Then we are left with the question; What do we mean by "cold"? Alaska cold or Florida cold?
Originally Posted by Bob-D659
I agree, Paul...cold means different things to different people. In my view, 15F or 20F is not that cold. If I could stand it, so should my camera.
I enjoyed reading your story about your Spottie. I once had two Spotties. If it were not for the radioactive lenses in the Takumar lineup--especially the beautiful and indispensable 50/1.4--then I would have held onto my Pentax gear. I do not believe the 55/1.8 you mention is thoriated. I have considered going back...I do like having a winder or motor, though...
PS: I do not wish to get into a debate as to why I will not use thoriated or other radioactive lenses. I have seen enough evidence to raise a concern, and, especially since there are plenty of fine lenses out there, I would rather err toward safety.
Last edited by FilmOnly; 02-07-2010 at 07:29 PM. Click to view previous post history.
One of the more interesting jobs I have had was working in a freezer at –26ºC in downtown Melbourne in the late sixties. The job entailed shredding frozen calf and pig pancreas organs for the manufacture of Insulin.
I shared digs with a fella who was travelling down to Antarctica as a photographer and Morse code operator. Radio was bad during a blizzard and quite a few messages travelled via Morse code in those days
Anyway he was wondering about the effectiveness of winterising his cameras, which were three Nikon F bodies and three lenses, 35, 55 and 105 Nikkors. The three bodies and three lenses were so he didn’t have to change lenses in very bad weather and also so that at any time there could be three people using the cameras.
The upshot was that we convinced the Government body running my section to allow the government body running the Antarctic division, to use our cold rooms for tests.
We dropped the temperature –33ºC, which I think was the coldest we could get. You have to understand these were quite large workrooms with machinery for cutting and shredding inside.
The cameras that were winterised, which meant that they were cleaned and all lubricant removed and a couple of others that were literally straight off the shelf from the Nikon importer, were left inside for ½ a day to really cool down.
A special shutter-testing set-up had been arranged with the shutter tester on the outside and the cameras on the inside with a very thick piece of glass in-between.
From memory the winterised cameras worked perfectly, the normal cameras were not that far behind, maybe ¼ to ½ a stop at most slower. Manageable, but a difference nonetheless.
I know that one of those cameras worked in temperatures around –60ºC as pictures were taken in a blizzard of some penguins. The penguin pictures were of quite interesting scientific value at the time, as very little was known how they survived down there.
I don’t know how long after coming back to Australia before the cameras were re-lubed, but I know one of them is still in use by my friend to this day in a working capacity.
For the Australian members, this was at CSIRO in Parkville.
I very much appreciate your story, Mick. It demonstrates what I have been trying to convey: 15-30F is not that much to ask of a camera (especially a top-of-the-line pro camera). Having two cameras malfunction in these conditions has made me consider going in another direction.
SLR In Cold Weather
I have used two F-1s in cold weather without problems. The coldest shooting I can remember doing was in the winter of 1977 in Boston. The temperature hovered around 0F for two weeks with the wind chill being -50F. I was out walking on the Charles River for a few hours with my Konica Autoreflex T3. I was dressed very warmly and I kept the camera inside my coat between shots. At the time the camera must have been about 15 months old. The only precaution I took was advancing the film slowly. Changing lenses in such cold weather was a chore. I looked through a telephoto and saw ships far in the distance bobbing up and down so I knew I shouldn't stay out on the ice forever. Wearing wool gloves inside hunting mittens kept my hands warm and gave me a little extra dexterity when I needed it. The T3 worked fine. A few years later I was shooting with a Konica TC in the low 20s F and the shutter froze in the open position. I haven't used a TC in cold weather since then. My Autoreflex T2 worked well in cold weather too.
The 55/1.2 FD is pretty much the same lens as the old 55/1.2 FL, which I have. I wouldn't use it for architectural work but if you close it down a little, it's a nice lens. The FD did have better coating.
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i've been shooting this january at -20 celsius in finland with my old and rusty nikon fe, we were moving quite alot around and the camera spent most of the time out of the bag with snow and wind torturating it without any big problems, it's true that the mirror sticked up a couple of times, but after coming back home i realize that the foam around were really..., well there were no foam anymore. Shooting in that conditions is a challenge even with a 35mm at least for me, all i've learnt is, dont change film outside: it can not be done with gloves. Rollei retro film sticks sometimes in the cold, trix dont. Dont breath with your camera in front of your face. Dont touch snow flakes that fell in your camera or lens blow them instead.
Last edited by peri24; 02-07-2010 at 10:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.
So it seems the general consensus is that the best cold weather cameras are the Nikon F-series. I know that I also have had the best luck in cold weather with my Nikon FM.
I used it just a day or so ago to take a couple pics before, during and after that darned Mid-Atlantic blizzard. Everything worked fine!
My weapons consist of 11 cameras. And counting... Be afraid.
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I still have my Spotmatic. I bought the thing in 1966 after seeing a tradeshow in Toronto. It has the 55mm 1.8 lens.
Originally Posted by FilmOnly
I did not know this about the lenses. My 1.8 is still a fine lens but I bought a Nice Black Spotmatic II last year and it has the 50 1.4. It is dark by about 1/2 stop, yellowing and so I guess it must be the thoriated version. (lovely!)
With a fresh battery my F3HP, will withstand at least -25C (-13F) cold soaked around my neck for about 3 hours. My F2 functions perfectly at this temperature as well. I prefer the F2 because I find it easier to operate with gloves with the shutter release extension.
The discussion was about SLRs but my old Leica M2 can take darned near anything, apparently.
However, and we all know this, when bringing into a warm humid car or room from minus whatever please be sure to place the camera in a plastic bag or something to prevent condensation.
Cold weather SLR?
how about a big ugly Zenit[T34] and take a bottle of vodka with you.
The Nikon FM with a lithium battery will get you through any weather conditions on this or any other planet. And, in the rare case that your battery does die, it only operates the camera meter, which still gives you a fully functioning camera. You can still shoot at all shutter speeds and apertures. I purchased my Nikon FM in the mid 70's, and it still performs like new.