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02-04-2015, 09:27 PM   #1
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K-50 would not run in [slightly] cold temps,,,

Good evening everybody,
This weekend, I was scheduled to shoot a Competition Tactical Shotgun Match with my camera. This was not my first "Sport Shooting camera gig", as I have volunteered to capture the action for the match directors, on many occasions, both in the summer and fall - this was a first in colder temps. I was to be there for, both days of the event, and here in Georgia, the temps were supposed to be in the 50's in the afternoon, with chilly mornings of 29 on Saturday AM and 39 on Sunday AM - on both mornings I took out my K-3 and my K-50, and attached them to my dual harness, to get to work at catching the action. Both cameras worked perfectly at first, and I managed to get perhaps 15 shots out of the K-50, before she shut down completely on Saturday morning.
***Now, earlier in the year, I had a slight issue when I was out trying to grab some shots of a group of Bohemian Waxwings in a tree from my back yard. The camera got 'sluggish', and almost stopped working, but I managed to get it to keep running for a bit by toggling the E-dial, and turning it on and off (the temp on this day was 21 degrees, with a slight wind). But on this current morning, it was 29 out, sunny and almost zero windage to affect the temps. And she just shut down - with total loss as far as the shutter goes that is.

I took the camera back to the Jeep and started to play with swapping out lenses batteries etc - nothing - she was powering up, but would not allow the shutter to be released. Power [to me] would not have been accomplished if it was a battery issue. I then left the entire set up (camera and lens) in my vehicle to warm up for a while. I would check on it thru-ought the morning, as the temps in my car rose, along with the temps outside. When it got above 45, it seemed to work fine, the only problem was, it was now in the late afternoon, and most of the bulk of the event had taken place for the day.

The next morning, it was about 12 degrees warmer than the following day, and I did not anticipate any issues. Sure enough, I got a few shots off in the early portion of the morning, and it shut down again when exposed to the cooler temps.

I just don't understand what the issue could have been. It was above freezing on Sunday morning for sure, and it still refused to function. She turned on like all was well, but the shutter was a no go, (until it warmed up outside). I thankfully had my K-3 for the day, but the reason why I even purchased the K-50, was for it to be my back up body for big events when I don't want to swap lenses out. It makes it a LOT easier to get long shots with my large and heavy Sigma 150-500mm Lens. I love that lens, but swapping it out is NOT an ideal thing to be doing on a day when dust from flying debris can be an issue and the fast paced sport is in full high gear. There just isn't time for swapping, and so It is that much easier, to leave that behemoth lens on one body, and use my smaller 50-270 lens on my K-3. Being down a body this weekend really upset me - but being down a body because it didn't like the cold weather however, upset me even more. Especially since my K-50 was purchased specifically FOR events such as this!

Has ANYBODY had or heard of ANY issues like this in the cold? Like I said before it wasn't even freezing temps that we are talking about here. It was just cold out on both days, and my new camera just refused to take any pictures - its only six months old! Frustration is an understatement!

02-04-2015, 09:55 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Don't have a K-50, but I've shot the K-5 and K-3 in quite a bit colder temperatures than that. The only thing I can think that may be an issue is the batteries. But obviously you were using the same batteries in the K-3, so that couldn't be it.

I don't know. Was it damp and condensing inside the camera or lens, causing some kind of electrical issue?
02-04-2015, 10:15 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Temperature related issues which are not battery related must surely be 'contact' problems somewhere. As the body warms up there's enough expansion for contact to be made. As it cools, contact is lost. This might indicate a crack in a PCB or something else. Has the camera ever been dropped?
02-04-2015, 11:06 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
Don't have a K-50, but I've shot the K-5 and K-3 in quite a bit colder temperatures than that. The only thing I can think that may be an issue is the batteries. But obviously you were using the same batteries in the K-3, so that couldn't be it.

I don't know. Was it damp and condensing inside the camera or lens, causing some kind of electrical issue?
K-3 and K-50 run on different batteries - but a swap out of my battery still did not help the issue,,,,and like I mentioned the screen worked and I could toggle it to different settings, the shutter and any focusing of the lens was not working - we called it performance anxiety :-P

---------- Post added 02-05-15 at 01:11 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Steve.Ledger Quote
Temperature related issues which are not battery related must surely be 'contact' problems somewhere. As the body warms up there's enough expansion for contact to be made. As it cools, contact is lost. This might indicate a crack in a PCB or something else. Has the camera ever been dropped?
Never been dropped or even been used "heavy handed", I'm a big baby when it comes to my gear being taken care of roughly -- and as far as dampness, that was also not an issue - it just refused to work in the cold - I'm guessing that it's going to need a trip back to the mother ship for a fix, I was just hoping that somebody may have had a similar issue that I could maybe get an idea of what caused it and what the fix was by any warranty work.

02-04-2015, 11:50 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by GAjeeperGirl Quote
K-3 and K-50 run on different batteries - but a swap out of my battery still did not help the issue,,,,and like I mentioned the screen worked and I could toggle it to different settings, the shutter and any focusing of the lens was not working - we called it performance anxiety :-P

