I live in Wisconsin and it gets cold here. For those of you who do photo shoots in cold weather what special care do you take of your equipment under these conditions?
I just purchased a D600 and lens kit and am anxious to try the kit, especially outdoors. But it is cold here today .
I also have a D7100 that I have used outdoors in cold weather. I keep the camera and lens in my camera bag and leave it in the bag for some time before I remove it so that the temperature difference isn't so great. Is this necessary? So far I have not experienced any ill effects but I have never been sure of what precautions, if any, are necessary to prevent damage to the camera equipment.
I am not sure if this is the appropriate forum to post this question. Please let me know if it belongs elsewhere.
I have done numerous photo shoots at Lambeau Field with Nikon DSLR's when the weather was cold enough to freeze the beer within the concession stand keg spouts. Factory recommends not using the d600/d800/d4 at temps below freezing, but of course that is impractical for anyone that shoots outdoors in winter. The big problem is condensation when you bring your gear back into above freezing temp environments. Think about wearing glasses and walking from an ice fishing shack into a sauna and having your lenses cloud over The standard workarounds for DSLR cold weather shooting also apply for normal 35mm, medium format, and cine shooting: 1) Keep two or three spare EN-EL15 Lithium Ion fully charged d600 batteries in your warm pocket, beneath your layered clothing and parka at all times. Bring a charger along on your shoots in case of emergency, if you can access AC somewhere. 2) Use the MB-D14 battery pack with an EN-EL15. When this battery pack Lithium Ion battery runs down, the internal camera EN-EL15 takes over and you can keep shooting. Have your assistant change the dead EN-EL15 in the battery pack with a fresh one from your pocket. 3) Keep all of your lenses not being used covered in Billingham waterproof/windproof sock cases. 4) And most important of all is the gradual transition of your camera bodies and lenses back to normal room temperature and humidity after the shoot. Whether you are shooting in Antarctica or Green Bay in the cold winter, it takes a long time for lenses and camera bodies to return to room temperature without risking rapid condensation effects of water vapor depositing on lens elements or camera optics/sensor. Carry a multitude of high quality ziplock freezer bags in gallon sizes with you on the shoot, along with high quality plastic kitchen wrap. Keep the freezer bags outdoors with you during the shoot. When your work is done, separate lenses from camera bodies and place all lenses in their own freezer bag (for larger 400m zooms use the plastic kitchen wrap), and place all camera bodies in their own freezer bag. 5) Move your equipment (in bags or wrapped) to an intermediary temperature area, above freezing, for a few hours. Then finally take your equipment (still in freezer bags and wrapped) to your own room temperature storage area. This slow and deliberate transition will allow the condensation effects to occur outside of the storage bag as opposed to on the surface of your equipment. 6) I always carry and use a couple of pair of knit gloves with the fingertips cut off. 7) Snow and sleet and rain are tough to shoot through at stadiums with huge banks or downward facing artificial light. Try and kneel down and shoot up with your long-focal lengths through the backlit snow/rain whenever possible. 8) Hand pack and deliver your rented 400m zooms to FedEx the next day for insured delivery back to the owner. Good luck.
Stay warm Be sure to wipe all snow, sleet, and moisture off the exterior of the camera body and lens prior to taking them into warmer temperatures and bagging them if they have received substantial snow or sleet or rain during your cold weather shoot. By the way, as you already know, shooting around Door County and Green Bay/Lake Michigan can produce some incredible ice sculpture shots on the frozen, ice and snow-covered shorelines.
Stephen has provided some excellent tips. I have a few additional thoughts.
I've shot in Yellowstone at -47 degrees. My D300 lasted just 45 minutes before it failed without protection. With heat packs and wraps, I shot all day without even a battery change.
I use the Cozy Camera - a wrap sold through the Nikonians Pro Shop. It is no longer being made but last time I checked, it was still in stock in the pro shop.
Whatever you do, try to avoid getting frozen moisture stuck to the outside of your camera. Your breath will form frost - and not melt.
When you change lenses, be quick and careful. Opening the inside of your camera to cold and moisture is okay - just make it brief.
Similarly, make any battery changes quickly. Standing there with the battery door open lets cold air into your camera. I made that mistake in Yellowstone at -45 F and it took a couple of hours for my camera to warm up enough to operate.
If it is below zero, use 1-2 heat packs on your camera attached with gaffer tape. You might also use a heat pack on a long lens. And a heat pack in your camera bag can help keep everything a little warmer and make batteries last longer.
Putting your cold gear in trash bags is a great idea. Do that before you bring gear into a car, house, or any kind of warm space. Fogging can easily turn to frost, and is a nuisance.
In snow or blowing snow, consider using a protective filter. It's easier to remove a filter and keep shooting than to try to clean frozen water drops off the front of your lens. Lens cloths do not work with frost.
Eric: Thanks for your detailed response. This is very helpful. I have gotten great advice from all who have responded to my question. I intend to put it to good use.
Now that the question of keeping the camera operating in very cold weather has been dealt with I need to consider the operator (In jest, have been living in Wisconsin for 29 years and have adapted - somewhat). At the moment it is a balmy +11F, cloudy, with light blowing snow.
The Pelican is a similar design for rain and wet weather. It does not have insulation or pockets for heat packs. It might work in conjunction with gaffer tape and heat packs, but it appears to be for a different purpose.
Silica Gel packs can help as well. Put several packets in a closed area, camera bag or even a sealed paper bag. and let the gear come up to temp slowly. The gel will grab a bunch of the moisture in the air that would otherwise form condensation on the body and lens(s).
Re-useable ones are everywhere on Amazon, etc.
Because Attitude is Everything ......LiveSTRONG....Mike
Thanks for the info Eric! as always its much appreciated. This helped me decide what xmas presents to request from Mrs Santa (the wife) LOL. Along with an "L" Bracket, cable for my pocket wizards to provide some long distance remote triggering for when it is -30 degrees. This way i can shoot the images from the inside of my car where there is much needed heat LOL
It's cold in Canada. I always check the Dew Point vs what temperature is outside before I shoot. Currently humidity outside is 77% (inside the house 25%), the outside temp is -25 C or -13 F, but the dew point is -28 C or -18 F, so you should see no lens fogging unless the outside temp drops below your local dew point, where ever you are.
I initially used ziplock bags with metal silica gel cans to house cameras and lenses while traveling, but never witnessed fogging, so I've quit doing so. I shoot from my vehicle most times day or night, so now the camera is placed en route so that dash heat blows onto the camera and lens and will allow me to shoot outside for up to an hour at a time with no fogging, battery included. No more fiddling with ziplock bags, too. Dash heat is usually drier than outside air I've found(I've measured it with a digital hygrometer). The only fogging is generally at the back of the camera, but one should be able to control that by not breathing so hard, or holding your breath! Post shooting, I'll heat the camera and lens from the dash heat.