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Old Oct 2, 2007, 3:11 PM   #1
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I'm planning to purchase a new digital camera and I'm considering compactcameras with 6-8 mpxl with ultra zoom--optical zoomm 10-12x. Some of the activities will be outside in winter when ambient temps could be as low as -15 to -20 degrees Far. One camera that I'm particularly interested in is the Canon Power Shot S3 IS, but the specs list minimum temps as 32 degrees F and this was also the case with 2-3 others that I'm considering. Are the minimum temps listed in the specs accurate? Are there any similar cameras that are designed to work at low temps? What do you recommend to meet these conditions?
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Old Oct 2, 2007, 3:27 PM   #2
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I've used my Panasonic FZ30 and my Pentax K100D DSLR in subzero temperatures without difficulty. I suspect that most cameras would work just as well. I think the main reason they give the minimum temperature is because there probably is a higher likelyhood of something going wrong in low temperatures, like perhaps moisture getting on or into the body and then freezing causing parts to break, and if that happens it won't be covered by the warranty.

Here are a couple articles about how to take care of your camera in bad weather:

http://cameras.about.com/od/cameratips/a/protect.htm

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,11...1/article.html
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Old Oct 2, 2007, 4:25 PM   #3
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In addition to the points that Corpsyraised, a few others come to my mind.

First, lubricants become stiffer as the temperature goes down, so the mechanical components of a camera have to overcome the rigidity of the lubricants. Zooming, autofocusing, and controlling the aperture will take more work, and could damage the camera motor. At the very least, you might have problems with exposure because the aperture may not close to the proper setting.

Second, batteries don't last as long in cold temperatures.

Third, the different materials that are used to make a camera, expand and contract at different rates, so if the camera is exposed to extreme cold, the steel lens barrel could contract more than the glass and damage the lens elements or jam the moving parts. In addition, the damage may not be apparent until the camera has returned to it's normal operating temperature.

But whatI see as most significant is that the specified minimum temperature is 32 degrees. This tells me that, though extreme temperature will likely causeseveral problems, the first problems you'll encounter probably havesomething to do with water freezing.
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Old Oct 4, 2007, 11:27 AM   #4
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I think TCav has a good point that temp limitationsare connected in part to water freezing. The regular (weatherproof) Olympus Stylus series of cameras have lower limit of 32F while the waterproof SW series of Styluses have a lower limit of 14F.
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Old Oct 4, 2007, 12:15 PM   #5
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coloradoice wrote:
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What do you recommend to meet these conditions?
Off the top of my head, you could keep the camera inside a couple of layers of your clothing. When you need to use it, take it out, use it, and put it back right away.

But don't keep it under too many layers, or moisture from your body (especially if you're engaged in any rigorous activity) will condense on, and especially in, the camera. That will get you into trouble.

And, as ac.smith points out, there are cameras that are better able to handle the cold.

Are you going out into -15 to -20 degree temperatures because you want to?

Are you talking about temperature or wind chill? Because cameras don't get wind chill.
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Old Oct 4, 2007, 5:05 PM   #6
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TCav wrote:
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Off the top of my head, you could keep the camera inside a couple of layers of your clothing. When you need to use it, take it out, use it, and put it back right away.

But don't keep it under too many layers, or moisture from your body (especially if you're engaged in any rigorous activity) will condense on, and especially in, the camera. That will get you into trouble.


Are you talking about temperature or wind chill? Because cameras don't get wind chill.
You first point, a very good suggestion, that's my start point although I lose interest in photograhy very rapidly as the temp drops below 32:-)

Thanks for making your second point. I have encountered many alleged technicians in a broad range of fields (automotive systems, weapons systems, etc.) claiming that part X failed because the wind chill was Y. That wind chill is a biological effect was beyond their grasp.
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Old Oct 4, 2007, 5:14 PM   #7
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ac.smith wrote:
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I have encountered many alleged technicians in a broad range of fields (automotive systems, weapons systems, etc.) claiming that part X failed because the wind chill was Y. ...
Weapons Systems?

Is that what happens when you try to lick an M-16 when it's 40 below? Wind Chill?
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Old Oct 5, 2007, 9:39 AM   #8
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TCav wrote:
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Weapons Systems?

Is that what happens when you try to lick an M-16 when it's 40 below? Wind Chill?
I think that's a biological effect:-). The incident I had in mind was a claim, by someone that should know better, that a GL barrel burst because the barrel material was brittle due to the wind chill being 0F (ambient 20F). That weapon systemhad been tested during development to -60F. The barrel burst because it was obstructed by either being dented or foreign matter in the barrel.
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Old Oct 5, 2007, 9:41 PM   #9
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The issue that everyone who shoots in low temperatures will agree on is condensation. When going from cold to warm put your camera in a plastic bag and keep it there until it has come up to ambient temperature. You will see many folks recomending zip-lock bags, but I don't like those - they become hard to deal with when your fingers are cold. I prefer a bag that is long compared to your camera (a bread bag) that you can simply twist the long end to close off the moist air. You are trying to stop air movement, not dealing with throwing the camera into a swimming pool.

Put the camera into the bag *BEFORE* going into the warm area.

I don't like the idea of trying to keep your camera warm by keeping it under your jacket. Just let the camera get cold and stay cold until you bring it inside (see above). Transfering it from warm-cold-warm-cold-warm-cold-... just seems to be asking for trouble. Of course I am thinking of going from cold (-40F or -40C), not just cool like 0F (-17C).

The really photogenic situations for winter photography seem to occur at fairly warm temeratures (just a bit below freezing) so snow falling off the trees and condensation are the real issues.

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Old Oct 7, 2007, 1:27 AM   #10
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I actually live in an area where temp. during the winter , in January sometimes averages minus 25 or so for about six weeks...with occasional forays into the -35 to more than -40 range.

-35 to -40 is nothing to worry about when you're taking pictures..you just don't bother taking pictures..you run from one place to another...you don't want to tarry when it's this cold. So generally no pictures at this temp and yes cameras, lens , etc..would freeze up pretty quickly.

Brittle..we had our storm door, which was made in Iowa...snap it's hinges. The Iowan comapny said it must of been the -41 to -45 we were experincing...they didn't get it that cold down there...so brittle happens with some metals in extreme cold.

-15 to -20. I take pictures outside..I either keep the camera in my camera bag, which is insulated a bit...or if I'm out longer , under a loose parka and zip out quickly when I take a picture.

I have layers of clothes on in the winter and it's a dry cold...so the lens doesn't seem to condense up..till I bring it indoors from the cold..then it does...so I let it sit with the cap off for a bit.
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