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01-18-2011, 01:11 AM   #1
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Shooting in extreme cold

Courious whether the internal heat produced by Live View can make it feasible to shoot in extreme cold conditions.


Last edited by climit; 01-18-2011 at 01:25 AM.
01-18-2011, 01:34 AM   #2
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If anything I would think that the cold weather would help keep the sensor cool during LV. How extreme are we talking about?



4500

Last edited by JeffJS; 01-18-2011 at 02:00 AM.
01-18-2011, 01:44 AM   #3
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I just got in from doing some shooting with my K-r. It performed wonderfully and the Weather Network is telling me it is -17 Celsius outside. I was outside for about 2-3 hours. Only one live view photo was taken. In between moving my tripod, I would take the battery out and put it in my glove, but other than that, the camera stayed out in the cold.
01-18-2011, 02:50 AM   #4
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The primary concerns when shooting in the cold are:

- Reduced battery life
- Sluggish LCD
- Condensation freezing on the camera

Sensor heat would not help any of these things. The sensor itself would probably perform better in the cold.

Besides these things, cameras can perform just fine in temperatures far below the official specs, even more so now that you don't have to worry about film freezing. Anything cold enough to actually cause physical damage to your camera would more likely kill you before the camera.

01-18-2011, 03:03 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
How extreme are we talking about?
I was reading in PhotographyBLOG about a photographic trip to Antarctica.

QuoteOriginally posted by calculator01 Quote
I just got in from doing some shooting with my K-r. It performed wonderfully and the Weather Network is telling me it is -17 Celsius outside. I was outside for about 2-3 hours. Only one live view photo was taken. In between moving my tripod, I would take the battery out and put it in my glove, but other than that, the camera stayed out in the cold.
That's interesting.

QuoteOriginally posted by Cannikin Quote
The primary concerns when shooting in the cold are:

- Reduced battery life
- Sluggish LCD
- Condensation freezing on the camera

Sensor heat would not help any of these things. The sensor itself would probably perform better in the cold.

Besides these things, cameras can perform just fine in temperatures far below the official specs, even more so now that you don't have to worry about film freezing. Anything cold enough to actually cause physical damage to your camera would more likely kill you before the camera.
I was reading the other day that the whole camera gets warmed during long time video-shooting.
01-18-2011, 04:19 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by climit Quote
I was reading in PhotographyBLOG about a photographic trip to Antarctica.



That's interesting.



I was reading the other day that the whole camera gets warmed during long time video-shooting.
While there may be some convection heat from the sensor warming during long term use (such as video), I doubt it does much to warm the full camera against arctic temperatures (or any other extreme-ish cold). I suppose at some point, the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) might freeze up but I don't know what that would be. The shutter, aperture, and autofocus are all mechanical devices and I'm sure they have a fail point as well. I'll never experience arctic cold (by choice) so I just accept that my camera works in my local conditions. Still interesting though.

01-18-2011, 06:34 AM   #7
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Any more info on this would be interesting .... I'm trying to persuade my wife to go to Harbin to enjoy the absolutely amazing Ice Festivals - superbly carved full sized buildings and palaces amongst many other articles carved out of ice. This month I saw the average temperature was colder than usual at -28C and wondered if my K5 wold work in those extreme temperatures.

But then again on TV this festival is covered extensively here and I've seen plenty of people with P&S cameras shooting away !
01-18-2011, 10:58 AM   #8
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k20d works fine at -22 Celsius, almost a day long, many days, perhaps a few degree colder. it was designed for 0 Celsius. lcd got darker, but histogram still working. Light-meter got darker measurement, but thanks to manual mode.

Do change the lens in the cold if you have to, watch out the breath moisture, but prefer not to change at all. Do turn off the camera when you got inside and let it 'recover' to room temp. My canon died, but my pentax survive.

I never get out as cold with non-WR or non-DA* lens.

And be very careful with wet flashes. I put my flashes connected ready to radio receivers into ziplock frozen bags when I have to get out as cold.

Personally, my fingers lost feeling long before any hardware problem.

01-18-2011, 11:12 AM   #9
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My only worry would be bringing it in from the cold. I forgot a ziploc bag last night, so I just let it sit in my truck for awhile, since it was heated, but dry air. Still, when I got inside and took it out of my backpack, condensation jumped all over it. Still works though

A friend of mine has had an Olympus dslr for about 8 years now. It lives in his cars trunk, 365 days a year (366 for leap years). So it sees every weather extreme there is, easily +40 to -40 celsius, as well as shocks, dust, vibration, etc. It is still taking pictures 100% fine. He also uses it in the rain...
01-18-2011, 12:42 PM   #10
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I once put my K-7 in the freezer just to see if it still works and was fine at -18 degrees celcius. That is one way to test it.

Sensor heeting is not in cold temperatures outside. Just when the camera has no way to give the heat off to somewhere else. To my idea the K-5 hasn't got as much the trouble of heating up the sensor as my K-7 did.
01-18-2011, 12:56 PM   #11
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Not knowing exactly which camera the OP is referring to -
one of the first consideration is the battery's operating temperature range.

Although anecdotal, most recognize that lithium are the way to go.

To be more factual the rated operating temperatures are as follows:

eneloop 0 to 50 deg C
alkaline -18 to 55 deg C
lithium -40 to 60 deg C

So alkaline will work better than eneloop in the cold -
and lithium will out perform alkaline.

However one should bear in mind that Pentax do not recommend the use of alkaline AAs.

There are hints for shooting out in the cold -

1) keep the whole camera/lens under one's coat for warmth
- only bring it out to shoot.

2) keep any batteries in an inner pocket - again to keep warm.

3) dress warmly in layers, and wear a hat/hood!
(this is for the most important equipment - the photographer!)
01-18-2011, 12:57 PM   #12
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If you are near your vehicle, you could always use a DC to AC inverter and the AC power cord for the camera. I have done this at -28C with zero problems.
01-19-2011, 08:21 AM   #13
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I live in Northern Manitoba and we get extreme cold here. I'm talking -40C and lower on a regular basis. I've shot Northern Lights in some crazy cold weather and questioned my sanity afterwards. I recently shot some waterfalls in -36C temperatures with no real problems. What I have observed about shooting in extreme cold is of course battery life is depleted but not half as bad as I expected. I don't use live view so I get a lot of frozen condensation on the back of the camera/grip and the aperture wheel on the back of the gets a little stiff probably due to the condensation. Other than than the only real problems are frozen fingers.

It's probably not the smartest idea to be shooting in these type of conditions but when the Northern Lights are lighting up the sky I just can't help myself.
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