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  1. #1

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    Cameras, Lenses and cold weather?

    Are there any special precautions that need to be taken when using a 35mm SLR and lenses in cold weather? It seems like going from warm to cold (or cold to warm) could cause problems (condensation?).

  2. #2

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    Always allow your gear to transition from the two extremes gradually to avoid condensation.

    Extreme cold is also very low in humidity, so as your film moves through the camera, electric discharge can happen causing lighting bolts to expose on your film. Avoid motordrives and rewinding the film quickly. Advance film slowly. Rewind in stages.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by aloomens View Post
    Are there any special precautions that need to be taken when using a 35mm SLR and lenses in cold weather? It seems like going from warm to cold (or cold to warm) could cause problems (condensation?).
    How cold is cold? Artic cold is very differnt from just cold.

  4. #4
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    When I was photographing up at my sister's in Spokane, WA in the winter -- daytime temps around 20F to perhaps freezing, I would leave my view camera (4x5/8x10) out in the unheated garage...and put my light meter in a baggie and bring it inside.

    While photographing, I wore heavy wool pants with cargo pockets -- the light meter stayed in a pocket to keep the battery a little warmer. And I tried not to breathe on the ground glass -- one's breath tends to form a layer of ice on it.

    Vaughn

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Howell View Post
    How cold is cold? Artic cold is very differnt from just cold.
    When do you have to start worrying about temperature? It can get down to well below freezing around here (20 F below or more).

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by aloomens View Post
    When do you have to start worrying about temperature? It can get down to well below freezing around here (20 F below or more).
    If you are going to shoot below zero you need to have your camera and lens winterized, replace the lubricant with a special winter graphite lubricant, if your 35mm or MFF has a metal body use a camera case, tape any exposed metal that might come in contact with your face when focusing, use a soft touch shutter release as it is easer to operate with gloves. Use a wooden or graphite tripod, if you camera has a built in motor winder you want to wait until you can defrost your camera and let it warm back up to room temaputer before rewinding so you need to watch your film count so you shoot to the end and auto rewind. Use a polorizer and if shooting in the snow use an incident meter as reflective meters are prone to under exposure in the snow.

  7. #7

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    I've never bothered with special lubricant for the winter here in Minnesota, but I try to keep the camera warm (such as inside my coat). What I am most concerned about is condensation from bring a cold camera into moist indoor air. I wrap the camera in a plastic bag (reasonably airtight) until it warms up. If too big for that, I try to use a foam lined case that shuts tight.

  8. #8
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    In Greenland I used a new Leica M4 and slightly older Nikon F down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit with no problems except occasional film breakage and static electricity marks on the film. The 35-year-old lubricant in my Nikon F won't let me shoot in freezing temperatures.

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Okay, another observation courtesy of my father.

    Some of you may be familiar with Farley Mowat, and his work in the arctic and sub-arctic. Particularly his book, Never Cry Wolf.

    The photographs that illustrate those works were taken by Mr. Mowat, predominantly with a Kodak Medalist.

    Each year Mr. Mowat would bring his Medalist into the Kodak lab my father worked at to have it serviced, because they had on staff technicians experienced in maintaining a wide variety of Kodak cameras (Medalist, Chevron, Retina, etc.).

    Mr. Mowat was sold on the Medalist - he found it to be the only camera that would perform reliably in arctic conditions.

    I would point out, however, that he made a point of having his camera serviced/checked regularly.

    On anther point, you probably are aware, but I'll mention it anyways that cameras may be more reliable in cold conditions than batteries. Cold batteries don't work well. A number of cameras offer accessory battery packs that are off camera, and therefore easier to keep warm. It may pay to investigate that option if your camera is battery dependent.

    Finally, it has been my experience that waist level finders are much less likely to fog up than eye level finders.

    Matt

  10. #10

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    My experence useing Nikon em,Canon eos and mamiya 645 and the -30 degree centigrade temps we get never had any problems with the camera's but at that temp they eat batterys like they are going out of fashion.A days shooting and 2 rolls of 36exp film and the batterys are dead and I agree that the waist level finder on the 645 is a lot easer to work with

    Ian

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