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12-26-2017, 01:58 PM   #1
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Found the cold limit?

Has anyone else experienced excessive mirror-tripping after being out in the cold for a while?

I was out yesterday with my K-70, it was -26C with a stiff wind (WC -40). The camera was fine until the end of the second hour: when I'd press the shutter I'd often get a triple-flip of the mirror, as if it was taking three shots. I still got the image (and only one), it's not like I accidentally set it to multi-frame. Camera seems fine this morning, doesn't seem to have done any damage, but I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this.

The battery was fine, was at half when I started and lasted 1.5 hours, had a warm one in my pocket to change to. But I'm hoping -20C isn't the limit, forecast here isn't above -25C for at least a week, and when these cold spells hit they usually last a few weeks.

So a few related questions:

I'm considering sticking one of those hand warmers in my bag, they're supposed to last 10 hours, has anyone tried it? Is there a danger of them being too hot, or the constant temperature shift in and out of the bag causing damage?
Would a different camera body have better low-temperature performance? Like, do I need an excuse to get a K-1?
Any other suggestions for getting more than a couple hours-worth of cold-time? I'd like to be able to be out all day.

TIA...

12-26-2017, 02:10 PM   #2
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I'm no expert and have never experienced this, but, waiting for others to chime in, I'll add my 2c.
- I've always heard that crazy mirror syndrome to be related to or at least be exacerbated by cold weather conditions.
- quick cold/hot shifts could produce condensation, which might be "only" annoying on lenses, but definitely harmful to the electronics.
12-26-2017, 02:42 PM   #3
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Did you read up on threads and blog posts about winter photography? You should acclimatize your camera and lenses, preferably in a PVC bag or something to prevent condensation. Especially when you return to warmer conditions. A fast temperature change can cause condensation and problems. For example, going from warm house to cold park, then back to a hot restaurant, then back to cold city street, and finally back to warm house is many shocks for the gear
I think you can use camera in cold conditions, but you have to give it time to change temperature slowly, without humidity changes.
Batteries are definitely a weak point when it comes to cold. Its usually a good idea to keep them inside your jacket so they stay warm as long as possible. And definitely bring spares
12-26-2017, 03:26 PM   #4
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I've had my K-70 out to -15C with no problems so long as I used Pentax lenses. Sigma 17-50mm and 10-20mm had trouble below -10C and very humid. In sea spray at 100 kph winds, actually. Probably never should have mounted them truth to tell. But they did live afterwards.

12-26-2017, 09:22 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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The OP has a good idea with his pocket warmer. Placing a spare battery in one of those will keep it warm and functioning. The issue is most likely the battery and not the camera nor condensation. Lithium batteries are better than most but well documented to lose the capacity to deliver current when cold. It wouldn't necessarily show up on the camera battery meter, but when the mirror motor kicks in, the battery just might not be up to the job. Using the battery will actually help by creating some internal heat, but at really low temperatures, the batteries need some help.

Condensation occurs when warm moist air contacts cold equipment so there should be no issues with a warm battery going in cold equipment (it's not warm moist air). However, when bringing that gear indoors, it might be a good idea to keep it bagged with a dryer material until it warms up which would prevent dangerous condensation.

There is an issue with camera grease thickening at cold temperatures which places more stress on the actuators and draws more current than at normal temperatures. At -30, both of these factors are working to shorten the life of a battery that would usually be good for a lot longer, so give the "bagged battery (or batteries)" a try and see if it helps.

Last edited by Bob 256; 12-27-2017 at 09:00 AM.
12-26-2017, 10:37 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Those pocket warmers don't do so well in especially cold temperatures, if they're the ones that heat up once they're exposed to the air outside of their sealed pouches. 19 deg's F was enough for a set of them to not get more than slightly warm in the side pockets of my outermost flannel last night. I've experienced the same with various other brands/sizes of those type of heaters in similar or worse conditions. Battery powered heaters die quickly, and the zippo branded fuel warmers are unreliable at best and dangerous at worst. If you're going to use the chemical warmers, then start them in room temperatures so they can heat up first. Otherwise, the liquid pouch warmers with the snap discs are probably the most effective in colder temperatures.
12-26-2017, 10:51 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Thanks all for the thoughts so far.

