View Full Version : Photography in -20 (and lower temperatures)..

02-05-2006, 05:22 AM
How you guys take photos around this temperature. I can take 3 - 4 shots initially without any problems. After that, things begin to go nasty. :rolleyes: Hands are complaining even I use gloves in between the shots. Of course, I can use gloves during the shots as it is too difficult to operate the camera then.

Any advices please? :)

02-05-2006, 06:28 AM
Last year when I was on a wintersports trip to Austria I also took a lot of photographs at -20, at one time even at -28 :eek:. The whole area was at a pretty high altitude, between 1300 en 3200 meters, and the winter was extremely cold that year, so that explains the temperatures.

First of all, I must say that taking photographs at such temperatures is not a lot of fun. Your hands will inevitably start to hurt. There are some things you can do about it, but none of these things will completely remove the discomfort of taking photographs in the cold.

The things you can do are:
- Use two pairs of gloves, one thin pair which you can wear while taking your shots and one pair of thick and wind / water resistent pair to wear between your shots.
- Be active after you have taken your shots. Just using your gloves will not raise the temperature of your hands. Gloves, after all, only make sure the heat of your hands does not leave, but if that heat is simply not there your gloves will have no use. On the wintersports trip I was skiing in between the shots and somehow that warmed up my hands pretty well.
- Use handwarmers. There are several different types for sale, some of which are durable, while others can be used only once. I do not have any experience with these things, but they might sufficiently warm up your hands after you have taken some shots.

Cold hands are not the only problem you will encounter when taking photographs at these temperatures. You may also experience battery-failure. The capacity of batteries is severly limited by coldness. Therefore always keep your camera close to your body and always bring spare batteries. If you have run out of batteries you can "recharge" them by warming them up. For instance with your breath or by rubbing your batteries. Both of these techniques worked fairly well for me.

Another problem is memory-card failure. When I was taking pictures at these temperatures, my camera suddenly claimed that my memory card was corrupt. I could either shut down my camera or format the card. Shutting down my camera and restarting it did not help. Therefore I took out the card, warmed it up with my breath and wiped the contacts of the card, and when I put it back in, it worked :). I have never heard anybody who had the same problem, perhaps it's only the Xd-memory cards that may suffer from this problem.

I hope my advice will be of some help. Like I said, you may still suffer from cold hands, but hopefully to a lot less extend than before. It should be said, though, that the result you will get may be more than worth the suffering :).

02-07-2006, 03:00 AM
Thanks for your hints. I will give them a tryin the evening (-18C) :)

02-14-2006, 04:20 PM
will it break the camera if is too cold?
i mean will the LCD freez?

02-15-2006, 02:18 PM
When I was in Rostock Germany a year ago Christmas I was having the cold hand thing as well. I picked up some neoprene fishing gloves. They have little slits where your fingers can come out and the tips fold back on velcro. These were about two sizes to big but I had on some cotton gloves underneath. The fishing mittens are also good but these only let your fingers come out and not your thumb.

02-16-2006, 07:16 AM
will it break the camera if is too cold?
i mean will the LCD freez?

The LCD does not really freeze, though the liquid does become somewhat more vicious. As a result the respons of your LCD may become slower. I experienced a similar thing on my mobile phone. It was really easily visible on that device. Transitions from one display to the next normally go instantaniously, but now they took a couple of seconds. Almost as if there was some sort of tranistion-effect. Once the display warms up again, it works perfectly allright again. There will be no permanent damage.

I think it's impossible to freeze the liquid in the LCD even in very cold conditions, that is not by nature. My camera survived conditions of -28 degrees Celcius, so I don't think you have to worry about that. The cristal in the LCD makes sure that the freezing point of the liquid is a lot lower than that of water.

Thanks for your tips on the gloves, Penz. I think that on the ski-piste, though, It's better to stick with my snow. However, if you don't need to have water-resistant handshoes, the ones you suggested would be great.

David Metsky
02-16-2006, 08:01 AM
If it's that cold, don't use your LCD. It'll further drain your batteries when you need all the juice you can get.

I ski and backpack all winter so this is an important issue for me. Once you get below -10 F you have to have a plan for taking pictures. Don't waste time while your gloves are off, make sure you have all the setup done before. Watch your breath, you can fog up your lens quickly with one misplaced exhale.

Keep your camera cold and your batteries warm. At least in theory. I keep my backup close to my body, the camera with the current battery is clipped to my sternum strap or hipbelt so it won't fog up immediately when I pull it out. I try to make sure that I change memory cards or batteries well before I need to use them.

Then, take lots of shots. Turn around, shoot a bunch of your subject. Try to find spots where you can take many different shots without much movement. I keep one hand in my pocket while shooting, but I have a P&S. With a dSLR you're going to be cold for a bit.

Handwarmers. Definately handwarmers.


02-25-2006, 01:32 AM
Just wondering , taking pics at -20 won damage the camera's CCD?? I heard that at such a low temperature, it's not advisable to use the cam for, water vapour may form inside the cam thus damaging the CCD. Is it true???