Cold Weather Shooting

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Jon, The Elder, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Jon, The Elder

    Jon, The Elder TPF Noob!

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    Seasonal changes are coming to the Northern countries in about 60 days or so. Each year there are a bunch of questions that come up on a regular basis regarding cold weather shooting. Although I use Canon equipment, this information applies to all brands. The information is meant for those using DSLR equipment, but much applies to P&S and sub-compact gear also.

    Q: Can I shoot outdoors when it is at or below freezing?
    A: Yes you can. Your camera will work in just about any weather your body can function in.

    Q: How long will my batteries last?
    A: Cold weather does affect the strength and useful time your batteries will function. Each camera/battery combination is diminished to some degree, depending on your shooting habits. Remember that using your LCD for review, eats up a lot of power. Turning your camera on and off frequently isn’t a good idea either.

    Q: Speaking of LCD’s, mine seems to dim in colder weather. Whats going on?
    A: The letters LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. The liquid under the screen can be be affected temporarily by extreme temperatures for longer periods of time. Dimming or even a complete loss of display is not at all uncommon.
    This is a temporary condition and things generally return to normal once the camera has been brought back to a more typical operating temperature. As a rule there is no permanent damage to the component.
    Q: Are there any special things to do when taking my camera outside to use in colder temperatures?
    A: There are no special precautions needed.

    Q: Well then, are there special things to consider and do, when coming back inside?
    A: You bet. This answer needs a bit of explanation first.
    When you bring things in from the outside, any moisture in the air will condense on the outside of the gear. Those readers who wear eyeglasses, know exactly what I’m saying. Stepping inside ‘fogs’ them up real quick. When you come inside, the moisture condenses on the outside of your camera and lens.
    Because your camera is chilled both inside and out, that condensation will try to form both outside and inside your camera. You may get away with just wiping off the outside surfaces of your gear for a while, but repeatedly doing this is an invitation to trouble. Moisture will penetrate wherever it can find an opening.
    Only the more expensive units are considered water resistant (none are truly waterproof).

    Q: So much for the explanation, what can I do to prevent this?
    A: The answer and method is simple and works very well. Here in the U.S. we have several companies that make a refrigerator/freezer polyethylene storage bag that come in several sizes. It is generically known as a "Zip-lock" bag. Some have a slider type closure (my favorite). I buy both the one gallon and two gallon sizes. If you are using larger lenses, you might need both. If you need to, separate your camera and lens (put caps on all gear) and use a bag for each unit (flash units too). Now, when you go inside, the moisture collects on the outside of the bag and not on your expensive camera and lens. This situation is the most important thing to consider when doing cold weather shooting.
    Be patient, it may take as much as an hour for things to normalize.

    Q: I don’t have access to this kind of method and I need to do post processing right away, Now what?
    A: Well, you just put your camera and gear back inside your backpack or bag that you brought along outside. The zippers and material of most camera bags work just fine, except it takes a lot longer to normalize. Just do not open your bag once inside the warm area, until you are sure the gear has normalized.
    Post processing? Simple, just remember to remove your CF card before stowing your gear in the bag. Put the CF card in your shirt pocket, it will be fine after you get back inside for a few minutes.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good information, these questions do get asked every year.

    Also, the same condensation issues apply when you are in a hot climate and go from a cool (air conditioned) area, out into the hot humid air.

    A good tip when shooting in the cold, is to have at least a couple batteries and always keep one inside your clothes, close to your body. As the battery in the camera gets cold and starts to die, just switch up the batteries.
     
  3. uberben

    uberben TPF Noob!

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    Great write up!!!!!

    With cold weather shooting I normally only have a problem with my 20d/30d's when i'm shooting in -20F and colder for more then an hour. Then it likes to stop working randomly. I have always been amazed at how much punishment my camera's can handle and keep on working.
     
  4. photogincollege

    photogincollege TPF Noob!

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    Do i see a sticky to be? I vote this to be stickied to stop the threads before they start.
     
  5. Jon, The Elder

    Jon, The Elder TPF Noob!

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    Mike.....you just discovered my main problem with something like this. I was going to mention the Cool air-conditioned environment scenario but I didn't want to create confusion by including too much back and forth.

    photogincollege......I kind of have parts 2 & 3 blocked out, that go into the "hints and Tips" kind of thing.

    Just didn't want to get into feedig the "measurebaters" and nit-pickers.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good idea, in theory. In reality, people don't read the stickes before asking questions. If they were on the ball, they would just use the search feature in the first place. :er: :lol:
     
  7. StreetShark

    StreetShark TPF Noob!

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    Very good! This is very useful to me since I usually shoot my friends snowboarding and I was a little scared about taking my digital slr into the harsh weather.
     
  8. (Ghastly) Krueger

    (Ghastly) Krueger TPF Noob!

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    I undestand film is also affected by low temps... gets rigid instead of flexible and may even break... but I'm unsure at what temp that may happen...
     
  9. Stretch Armstrong

    Stretch Armstrong TPF Noob!

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    Great post and great information!

    I can only daydream about cool weather right now. It is 107F here today and no end in sight. We are breaking records for heat and drought.

    Too hot to do anything but sit and drool:drool:
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Wow, that's HOT.

    My area had the hottest July in recent memory (maybe ever)...but it wasn't that hot.
     
  11. Jon, The Elder

    Jon, The Elder TPF Noob!

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    Looks like it is still a bit early, reckon I'll repost in another month.
     
  12. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you live in Alaska it may be worth wrapping the camera in fabric before looking through the viewfinder to prevent it from burning your face. Think it's unrealistic? Ken Rockwell as dodgy as he is has a lovely picture taken with a D200 in -30degrees.
     

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