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03-14-2012, 12:37 PM   #1
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SD Cards and Low Temperatures

I was reading some blogs about photography in cold environments when I ran across a post suggesting SanDisk extreme cards to accommodate the cold weather.

The question I have is how important is SD Card choice going to be in cold weather, specifically with temperatures approximately -10 C (10 F)? [I know those aren't exactly the same temperature, but I'm talking approximately]. I ask because this isn't something I had been too concerned with due to one previous experience with my old K10d in temperatures around 20 F. The card was the least of my concern in that case, but then I was only in that environment for a few hours.

I find things through Google describing the temperature performance of the SanDisk extreme cards, but not on many other brands of cards. I have very few SanDisk cards, but I'll buy them if people actually have experience with SD Cards not performing in cold conditions. I've never seen and can't find any discussions here with respect to this, and I see a lot of cold environment photos. I assume that when people talk about issues with sd cards and cold they are talking much colder than what I am considering.

As it is, most of my SD cards are of what I consider "name" brands (Kingston, Transcend, SanDisk), so I could see where some of the really cheap products may be more susceptible to problems, but then those types of brands are at any temperature or condition.

03-14-2012, 12:39 PM   #2
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I'd think in those temperatures, any card will be fine. I can say it gets a lot colder than that here, and I've never given it a second thought, nor ever had a problem with the card in any kind of device. Batteries on the other hand...
03-14-2012, 12:40 PM   #3
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There are people on this forum who shoot in -20 to -40 F (-something to -40 C) and I don't believe they have any special SD card. For what it's worth, I've shot at 10 F and my card and camera had no problems.
03-14-2012, 12:51 PM   #4
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I've left my camera in the car for as much as a week with night time temps in the -30ºC range with no ill effects, either to the camera or card. Everything just keeps working.

03-14-2012, 01:13 PM   #5
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Original Poster
Thanks for the quick responses. I suspected the results all of you have provided, and I have seen many photos here that exemplify this. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a duh, of course you should use name-brand card in the cold. In any typical year, I rarely see temps below freezing, so I wanted to be sure my previous success at slightly colder temps wasn't a fluke. The battery thing is what I remember being more of an issue in that their life was much shorter in the cold temperature. That isn't something a few backup batteries can't solve. I'm going to Iceland in September and plan on shooting at night (astrophotography and aurora) and don't want to be surprised by some no brainer item I should have thought of. As it is, I know I'm a bit of a temperature wimp being from California where we like to complain if it is less than freezing. My parents are originally from Minnesota, so I have to laugh at my own weakness when it comes to cold temperatures.
03-14-2012, 02:03 PM   #6
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If you haven't already, make sure you know about taking equipment in from the cold, though depending on your air conditioning level, you might have seen condensation on your gear when going outside on a hot day.
03-14-2012, 02:31 PM   #7
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I went out in -18º F weather this past winter, and didn't think anything about it. The camera worked fine, the battery worked fine, and the card didn't give any problem. I was using an older Sandisk Extreme III class 6 card
03-15-2012, 10:38 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
If you haven't already, make sure you know about taking equipment in from the cold, though depending on your air conditioning level, you might have seen condensation on your gear when going outside on a hot day.
Thanks for the advice. I am aware of those issues, although the most experience I've had with my cameras has been not so much heat (we have a dry heat here) but rain in the spring time. Topics such as batteries, condensation, etc are always nicely discussed here that I feel confident in dealing with them. I never hear much about SD cards besides the defective ones that are bad from the start.

03-16-2012, 08:49 PM   #9
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I regularly shoot in -40C/F (this is where they meet equally on the temperature scale) and even lower and have never had any kind of issue with my memory cards. I've used Kingston, Sandisk, Transcend, and even cheap no name brands and have never had one freeze, fail, or loose data what so ever. The main problem you would have in these temps is with condensation in the lens and camera in which there are many ways to take care of. I've actually had ice form on the back on my camera and the rear dial freeze up but once I brought the camera back down to room temperature I have never had an issue.
03-19-2012, 09:50 AM   #10
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I've never had issues in our Upstate NY winter cold and any SD card or my Pentax cameras for that matter. I've shot often in below 0F temps for extended periods.
03-19-2012, 01:22 PM   #11
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Solid state memory like flash memory isn't affected by low temperatures, but batteries will be affected.
03-19-2012, 06:34 PM   #12
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I believe the Sandisk Extreme SDHC cards have insulation inside the plastic case rather than being hollow. Plus they have other nice features like being X-ray proof, water proof and a lifetime warranty. The Extreme cards would probably be a good choice if you are going to be outside for a few days camping and the temperature was going through hot and cold cycles. Here are the Extreme specs from the Sandisk site.

The SanDisk Extreme SDHC UHS-I card delivers more speed for faster shot-to-shot performance (up to 30 MB/sec* read/write) and Class 10 video capability for capturing Full HD video, even in 3D† .
  • Extreme Technology - based on UHS-I bus architecture for increased speed so you'll be ready to capture it all
  • Extreme Reliability - advanced Error Correction Code (ECC) engine improves overall data integrity and reliability of the card during read and write
  • Extreme durability - built for and tested in the harshest conditions; temperature proof, water proof, shock proof, and x-ray proof***
  • Extreme trust - includes a lifetime limited warranty‡ from the flash memory card brand the pros trust
Product Specifications
  • Form factor SDHC
  • Available capacities 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB**
  • Performance/speed Up to 30 MB/s* (200X) read/write speed
  • Bus interface UHS-I (fully backwards compatible with SD 2.0) Video Class 10
  • SDHC card dimension 0.94" x 1.25" x 0.08" (24 mm x 32 mm x 2.1 mm)
  • Operating temperature -13F to 185F (-25C to 85C)
  • Storage temperature -40 deg F to 185 deg F (-40 deg C to 85 deg C)
  • Compatibility Compatible with all SDHC™ and SDHC™ UHS-I supporting host devices
  • Security Built-in write-protect switch prevents accidental data loss
  • Warranty Lifetime Limited warranty‡
  • Includes RescuePro® one year media recovery software (download offer)
* Up to 30 MB/sec (200X) read/write speeds. Based on SanDisk internal testing; performance may be lower depending upon host device.
1 megabyte (MB) = 1 million bytes. X = 150 KB/sec.
** 1 gigabyte (GB) = 1 billion bytes. Some capacity not available for data storage.
*** SD, SDHC, microSD and microSDHC card formats up to 32 GB only; See Proof for additional information.
† Full HD video (1920x1080x30fps), HD and 3D video support may vary based upon host device, file size, resolution, compression, bit rate, content, and other factors. See: HD.
‡ 30 years in Germany and regions not recognizing lifetime limited warranty.

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