---------- Post added 02-05-15 at 01:11 AM ----------


Never been dropped or even been used "heavy handed", I'm a big baby when it comes to my gear being taken care of roughly -- and as far as dampness, that was also not an issue - it just refused to work in the cold - I'm guessing that it's going to need a trip back to the mother ship for a fix, I was just hoping that somebody may have had a similar issue that I could maybe get an idea of what caused it and what the fix was by any warranty work.
I know you are pretty certain it's not the batteries because you are swapping them but batteries out of cameras lose their charge in the cold as well it is recommended to keep them in pockets next to the body which brings me to another issue could your charger not be doing its job maybe enough to get a couple of shots off and while trying to get the one in your camera to work what little drain your spare might have may be fading. In saying that I wonder if it might not be a fault in the k-50. I had a k-50 that died on me and I didn't realise that a common factor I had with the issues is the cold. I had a failure in August and it come back as fault not found (this is in Australia btw). Made it to Alaska in Sept hubby was using k-50 and it was very cold going past glaciers etc but my issue was opposite it wouldn't turn off. Had the camera replaced after videoing the fault so never really sure what the problem was I was sent a new camera no note or anything. All I can say if in warranty deal with it now and use your k-3 to video the issue.So sorry you are suffering it is not nice. Have you got a AA battery canister instead of using the camera battery such as rechargeable etc then it might give you an idea if it is the power source or the camera. Hope this helps.
02-04-2015, 11:53 PM   #6
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The K-50 manual on page 5 says'

The temperature range for camera use is -10c to 40c (14f to 104f)

If not a battery issues, you might have a case for a warranty claim.
02-05-2015, 12:44 AM   #7
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Those temperatures are nothing compared to what I've been using my K-5's in, even my Q. Are you using a battery grip? I know that my black K-5 have been locking up (in cold?) with AF-C and hi-speed burst set when shooting hockey but it's extremely rare and I think it mostly happened with the grip on. I've been shooting with a K-5 that had ice forming all over the camera but nothing malfunctioned, the only thing was that ice got stuck in the eye piece so it was hard to see through the viewfinder.
02-05-2015, 04:10 AM   #8
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If it's not the battery you need to send it in. Several times my K-50 has sat in my car for 9 hours or more in well below freezing temperatures and then works with no problems. On Sunday I took a 1.5 to 2 hour walk with it in wet snow when the temperature hovering at the freezing mark (32F). I also have the similar K-30 that has been through even more since I've had it longer. I did have a problem once with the K-30 while it was using AA batteries (with a knockoff adapter), I changed to the OEM battery and it was fine.

02-05-2015, 06:27 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I did have a problem once with the K-30 while it was using AA batteries (with a knockoff adapter), I changed to the OEM battery and it was fine.
I've also observed that my K-30 seems more cold tolerant when using the OEM battery vs AA ( eneloops ), but I haven't tested it rigorously. I've had it well below the temperature range in the manual, and as long as I put it
back in my pack between shots, it will keep functioning for a decent amount of time. I have had it stop functioning after prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures ( maybe -15C to -20C ).

It helps if the batteries are topped up. Another possibility might be that the contacts in the battery or SD compartment are a bit iffy, and there's a bit of condensation forming when you take your camera
from the warm house to the cold outdoors. ( though you'd expect condensation to be more of a problem going the other way )

Check/clean your battery and SD card contacts.
02-06-2015, 06:47 AM   #10
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Thanks everybody - the K-50 doesn't have a battery grip, but I did hear back from the factory and it need to make a visit back home from whence it came. Thankfully it is in the warranty period (its only 4 months old), so they should be able to find the culprit of the main issue. Fingers crossed! I'll try and remember to check back in when it gets returned to let you all know what they found!
02-07-2015, 05:14 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by GAjeeperGirl Quote
Thanks everybody - the K-50 doesn't have a battery grip, but I did hear back from the factory and it need to make a visit back home from whence it came. Thankfully it is in the warranty period (its only 4 months old), so they should be able to find the culprit of the main issue. Fingers crossed! I'll try and remember to check back in when it gets returned to let you all know what they found!
Glad they are going to take care of you, thank goodness for warranty. Definately check back and let us know what happened so we can learn. Thanks hope all is quick and painless
02-07-2015, 12:52 PM   #12
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Batteries do produce lower voltages when loaded in cold temperatures.


The camera electronics would have a voltage regulator internally that further reduces the voltage available and then internally the devices requires certain voltages to operate. There are very small manufacturing variations in all these in the camera device level characteristics. Also, the different models have different internal design and it is plausible that the surge currents associated with do certain actions result in the voltage available in the K-50 at some time in the operation cycle to be just low enough to stop it, because of the combined effect of reduced effectiveness of the battery due to the temperature.


This kind of problem requires very sophisticated test equipment to diagnose (research lab stuff).


Frustrating as it is, probably the only solution is NEW batteries which have not degraded at all because of use.
02-08-2015, 01:05 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tim60 Quote
Batteries do produce lower voltages when loaded in cold temperatures.


The camera electronics would have a voltage regulator internally that further reduces the voltage available and then internally the devices requires certain voltages to operate. There are very small manufacturing variations in all these in the camera device level characteristics. Also, the different models have different internal design and it is plausible that the surge currents associated with do certain actions result in the voltage available in the K-50 at some time in the operation cycle to be just low enough to stop it, because of the combined effect of reduced effectiveness of the battery due to the temperature.


This kind of problem requires very sophisticated test equipment to diagnose (research lab stuff).


Frustrating as it is, probably the only solution is NEW batteries which have not degraded at all because of use.
Agreed, but, as I stated earlier, the camera is only four months old and purchased brand new from Adorama - and because it is my back up body to my K-3, it really only gets a lot of use on days when I need to use two cameras so I don't have to change lenses. Battery degradation should be at a minimum at this point. The camera and all all of her batteries are brand new - ALL were charged up fully before use on this particular day as well. One of the three batteries should have worked at some point during the mornings when it was cold. Changing of the batteries didn't help, so I'm guessing that Pentax will have to be the final determination of what is wrong with the camera at cold temps.
02-08-2015, 01:22 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Then it does sound like the problem is in the body - the challenge of manufacturing tolerances and all the permutations they given resulting in odd failures like this.
02-11-2015, 01:08 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Been using a K-50 right down to and even a bit below -10C (14F) in Newfoundland. I'm using Li-MH 2400mAH AAs.

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