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09-25-2016, 06:29 PM   #1
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Extreme cold and compact cameras

Hi everyone! I definitely plan on doing some outdoor shooting this winter in Rhode Island. I can certainly bring my old Canon DSLR without fear, but I'm wondering, would cold fry a compact camera, specifically the sensor? My LX100 has a micro four thirds. Let me know what you think! Thanks!

09-25-2016, 07:43 PM   #2
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Lots of cameras with weather sealing are rated to -10 degrees C, so those should be your go-to. I don't think cold weather will cause any damage unless you leave your camera out for a prolonged period of time, but cameras can start acting erratically or stop working completely.

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09-25-2016, 09:14 PM   #3
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The biggest problems come from the batteries. If it is too cold they will not work and you will get the depleted message. If you don't want this to happen keep them warm in your pocket until you start shooting.
09-25-2016, 09:17 PM   #4
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The battery is the first thing to go, but they recover on warming. Lithium batteries seem to work better in the cold than NiMH or alkaline, if you have battery options. Keep a spare battery in an inside pocket. Keep the camera there when not in use, if you can. I'm in Alberta, and keeping my K-x with NiMH batteries inside my coat worked just fine down to about -20 C (at which point I stopped taking it out because I got too cold, not because the camera stopped working). A point and shoot should fare better than a DSLR due to fewer moving parts. I've also had good luck with keeping them in an inside pocket while skiing (Optio S6, W60, WG2 and now a Q7).

09-25-2016, 10:15 PM   #5
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My experiences living in Fairbanks, AK...

I've been outside with my K-30 for about an hour at -40 shooting the northern lights with no ill effects, and for several hours at other events in similar temps again with no issue. Heck I've even gone for a snowmachine ride at -20 for about an hour with my hanging around my neck, no issues other than trying to shoot with heavy gloves on. Yeah the battery seemed to die faster, so I kept my spare in an inside pocket. The hard part is battling condensation if/when you go back inside, and worse from when you go in and then try to go back out.

Similarly I take my Olympus TG3 snowmobiling at -20F to -30F, and it lives in an outside pocket and seems to be just fine with it.
09-26-2016, 09:25 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Rhode Island in the winter is not exactly "extreme cold". I think you will be fine.
09-26-2016, 05:14 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ajack Quote
Rhode Island in the winter is not exactly "extreme cold". I think you will be fine.
It is for Rhode Islanders! 😝
09-26-2016, 09:50 PM   #8
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So small sensor sensor sizes like 1.2/3 don't make the camera vulnerable to cold? I had a few Sony W830s die out in the winter, but I suspect that that was a lousy batch.

09-28-2016, 07:35 AM   #9
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Sorry I didn't mean to be flippant about RI... I used to live there and actually quite like it.

But you're talking about lows in the 20s F in January... maybe a really cold night it will get down to the teens. I would be surprised if any camera had trouble with that, other than a shorter battery life. And I don't see what sensor size has to do with it at all.
09-29-2016, 12:01 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ajack Quote
Sorry I didn't mean to be flippant about RI... I used to live there and actually quite like it.

But you're talking about lows in the 20s F in January... maybe a really cold night it will get down to the teens. I would be surprised if any camera had trouble with that, other than a shorter battery life. And I don't see what sensor size has to do with it at all.
Oh no not at all! I think it's in our DNA to complain about inclement weather and never move elsewhere. I had an experience a couple of years ago with a succession of Sony compacts that went bad which I had attributed to cold, in retrospect I believe it was a bad run of cameras, though I never read anything about it elsewhere. The camera would be fine for a couple of days and suddenly the image would become horribly noisy and pixelated, like a pic from an old flip phone. I never got to the bottom of what that was about. It did make me cautious about Sony compacts (hope I'm not stepping on anyone's toes).
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