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Author Topic: Tips needed for shooting in the cold  (Read 4815 times)

ahsanford

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Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« on: January 16, 2013, 12:17:32 AM »

Hello CR Folks,

I'm off on a ski trip shortly.  I wasn't planning on skiiing, but I do intend to shoot a lot all over the mountain.
Was planning on leaving the non-L glass at home and sticking with my weather sealed 24-70 F/2.8L I and 70-200 F/2.8L IS II on my 5D3.  Both lenses are filtered for weather sealing.

Temperatures will be in the 10s-40s (F).  Can you guys give me the do's and don'ts of shooting in the cold?  Assume I'm outside for a few hours at a time.

Sorry for the rookie question, but all my snow shooting to date has been 5-10 minutes at a time so I didn't take any special precautions. So as I rarely shoot in the very cold, assume I know nothing about it.

So...

  • Should I never change the lens when out in the cold?
  • Should I never change a filter when I'm out in the cold?  (I often yank the UV in favor of a CPL depending on the sky, what I'm shooting, etc.)
  • I seem to recall there was a concern bringing in cold and/or externally damp gear into a warm place (like my cabin) -- something associated with condensation inside the lens as it equilibrates to temperature.  Should I ziplock bag my gear before I bring it into a warm indoors location?
  • My tripod is carbon fiber, and it will most certainly get cold and wet.  Do I need to take any precautions to using it in such conditions?

I appreciate your guidance.

- A

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Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« on: January 16, 2013, 12:17:32 AM »

Lnguyen1203

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 12:33:17 AM »
I was in Yellowstone last Feb and Nov, extremely cold temperatures from -10F to 20s and was out for 6-7 hours.  First time I had a T3i with me, second trip had a 1DX.  I went thru 3 batteries on the T3i for may be couple hundreds of pictures.  The 1DX battery had no trouble for the whole day.

Unless it is snowing, there is no issue with condensation when your gear going from warm to cold.  I changed lens with no problem.

Going from cold to warm, I left my gear in a Lowepro 500 bag and let it gradually warmed up to the cabin temp.  We turned off the cabin better when we went out, so when we came back it took time for the cabin to warm up.  I did not put my gear in zip lock bags and it did seem to have any condensation issue.  The point is to avoid bring cold gear to warm room suddenly.

I wore a mitten with inner lining that I could keep warm when not shooting.  This was the ardent part.  And keeping my feet warm.  I wore Baffin boots, the kind people wore to Antarctica :)

Enjoy!
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wickidwombat

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 01:17:23 AM »
I've shot in down to -25 degrees C at about that point gear starts acting up
I keep a couple of spare batteries inside my jacket close to my body heat to keep them warm and cycle the batteries through fairly regularly,taking the cold one out of the camera and putting a warm one in and the cold one goes inside the jacket to warm up. the cold weather shortens the battery life quite a bit.

The other issue i encountered at this temperature was the lens function slowed down a fair bit I would carry the camera with the lens tucked under my arm pit to try to keep it warmer
things like AF start to stick, Perhaps colder the lube could freeze and actually damage the little nylon internal components. I have considered making something like this if i ever go shooting in that cold a climate again

http://www.iceinspace.com.au/index.php?id=63,292,0,0,1,0

the other error i was getting was write errors on the cards after a while, again swapping cold for warm ones stopped these errors

if you bring your camera out from the cold into a warm room and it gets moisture on it make sure you give it a good dry down before you go back into the cold otherwise that moisture will freeze so i kept a small hand towel in my bag to just dry the camera off before heading outside

I dont think I had any issues with temps above about -15C but that bit around -20 to -25 was where things were getting tested good luck

heres a pic from -25C :D
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ahsanford

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 01:31:18 AM »
I was in Yellowstone last Feb and Nov, extremely cold temperatures from -10F to 20s and was out for 6-7 hours.  First time I had a T3i with me, second trip had a 1DX.  I went thru 3 batteries on the T3i for may be couple hundreds of pictures.  The 1DX battery had no trouble for the whole day.

