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Using a camera in cold temps...

Posted by pfmastin (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 4, 10 at 22:25

The snow pictures have me thinking about taking photos in the winter. When you do that, does your camera get cold and then fog up (lenses, viewfinder)when you come back inside?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Using a camera in cold temps...

Yes, your camera can fog up, to prevent it, you can leave your camera in plastic bag, better yet a double bag or a heavy
camera bag like I have, this way it can slowly adjust to different temperature.

RE: Using a camera in cold temps...

Thank you, konrad!

RE: Using a camera in cold temps...

Generally when shooting quick snapshot type photos outdoors in winter I carry the camera inside my coat, taking it out briefly to snap a picture or two. In that manner the camera never really gets excessively cold.

On the other hand, I also shoot a lot of photos where the camera is on a tripod for extended periods of time in the cold. By example, we had a 12" snowfall overnight. I went out at 3am and set my camera on a tripod to take long timed exposure scenics under available light. I had the lens stopped down to f-16 to get maximum depth of field therefore the exposures were averaging 3 to 5 minutes and I took about 30 shots.

At 11am I sat my camera on a tripod 3feet from my bird feeder and attached a wireless shutter release. I then sat inside by the window and triggered the closeup shots with the remote controller. The camera remained on the tripod from 11am till 2:30pm and I took about 250 shots.

Fogging of the lens and viewfinder is a result of condensate moisture collecting on the cold surface. That does not occur while the camera is out in the cold, but rather it occurs when the cold camera is brought into the warm house. To minimize condensate moisture from getting into the cameras internal parts I make a point to pull the SD card and disconnect the wireless shutter release while still outdoors and make sure the access covers are closed before coming in. I then set the camera where it will warm to room temperature before making any effort to change lenses or open any of the access ports.

Once the camera has warmed to room temp I pull the batteries and put them on the charger.

The only downside I have seen is that under normal circumstances I can shoot about 650 frames on a set of batteries, but at temps below freezing that drops to about 350 to 400 frmaes, but it must also be understood that when using the wireless shutter release the auto power off must be turned off and the camera remain on for the full time. But then, that is not a problem because my Pentax *ist DL uses 4 AA batteries and I have 24 rechargeable AA's in my camera bag.

RE: Using a camera in cold temps...

Thanks, lazypup, for the step by step. I hadn't thought of setting up the camera a few feet from the feeder and going in the house. Re: your wireless shutter release. Is it a type of accessory? Or is it simply a wireless remote that works from that distance? I have a wireless one for my Nikon, but I'll have to check and see from what distance it will activate the shutter.

Ooh, please post some of your bird photos! :)

RE: Using a camera in cold temps...


You didn't mention which model of Nikon you have so I can not be certain that this type of wireless shutter release will work on your camera.

Digital Cameras primarily fall into one of three categories.

Point & Shoot-
Very limited exposure controls and may or may not have a limited zoom lens. Some of these cameras have provision to use an infra red wireless trigger, which will generally work up to about 25ft. The downside is that you the wireless unit must be facing the front of the camera.

BRIDGE CAMERAS- These cameras are called bridge cameras because they "Bridge the gap" between point & shoot cameras and full DSLR's. Although some bridge cameras do have a through the lens viewfinder, most have either a separate viewfinder or they use an LCD screen to compose the picture and they have a fixed lens which may or may not have zoom capability. Most of these cameras are equipped to use an IR remote, and some may have an accessory jack where an external shutter release control can be plugged into the camera. in its simplest form the external shutter release is a short cable (typically 3ft) with a push button control, which is used in the same manner as a cable release was used on the 35mm film cameras.

DSLR's (digital single lens refex): Although they are generally sold with a starter lens which is usually a short zoom, in its purest sense a DSLR is a camera body, to which the photographer adds lenses and accessories to meet his/her style of photography.

I personally chose a Pentax DSLR body because I began photography with a Pentax Spotmatic in 1966, and based upon my experience with that camera I have kept with the Pentax line ever since. Pentax offered a number of features which were appealing to me. 1. Although built to the demanding specs of professional photographers they are generally about 30% smaller and lighter than their Nikon or Canon counterparts. 2.As Pentax has evolved from the original manual 35mm film cameras, they have continually designed their product in such a manner that we can continue to use the lenses and accessories that we already own. This was a huge selling point for me because when I made the switch from 35mm film to digital last October I already owned 21 lenses ranging from a 16mm fisheye to a true 1,000mm prime lens and an auto bellows for extreme macro. As a test, I purchased a used Pentax *ist DL digital body for $250 from Craigslist. Since then I have also added 5 additional auto focus lenses, although for nature photography I much prefer manual focus lenses. The only downside I have found is that my Pentax *ist Dl was the first generation of Pentax DSLR's and it only has a 6.3mp sensor, however I intend to upgrade to a Pentax K-7 body in April, and I will still be able to use all my existing lenses and accessories.

The DSLR's have both a built in infra-red sensor and a small jack that looks like an audio jack where an external shutter remote cable can be plugged in.

My bird feeders are mounted 60 ft from my window and generally I shoot with the camera on a tripod with a 70-300mm lens, in which case I attach the remote shutter cable and use it in the same manner as a mechanical cable release on a 35mm camera.

If you camera has provision to use an extension shutter release cable you can also use the wireless shutter release like I have. It has a small receiver, about 1.24" square and 1/2" thick that clips on the flash shoe and it has a cable that plugs into the camera remote jack. The transmitter is about 1"w x 3"l 3/8" thick and it has a short antenna. When you press the button on the transmitter it sends a radio signal to the receiver to trigger the camera. (Max range about 100yds.)

If you camera has provision for the remote cable system go on Ebay and run a search for "Wireless shutter release". you will find a great selection that will fit about any camera that has the capability. (Hint, check the specs, even though it may be listed for Canon, Nikon or Pentax if you check the specs you will find a long list of other brands or cameras that it will also fit.)

One suggestion from personal experience. Find out what battery is used in the receiver. Mine uses a CR2 alkaline. The CR2 alkaline batteries are two for $14 at walmart and they don't last long in cold weather. I found two rechargeable CR2 with a home and car charger for $18 on Ebay.

Here is a shot using the wireless shutter release with the camera 3ft from my suet feeder:


Here are a couple shots at 60ft with a 300mm from my window



Now don't laugh to hard, the following pic is a self portrait of me shooting from the bushes. This picture was taken with the camera at 25ft and using an infra-red remote.


If you would like to see more of my bird pics go to the Gardenweb "Pets & Animals" forum then click on the Wildlife & nature net and go to the "bird Watching" forum. You will see many of my pics in the different threads on bird watching.

You could also try looking in my album on Photobucket

And if you really like Nature and bird photos send me an email and i will put you on my mailing list.

RE: Using a camera in cold temps...

I'm's a Nikon D80 and I do have a 70-300 mm lens. I'll surely check out the remote shutter cable and see if I can use one with my camera. Now I'll go back and reread your note and check out your photos. :) Thanks so much.

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