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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old September 10th, 2008, 11:11 AM   #1
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Shooting in the Cold

I recently bought a Canon XH A1 and will be doing the majority of my shots in the outdoors. It seems to be an early fall this year here in Montana, and the weather is already turning cold. We have already been snowed on in the high country!

My question is this: what is the minimum temperature for operating the XH A1? I am also going to be shooting in the winter, with temps sometimes dropping down to below zero.

What can I do to ensure the proper function of the camera in conditions such as this?
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Old September 10th, 2008, 11:27 AM   #2
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Portabrace makes a winter coat for them. I used one with my GL2 and it worked very well. You can put handwarmer packs in it to keep the temp up. I will be ordering one for my A1. Love Gierachs books by the way.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 12:12 PM   #3
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Tim, is there some temperature at which the camera will cease to function? Good idea on the handwarmers, I never would have thought about that.

Also, I think John Gierach is the best fly fishing writer alive today. I own all of his books, and have read them all many times. Good to meet another fan out there.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 12:41 PM   #4
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I don't know about what temperature you can go to but tape stock seems to get fairly stiff in the cold so I figure if it is cold enough for gloves I use the portabrace jacket on the camera.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 12:44 PM   #5
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Manual says 0-40 deg "C" or 32-104 "F"
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Old September 10th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jake McGlothlin View Post
Tim, is there some temperature at which the camera will cease to function? Good idea on the handwarmers, I never would have thought about that.

Also, I think John Gierach is the best fly fishing writer alive today. I own all of his books, and have read them all many times. Good to meet another fan out there.
I'm sure there is "some temp," but I have yet to reach it. I have shot in both extreme cold and hot conditions with the A1. Your biggest concern in the cold will be battery life. Bring alot of them and charge them in a room temp area. Porta Barce makes a "Polar Mitten" which is great..also use the hand warmers and bring an electric blanket that you can plug into your car if that's an option too. You dont want to change temps on the camera too quickly either. Always keep a few bags of scilica gel on hand to absorb any moisture.

Here's the Polar Mitten link http://www.portabrace.com/aag_27_32
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Old September 10th, 2008, 09:16 PM   #7
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Jake... I've shot for hours in temperatures down to about 10F and never had a problem. No special protection except for a rain cover. Only two issues. The battery life was shortened to about 2/3 of normal which to be expected. And on one shot there was some waviness of the image right after I took it out of my warm car. It was an optical, not electronic phenomenon which brings me to my one admonition.

Be careful about heat cycling the camera. If you're shooting in cold and then drive to another cold shooting location in a warm car, keep the camera away from the heat. Keep it in its case and in the trunk/boot. I know both Petrol and Pelican cases offer good thermal insulation.
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Old October 30th, 2008, 02:40 PM   #8
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One of the main issues is getting fog on your lense especially using a wide angle. If you change temp of the cam this is bound to happen.
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Old October 30th, 2008, 07:35 PM   #9
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Jake, I live over by Hamilton and have shot many, many times in cold weather over here. But I wouldn't trust the camera, exposed, in anything below 15 degrees f. But if you just wrap a large towel around it and stick a hand warmer in the towel you will be fine, even at 10 or 15 degrees below zero. I shot the special olympics a few years back with temps hovering around 15 below zero and all went well. Different camera though but the tape drive mech. is usually similar in most cameras. Lens fog is an issue you will have if you take a camera from indoors to outdoors which allows the difference in temp and humidity to fog the lens. Then you just have to wait long enough for the camera to acclimate itself to the new outdoor conditions (temp and humidity.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 07:59 AM   #10
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Hi Jake,

I work with the US Army's Cold Regions Testing Center. The temperatures drop below -40° and they have to take some extreme care of their equipment with the "Polar" line of Porta Brace cases which have pockets for the warmers that seem to work well.

They are switching to solid state cameras so they don't have to worry about what the 'grinding' sound means in the tape mechanism.

When it gets cold enough, the smart thing to do is go inside.

For your purposes, lens condensation (plan extra time to take the camera inside/outside to adjust to the temperature and humidity - the same goes for humid conditions in the tropics), keeping the batteries warm (put extras inside your coat), and keeping your fingers warm are likely the most important considerations.

My best.

Mike
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Old October 31st, 2008, 06:23 PM   #11
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I'm planning to shoot in the cold as well. As I won't do that regularly and I still need to buy a raincoat as well, I came up with the idea to buy the raincoat of portabrace (which apparently leaves a bit of space around the xh-a1) and put some small handwarmers/heatpacks in it when it get's really cold.
Does anyone has an idea of the chances, smth like this will be an ok alternative for buying the polar mitten?
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Old October 31st, 2008, 06:35 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Thomas van den Berg View Post
I still need to buy a raincoat as well, I came up with the idea to buy the raincoat of portabrace (which apparently leaves a bit of space around the xh-a1) and put some small handwarmers/heatpacks in it when it get's really cold.
Does anyone has an idea of the chances, smth like this will be an ok alternative for buying the polar mitten?
Depends upon how cold is cold. I shot last winter in temps down to 10F using only the PortaBrace raincoat, without any warming packs with no problems. Can't say anything about temps colder than that.

I think the best thing you can do is let your camera get cold and keep it that way until you're done shooting. Once I come home from shooting in sub-freezing temps, I take out the battery and tape and put it back in its Petrol bag which padding which provides some insulation and I let it come back up to room temperature very slowly. I don't think its absolutely necessary, but I'm just being cautious.

BTW... if you search this list, you'll find plenty of posts on using the Canon in cold weather.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 07:47 PM   #13
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Haha I will be finding out very soon being in MN! I shot in -10 (not including windchill) with the DVX100 last year! I was more worried about my hands then the camera!
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Old November 1st, 2008, 06:48 PM   #14
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wind chill has no effect on the camera
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 10:01 AM   #15
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Lens fogging is a problem of bringing a cold camera into a warm environment, not the other way around. The cold lens drops the temperature of the nearby air below the dewpoint, causing water vapor to condense on the surface.

It's a much worse problem taking a camera from your cold cabin onto the deck of your cruise ship at sea.
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