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dustydingo

As a photographer, how do you manage really cold weather?

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Hi all . . . especially those of you who inhabit the colder climes.

 

Being born on the edge of a desert, and mostly avoiding really cold places, my experience is about to be well and truly tested by spending Christmas in Estonia, New Year's in Istanbul.

 

From a personal point of view, the cold will be manageable, but when it comes to using cameras . . . two things spring to mind:

 

  • wearing gloves vs manipulating camera controls, and
  • dealing with possible condensation in lenses going from toasty to frosty (more vice versa I'm guessing).

 

I manage condensation in south-east Asia no worries (basically by keeping camera gear in least-air-conditioned spot in lodgings) but was wondering how cold-climaters manage both this and reconciling gloves with camera controls.

 

cheers,

DD

Edited by dustydingo

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27 minutes ago, dustydingo said:

but was wondering how cold-climaters manage both this and reconciling gloves with camera controls.

Never mind the edge of a desert, how about Oxfordshire in February. I bought some very high-quality fingerless gloves in Aldi, very finely woven (£10 is a lot to pay in Aldi!). Brilliant.

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There's the old one about a spare battery in the pocket, but I've been in Riga and Lübeck in February and it wasn't a problem. I could manage with ordinary gloves, or even none, but I think I took some fingerless mittens to Gdańsk this February. You can even get them with folding finger covers, but I just put my hands in my pockets. I don't change settings much though. Lenses weren't a problem in a warm hotel room, but mine aren't metal-bodied, and we were usually out all day. I have occasionally warmed up a lens over a light bulb or something (not so easy now they tend to be LED)- it's usually only the front element.

Incidentally I'm cheating this year- going to Wellington for most of the month. You can keep the snow and ice.

Edited by spacecadet
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I have thin gloves lined with Thinsulate that have the touch-screen-friendly fingers--they keep my hands warm enough and I can still manipulate the controls. I don't shoot in the cold a whole lot, but I've never had any equipment issues.

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Lowepro makes  gloves which have slits in the thumb and forefinger in where you can slide those fingertips  out when required.

Very useful 

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In Northumberland, UK we have the saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. If in one cold place for a long time layers of clothing are key. Also appropriate footwear and gloves. I carry both thin grippy gloves which allow changes in camera settings and thick warm gloves which still allow focus (I often focus manually) changes. Almost forgot the hat that covers ears and a plastic shopping bag in every camera bag to sit or Kneel on. My trekking camera packpack is also home to a camera rain cover. I have recently found Exped Viewfinder monopod/trekking pole very useful even when carrying a tripod to maintain footing on slippery ground and inclines.

The only time condensation has been a problem was in Singapore and going from an air conditioned room to ambient temperature and humidity.

 

Hope this helps

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l get cold fingers so having the chemical hand warmers in my pockets is helpful to warm up now and then. Putting camera in a plastic bag before going into warmth will help with the condensation going from cold to warm. Let the camera warm up before taking it out.

 

Paulette

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Ohmygosh, something else to worry about!

 

Paulette is up in polar bear country and Dusty is out in the desert or humid Southeast Asia. I'm a fingerless glove failure -- it's my fingers that get cold! It's been damp and cold here in Liverpool. I try to have a bit of soup at lunch and yes, that's a small bottle of brandy in my pocket. 

 

Edo, who once lived in Seville, the hottest city in Europe

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When I lived in Montreal, where the winters can be frigid, I used to keep my camera inside my coat next to my body to prevent it from freezing, exposing the camera to the icy air only enough to snap a picture. However, I never mastered the art of using a camera with thick winter gloves on. Best thing, of course, is to stay at home by the fire and sip a cup of hot chocolate. 🤗

Edited by John Mitchell
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Warmer than -10C I am OK with dressing in layers under a normal warm winter jacket. Going from -10C to room temperature with a digital camera has never been a problem for me. I shoot normally in any cold, except I use the battery switching technique detailed below.

