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Thread: DSLR Use In Winter

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    DSLR Use In Winter

    A few months back I bought a DSLR camera (new but an older, bulkier design). As the weather has cooled off I'm a bit hesitant to take it out on hikes. The manual says the low end of the operating range is 14 deg F. I had an old point and click Canon years ago with the same specs that I've used in temps well below zero but given the cost of the new camera and all the moving parts I'm nervous pushing it. It does have a weather sealed design if that means anything with the cold.

    For the DSLR users on here do you take your camera out in Winter temps? Any tricks or tips to keep it in proper working order - putting a hand warmer in carry case, etc? It's been a bummer going back to cell phone pics as the weather cooled off. Would love to get great pictures of the Winter landscape but I don't want to break it. Thanks in advance for any advice.
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    For me it depends on how cold it gets. I usually carry a big-ass heavy DSLR all the time, but I've had times where it's frozen up in winter, so for those times I switch to a point and shoot. Also, sometimes the DSLR just gets too bulky to use when combined with winter gear / clothing.
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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Never had a problem with cold temperatures and a DSLR -- including -20 F near Mt. Madison a few years back.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dingo View Post
    For me it depends on how cold it gets. I usually carry a big-ass heavy DSLR all the time, but I've had times where it's frozen up in winter, so for those times I switch to a point and shoot. Also, sometimes the DSLR just gets too bulky to use when combined with winter gear / clothing.
    Yah the bulk and weight is a draw back as the weight of Winter gear starts to pile up. I currently am hanging my bag across my chest with carabiners to the rings on my backpack straps.

    When you say in the past it has frozen it didn't cause any permanent damage? It just gets "stuck" until it thaws?
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    Never had a problem with cold temperatures and a DSLR -- including -20 F near Mt. Madison a few years back.
    Did you do anything special with it - carry in/under jacket, warmers in carry case, etc? One of my concerns is that I have it under a jacket or in a warm pack and then I expose the camera to a sudden temp change and it cracks the lens or damages motors, etc. Can condensation form inside the camera in these circumstances?
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Here’s some info from Adorama. Some of the best folks in the Biz. https://www.adorama.com/alc/0008151/...otography-tips
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    I started carrying mine in winter after I bought it but gave that up since I carry so much I didn't need that hanging around my neck. I do remember having it on Mt Israel when the windchill was around -20 and had no issues. But that was a relatively short hike so it wasn't exposed too long. 4 hours tops. Probably not a good test.
    Joe

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    Here’s some info from Adorama. Some of the best folks in the Biz. https://www.adorama.com/alc/0008151/...otography-tips
    Tremendous info! Thanks for the link.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Tremendous info! Thanks for the link.
    Glad to help. Just like testing out a new winter sleeping bag. Practice with your Camera in the backyard before hitting the trail.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    I'm actually curious as to why you decided to go with with a DSLR? I can think of a few reasons, such as shooting in raw format and post processing the pictures, need for a long range zoom, or desire for changing lenses on the go, but I would love to know if there is something else to it for you.

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    Senior Member John in NH's Avatar
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    The biggest thing is to carry a large enough (gallon or maybe bigger) ziploc bag to put the camera body and any lenses that have been out in the cold and put them sealed in that bag before you bring it into any warm area like a car or house. If you don't do this the lens will fog up for a long time. Let the camera be at ambient temp while outside, do not put it in your jacket or breath on the lens because you will get the same fogging issue, but worse, the fog will freeze. You can throw some silicia gel packs in that bag to absorb any extra moisture or fog that forms during transitions.

    Your DSLR will work even in extreme cold, I have been down to -20 air plenty. Your body will give out before it does.

    A DSLR will work long after a phone or point and shoot will freeze.
    Last edited by John in NH; 11-14-2019 at 07:27 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    When you say in the past it has frozen it didn't cause any permanent damage? It just gets "stuck" until it thaws?
    For me it was a matter of the lens motor freezing up. It was fine after thawing with no permanent damage. I'm amazed my camera still works, actually. It's an almost 12 year old Nikon D300 that's been to hell and back, and I've gone WAY past the quoted shutter lifespan.
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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    I've used a DSLR for astrophotography (AP) where one leaves the camera outside all night, so far down to 4F and have had no problems. By then end of the night all sky-facing surfaces can be covered with dew or frost--the key is to keep the moisture out of the system.

    For AP, I use a rain cover and lens heater (to keep the front surface of the lens clear). For hiking, I keep the camera cold and dry (ie away from my warm moist body). The sealed plastic bag trick when moving the camera into a warm, moist place is also helpful.


    BTW, Canon rates their non-underwater cameras for use down to 32F (0C), presumably due to the risk of ice forming inside. Their underwater cameras are rated for use down to 14F (-10C), presumably because internal ice is not a risk.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 11-16-2019 at 11:34 AM.

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    Lots of good advice above about the camera itself. But another thing to keep in mind is manual dexterity. In the warmer months this is usually not an issue. But in the extreme cold, you might have thick gloves on, and you might need to take them off to remove the lens cap, adjust buttons and dials, etc. And what do you do with the untethered lens cap and the big gloves you just took off while the wind is blowing 30+ and your finger tips are quickly getting sluggish. Then the fun really begins when you try to get the lens cap back on if it's the kind where you have to pinch both sides toward the center.
    This isn't rocket science. Tons of people do it. But it's likely most people aren't wildly successful on their first trip above treeline in January with a DSLR.
    Highly recommend practicing in your backyard on a cold windy day after having let your hands get cold. Like many things related to winter hiking you just have to develop a system and dial it in.
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy View Post
    Lots of good advice above about the camera itself. But another thing to keep in mind is manual dexterity. In the warmer months this is usually not an issue. But in the extreme cold, you might have thick gloves on, and you might need to take them off to remove the lens cap, adjust buttons and dials, etc. And what do you do with the untethered lens cap and the big gloves you just took off while the wind is blowing 30+ and your finger tips are quickly getting sluggish. Then the fun really begins when you try to get the lens cap back on if it's the kind where you have to pinch both sides toward the center.
    This isn't rocket science. Tons of people do it. But it's likely most people aren't wildly successful on their first trip above treeline in January with a DSLR.
    Highly recommend practicing in your backyard on a cold windy day after having let your hands get cold. Like many things related to winter hiking you just have to develop a system and dial it in.
    I did a sunrise hike SAT AM on Jackson. Was -6 deg F with 10-20 mph winds on summit. I left camera in it's case in my backpack until I reached summit. It worked fine. I wear nitrile gloves in convertible mittens with exposed fingers in Winter to extend my gloves off time as much as possible. Was able to hang out and take pictures for about 15 minutes before my fingers got so cold that I had to call it a day. Got several great pictures of the sunrise. I've done many above treeline Winter trips and generally take obscene amounts of photos. The DSLR was the new variable. I carried camera back down in it's case in my pack. When I got to car I bagged it in a Sea To Summit dry bag, squeezed as much air as I could out and secured firmly. When I got home I just left it on my desk for a few hours and then took out of bag. All seems to be well. That is likely about as cold as I'll go out for a hike anyway so it's good to know the camera is fine and I can count on it.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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