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Thread: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

  1. #1
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    Default Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Hello everyone! I should be heading to Sweden for a student exchange programme in the early half of next year, and I'll definitely travel up North to capture photos of the aurora borealis aka northern lights. My equipment will be a D90 + kit lens + Tokina 12-24 F4 lens. I was wondering how well will DSLRs - lens and the camera bodies - perform at sub-zero temperatures and would like to seek feedback from fellow CS-ers on this. I'm seeking recommendations too for a cheap tripod that can support the weight of the D90 + Tokina (it's heaver than the kit lens) and survive the cold harsh climate too.

    Also, I read somewhere that you need to store your equipment in a bag with the outside temperature in order to prevent condensation, how is this done? You go outside, gather a bag full of air, then put your equipment inside? Many thanks in advance!
    Last edited by blue_quartz; 6th September 2008 at 09:19 PM.
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Wow, how old are you? You get to go Sweden.

    Would advise you to get a good tripod such as Benro, and not a cheap one, if possible.

    Put the camera in a zip lock bag (air tight) while outside. With the zip lock bag still tight, bring it indoor, wait for the temperature inside the bag to 'warm-up' then open the ziplock bag.

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    Member gymak90's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Plus if you want to survive in that cold environment for long hours, make sure you have gloves at all times. The gloves shouldn't be too thick, so you still can feel the shutter button. Get long socks, boots, stuff your trousers into the boots. Don't wear cotton clothes, because if you sweat, cotton traps the sweat and you'll feel cold inside.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Do a search. There have already been 5-10 threads discussing using DSLR cameras in sub-zero temperatures.
    Alpha

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    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Get sponge or rubber sleeves for the tripod legs, the metal will be very cold and not suitable to holding with unprotected hands.

    Also spare batteries are important. They generally dun last well in the cold.
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rashkae View Post
    Do a search. There have already been 5-10 threads discussing using DSLR cameras in sub-zero temperatures.
    Whoops ok... I'll go search too then. Thanks!
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    Senior Member egnaro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    get a handgrip (not battery grip) in case it get too cold and u might drop your cam when your hand turn numb, get as much as original batt (i heard some of the 3rd party batt doesnt last, correct me if I am wrong) .
    Life is like Photography, to improve, you have to keep shooting!

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    Moderator Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Camera: Check your manual about environmental conditions. That should give you some guidance. Cameras can stand much more than what most people assume. Condensation is a topic but don't panic. It's not a threat that your cam will stop working the moment the lens fogs a bit. In contrast to Singapore condensation will occur once you step INTO buildings. Keep your camera in the bag and let it warm up slowly. Ziploc might prevent the fogging but it will take much longer since the air inside the ziploc acts as thermal insulation. During Winter time the humidity in general is lower, inside as well as outside.
    Batteries: Keep them warm. Low temperatures will reduce the capacity of the batteries, they won't last very long. Have enough spare batteries and keep them inside the jacket close to your body.
    Tripod: Don't worry about subzero, it's only inconvenient to touch cold metal. As long as your don't have wet hands and it's -20 there is nothing to be afraid of. SLIK400 tripods have foam grips.
    The best advice against getting cold and numb is: keep moving! Not sure if a hand grip is a good idea since it will 'lock' your hand in one position attached to the cold camera. Have the strap around your neck and keep going.
    Also, have some cream and lip balm at hand, the cold and dry air will make your skin dry and crack very soon. Moisturizing is most important, UV won't be any issue.

    Most important: have a safe trip and enjoy! Don't worry too much, check with the local people once you are there. I'm sure there are photographers as well and they will help you.

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    Moderator ortega's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?


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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    hahah, its gonna be a good trip thats for sure.
    one good advice is not to get too kiasu, that you hold yourself back from shooting!
    also, i think you could invest in a good sturdy travel tripod, esp for the long esp at night, really beautiful there!
    bring extra batteries...
    and just on the general keep ur gear dry from condensation.

    Have lotsa fun staying up! and share ur pics when u get back!

