Extreme Temperature and Digital Cameras

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JDR, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. JDR macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Hi all,

    I just got back inside my cozy house after taking a few shots on a clear but frigid winter's day with the sun setting....The wind-chill is -8ºF (actual temp is 11ºF), and after sitting at home for 15 minutes, the metal exterior of my Canon Powershot G9 is still very cold to the touch. On Canon's website, it says that the operating temperature is 32-104°F/0-40°C. I plan using my camera more in the cold, and I'm wondering what effect it might have on it:

    Battery damage (it's a Li-ion)?
    Sensor damage?
    Shorter life in general?
    Increased wear on the moving parts?
    Some other type of damage?
    No damage at all?

    I'm curious to see....


    P.S.-- I might put up some of the shots I took in a little bit :D
  2. EugeneA macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2008
    Extreme weather - no big deal

    > wind-chill is -8ºF (actual temp is 11ºF) ...

    A few weeks ago I came back from Western Siberia (Tomsk).
    I took a lot of pictures with my trusty D40x. No problems whatsoever. Warmer days were in the low -30's (-22F), somewhat cooler days were in the mid forties (-40F and below).
    Basically, you need to take care of two things:

    1. Keep your batteries warm. I just kept my camera in the inside pocket of my jacket (yes, D40x with a manual lens is just small enough for that). Alternatively, you could just pull the battery out of the camera and keep it somewhere closer to your heart.

    2. When you get inside, to prevent damage from the condensation don't turn your camera on, and don't even pull it from the bag until it warms up. On colder days it takes about 20-30 minutes.
    If you can't wait to see your pictures, just pull the memory card out and read it directly on your computer.

    Attached is the picture of one of the "warmer" days. It's not a very good snapshot, but you can see the temperature on the billboard.

    Attached Files:

  3. JDR thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Brrr!! That's really cold!

    Thanks for the tips. My G9 will definitely fit in a coat pocket, so I'll try to keep it warm in there for now on.

    Here's one of my pictures. Feel free to critique it, since I'm only a high-schooler. It's of ice covering a curb with the sun reflecting off it. Click to enlarge.

  4. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    Cold weather shooting can be challenging - condensation issues and battery life especially. I shoot a lot of stuff snowmobiling. I carry both a Canon point-and-shoot (SD630) in an outside pocket, and a Nikon D2H or Nikon D3 in a Lowepro backpack. For the Canon, I slip a heat pack into the pouch, for the backpack I throw in several heat packs. Never had a problem with performance in either situation.

    Canon 630

    Nikon D2H
  5. Eauboy macrumors regular


    Jan 28, 2008
    Washington, DC
    I was shooting with my D80 in Sweden last February in temps hovering right around zero all the way down to forty below Celsius. I switched batteries frequently, encountering difficulties only during longer sessions. In other words, if I was firing off shots sporadically then no problem. But when I tried to shoot twenty shots in relatively close succession (several minutes) then I began to have low-battery problems. Keeping one battery in my pants pocket didn't necessarily seem to buy me all that much time; it was almost like camera temperature more so than battery temperature was the limiting factor. Once the batteries and camera *did* both warm up those same batteries seemed still to have most of their original juice.

    That being said, I shot a bunch of long-exposure shots of the northern lights at forty below and those went off without a hitch. Needless to say I don't feel like I necessarily have it all figured out. Seemingly random. But it never hurt the camera or lens so far as I can tell.
  6. phiberglass macrumors 6502a


    Oct 3, 2007
    Yea definitely let it slowly warm up if your coming inside from cold to prevent condensation. Also battery life will be limited if they're out in the cold.
  7. davinche macrumors regular


    May 3, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    I was worried about taking my D40 to Lake Tahoe this weekend; I don't think it is going to get colder than 20 F. Looks like I have nothing to worry about as long as I follow your directions.
  8. robanga macrumors 68000


    Aug 25, 2007
  9. johanf macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2008
    One of the largest problems with cameras in the cold is when you take it into a warm house again. The camera is cool and a warm room contains a lot of humidity. When the air reaches the cool camera, condensation on the camera will build up because the relative humidity close to the cool camera will exceed 100 %.

    This is very easily fixed! :)

    Just bring a plastic bag with you. Before you go inside, put the camera in the plastic bag and close it. If you press out excessive air the camera will heat up faster. When you go inside the condensation will build up on the outside of the plastic bag. As soon as the camera is warm, remove the bag. (If the lens becomes foggy, it was too early.)

    The camera will be usable much faster inside this way and you don't get moisture in the sensitive electronics and on the lens surfaces.

    Another problem with modern electronic cameras is that most consumer grade electronics are not rated below 0°C! So not many manufacturer will guarantee it will work in snowy conditions etc. However, must electronics is a bit or much better than specified. You have to test your particular camera before you go for an important photo job in the cold.

    Good luck! /Johan

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