't worry about it. the only "problem" is that when you bring it in from the cold, you can't take pics inside for a while. i'm in thunder bay ontario, although this winter is mild our normal feb is around -20 with lows of -40 for a few weeks in a row.

i've had my kit out winter camping in -40, after getting home i take the camera out and take out the card and leave the camera on a shelf until it sorts itself out (gets rid of the condensation on it's own) then i can play with it again.

02-02-2012, 03:47 AM - 1 Like   #9
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These tips are not Pentax specific, but they are a few that I have acquired in my ongoing stint in the military.

  • Wear Latex Gloves: Wear a heavy snow/winter glove, or whatever you need to keep warm and can still manipulate the controls. Underneath it, however, wear just a layer of latex gloves. The purpose of the latex gloves is to make your hands sweat. Wait....what? Yes, to make them sweat. Ensuring they are the non-powdered versions (or if they are, reverse them so the non-powdered surface is on your skin), and they are also not surgically tight, they should make your hands sweat if you seal off the wrists (tape, light rubber band, velcro, etc, but again, not too tight to cut circulation). The reason you want your hands to sweat is that the salt and water will keep your hands warm, acting as an insulator. The way this works is this: Everyone knows that a 90 degree day in May does not mean that it is time to go swimming yet - the water is much too cold. Why? the specific heat, or the resistance of a substance to temperature change, is very high, whereas air's is very low. The air temp can change extremely rapidly, something we have all experienced from day to day temperature fluctuations. But swimming, on the other hand, is best reserved for July through the beginning of September (in seasonal areas such as New York, not Miami). Water boiling is another way to understand it - it takes a few minutes to bring to a boil, but as soon as you turn on the stove (electric or gas), put your hand above the burner (not touching it) and tell me the air has not almost instantly become heated. Well, as cooks, you put salt in the water for what purpose? To raise the specific heat of the water even higher so that it boils at even higher temperatures than pure water. Ever wonder why you put salt on your steps so you don't kill yourself as you run out the door to get to work? You aren't "melting" the ice, but rather altering the chemical composition (dissolving the salt into the water) of it so that it requires a much lower temperature to freeze. So in effect you are melting it, but you are just making it much harder to freeze again. Going back to your sweat laden hands, the salt infused water in your gloves will, as long as cold air is not allowed to enter the glove through the wrist or other holes, will act as an insulator for your hands.
  • Don't Double Socks: Many people (including a much more inexperienced yours truly) believed the following: if it is cold, I will be warm if I double my socks. What always resulted was the following: "Holy crap my feet are so cold!" Maybe you are more intelligent than I, but I never made the connection until it was explained to me: if you wear double the socks, what happens is the outside one will be significantly tighter than it is used/designed to be. Warmth in your extremities (and entire body for that matter) is 100% dependent on the amount of blood flow they receive. When you wear very tight clothing, you cut the circulation through a mild tourniquet effect. Make you think of movie gun shot victims yet? "Frank....I feel...so...c-cold...."
  • Tuck in your Pant Legs: As a military member, I have gotten used to wearing my pants with the bottoms tucked into my boots (think fatigues/camo uniforms). I cannot tell you how much of a difference it makes, as it keeps the air trapped in your pant legs as opposed to allowing the cold air to continuously circulate up and around your exposed legs. Same concept as before with the sock doubling - when you tie your shoes/boots, don't do them too tightly, or you will cut off the circulation to your feet and toes, and it will render your efforts moot.
  • Stay Hydrated: This doesn't seem like it should be a big deal, but it is. In fact, did you know that you are more likely to unknowingly become seriously dehydrated in the winter than in the summer. Why, do you ask? Because in the summer, you notice it. You notice your incessant sweating. Your liquified shirts. In the winter, especially if you are a proper dresser (unlike yours truly) and wear many, many layers, you are much less likely to notice your body dehydrating. This is actually something we have to continuously remind solders about: "You can still become a heat casualty (mil speak for going down for dehydration) in the winter." The same is true for swimmers. You don't notice it because your sweat keeps getting wicked away (or simply get's covered) by the water, but you are still sweating, and if the water is warm enough (hot tub anyone?), you can dehydrate at a pretty significant rate. But going back to in the winter - this is why you need to keep hydrated. You are prone to very serious dehydration, and if you are wearing lots of clothing, then you run the risk of not even knowing about it since the clothing will absorb the sweat.
Hope this helps.


