Here in Michigan, the weather has taken a slightly chilly turn. Over a foot of beautiful snow has fallen in the past couple days and the temps have dropped wildly (currently 3 degrees!). While that can make for some BEAUTIFUL snowy photographs, it can also be a little treacherous for your gear if you’re not careful. I was asked the question today,”isn’t it a little dangerously cold for your camera lenses”? The answer to that question is a little complicated, so I thought I’d send off a few tips to those of you who enjoy getting out there and taking photos of the new-fallen snow.
1. Know your camera’s capabilities. Some cameras can handle colder temps than others, and it’s important to know what that rating is for your camera. Also, even though snow is not liquid, you need to be careful of how much snow falls on your camera. Some professional cameras are “weather sealed”, which means it can handle SOME falling snow and water without it getting inside. But remember, your hands are warm and snow WILL melt.
2. Take it slow. Allow your camera time to acclimate, by leaving it outside for a few minutes before using it. Some older model film cameras should even be left outside until it has fully acclimated to that temperature, a process called “cold soaking” (again, know your gear). Even more important, when it’s time to come in, place your camera inside a large ziplock bag and close it before coming inside. Allow the camera to return to room temperature before taking it out of the plastic bag. Why? Cold air has a low moisture content. Warm air has a higher moisture content. So when you bring a cold camera into a hot environment, condensation can occur inside the camera, which for any electronic device, is a big problem.
3. Be prepared for a short battery life. Cold weather negatively effects battery-life, and can quickly zap it dry. To get a little juice back, take the battery out and place it in your warm hands or inside your jacket for a few minutes. That will revive the battery a bit and allow you to get a few more snaps of those insane children sledding down a hill in sub-zero temperatures.
4. Be gentle. Most cameras are encased in plastic. Plastic at room temperature has a little give or bend to it. When you put that plastic in an extremely cold environment, it become much more brittle and prone to cracking and breaking.
And the biggest tip is to STAY WARM and HAVE FUN!!