Camera care for trip to Finland northern lights photography


Nov 15, 2009
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#1
Hi! all. My sister is making a year end trip to Finland to capture the northen lights. Need advice on how to care for the camera to prevent damage. Her camera is the Sony NEX F3 with 16mm f2.8 & 18-55mm kit lens. I've never travelled to such a cold location therefore is unable to advice her. Need advice such as how to prevent camera malfunction during trip. Lens condensation, how to change lens in those cold temperature. What to watch out when capturing northern lights.

Appreciate everyone's help in advance.
 

Nov 15, 2009
386
1
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#3

JacePhoto

Senior Member
Oct 1, 2007
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New York City
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#4
Hi! all. My sister is making a year end trip to Finland to capture the northen lights. Need advice on how to care for the camera to prevent damage. Her camera is the Sony NEX F3 with 16mm f2.8 & 18-55mm kit lens. I've never travelled to such a cold location therefore is unable to advice her. Need advice such as how to prevent camera malfunction during trip. Lens condensation, how to change lens in those cold temperature. What to watch out when capturing northern lights.

Appreciate everyone's help in advance.
I think a Nex F3 is not a prosumer level camera so it is important to take good care of it.

I think the biggest challenge will be to use it too long in the open. I think it is a good idea to protect it from the wind and snow.

I used a D800 in Alaska and Iceland a couple of years back and I find it being stretched to the limits.

For Aurora settings, follow this:
Aurora
ISO 1600
20 - 25 seconds
F2.8

She may want to avoid carrying a heavy tripod. So using a Manfrotto table tripod will help. Put it on a hard surface like on a car or the cement floor will do.

In terms of aurora pictures, having a foreground helps.



 

pkong1008

Senior Member
Oct 15, 2008
873
4
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#5
I went to Tromso/Norway in March this year. This is a summary of what I got on the internet. Hope it helps. Wasn't as lucky as JacePhoto to capture so nice shots as it rained and snowed most of the nights.

Northern Lights Photography
Take off UV Filter
Mark infinity point on lens or focus to infinity
Turn on Noise Reduction for Long Exposure On.
If shooting RAW, Turn Off Noise Reduction for High ISO
Preferably shoot RAW than Jpeg
Use Auto White Balance.
ISO 800 to 1600
Use Aperture Mode if shutter speed is less than 30 seconds. Use the biggest aperture of the lens.
Manual Mode- Bulb Mode if shutter speed is more than 30 seconds. Open to the biggest aperture of lens.
If f1.4, about 15 seconds exposure. Always check Histogram.
Manually focused on Infinity
Flip out LCD monitor
Use sturdy tripod
Wired remote shutter controller
Fully charged battery. Bring spare ones and keep in pocket to keep warm
Tethering device and power bank if you have
Head lamp with red light tilted downwards.
Close Optical or EVF View Finder
Try not to breathe into LCD. Hold breath when close to camera.
Tape any light emitting from camera.
The general idea is to shoot so that you have a well exposed histogram. Once you shoot your first test exposure, you should get a good idea if it’s too bright or too dark and compensate accordingly. Generally the light from the aurora comes through quite nicely but any foreground landscape will be much darker. If not exposed properly, the shadow detail will be very hard to recover. Some photographers sometimes shoot the aurora at their optimal settings, then later capture a much longer exposure to get the maximum detail in the foreground. On occasion when you have a foreground object such as a rock very close to camera, some photographers even shoot multiple photographs at varying focal distances and then focus stack the result in photoshop.
Of course, it’s quite difficult to compose a picture in the dark. My personal trick is to boost the ISO to the max so I can take a brief 2-3 second shot and understand what I am framing. Once I am happy, I can bring down the settings to their optimal values. If you can level your tripod as well as your camera, you should then be able to swing the camera around as necessary and photograph to your heart’s content.
Bring large zip lock bags to store camera and lens after shooting to avoid condensation on camera and lens.
 

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