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    Moderator ortega's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    share your pictures while you are still there
    don't wait till you come back

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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Octarine View Post
    Camera: Check your manual about environmental conditions. That should give you some guidance. Cameras can stand much more than what most people assume. Condensation is a topic but don't panic. It's not a threat that your cam will stop working the moment the lens fogs a bit. In contrast to Singapore condensation will occur once you step INTO buildings. Keep your camera in the bag and let it warm up slowly. Ziploc might prevent the fogging but it will take much longer since the air inside the ziploc acts as thermal insulation. During Winter time the humidity in general is lower, inside as well as outside
    Thanks for the info! What "bag" are you referring to in "keep your camera in the bag..." if you're not referring to the ziplocs? One more thing which I don't quite get it is stepping outside vs. stepping inside. So far from what I gathered in various sources, stepping inside involves putting body + lens in a ziploc bag of sorts to prevent condensation. Sure, no problem understanding. For stepping outside, do I also need to apply this approach? On the point of humidity, I don't suppose I need to get a dry cabinet there to keep my lens since the air is already pretty much dry enough huh?

    Once this trip is confirmed, I will definitely share the pics! It's six months, so it's going to be quite a backlog for me if I only upload when I'm back in Singapore!
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    Moderator Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by blue_quartz View Post
    Thanks for the info! What "bag" are you referring to in "keep your camera in the bag..." if you're not referring to the ziplocs?
    Just a normal camera bag or backpack. As mentioned I don't see a need for ziploc. Normal camera bags are not airtight so the warm air will go in slowly and warm up the camera. If you want to shoot inside (museum or so) give some time for the cam to warm up. Even if you get some fogging, don't panic. Just wait and let the condensation go away as the cam warms up.

    Quote Originally Posted by blue_quartz View Post
    One more thing which I don't quite get it is stepping outside vs. stepping inside. So far from what I gathered in various sources, stepping inside involves putting body + lens in a ziploc bag of sorts to prevent condensation. Sure, no problem understanding. For stepping outside, do I also need to apply this approach?
    No, not necessary when stepping outside. Condensation only occurs on cold surfaces when brought into warmer air. But your camera is warm, nothing to worry about.
    If you wear spects you'll have a pretty good 'sensor' at your nose. If the spects stay clear there's nothing to worry. If they fog just wait a bit with your cam. I don't see a need for ziploc bags when going inside, unless you enter the tropical section of a Zoo or Botanical Garden. If in doubt just check with local photographers, they know best

    Quote Originally Posted by blue_quartz View Post
    On the point of humidity, I don't suppose I need to get a dry cabinet there to keep my lens since the air is already pretty much dry enough huh?
    Definetly not necessary. Dry cabinets are not usual there, the average humidity is well within the range of what the camera can stand. This is too low for fungus to grow.
    Check here for some more information about the climate in Sweden.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    There are some specialised photo gloves from lowepro which you can use.Really helps alot in the cold.Amazon sells some but I got mine from ebay:http://www.amazon.com/Lowepro-Lycra-.../dp/B0000AE6C7As the D90 is not weather sealed (correct me if I am wrong),Make sure you keep it safe from snow when not in use.
    Don't bother with ziplock bags.Fogging does not cause much problems.Just let the condensation go away as Octarine mentioned.Have brought a camera from a -30 degree celcius environment to a 15 degree one without any problems caused by condensation

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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Generally fogging is not a problem in Europe (although I'll confess I've never been to Sweden), their indoor areas are not heated and humid enough to cause fogging. Things may be different if you move from the winter night into somewhere packed with people (body heat and moisture), as others have said, you'll just have to judge for yourself.

    I chanced upon this pair of "photographer's gloves" in Yodobashi photos in Japan which I think would be very useful in cold weather. They cut the thumb and first finger half open like this:


    So that when you want to fiddle with the knobs and buttons on your camera you can flip them open:


    And there's even a bit of velcro to help hold the tips open, though it's poorly done and not really necessary:


    The left glove is just normal without any openings. You could consider DIY-ing something along this line with a nice warm pair of gloves suitable for the Swedish winter. It's much better than having to pull off your glove every time you want to fiddle with the buttons on your camera.

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    Default Re: Shooting in cold temperatures, advice?

    Thanks for all the comprehensive information! I feel more secured and, in a way, confident now shooting in cold temperatures!
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