The mirror triple-flipped a couple times before the first battery gave out, but continued after changing to the second battery. However, now I think about it, I'm not sure I kept the second battery sufficiently warm, even though it showed a full charge. It was in an inner pocket of my coat, but below the waist-belt of my pack, so it might have flared out the coat, exposed the pocket, and cooled off. I'll have to try it again and make sure it's in a warm place. If the mirror problem goes away after a battery change, then it's likely a chilled battery as you say.

I'm pretty sure condensation is not an issue. I'm careful to seal the bag before coming inside, and leaving it sealed until it reaches ambient temperature. It shouldn't be a problem going the other way, the air here is very dry in the winter. That said, I'm usually hiking at least 20 minutes before pulling the camera out of the bag, so it should get a fairly gentle cool down.
12-26-2017, 11:37 PM   #8
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Mid 30s here today. Hard to relate to your problem.

12-27-2017, 03:22 AM   #9
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K-70 spec says -10C-40C, so a couple of hours at -26C is pretty ok?
12-27-2017, 03:36 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
Mid 30s here today. Hard to relate to your problem.
...I bet you were celebrating Christmas in short, with the dinner table hanging from the ceiling in order to sit upright!
12-27-2017, 11:44 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I was in Canada a couple years ago and it was -13F -25C with wind chills of -25F -31C. I had my K3 and K50 and was shooting snowy owls on Amherst Island in Lake Ontario, even the locals were asking "what the hell are you doing here in this".

I found a owl sitting on the frozen lake and set up my gear and was taking pictures. The owl and my gear had no problems but I did, after about 30 minutes of being outside I had to hop back into my Jeep Wrangler with a soft top to warm up and I took this shot.

Not sure how long the equipment could've lasted outside in that but it was longer than me.
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12-27-2017, 01:57 PM   #12
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Keep those batteries warm. If I am out in very cold weather I keep my spare battery in a tee shirt with a pocket, next to my skin. A friend of mine made his first accent to the top of Mr Rainier (14,400 ft). Reach the summit on a beautiful day. He had a point & shoot camera kept in his parka jacket pocket, found out the batteries were really cold and completely dead. Lucky another climber had a camera which he had stored in a inner pocket and got some pictures.
12-27-2017, 07:33 PM   #13
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I've shot in minus 28C a number of times. Usually my shutter finger gives out before my camera. However a couple of hours in that temp would definitely be hard on the mechanicals of anything so despite what Pentax claims about how low it handle the temp, I wouldn't expect it to be trouble free. Most cars develop strange new sounds when first started in the minus 30C range. Nothing permanent but during the cold anything mechanical will start to stick or grind. Even the electronics in my car act up in severe cold although they are usually good until it gets below -35C. Overall I'm still very impressed with how my Pentax handles the cold and only wish I could handle the cold as well as my camera.
12-27-2017, 09:09 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Glen Quote
Overall I'm still very impressed with how my Pentax handles the cold and only wish I could handle the cold as well as my camera.
Just a matter of the right clothing. Liner gloves, good mitts, a windproof over mitt are necessary for the hands. For the rest, I recently switched all my layers to wool, including pants and jacket, it's made a huge change in the range of temperatures I can handle.
12-27-2017, 09:55 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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Cold

QuoteOriginally posted by whafrog Quote
Just a matter of the right clothing. Liner gloves, good mitts, a windproof over mitt are necessary for the hands. For the rest, I recently switched all my layers to wool, including pants and jacket, it's made a huge change in the range of temperatures I can handle.
Good tips. I think I have frozen my finger and thumb so many times that they start to feel frozen again in far less extreme temperatures. The rest of my body is good to go but that right hand finger and thumb are not up to the job. Still, I have recently acquired some of those photo gloves with the slide off fingers. I will get better mitts and for my right hand I think I will get a rechargeable hand warmer. I want to do some ice photography in the new year and I can't let two digits hold me back. BTW, as for wool, I recall many years ago when I took a guided white water canoeing trip. It was in late September or early October in the headwaters near the Rockies. Glacier fed river. We all wore wool military surplus pants. Naturally I tipped (no camera on that trip) and the feel of that cold water is something I won't forget. However upon reaching the riverbank we twisted those wool pants to get some of the water out and I put them back on again. I felt a lot of things that day, but cold was not one of them. Wool is amazing.

If I were to stay indoors all winter I might as well have bought a Canon . :lol

Below is one of the results of the time spent with a cold finger and a functional Pentax

Last edited by Glen; 12-27-2017 at 10:03 PM.
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