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Cold Weather Shooting


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#1 Damir Omic

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 01:02 PM

Hi,

I'm a student filmaker working on a documentary thesis over the winter break. Much of it will be shot in Bosnia, with several of the days commited to shooting in the mountains. The temperature here tends to be around 0C, and it will probably dip below that for a significant portion of the time.

I'm a little worried about shooting at such low temperatures. I own a Sony Z7U and the manual suggests to operate it above 7C. I'm wondering how serious of a concern this is, and what I should look out for in case I decide to shoot in this climate. I understand condensation could freeze and cause issues, but how realistic of a problem is this?

If anyone has advice on this, I would greatly apreciate it. What kind of things should I be cocnerned about, and what can I do to protect my camera as best as possible?

Thanks
-damir
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 02:16 PM

Working in the cold is a real problem. Film cameras can be specially lubricated and adjusted for it, but for electronic cameras, the only idea I have is to use an electric heating barney. Search the internet for info on the making of the cable TV show "Ice Road Truckers" -- they did a lot of video shooting in sub-zero temperatures.





-- J.S.
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#3 Kevin W Wilson

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 01:37 AM

Shooting in cold weather is a pain, plain and simple.

Last year (2008), I DP'd a documentary for about two weeks where most of the shooting consisted of nighttime exteriors in Atlanta, GA. It rained pretty continuously and the temperature rarely climbed above 30 at night. The F900 we shot with experienced some difficulty turning the tape heads when the temp went way down and I ended up attaching HeatMax brand hand warmers to the outside of the camera near the tape mechanisms. Worked well enough that the tape heads cued up problem free from that point on.

You can buy them at any major retailer that sells camping gear. I get mine at Home Depot and just rubber band them to the camera. It worked well for the sound guy too as his lav mics were having issues as well. A hand warmer on each mic pac solved the problem and we we finished the shoot with no technical issues otherwise.

Be safe out there.

Kevin Wilson
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#4 Michael K Bergstrom

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 02:37 PM

Living in Alaska, I have plenty of cold weather experience. Your biggest issue will be battery life, the cold saps the power right away. Wear a vest with the batteries next to your body. I have shot full size tape and mini DV tape cameras to -25/-30 F with no problem. If I'm shooting for more than 5 hours at colder than -20 though, I have the hand warmers, put them in a rain cover for the camera though, they are ineffective if the heat can escape. The only issue besides batteries is that once plastic gets cold, it gets brittle, so move a little slower. But at 0C you shouldn't have an issue. You could put a polar bag on the camera, but that's a little over kill in my mind for the temp you're shooting at. I usually put the polar bag on below -30.
Once you start shooting solid state though, you only really have to worry about batteries. I've shot the EX1 and HPX500 at -60F with the only issue slowing down the LCD viewfinder.
One more word of caution. When you are shooting outside and the camera gets cold, don't bring it inside right away, it'll fog up and you'll be in a world of hurt. Warm it up gradually.
Have fun and welcome to cold weather shooting.
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#5 Damir Omic

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 06:45 AM

Just did a couple of days of shooting up in the mountains. Thanks to everyone for all the advice. For the most part everything went smoothly, though there was a bit of fogging when I brought the camera inside. Fortunately it was limited to the filters and didn't make its way to the lens. The hand warmers were also a huge help since it dipped to about -10C for some of the shooting time.

Thanks again for all the help
-damir
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