Bronica SQ-am film advance in very low temperatures

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by emtor, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. emtor

    emtor Member

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    I intend to use my Bronica SQ-am in very low temperatures and 40 centigrades below the freezing point is not uncommon here in northern Norway where I live.
    I'm worried about film getting brittle and tear or crack when the motor winder advances frames in these temperatures, and I'm wondering if its possible to advance the film manually and very carefully at low speed by using the advancing knob located in the film-back. Is this possible at all, and will it cock the shutter?
    I have experience with advancing film manually with my ETRSi in 20 centigrades below zero, and I noticed very small cracks in the edge of the film roll, so 40 below really worries me taking into account that the SQ-am winds the film rather fast.
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I would worry also about static discharge at those temperatures with a fast winding camera. Is there a good reason for not using the ETRSi this time around?
     
  3. emtor

    emtor Member

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    You're absolutely right. At those temperatures the air is extremely dry and static discharge will be a problem also. Yes, I could use the ETRSi, but it would be nice to override the usual operation of the SQ-am. Wether the back counts the frames or not is less of a problem, as long as I can advance the film very carefully and slow and cock the shutter. Also the SQ-am has a prism-finder with an exposure meter built in which is handy in some situations.
     
  4. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Why don't you shoot a couple rolls and see what happens?
     
  5. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    With the camera set to "multiple exposure" it will not wind the film. That takes you halfway where you want to be.
    Next thing would be to advance the film manually after each shot.

    I don't know whether you can use the manual wind on the film back to move on to the next frame. There probably isn't a stop, so watching the frame counter advance would be the way to tell that the film is in position for the next frame. But will it work?

    Can't you run a test film through the thing? Or even an 'empty' backing paper?
     
  6. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Another item to consider is the life of the batteries at such low temperatures. Most extreme wintertime shooters do better with a manual wind if the mittens permit it. I have used an SQAi with an optional external AA battery pack that can be tucked under the clothing to keep them going. I wonder if such a thing exists for theSQAM?
    Sounds to me you need to ask Santa for a metering prism for the ETRSi.
     
  7. emtor

    emtor Member

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    I do have a testroll that I use for instances like this, and the multiexposure-mode lets me cock the shutter as much as I wish. I'll see when I get home from work if its possible to advance frames by using the knob on the film back. If it is I'm home free. Would be nice to operate the SQ-am completely manually in low temps since this camera has a few nice features that I would not miss out on. The square format is one thing that I would like to be able to use under any condition.
     
  8. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    One of the reasons I love my Hassy, simplicity.

    Mike
     
  9. emtor

    emtor Member

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    Yes, the SQ-am has a socket for plugging in an external power pack. The power packs are easy to make at home too. My DSLR dies on me after five minutes in those temperatures. Photography under circumstances like these are very little about photography and very much about just planning for being able to shoot at all.
    Forty centigrades below the freezing point is no joke. Last winter I brought an extentioncord for the electrical engine heater on my car outside and it took just a few minutes for soft rubber insulation to get hard as bone. I could have placed the cable vertically up into the air if I wanted to. Ten years ago we had minus 53 here, and the rubber insulation fell off the elecrical system of cars and started fires.
    Now, that's seriously cold. But when you do get to shoot the images are wonderful. The cold brings out all the beauty that nature has to offer and colors are out of this world.
     
  10. burchyk

    burchyk Member

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    Had spent 2 hours in the forest with -10C today, that was fine. But -40C and I would probably fail way before my ETR-Si does :smile:
     
  11. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    Hallo,

    No experience of shooting in -40 (not sure I would function in those temps!) but what is the possibility of using one of the small "hand-warmers" strapped to the magazine? - would keep the temp of the film area up from -40. Used to be able to get them as chemical-based that heated up when the pod was broken and activated. As you have consistently such low temps I guess you will know what I am trying to remeber here.

    Sim2.
     
  12. emtor

    emtor Member

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    Good idea. A temperature rise of just 20 degrees would help immensly and would hopefully not create problems with too great a temperature difference between the back and the rest of the camera either.
     
  13. emtor

    emtor Member

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    I went home and loaded a test roll.
    Camera in multiexposure-mode and advanced the film to the first frame.
    The back stops advancing when reaching a new frame, but it gives a little ping to indicate it's no longer neccessary to wind any further.
    I shot through twelve frames in this way, and the roll was nicely wound up on the takeup-spool when I opened the back.
    So it works. I can override the automatic advancing mechanism which is crucial in low temperatures, and use the motor system when shooting under
    more normal circumstances.

    Thanks all for your replies.
     
  14. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Now to satisfy my curiosity: where in Norway does it get that cold?
     
  15. emtor

    emtor Member

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    There are several places known for low temperatures in winter, but the record is held by Karasjok (where I live) with a measured and documented minus 53,3 centigrades. Last winter we had a few days here with minus 43. Down by the river it is usually a few degrees colder, so chances are one could find spots even colder than the measured minus 43. I gave up driving my car. It started OK thanks to the electric motor heater, but turning the steeringwheel was almost impossible.
    Still, it's nice to be out. But you need clothing made for snowmobile-driving, sami reindeer-skin shoes and reindeer-skin mittens to manage, which makes outside life comfortable.
     
  16. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Thanks for that info.
    One more place to put on my 'have to visit' list.
     
  17. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I'm going to have to wait on a little more global warming first.
     
  18. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    I read on Wikipedia (the trustworthy thingy you find on the web :whistling:) that it can get as warm as 32 degree centigrade (plus, of course) in Karasjok as well.
    :wink:
     
  19. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    80 degrees difference between Summer and Winter. It is enough to make someone look older than usual.
    I understand Why Siberian , Far East and Asian Turks looks very old , especially the women.
     
  20. emtor

    emtor Member

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    Yes, it usually gets that warm in summer, but summers can also be cool.
    Autumn and winter is the best time. There's too many mosquitoes in summer, and they'll drive you crazy. Put Karasjok on your wishlist, you'll never forget it.
    There's lots of wilderness here and few people, and you will see all sorts of wild animals like bear, eagle and what not. No matter what you shoot, this is the place.
    Interesting people, scenery and wild-life.