Unless it is snowing, there is no issue with condensation when your gear going from warm to cold.  I changed lens with no problem.

Going from cold to warm, I left my gear in a Lowepro 500 bag and let it gradually warmed up to the cabin temp.  We turned off the cabin better when we went out, so when we came back it took time for the cabin to warm up.  I did not put my gear in zip lock bags and it did seem to have any condensation issue.  The point is to avoid bring cold gear to warm room suddenly.

I wore a mitten with inner lining that I could keep warm when not shooting.  This was the ardent part.  And keeping my feet warm.  I wore Baffin boots, the kind people wore to Antarctica :)

Enjoy!

Knowing my friends will leave the cabin (relatively) warm while we're out during the day, say perhaps 60F, would you still advocate just leaving it in the bag, or would you more conservatively choose to ziplock the gear before coming indoors?

Thx
A

ahsanford

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2013, 01:32:53 AM »
I've shot in down to -25 degrees C at about that point gear starts acting up
I keep a couple of spare batteries inside my jacket close to my body heat to keep them warm and cycle the batteries through fairly regularly,taking the cold one out of the camera and putting a warm one in and the cold one goes inside the jacket to warm up. the cold weather shortens the battery life quite a bit.

The other issue i encountered at this temperature was the lens function slowed down a fair bit I would carry the camera with the lens tucked under my arm pit to try to keep it warmer
things like AF start to stick, Perhaps colder the lube could freeze and actually damage the little nylon internal components. I have considered making something like this if i ever go shooting in that cold a climate again

http://www.iceinspace.com.au/index.php?id=63,292,0,0,1,0

the other error i was getting was write errors on the cards after a while, again swapping cold for warm ones stopped these errors

if you bring your camera out from the cold into a warm room and it gets moisture on it make sure you give it a good dry down before you go back into the cold otherwise that moisture will freeze so i kept a small hand towel in my bag to just dry the camera off before heading outside

I dont think I had any issues with temps above about -15C but that bit around -20 to -25 was where things were getting tested good luck

heres a pic from -25C :D



Great tips on rotating batteries into a warm coat.  Clever.

I also (not being a pro) don't often carry a 2nd mem card.  That's a terrible habit.  I'll bring backups this time.

- A

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2013, 01:40:55 AM »
A few years back I went dogsledding in the Yukon with a 50d and a 15-85 hanging around my neck in subzero temperatures. After a couple of hours, the camera ceased functioning...nada, zip. Scared me but after coming indoors for a while, it came back to life and worked seemingly fine for a couple of years after that.

I think the wind-chill had something to do with it because the next nite was shooting the Aurora at 31 degrees below without issue. In fairness, autofocus was a non issue because all were tripod/long exposure/ manual shots. I did keep extra batteries in an inner pocket of my coat for warmth. We'd go inside every so often but left the camera outside on the tripod for about 3 hours. Did not change lenses outdoors.

I did place the kit in a plastic bag when we came in to avoid the condensation freezing issue. Don't know if it mattered but used Sandisk Extreme 3 CF cards because they are supposed to be able to operate in very cold temperatures.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2013, 01:43:17 AM by JPAZ »
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Niterider

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2013, 04:57:32 AM »

Hello CR Folks,

I'm off on a ski trip shortly.  I wasn't planning on skiiing, but I do intend to shoot a lot all over the mountain.
Was planning on leaving the non-L glass at home and sticking with my weather sealed 24-70 F/2.8L I and 70-200 F/2.8L IS II on my 5D3.  Both lenses are filtered for weather sealing.

Temperatures will be in the 10s-40s (F).  Can you guys give me the do's and don'ts of shooting in the cold?  Assume I'm outside for a few hours at a time.

Sorry for the rookie question, but all my snow shooting to date has been 5-10 minutes at a time so I didn't take any special precautions. So as I rarely shoot in the very cold, assume I know nothing about it.

