View Full Version : Cold weather?

Kevin McRae
02-18-2011, 12:39 AM
Hey so I'm hoping someone can give me some advice. For the next week I'm going to be in Nunavut. I will be outside for 24/7 and want to bring my DSLR. I'm going to keep my batteries in my inside pocket for warmth and my camera/lenses will be in a bag on the back of my snowmobile. Should I bring my camera into the tent at night? The tents get pretty warm....it will get about 0C in the tent. Is it bad to bring the camera into the warmth of the tent or should I leave it outside? I don't want condensation all over my camera. Will the cold affect the LCD screen?


02-18-2011, 01:06 AM
I'm afraid I don't have all the answers here but I think if you check your manual it should mention something about operating temperatures. I've had my Canon Rebel XSi out in -10C and -20C for a few hours here and there but I never left it out 24/7 so I'm not sure if that would make a difference.

You are right to be concerned about condensation in the tent. If you want to bring it inside then you should get a plastic bag (like a big Ziplock bag) and put the camera in the bag and seal it before entering the tent. This will let it warm up without getting covered in condensation.

Maybe someone else will have better advice.

02-18-2011, 03:55 AM
Tomorrow's high of -26 is far too severe to be leaving your camera out long enough to get that cold then expecting it to work without damaging the camera or lens. My suggestion is you leave it at home. Take a P&S and keep it next to your body inside your coat. It will stay warm enough to use and not get cold enough to cause humidity to condense on it. At night it goes at the bottom inside your sleeping bag.

For your future info,,,in other circumstances if you are going to be using your camera in cold weather and the bag and equipment will get close to freezing or, you are going from a cooler temperature to a warm one in a very humid climate, like getting off of an air conditioned airplane in a tropical location, do not take your camera out of the bag for at least a couple of hours. The rapid temperature change will cause condensation. Just ask anyone who wears glasses what happens when the plane lands and they open the airplane doors in some place like Antigua. From personal experience I can tell you the effect is immediate. You can't see because of the moisture on your glasses. Leave the camera in the bag until the contents become properly aclimatized. The padded bag will act as an insulator and the equipment inside will slowly come up to temperature. The Dew Point is an effect based on temperature, humidity and pressure so there is no one good temperature spread to quote as being OK. Leave it alone until it gets up to the air temperature. (very cold air conditioned rooms will do the same thing. Just be patient.)

Again, for Nunavut, leave the DSLR at home until you make a trip during which you can keep it at a reasonable temperature. And have a nice time next week.

02-18-2011, 07:12 AM
As for your question on the lcd screen, yes the cold MAY affect your screen, but it will have to be around -40 to -50 to get it to really affect it. We have been out in -35 and no effect at all. As for taking camera into tent at night, don't worry so much as it will be in there all night and it definitely have time to climatize. Is your camera bag padded, as this will be sufficient insulation when travelling on sled. If you do use bags when coming into tent try the thicker freezer bags loosely tied, as the thinner ziplocs sealed tight will actually cause condensation when they themselves warm up.
You also did not mention what camera body/lens you are using, ie weather sealed or not makes a HUGE difference.
See also, this article. 7D #1 Weather Sealing (http://canonfieldreviews.com/7d-1-weather-sealing/)

Wicked Dark
02-18-2011, 08:29 AM
I can't really add to what's already been said about camping and prolonged cold temperature exposure, but I will add that I use chemical handwarmers to keep my batteries warm during an all day shoot. When the one in the camera gets too cold, I just swap it out with a warm one and cycle them.

02-18-2011, 10:26 AM
Andrew gives good prudent and safe advice..... but if it were me I'd still bring the DSLR, no way would i go to the arctic with a PS only. :cool:
Follow the acclimatization advice and you should be fine imo.

02-18-2011, 01:10 PM
Keep in mind you said you were outside 24/7. Other than at night I presume. I had to take that to mean there's no house or vehicle to pop in and out of. Your camera will work fine in that case because while it is exposed to cold temperature for short periods of time it really isn't getting that cold. If what you say is true this isn't some jaunt from home to the local forest for a few hours. If your camera is outside as you say and it gets to -26 I believe you WILL have at least degraded operation. Electronics, mirrors, shutters, batteries, nothing works that well, including you. Expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic have problems and they go in the summertime. If you're set on taking it then do some searching and ask the experts. People who have already been there. Arctic photographers websites, blogs, etc. Call one. See what kind of problems, if any, that they had and determine the best way to mitigate the risk. Keep in mind most of them shoot in summer so be particular about what you are asking or looking form. If you can't keep it at a reasonable temperature then properly prepare if you can. And good luck. I hope everything goes well and we see some fabulous shots. (You're from Manitoba. You should be able to just walk out the door and get Arctic-like shots. Haven't had enough of winter yet?):fingerscr

02-18-2011, 08:23 PM
found this on model mayhem:

I shoot with Canon, so I won't be able to recommend you the camera.

