Digital cameras in the cold

Li-ion in Winter

Here are some tips on outdoor photography in winter. Most of all, I describe how to get the least possible life from the batteries at low temperatures. This reflects two things in the article:

  1. This article does not go into other aspects of outdoor photography, at least not too much.
  2. The information in this article applies to other battery operated devices, only for cameras. (Another section on your car!)

As I started researching this article, I discovered something interesting: Nothing! I can not find anything on the web that supports the tips I give to you and I never read about it in printed sources. I can not believe I'm the only one who knows this, and that, of course, is not a breakthrough scientific discovery. And I can not believe I'm the only one who has ever tried to use the digital camera at zero temperatures, but maybe the market is so small that nobody cared about publishing this information. Frankly, I did not allow myself to have ever published this, but I can not find it.

So here it is. You may have to consider this as a "myth", but you can easily confirm it.

Here's the thing. The electrical components are very similar to the old weary hikers. Slower and crankier when it's cold.

It does not matter what elements it contains, whether it's primary or refillable carbon or alkaline nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion, lead-acid automotive industry, or, I dare say, ever invented or is likely to be invented soon. Each one works much better than the normal human body temperature close to the temperature of the ice. Okay, maybe you have an exotic battery that no one has heard outside the secret lab, but any of the items you're likely to find on the consumer market, like warm temperatures. And perhaps one type of battery operates at 84.37 degrees Celsius, while other types of batteries are 88.64 degrees, but the point is that the batteries work better near the body temperature.

You can observe this very easily. If the camera (or other battery charger) is kept outside at very cold temperatures, the batteries will run out very quickly. Place the camera in the jacket for a few minutes and the batteries will indicate a much higher charge.

Batteries generate chemical electricity through chemical reactions and all chemical reactions take place more efficiently at higher temperatures, to a limiting temperature where complex chemicals begin to decompose. These limiting temperatures are above the body temperature, so do not worry. Do not throw the batteries in fire and wait for them to work better.

So what can you do with it? There are two things, one simple and one side effect.

First, carry the separate batteries in an inner pocket. (Get dressed in layers when you're out of winter time, right?) The closer your skin is, the better. I usually wear extra-sized items in my sweatshirt, at least one sweater and one coat. Do not carry the batteries in an outer pocket or backpack. If this is your plan, save the weight and just do not get extra battery. Otherwise, I would not work.

Second, keep the camera as good as possible while not using it. This, as mentioned above, has a consequence. The problem is that if you hold the camera at your body temperature, condensation is formed on the lenses when you take it off and start using it.

So while the extra batteries are kept at body temperature, the camera itself is a problem. Here are some techniques that can strike a balance between these two requirements.

  1. Keep the camera at an intermediate temperature and, if possible, keep the battery warmer than the lens. I keep my camera in the inner pocket of the outermost jacket and keep it with the lens side. Usually, my outermost jacket expands, so the top of the inner pocket is only slightly warmer than the ambient temperature. The camera's battery is deeply buried in a deep pocket while the lens is just out of the frozen White Mountain wilderness.
  2. Change the batteries during the day, biking them between the camera and the inner pocket. If the battery in my camera indicates "dead", I will install the extra battery and place it in the "volatile" pocket. Then, when the second battery is "dead," I'll take the original battery, which is now warming up and magically no longer "dead."

One last note: When you get home, do not place the cold battery on the charger. Allow the batteries to warm up to room temperature for a few hours before charging. Sudden temperature change from freezing to charging and sudden flow through the cold battery almost certainly causes permanent damage.

Film Cameras

While the tips in this article are specifically about digital cameras, most of this information also applies to cameras. The films produced over the past half a century are almost the electronic control of exposure and the electrical operation of the lock. Many people also have electric movie calling motors. Elements acting on such functions may also be advantageous when heated.

In addition, the film itself works more efficiently at warmer temperatures. In very cold conditions, the photochemical reactions with which the film captures the images may not be fast enough and the images are underexposed. And you will not know until you develop them. The temperature, when it is noticeable, is really extreme, is typically much lower than Fahrenheit, but the phenomenon exists.

So your movie will be beneficial if it's hot, like a digital camera.

At the same time, the same disadvantage is condensation on the lens. The trick I used in extreme cold was to keep the lenses at room temperature in my camera bag and the camera's body in a coat pocket. It slowed down a bit and I needed to make an object before the picture was taken, but it was better than the end of the batteries should only have come to the waves of an underexposed image. There may also be condensation on the lens and mirror of the viewfinder, but this condensation was not between the lens lens and the film, so it did not affect the images.

Other Electronic Modules

What other devices are you using outdoors in winter? Regardless of whether you have a battery, the battery works better if you keep it warm.

And condensation is no problem! Smaller condensation may occur on the circuit, but this is less problematic than you think. Most consumer electronics have a coating on the circuits to protect them from atmospheric moisture and oxygen so they can get a little condensed. When you remove the appliance from its warm pocket and keep it in the iced air for a couple of minutes, only a few small drops of condensation are produced. Then, when you put it back in your tasty pocket, condensation evaporates again.

GPS Receiver? Keep it warm but high enough to get a good signal from the satellites. Your body hides the satellite signal, especially when the forest leafworm has already weakened the signal. You can try to keep the receiver with a shoulder strap on your back or shoulder, from your backpack under your coat.

Walkie-Talkie? You have to ride well in the jacket of your inner coat, which keeps it warm and ready for use.

Wireless Phone? (Why did you bring it to the wilderness?) I prefer to leave mine in my car when I go hiking. Then I put a shirt in my pocket to get warm when I got home. By the time the civilization and the coverage of mobile phones can be traced back, I am ready to worry about my wife. If you are hiking, keep it in your inner pocket. (And if you're worried about getting rat cancer from the radio energy, keep it in a pocket that's at least one inches away from your skin, but still close enough to keep it warm enough).

Starting a car in the cold [19659002] Here is a bonus tip on the cold battery. You may have heard a long time ago and rejected that this is inadequate but true.

It only works if your car is quite old and weak. If this trick helps you in the cold morning, replace the battery as soon as you can.

But if you started to buy a new battery and you are working late and the car will not start, you can save the day: Turn off the headlights before you start the car.

Sounds loud, but it really does work. What happens is that the current flowing through the battery actually warms up the battery. After warming up, the battery makes the power more efficient than when it is cold.

This trick needs to be used very carefully. The idea of ​​using some battery batteries is to warm up the battery, but there is a lack of stored charge during the process. If you first rotate the starter, you want the battery to warm up and charge the cold engine.

So, if the first experiment results in slow motion, it is quickly given up. Turn on the headlights for a while – you have to do one minute – then turn off the lights and try the starter engine again.

Notice that I said "headlights". Parking lights do not draw enough electricity to warm the battery when it is a very cold day.

So you can ask why you do not get enough power for the starter to warm up the battery? Actually, but at the same time charging the battery so that it can charge the battery before the battery is enough to start the engine.

Use headlights.

If you are trying two or three cycles and the engine still does not start, give it up and break the jumper cable. (Van jumper cables are practical, right?)

If you need to use this trick again, get a new battery. Today!


You can view the sampling of my digital photos that are frozen, often lower than Fahrenheit []. I wonder how many of these pictures would have been missing if I had left my batteries down?

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