 

Your head and body core temperature is the most important to your survival, so your system will withdraw heat from your not so important extremities, such as fingers toes ears nose. This is to protect your head and body core.

 

So dress in layers over your body core, and cover your head, to the point that your core and head is warm and toasty. Then your extremities will be much warmer. You still need to use a glove. If you get too cold your brain does not function as well, and you will start making mistakes. Allow for this. Time to get inside and warm yourself.

 

Any temperature below -10C I wear an older version of this parka over layers. Overkill maybe, but not when you are standing around at -15C in a high wind with night coming on. Watch out for cheaper counterfeits, if you intend to buy one.

 

https://www.canadagoose.com/ca/en/snow-mantra-parka-9501L.html#q=parka&cmpid=918366382&medium=cpc&source=google&agp=45546741346&cre=393822942398&kid=%2Bcanada+%2Bgoose+%2Bparka&mtype=b&pla=&merchant_id=&product_id=&country=&gclsrc=aw.ds&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8d6LuNyS5gIVFHiGCh1YaAPlEAAYASAAEgJNKvD_BwE&start=1

 

Read the reviews at the bottom of the page.

 

I always start out with a fully charged battery in the camera and a second fully charged battery under my parka warming in a shirt pocket. When the camera indicates an uncharged battery, switch the cold camera battery with the warm one in your pocket. When that replacement battery gets cold, and indicates a need to charge, switch batteries again. When you warm the cold battery in your pocket it will revive and be good for more shooting. Switch back and forth. You may want to carry a third fully charged battery. Use a high capacity memory chip so you do not have to switch memory chips with cold fumbling fingers.

 

Watch the histogram for lenses that are not stopping down to shooting aperture, or focal plane shutters, mirrors, that are too slow in operation. Clean your lens and camera contacts before your trip at home. Never had this happen at any temperature with a digital camera, but something to watch for anyway.

 

Below -10C going rapidly between cold to hot environments will cause condensation on your gear. The solution is to plan to shoot in your cold environment all at once. Zip up your cold gear in a padded camera case, bring into the warm environment and let sit for an hour or so. Go to lunch while your gear warms up slowly. Then towel off any condensation, then shoot inside.
 
In -40C weather I once had a camera so cold that when I brought it inside at +19C the condensation turned to ice immediately, on the outside of the camera.  The camera was encased in a block of ice. In desperation, I used a hand warmer in a nearby toilet. The camera, a film Nikon, was functional once it was deiced.

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What Bill says. When its cold (for this I will define cold as -10C or lower) definitely keep extra batteries in a warm pocket. If you out for a long day then a third battery is a good idea. I find that when batteries that have lost charge due to cold warm up, they don't go back to their original charge. I always walk around with the camera tucked inside my coat. This means I can't zip the coat up all the way but a scarf will save the day. When you come inside leave the lens cap on until the camera warms up, else it will be fogged up for a while.

Big warm mittens are ideal, when I am out shooting I wear a pair of thin gloves inside them. The thin gloves are not enough by themselves but are fine for the few minutes from time to time. If you boots are roomy enough then cut out an inner sole from a cheap camping mattress - this can keep the feet toasty for ages, but only if there is enough room. If your feet are cramped then they will get cold quickly. As outer clothes I wear a down jacket with a windproof on top, and for trousers I have a pair of salopettes designed for snowboarding. These are gorgeous - they come up to mid stomach for extra snugness, have big pockets and snow cuffs.

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thank you all, you've probably got it covered for me, truly appreciated believe me ❄️❄️❄️

 

I hope we don't hit anything like -10C as that parka Bill referenced is a little out of our budget, but all the other tips are brilliant.

 

Thank you

 

DD

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I have been a few times on the other side of the pond in Finland. 

You may actually hit temperatures like -10 in December, maybe only during the night. 

 

All else has been said above, batteries inside your coat cannot be stressed enough though.

Batteries do not like cold temperatures at all.

 

Like Lori above, I have two pairs of gloves, one thinner inside the thicker. 

