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Old Dec 19, 2003, 8:33 AM   #1
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Default Cold weather camera use ?

I have a Canon PowerShot S30 and the manual says the camera shouldn’t be used below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
My questions are:
Is this really true or is Canon just trying to protect themselves?

Some of my friends use their digital cameras (Canons) when it’s below 32, are they doing damage to there cameras?

How cold is too cold? I wanted to take some sunrise pictures this morning but it was 1 (one) degree outside and would have been below zero where I wanted to shoot from. Would I have damaged my camera if I had gone?

Thanks for any and all help.
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Old Dec 19, 2003, 9:22 AM   #2
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I've been using my digital cameras in cold weather for years without issue. The only issue I'm aware of is LCD displays - if your camera is left exposed to freezing whether for many hours the LCD display could freeze and crack. This certainly isn't the case when going out just to take a few shots.
Perhaps there is another issue I'm unaware of though.
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Old Dec 19, 2003, 5:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csd
... The only issue I'm aware of is LCD displays - if your camera is left exposed to freezing whether for many hours the LCD display could freeze and crack. ...
Do you have a link to a source for that? I have heard of a couple of folks in a forum long ago and far away saying they have had their LCD go black in the cold (-40F,-40C), but it worked fine after it had warmed up. I have not had any problems with my old Casio down to -20F (-29C).

I doubt you will harm your camera in any temperature you can stand, but cannot say for sure.

Three major issues with shooting in the cold are:
*) Condensation: put your camera into a plastic bag *BEFORE* you go into a warm place and leave it there untill it warms up. An hour or two is good from -20F. Don't try to keep the camera warm while you are out - let it get cold and stay cold. Much better than the thermal shocks and possible condensation that can come from keeping (e.g.) under your coat and darting it out to shoot. You will keep warmer that way as well.

*) Batteries: NiMH batteries have a very short lifetime in the cold. If your camera uses AAs, get a set or two of disposable lithiums. All batteries loose capacity in the cold, lithiums hold up better than anything else I know of.

*) Fingers: Get some handwarmers and loose mittens. If your fingers get cold, you cannot control the camera well.
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Old Dec 19, 2003, 7:53 PM   #4
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I just wanted to repeat what BillDrew said.

His first point is a serious one. I haven't had trouble, but I've been careful. If you forget and leave the bag in the house, then take the bag out, open it up to make sure all the air leaves (and is replaced by air from the outside.) Then you can put your camera in it. The goal is to let the camera warm up within air with little moisture in it. Cold air holds little moisture, so capture that air in the bag and then seal the camera in the bag with that low-moisture air. Then when it warms up there won't be any moisture within the bag to condense on the camera.

Eric
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Old Dec 19, 2003, 9:35 PM   #5
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Stormrider, I also have the S30 (and love it). Last January, I took my son on a scout camping trip in Northern NJ. During the day the temp got all the way up to 20F, at night, 20 below with wind chill. I used the camera mostly during the day. It performed flawlessly!! I did keep it in it's case in my jacket pocket. I didn't know about the bag trick until coming to this board recently. All in all, you really shouldn't have any problems, except a little more rapid battery drain due to the cold.
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Old Dec 21, 2003, 12:51 PM   #6
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I took pictures at -15 celcius with my Kodak CX6330 and the only problem I noticed was a longer delay when I changed the modes on it (auto, action,close-up, landscape..). The NIHM batteries didn't seem to last less longer than usual and the LCD was fine.
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Old Dec 22, 2003, 9:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillDrew
Quote:
Originally Posted by csd
... The only issue I'm aware of is LCD displays - if your camera is left exposed to freezing whether for many hours the LCD display could freeze and crack. ...
Do you have a link to a source for that?
BillDrew,
I'm glad you called me on this, and I'm glad others jumped in with their experiences. My statement was solely based upon what I was told by freinds as well as a camera store employee. I did some digging around on the web and it seems no one has had a problem that I can find. The only LCD screens I have heard of that are documented as having cracked where on Laptop computers and these were MANY years back. Perhaps they have improved the technology enough now. Once I started thinking about it - I thought of all the places LCD's are today (Cell-Phones, Car installed DVD player monitors, Car-installed GPS Navigation systems, Handheld GPS, PDAs, etc.) so surely its not just digital camera LCDs that are subjected to low temps - and no one seems to be having problems any more with any of these devices - (even with laptops up on Mt Everest).
Perhaps now I can be less paranoid about my digital camera (and can stop worrying about leaving my laptop or PDA in my trunk overnight).
I'll be more careful about posting heresay in the future - will let those of you with more experience talk first.
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Old Dec 22, 2003, 4:59 PM   #8
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Happy you didn't take my comment as a snarl - kind hard to question a statement without it sounding like a personal attack.

I recall seeing someone (perhaps your camera store's cerk's cousin) saying that LCDs will crack because the are Liquid and liquids expand when they freeze, breaking their case. Water is one of the very few liquids that expands when it freezes. I suspect that is the origin of the cracked LCD story, not anyone's experience. If LCDs had that problem in the cold, they couldn't be sold or even shipped through anywhere much north of Florida and southern Texas.
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Old Dec 23, 2003, 1:56 AM   #9
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a trick i use is to keep the camera strapped around my neck and the camera dangling between me and my coat. body heat keeps the camera quite warm.

When that hassn't been possible, i've still managed to use my c-750 in sub freezing weather down to about -10F, but instead of a case i used a stocking hat as protector-not that it would keep in any heat as the camera has essentially none other than what it's got when you leave the warmth of home or vehicle.
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