How to cope with freezing temperatures

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Briar, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. Briar

    Briar SC Hall of Famer

    Oct 27, 2010
    I'm going to Krakow, Poland and surrounding area in December for the Christmas markets and some general slipping about on the snow. The temps drop further there than they do here in Scotland. I saw -20 is possible. I can't imagine my leaving the comforts of the fireplace if they do drop that low but it did get me wondering if I should buy a weatherproof camera or make best with what I have. What do you think? Is there any tips you can give me on winter photography? Or if you know of any good weatherproof compacts. Much appreciated in advance for your thoughts.
  2. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    Mittens ... Don't forget to wear your mittens.
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  3. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    I think most cameras should be fine if you keep them close to your body and only take them out for shooting, and then quickly put them back again... but I've never tried below -10 degrees or so.
    Waterproof compacts should do well even in very cold temperatures (usually rated to -10 degrees C but probably capable of withstanding colder), but you'll sacrifice on image quality. Best IQ are probably Panasonic TSx series, Sony TXxx series (but with touch screen, difficult to impossible to operate with gloves) or Olympus TG-1.
    Of the larger cameras, Olympus OM-D without a doubt. I read a report on DPR's forums of a guy who had done summit climbs on some Rocky Mountain glaciers and had it fully exposed (hanging outside of his coat) in a blizzard, and it functioned perfectly.
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  4. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Well it would be a perfect excuse should you need one to buy an e-m5 plus kit zoom as they are weathersealed.
    Or buy a film camera and lots of film as neither will be affected by cold like a digi ...
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  5. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Find out your camera's tolerances as far as temperature and remember to let it thaw out slowly when you bring it back in so you don't have condensation complications. And what Gary said, dress warm!
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  6. Panut

    Panut SC Regular

    May 8, 2012
    That could be, but actually, I would advice the opposite. When shooting, the lens will cool down, no matter what. If you then put it under your jacket close to your body (warm, and humid), you'll get condensation on your lens, no doubt. Been there, done that.

    About temperature on general - I've been out in -20 C and more with GF3 with no problems at all. (those are very common temperatures here in Finland in the winter) The screen update might slow down a bit, depending on its technology, but exposures still work just fine.
    What will be a problem is the battery: colder the temperature, less the battery output. So you'll run out if battery MUCH faster than normally.

    So, what I have been doing has been:
    - keep the camera cool, in outmost pocket or hanging to avoid condensation
    - when not shooting, take the battery out and keep it in a warm place (I've had it either inside my glove or in the most intimate jeans pocket I can find :)

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  7. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    good point about the batteries. They just lose their charge if you look at them sideways in the cold. Must keep the cells warm. If you're not going to regularly NEED a cold weather camera...consider renting one.
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  8. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    Do they make a battery that sits in your pocket and connects to your camera via a wire? It strikes me as a useful cold weather accessory.
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  9. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    +1 When I am out doing something active in the winter, I usually have a few layers. The outer layer usually is really breathable, so I either have the camera just under, or in that jacket's pocket. That way, it stays fairly cold, but I keep the snow off. I usually keep a spare battery in an inner-layer pocket. I have had both the LX3 and E-P3 out in -15F and all was good. I didn't notice a crazy battery drain, but I was also not shooting continuously.

    One other tip I read, was that it was recommended that you put the camera in a plastic bag, or something that would hold air, as you were going out into the cold, or back inside a warm environment. The idea was that you would slow the temperature transition, which would give you less condensation problems. I haven't quite gone to that extent, but I do try to throw the camera in my camera bag when going in/out.
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  10. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    I keep my 450d inside the flap of my coat but not buried too deep for the same reason Panu says, lens fog and ultimately condensation. A second battery in pocket but I don't open and close the battery door unless I am swapping out. I don't change lenses at all. The camera is not weather sealed. I generally don't shoot in bad weather with it so no rain or heavy/melting snow unless I am covered. When I get back inside I leave the camera by a door or window so it remains cooler and warms more slowly. I heard the bag tip Kyle is speaking of and tried it, it seemed to have no effect one way or another but as long as the camera was warmed gradually there was no problem. The memory card if you want your photos can be taken out right away.
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  11. Briar

    Briar SC Hall of Famer

    Oct 27, 2010
    I might just take my old but still loved ep2 with me with lots of batteries. My husband finds it funny that my first thought is protecting my camera but haven't considered what clothes to take with me! Note to self: must buy mittens!

    I'm not planning on replacing my ep3 for a while yet so the omd is out of the question. I was tempted a little by the Olympus tough tg-1 for its roughty-toughness! Considering all the rain we've had in the UK this year at least I'd know my camera would float home after a soggy photo expedition up the hills. Not sure on the image quality though. It might satisfy my need to push the button when I'm out and about somewhere interesting in really bad weather.

    If you use a small waterproof camera please share your experiences and pictures. I am curious to see how well they perform.
  12. Xuereb

    Xuereb SC Veteran

    Nov 5, 2010
    W. Australia
    I have the opposite problem: out and about in 40 degrees C.
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  13. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Umbrellas are good even in winter Karen, to block wind or keep out the elements. Then the rest will be not letting your camera turn into an ice brick or sweat up. And don't forget the mittens and double socks! When your feet get cold everything feels miserable.