New to me the hint from Rico with the Loewepro having slits in the gloves to slip your fingers through. 
My thin gloves are made from Fleece and were cheap enough to give them a "slit test" (bought from primark). 

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I have several different gloves for different winter weathers. None of them are actually very good to operate the camera. So I need to remove the gloves time after time.
I usually keep my camera and batteries inside my coat.
In January and February it may be -20 to -30 degrees and I do not love the cold! Never have.

Edit:
Do not forget good warm shoes...

Edited by Pekka Liukkonen
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A pair of fingerless gloves under a pair of thermal gloves. I only deal with going from frosty to toasty once a year and have to wait patiently for 5 mins for condensation to subside (both on lens and glasses). Only time I ever had a battery problem was shooting at 17,000ft on the crater rim of Kilimanjaro in -18 degrees at sunrise with the Mamiya 7 film camera (back in the days).

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I have a pair of 'shooting mittens' fingerless gloves with a mitten bit that folds over like the picture, mine have small magnets that hold the mitten and thumb bits back.91jed5KZczL._SL1500_.jpg

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For UK weather I've always used Berghaus Spectrum Gloves. I've had 2 pairs, eventually I always lose them. I now have no outdoor stores near me selling them, so have just bought some Aldi Ski Gloves, no weather cold enough yet to wear them. I've seen them mail order if I need them. With the Berghaus gloves I could operate a D750 other than eject the battery or replace an SD card. Replacing an SD card is very rare while shooting, even when mirrored, as I use 2 64GB.

Edited by sb photos
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Lined winter trousers....bliss

 

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Just realized nobody mentioned long johns so far - I know they are not popular but very practical. 

With long johns is a little bit like with Mc-Donals, nobody ever goes eating a burger there .....  

I admit to have have a few pair of long johns:

   thinner ones for pre/post winter when I go out for an entire day/night under 5°-7° Celsius 

   thicker ones for real winter when its falls below below freezing or when some heavy breezing.

 

In emergencies when no long-johns available (eg forgot at home on multi day trip), some thicker woman tights are an option as well. 

These are available everywherewhere at very reasonable prices and keep warm as well.

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1 hour ago, meanderingemu said:

how i handle cold weather? i change hemisphere. 

 

Right . . . ummm . . . remind me, which hemisphere is it that doesn't have really cold weather? . . . 😎

 

DD

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30 minutes ago, dustydingo said:

 

Right . . . ummm . . . remind me, which hemisphere is it that doesn't have really cold weather? . . . 😎

 

DD

 

 

now, Southern, time to change

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Up here cold weather stars at about -20C. Never had any issues with my camera gear failing at minus double digits temperature. The trick is to dress warm, and I use mitts similar to the ones of flotsom to help keep my fingers warms.

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Most important is to put the camera in an air tight bag when taking it from very cold to warm, then leave it alone for a couple of hours as it slowly heats up. I use clear office/kitchen garbage bags. I hand-puff the bag up a bit like a small balloon before I twist it shut to make sure it is air tight.

 

Below is a video about weather issues and cameras.

Warning some mild foul language

Camera 'Weather Sealing' Unicorns & Nonsense

 

Hope this helps,

 

 

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The message I'm getting is "don't go out."

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I suffer from Raynaud's disease, poor circulation leading to painfully cold white hands, so winter can be a nightmare. The only medical advice I have been given is "Don't allow yourself to get cold"!

 

However life must go on and I have strategies to deal with this.

 

1) Buy a box of disposable plastic gloves from the likes of Screwfix and wear them under ordinary thinsulate gloves or, better still mitts. I can focus the camera using the combination of plastic and thinsulate gloves, but changing settings involves removing my outer gloves. Despite being "disposable", with care you can get several wearings from each pair. However gloves alone are not enough so you need to do.....

 

2) Physical exercise is my preferred way to keep warm, but my favourite, cycling, is problematic due to static and very cold hands due to wind chill - despite all precautions. However a brisk walk (preferably uphill) or working hard in the garden ( shovelling muck)  is a great way to ward off the cold, and you do get the occasional photo op!

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