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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old February 22nd, 2009, 02:59 PM   #1
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EX works at -32c

Hi guys.

I was in Northern Norway last week on my annual trip to shoot the Northern Lights. Had an excellent time getting more Aurora footage plus dog sled teams, reindeer and general arctic landscape shots. This year I shot everything in 3D with my EX1/EX3 rig. During the 4 days we were up in the mountains near Karasjok (200 miles north of the arctic circle) the temperature never got above -20c. For 2 days and 2 nights it was below -30c (-22f) and on the last night -36c (-33f). Despite filming in these extremely cold conditions I am happy to report that the cameras worked without fail. The only issues I encountered with the cameras was the focus ring becoming very stiff, LCD's a little sluggish and the viewfinders icing over whenever I used them. The batteries lasted about 50% of normal which is pretty good given the temperatures.
I left the cameras on continuously when I was outside, only switching off to change batteries. When the temperature dropped below -26c I wrapped them in a thin fleece sweater for some protection as things like the rubber eye cups were becoming brittle.

I wish my tripod performed as well. The head froze solid and had to be warmed up in front of a log fire before use each day, even then it would freeze up again after 30mins outside. My radio mic kit worked just fine until the alkaline batteries got so cold that they would not produce enough power and any cables become completely ridged like iron bars!
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 03:23 PM   #2
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Sounds like a "Brass Monkey" job, are we going to be given a sneak preview of your footage?

I don't suppose you took any SD HC cards with you together with a Kensington or other adaptor - your previous experiment, freezing the cards, would have been interesting to repeat using SD cards.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 02:47 PM   #3
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I didn't use SD cards for this shoot. I just don't trust them as much as SxS and it costs so much to get this kind of footage that I just wasn't going to take any chances. I'm hearing too many tales of corrupted clips with SD cards to risk them on a job that would be so difficult to re shoot.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 02:54 PM   #4
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For me the bigger question would be how to keep myself functioning at those temps!

Over here (Hawaii) it's news when it gets to 60 deg F (15 deg C).
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Old February 24th, 2009, 01:31 AM   #5
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I have a whole new respect for arctic explorers following that trip. We had warm cabins to return to at the end of each day. I did have problems with eyelashes freezing up and each button press had to be carefully planned as it meant removing gloves. Touch the tripod and you would stick to it and it would burn like holding a hot iron.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 02:39 AM   #6
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Brrrrr....I hope you got great footage! Just out of curiosity, which tripod froze over?
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Old February 24th, 2009, 03:49 AM   #7
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Sounds like a great trip.
Iīve used the EX in the far north of Norway as well without problems.
Last week we were in Chamonix for the Nissan Outdoor games and temperatures swung between +1C to -26C within ours.
Moving from low altitude to high altitude and in and out the sun.
The only problems I encountered was a bit of lag on the LCD as well.
Both the EX-1 and EX-3 performed really well.
We were also just shooting to SxS cards as the cost of getting all these action sports shots is too high for me to risk shooting on SDHC cards at the moment.
And we do quite a bit of slo-mo shooting and having to remember to switch back and forth between cards is just adding another possible screw up in the shooting process
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Old February 24th, 2009, 06:14 AM   #8
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And I thought it was bad enough shooting for a week of 90% exteriors in cloudless 40+ degrees (celsius) and wind/sandstorms a few weeks ago wearing long sleeves, long pants a hardhat and several tubes of sunscreen.

EX3 worked a treat, even if the SxS cards were hot to the touch!
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Old February 24th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #9
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The tripod that froze up was a manfrotto 501. What caught me by surprise was how quickly normally flexible materials transformed into fragile brittle almost glass like material that would shatter or crumble. I've filmed at -24 and -26 before but -30 was a whole new ball game. Add in the wind chill and we had feels like temps of around -40c.
I did get some great 3D footage of the region with dog sled teams, riendeer herds and the Northern Lights.. I will be showing it at the EXperience workshops next month.
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Old February 24th, 2009, 11:25 PM   #10
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One of the main things I've heard that is really nice about solid state cameras is how reliable they are in extreme weather conditions. That being said....I have used a Sony PD-150 in
Fairbanks, Alaska at -60 and had no problems.....well except for the fact that the batteries would hold very little charge despite taping on handwarmers and any other tricks I could think of......
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