So...

  • Should I never change the lens when out in the cold?
  • Should I never change a filter when I'm out in the cold?  (I often yank the UV in favor of a CPL depending on the sky, what I'm shooting, etc.)
  • I seem to recall there was a concern bringing in cold and/or externally damp gear into a warm place (like my cabin) -- something associated with condensation inside the lens as it equilibrates to temperature.  Should I ziplock bag my gear before I bring it into a warm indoors location?
  • My tripod is carbon fiber, and it will most certainly get cold and wet.  Do I need to take any precautions to using it in such conditions?

I appreciate your guidance.

- A

I actually use a pelican hard case with desiccant packets inside so that I dont have to deal with plastic bags. Just a personal preference and haven't had a problem. Not sure how effective hard cases are compared to plastic bags though.

For the filters, your be careful not to breathe on the filter or front element when changing because it will fog it up. You especially don't want to trap that moisture in their once a different filter is screwed on. Also the heat from your hand can sometimes cause this same problem.

The tripod should not be a problem. Carbon has no problem with cold temperatures, but I would be careful about water getting in the legs and freezing. If the legs stop sliding in and out, let the tripod dry out in a warm, dry environment. No use in forcing it and risk excessive force to a single point. (really shouldn't be an issue though.)

Just my $0.02
« Last Edit: January 16, 2013, 04:59:04 AM by Niterider »

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2013, 04:57:32 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2013, 09:41:41 AM »
As stated above, batteries don't last long in the cold - have at least two, keep one insude your coat close to your body where it will stay warm.  When you swap them, put the 'drained' one inside your coat - when it warms up, it can be used again.  (Also as stated, I've used a 1D X battery all day in the low 20's, no problem.)

I do put the gear in a plastic bag before going into a heated environment.  I just keep a couple of Space BagsĀ® in the car (big enough for a 600/4), put the gear in there, then take them inside.  After they equilibrate (a couple of hours), I do put them in a Storm hard case with fresh desiccant packs.

Your tripod will be fine, just wipe it dry when you go inside.
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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2013, 10:33:03 AM »
Its not the heated environment that's the problem its the humidity inside which causes the condensation on cold equipment.  Usually the humidity comes from cooking or boiling water.  Depends on your situation.

If you leave your gear in the case it should be fine bringing it in.  Only concerns are when the equipment gets down to single digits.  In those cases you should use new zip lock bags (bag them outside) and include a desiccant pack in the bag to adsorb any residual moisture in case you got some snow or ice on the equipment prior to bagging.

Extremely cold weather can also cause permanent LCD damage.  Often just using the camera can be enough to keep the internal temperature elevated enough to prevent damage but keep that in mind if you are outside for a long period of time.  Pay attention to the temperature specifications for your camera and lenses.  They all have minimum operation temps.  If you have a failure and it was below the operational temp, manufacturers can wiggle out of their warranty.

Regarding your Carbon Fiber tripod... that should be good down to about -4 degrees F (Induro specification).  Below that it can become more brittle and easier to damage and likely would not be covered under warranty.

You might consider also getting some lenscoat for your lenses, especially the 70-200.  I use them on my large telephotos, not necessarily to hide or mask them but they are sure easier to work with and hold when the weather is cold.

And finally consider that when moving lenses from one temp extreme to the other it will take some time for the optics to become stable after temperature change.  A Canon tech advised that it can take about 1 hour to stabilize.  I had issue with a 500mm going outside in cold weather and producing soft images.  After about 1 hour it cleared up and we attributed it to the lenses changing shape during the cool down period.

Other than that, keep a spare set of batteries inside you coat and don't put your camera under your coat either to warm it up....condensation and fogged optics..  ;)


neuroanatomist

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2013, 10:48:47 AM »
Regarding your Carbon Fiber tripod... that should be good down to about -4 degrees F (Induro specification).  Below that it can become more brittle and easier to damage and likely would not be covered under warranty.