However, here is the universal thing that applies for shooting in the cold weather:

- Get extra batteries and keep it under the coat on your body.
- If the batteries die, change them and put against your body - chances are they got cold
- Buy hands warmers in any outdoor store. CHoose the ones with adhesive surface - not only they stick to the camera better (but you still would want to wrap something around), but they are of a better quality. Those, if it's not windy, will hold a temperature for up to 8 hours (depending on the quality).
- "Pre-cool" your equipment - do not keep it warm as recommended. Throw it in the freezer before shooting.
- What is really important (and I know of cases when people did ruin the equipment), after shooting in the cold weather, put the camera in a coupel of ziplocks so it goes to the room tepmerature inside. If you don't have time to fiddle with that for whatever reason after the shoot, throw cameras in the freezer.
- Use the handwarmers around the lens if you don't change your focus too often.
- this is a funny one, but will save you a lot of frustration - breath through a snorkel when around the camera, especially if it's cold and humid. Try to put the other end of snorkel under the scarf or something. Sure, you'd provide a lot of entertainment, but I know many people leave when their ground glass gets frosted, but I can shoot for hours.

source here (http://www.modelmayhem.com/po.php?thread_id=539189&page=1)

and this on the same page:

"Check out the temperature range for Canon DSLRs. You will find the factory rating is:

Working Temperature Range 0-45 C / 32-113 F"

02-21-2011, 11:28 PM
Kevin, one of the members of another forum I frequent posted photos taken in the mountains during some cold weather so I inquired as to how he made out regarding camera operability. No problems were encountered and they were at around -30 celcius. I don't know for how long the camera was exposed to that but with he said you shouldn't have any problems. Certainly not what I've experienced. I used to use a Nikon FM so when the batteries crapped out I could keep shooting until the film got too stiff. Like I mentioned above, National Geographics had problems in Antarctica. Good luck and hopefully you'll have some good shots and be our cold weather expert for the future.

02-22-2011, 07:14 AM
Same findings as we have had in our experience Andrew. These newest digitals are a lot tougher than most give credit for.
My husband and myself frequently shoot in -25 to -35 conditions. We will leave cameras sitting on tripods, in the wind for 2-3 hrs. at a time while we sometimes run back and forth to shelter out of the wind.
The only thing that I forgot to mention is you DO NOT want to keep camera/lenses warm between shoots. Just keep in padded bag while travelling and it will be at same temp as air to be shooting in.
Kevin seems to already know this by his first post, but have spare batteries and keep them warm between shoots.
(Have never had a single problem re. cameras, with the cold yet.:fingerscr)

P.S. Kevin, we want to see some pics of your adventure when we get back.;)

02-22-2011, 09:38 AM
One variable that hasn't been mentioned here is camera model. Higher end camera models have better "weather-sealing" and that helps.

02-22-2011, 01:50 PM
Mentioned weather sealing and model in my first post Marko.

Kevin McRae
03-03-2011, 09:22 PM

So I am back from Nunavut after 4 days of flight delays. We managed to drive 150 soldiers over 300KM from Churchill, MB to Arviat NU by snowmobile. It was quite the experience to drive across the Arctic Ocean and pass the tree line into the Arctic Circle. The weather did get quite extreme with windchills over -65C. We were not able to travel one day due to a whiteout which was a very interesting experience. Our whole platoon's snowmobiles were almost completely buried half way through the blizzard. Since there is nothing to break the wind the snow accumlates very fast when it hits an object. All of my kit was buried in snow, it gets in every pocket and case you can imagine.

I ended up just bringing my point and shoot camera. I didn't want to risk damaging my gear (I already lost a camera and a few lenses in the summer in a canoe incident) and I had very limited space. I focused more on bringing warm and dry clothes rather than room for my DSLR.

Here are a couple photos I shot with my point and shoot however.




It was a whiteout.


There are about 25 snowmobiles under the snow.


03-03-2011, 10:38 PM
Wow! And I was thinking Halifax was cold! Brrrrrr.... That point and shoot lets you tell a chilly story. That first one is freakin' awesome!

03-04-2011, 01:04 AM
Cool set! Love the soldier in the whiteout!

03-04-2011, 06:55 PM
Those are amazing pictures with a point and shoot. Love them all. Well done.