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Thread: DSLRs and Cold Weather

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Ottawa, Canada
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    DSLRs and Cold Weather


    I am preparing for a trip up Kilimanjaro in 2 weeks and am planning on taking my D5000 along for the ride. The temperatures near the summit tend to be around -20 C (around 0F).

    Has anyone had any problems with their cameras at these temperatures? Or are there any good tips for camera operation at these temperatures.

    I have a replacement battery in case of failure at this temperature, and I plan to carry my batteries inside my jacket to keep them warm.


  2. #2
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
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    Re: DSLRs and Cold Weather

    Hi Matthew,

    I haven’t travelled in cold or extremely hot humid conditions, yet, but I know you need to be careful with condensation forming on the outside and inside of the lens when conditions change – like moving inside into the warm from the cold outside. A friend of mine went to Antarctica and his aperture jammed from moisture caused by condensation.

    If you are working in one climate then it is not an issue so if possible keep you camera either outside or inside depending on where you are taking your shots. If you are outside and bring it in give it time to acclimatise. I have heard keeping your camera and lens in a plastic bag at this time helps reduce the incidence of condensation while the temperatures adjust. It might to take up to 30 minutes to adjust.

    With batteries, you are only going to be there once so I would make sure you have at least 2 spares.

    Good luck and post some images when you get back. I have not been to Kilimanjaro but I have done a truck camping safari through Tanzania starting at Arusha and going along the Rift Valley. If you get the chance to get to Zanzibar it is really worth it.

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    May 2008
    Windsor, Berks, UK
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    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: DSLRs and Cold Weather

    In addition to Peter's excellent advice, I would say keep the batteries quite close to your skin for warmth, a pocket on the outside of thermal insulation won't do, it's not so much they will 'fail' when cold, just have a much smaller capacity, so 'run out' sooner. I believe normal capacity should be restored when everything is back at normal temperatures.

    I have no experience at these temperatures, but the other thing I would be wary of is possible brittleness of plastic components, with the D5000, I am thinking of the twisty screen, treat it very gently when it is super cold (just in case).

    As Peter says, the biggest risk of condensation problems is going back into the warm (tent or whatever), not when going from warm to cold. The bag idea is good, although I've never needed it.

    Try to leave the lens on, getting the body full of snow, or a volume of cold/hot air when just about to go to the opposite, is probably asking for trouble.

    If the lens and camera are cold and the filter mists when you go inside, just leave it to acclimatise; if you clean it, it'll just mist again almost instantly (as someone here found recently), or if you remove it, then the front element will mist instead.

    Good luck,

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