I wonder about this - I've read statements like this posted several places, but CF tubing and plating is commonly used on the exterior of deep space vehicles which function near absolute zero (e.g. Voyager 1's main antenna dish is CF).  Maybe it's down to the resin used to bond the carbon fibers into shape?  Most resins are quite cold resistant, and constitute <30% of the tubing material (the rest being carbon).  So I wonder if the 'carbon fiber shatters when it gets too cold' is just an urban myth?
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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2013, 11:39:23 AM »
I believe CF is not constructed the same depending on the purpose.  For tripods it can be thin and tubular for strength and keeping things light.  For aircraft and space I'm sure they are different.

Regarding your Carbon Fiber tripod... that should be good down to about -4 degrees F (Induro specification).  Below that it can become more brittle and easier to damage and likely would not be covered under warranty.

I wonder about this - I've read statements like this posted several places, but CF tubing and plating is commonly used on the exterior of deep space vehicles which function near absolute zero (e.g. Voyager 1's main antenna dish is CF).  Maybe it's down to the resin used to bond the carbon fibers into shape?  Most resins are quite cold resistant, and constitute <30% of the tubing material (the rest being carbon).  So I wonder if the 'carbon fiber shatters when it gets too cold' is just an urban myth?

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2013, 11:42:14 AM »
Regarding your Carbon Fiber tripod... that should be good down to about -4 degrees F (Induro specification).  Below that it can become more brittle and easier to damage and likely would not be covered under warranty.

I wonder about this - I've read statements like this posted several places, but CF tubing and plating is commonly used on the exterior of deep space vehicles which function near absolute zero (e.g. Voyager 1's main antenna dish is CF).  Maybe it's down to the resin used to bond the carbon fibers into shape?  Most resins are quite cold resistant, and constitute <30% of the tubing material (the rest being carbon).  So I wonder if the 'carbon fiber shatters when it gets too cold' is just an urban myth?

DSV carbon/resin is quite a bit different. A friend who worked at JPL always told me they did the bonding in a vacuum to prevent air bubbles from setting in the resin. He explained it at dinner one night so there may be one or two more steps involved. As a ski photographer I have seen carbon fiber poles snap but never shatter. There are videos of carbon dipped in liquid nitrogen shattering but the nitrogen can permeate the resin causing the failure.

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2013, 12:46:02 PM »
Like several others who posted here, I shot Yosemite a month ago where the low temp was +24. I shot my 1D-X and used a Gitzo tripod. There was no battery problem during one session that lasted 6 hours. I changed lenses frequently while outdoors. I placed all of my gear inside a Kiboko backpack and waited for 2 hours after I brought the backpack inside my hotel room before opening the backpack. I never had a problem with any of my gear.

Clothing layers were very helpful as the temperature changed throughout the day and into the night; long underwear, fleece, then a lined shell were sufficient yet allowed me ample flexibility for movement in the snow. I wore Merrell boots with waterproof socks; my feet were never cold. The Aqua Mesh gloves with the finger tips that open were a miserable failure once they became wet.

Good luck with your shoot!

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2013, 12:46:02 PM »

Jackson_Bill

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2013, 01:02:33 PM »
Until last week, I'd have said there's no problem with shooting at low temperatures (-25C). Now I'm not so sure. I encountered a problem with my 7D and 500 f4 IS USM (not II) last weekend - they will will NOT take a sharp photo now, even though the combination used to be outstanding.
I'm still looking into the problem so I don't know if its the camera or lens or the source of the problem. I can say that I'm usually careful about putting the camera and lens in a big garbage bag (and cinch it closed) before I get back in the car.

jp121

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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2013, 01:55:55 PM »
I had the opposite problem, which was going from a cold dry AC room to humid hot outdoors. Prior to departure, I would acclimatise my equipment on a balcony that, I felt, was reasonably safe from thieves & was always in view. It saved time, so I could start taking photos sooner.
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Re: Tips needed for shooting in the cold
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2013, 01:55:55 PM »