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Old Jan 20, 2010, 12:22 AM   #1
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Default Hints or tricks for extremely cold weather DSLR use?

Might someone have some hints or tricks about using a DSLR in extremely cold weather conditions? Zero and below ... with wind chill. (Canadian resident)

How to keep the camera (and the photographer ) from freezing, locking up, fogging or otherwise malfunctioning ... etc.

Nothing too costly as the person in question ... a friend of mine ... is an enthusiast but not a pro ...
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 12:47 AM   #2
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Clean your windows before winter starts, and shoot from indoors.

OK, the camera isn't going to be too bothered, other than the LCD will get somewhat sluggish, and battery life may not be too good. (Li-ion may not be as susceptible to cold, though)
It is difficult to operate the small controls on these things with gloves on, so pick a shooting mode beforehand, and you should only have to worry about the shutter button.
The biggest concern is when returning to heated space after being out for a time. Condensation will get into the internals of the camera and lens, as well as the outside, and can be tricky to get rid of. When going in from outdoors, put the camera in a sealed plastic bag. I also use several small dessicant packs in case moisture does get past the seal, or small holes show up along the folds. Allow the camera to warm up at least a half hour, or more when colder.
Don't stick your tongue on the camera to see if it is cold!

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Old Jan 20, 2010, 4:02 AM   #3
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Yes, there is nothing much more than batteries. If they get cold, stick them into your pants (lol) or somewhere else to get them warm. Then they can operate a little bit longer. Condensation should not affect batteries.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 6:50 AM   #4
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The biggest problem is condensation, either from going outside or returning inside. Another consideration is that batteries don't last as long when they're cold, so you might want to bring along some spares.

Lastly, LCD displays get dimmer and will cut off altogether when they get too cold, making it hard for you to use the camera. But when the camera warms up, the LCD displays will operate as usual.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 10:04 AM   #5
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I have done quite a bit of cold weather shooting and one of the tricks I use is to wear a light jacket under a heavier one, I keep the camera under the outer jacket, then take it out to shoot and then put it back under again. That way, the camera never gets to cold and when I get home, I leave it in the garage or laundry room for an hour or so, then bring it in the house. I've never had a problem with condensation doing this. As far as the batteries, follow above advice and you won't have any problems with them.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 11:20 AM   #6
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Living in Norway, I do a lot of cold-photography, both night- and day-time. Most cameras work fine in the cold. Funny enough my batteries work fine as well.

This is a typical example of the kind of shots I do. I can stay outside in minus 18 C for up to two / tree hours leaving my camera on the tripod and take photos - no problem!

If you use your view-finder, be aware of where your exhaling goes. Your breath is full of humidity, and breathing close upto your camera might introduce instant condensation on cold parts. While you have your camera close by your eyes inhale and keep your breath. Let the exhale go somewhere else / into a different direction. My glasses usually get iced up looking throug the EVF and breathing slowly, letting the air out in controlled 'puffs'. So, try and exhale when taking your eyes off the VF.

Once out in the open, let your camera get cold and keep it cold until you get home, do not enter / re-enter the camera to warm places trying to keep it warm and out again into the cold. This cold-warm-cold-warm makes the condensation-problem worse.

If you are out picture-hunting from place to place, keep your padded camera-bag on your shoulders, take out the camera for shots (do NOT zip up your lid on the bag while shooting, thus letting the cold enter your bag), shoot, and when going back to your car for a change of scenery, put the by now cold camera back into your equally cold camera-bag, zipp up and put it into the trunk of your car (not into the warmth of the cars interior). When arriving at a new scene, you have a cold camera in your bag - which is good. No condensation!

When finnished with my shoot, I take out my memory-card (so that I can look at the shots right away, when I get home) put the camera back into my, by now, icecold padded camera-bag, zipp up and leave the camera in the bag for about 2-3 hours when I come home. I usually put my bag down on the floor in my hallway (which is a little cooler than the living-room and not so humid) and leave it there. Do not open the zipper when inside the house for the first 2-3 hours (depending on the bag, isolation-wise)!

What happens is, your bag isolates the cold camera and the temperature inside the bag - and finally your camera as well - raises so slowly as to create no problem with condensation whatsoever.

Good luck!

Last edited by Walter_S; Jan 20, 2010 at 1:24 PM. Reason: typing-errors and some spelling errors too! :o/
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 11:29 AM   #7
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I did some shooting a week ago when it was 17 degrees outside. I was using an extreme III card and a fresh charged battery and yes the battery didn't last as many frames. Once the camera got used to the cold weather it was fine. The first few images has condensation on the front of the lens. I let it warm up in the house for 20 minutes before I put it back in the camera bag

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Old Jan 20, 2010, 1:10 PM   #8
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I agree with Walter - let your camera get cold and stay cold. Moving it from cold to warm to cold to warm to cold to ... is asking for trouble. I did have the LCD on one camera go strange at -40F (-40C) but it recovered just fine when it warmed up.

Just to emphasize what several folks have said, the most important thing is to avoid condensation in and on your camera.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 3:14 PM   #9
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A little addition I do - I have a pair of lined leather gloves that fit relatively snugly on my hands and allow me to operate the camera. They aren't heavy enough for wearing around hiking when the temperature is well below freezing so I add another, larger and heavier pair of gloves (that are too awkward to operate the camera with)that fit over the lighter pair. Then I can take them off to shoot, put them on again when I'm walking. That way my hands are never exposed to the elements while operating the camera, and the extra layer of gloves keep them warm.
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Old Jan 21, 2010, 10:08 PM   #10
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Thanks one and all for the hints and tricks ...
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