-Heie
02-02-2012, 04:04 AM   #10
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Hi

Please do not get all uptight about this cold business. Your camera is a tool designed to work in all sorts of conditions.

Condensation is typically more of a problem in the tropics where high humidity is encountered. When you step out of your air conditioned hotel room your cold camera will immediately break out in a "sweat". I have observed this recently in Cambodia, and to tell the truth I have never seen so much condensation. I did exactly nothing about it other then let the cam acclimatize itself in its own time and there was no problem, none ! This took approx. 25-30 min.

On the other hand in locations where the temp is below freezing by quite a margin it is important to realise that here the humidity is usually very very low. You can observe this if you take off a woolen jumper, as it is dragged across your hair (I still have a hint of it) you can see how they stand up under a shower of crackling sparks. Also your skin will get very dry very quickly.

I spent a few days two weeks ago on Hokkaido where the temp was minus 22C and I had my K-5 in the open around my neck all day. Absolutely no problem. Did not see any condensation once, not going in and out of shops or when leaving the hotel in the morning. (Because of low humidity) And the K-5 worked flawlessly !

Apart from all that though I always carry a copious amount of "silica gel desiccant" packs in my bag which I periodically dry out in a microwave.

So go out and shoot to your hearts content in the knowledge your K-5 will take it in her stride.

Greetings

Last edited by Schraubstock; 09-16-2012 at 05:30 PM.
02-02-2012, 04:32 AM   #11
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Forget about the fridge, just keep it in your closed bag for a couple of hours.
02-02-2012, 06:32 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the good advice guys, much appreciated! A lot of hints both when it comes to equipment care and dressing up that I will take with me on the day.

After reading the responses I will take my FA31, and keep the camera and lens in the bag to acclimatize on the bedroom floor (should be +12C more or less) upon my return.

Oh, and yes: -17C is cold, to those above who wondered about that comment in the original post. What I meant was that -17C is not so cold that you can not dress to stay warm, and just as important: not colder than that I expect the K-5 to function reasonably. And the bonus is that I can keep a can of beer in my bag, and it will be nice and cold even after a couple of hours of shooting (the beer brought solely for the purpose of avoiding dehydration, of course).

I'll update this thread Saturday evening with my experiences from the day.
02-02-2012, 06:48 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bratz Quote
bedroom floor (should be +12C more or less)
What? Do you live in a cave?
02-02-2012, 07:08 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gimbal Quote
What? Do you live in a cave?
Saving on electricity to afford more Pentax gear.
02-02-2012, 08:32 AM   #15
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I spent 2 days shooting skiing at the Dew Tour a couple of weeks ago in Killington, Vt. The temps were in the neighborhood you are anticipating. I had no real issues. The problem of course is taking the camera inside. If it's in your bag and the bag is closed, It won't likely be a problem as the padding on the bag acts as insulation and the camera will slowly warm up without condensation. Hanging around your neck, it will fog your lenses quickly and you will need to stay inside until it clears or the fog will become frost and you won't get it off. Ski lodges are especially bad because all the snow tracked in on boots and clothing melts and the humidity inside is like a tropical rain forest in the summer. I used the outdoor portable toilets for those quick breaks to drain the coffee I was constantly sipping. I'm outside all winter long. I don't think plastic bags are really necessary and a sudden change from cold to warm, the air in the bag has moisture too and will condense just as quickly. Leave your camera in the bag or backpack for a while after you get home and let it slowly adjust to room temperature.
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