|Monday, 25 February 2013 19:20|
Photographer Carl Battreall explains how to keep digital cameras alive and kicking when working in extreme cold can be difficult.
Keeping digital cameras alive and kicking when working in extreme cold can be difficult. The primary culprit when it comes to camera failure is the battery. Unfortunately the trend towards small, energy demanding cameras has made more challenging.
The golden rule is simple: batteries warm, camera cold. I try to keep all my batteries warm and rotate them as they dip below 50% in charge. You don't want the batteries to die in the camera, they are extremely difficult to warm up in the field once they have died. I keep a lanyard around my neck and against my body with the batteries enclosed. I usually don't keep a battery in the camera unless I am actually taking a photograph. Cameras use a little bit of energy even when turned off and the cold increases the speed of battery draining.
This is the reason I still prefer optical viewfinders, I can set up and compose an image without having a battery in the camera. Mirror-less cameras need a battery to do anything! LCD screens can slow and even go completely blank in extremely cold weather rendering them useless.
Try to avoid using live-view (if using a camera with an optical finder, if using a mirror-less, you have no choice!) it is the most energy demanding of all the camera's functions. Try and keep image and histogram review to a minimum. High frame rate shooting and image stabilization are also a quick ways to drain battery life. Turn off the camera whenever you're not in the process of taking a photograph.
People worry about their cameras "freezing". But most cameras can handle it, at least for short periods of time. Remember when a cold object quickly becomes warm, condensation appears. I leave my cameras in their bag and outside of my tent (unless it's really stormy)or cabin. Leave them in the trunk of your car if you are driving around and photographing. If you need to go inside somewhere warm, try warming your camera slowly. Putting the camera in a zip lock bag can also help keep condensation from forming on the camera.
The quickest way to fog your camera's viewfinder or lens is to breathe on it or touch it with warm hands. I hold my breath when looking through the viewfinder. The back of the camera usually gets very wet from your face touching it, that moisture will quickly turn to ice once you move your face away.
Winter photography can be very rewarding and with careful planning your camera will perform flawlessly. In fact, rarely does that camera fail in the cold, it's usually the photographer that gives up.
Carl Battreall is a professional photographer who specializes in photographing remote wilderness areas in Alaska. His work can be seen on his website www.photographalaska.com. His new book project blog is www.alaskarange.wordpress.com
|Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013 21:33|