Static marks and cold weather

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Stephen Schoof, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. Stephen Schoof

    Stephen Schoof Member

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    I'm in North Carolina and was in the higher mountains yesterday shooting ice and snow where it was around 15 degrees F. Usually I use the slow rewind mode on my automatic cameras whenever it's below 20 or so, but forgot yesterday and went ahead rewinding at full blast. Now I know +15 F is short-sleeve weather for many places right now and I'm guessing I have nothing to worry about, but it got me thinking about static electricity issues and wondering what anyone's experiences have been. Most of the information I find is the usual 'rewind and advance film slowly in the cold', but what is cold? Is anything above 0 F worthy of concern, or do you have to get well below zero? And I know the real issue is the humidity, so 15 here in the southeastern US is different from 15 in Arizona. I'm partly just curious and trying to get a feel for how big a concern static (and tearing film) is in the temperatures I typically encounter, but I also wonder about shooting cold-weather sports or wildlife - if it's 10 degrees out are you better off going slow on the film for fear of generating static, or can you fire away to catch key points of the action, knowing that there's no problem till the thermometer hits -20?
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    For me, its more of a humidity issue. In winter the rH is usually low, causing increased possibility for static build-up. Winding slowly helps to reduce the chance of static so it wont discharge in the cassette leaving "lightning" streaks on the film. Also, when you process the film, cut the tape, do not tear it, as it can cause a flash of lightning and show on the film.

    Rick
     
  3. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    I have only had it occur when the temp is less than 20 below zero F
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    This occurred one windy cold day in Washington, DC in the 1960's. It only occurred on the roll on frames were the film was advanced. The camera was a Voightlander Vito IIb, which I mention because it had a round knob to advance the film. One would not think that would be fast enough to cause static arcs across the film, leaving a trail, but it did. I asked around back then and I was told that it had to do with the low relative humidity. Since then I advance film slowly on cold, dry windy days and it has not happened to me since then.

    Steve
     
  5. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Lack of humidity does seem to be required. I've only had it happen once, with temperatures in the low -20s C and very low humidity, many years ago. The best bet is to use a manual-wind, manual-rewind SLR (or rollfilm, manually wound) if you're concerned about the conditions. This will minimize your reliance on batteries as a bonus.
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    You don't say what kind of film you were using. It isn't really important here and now, but some films are more sensitive to static than others. You may want to check out other brands of film.

    PE
     
  7. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    I don't think I've ever had a problem with static electricity affecting roll film, but I seem to recall problems in the past with sheet film, mainly while loading and unloading film holders.

    Dave
     
  8. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I've recently had a problem with static electricity, something I haven't seen on films for many years. I think it may be that the plastic spirals had recently been dried on a heater, causing resistance between the film and spiral. The temperatures are around freezing locally, and cold film straight from the outdoors and warm spiral caused sparks. Took me a while to work out because it looked like wavy vertical scratches that affected one frame but not the next.

    I hope allowing the spiral to cool and film to reach room temperature will help smooth things.
     
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Sometimes out in the desert in the winter I'd actually ground any metal cameras to minimize dust getting attracted to film. I carry a short length of speaker wire, a common nail, and an alligator clip at the other end.