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Old January 12th, 2012, 10:19 AM   #1
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shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

Hi there,
I'm heading up to Yellowknife, and I'll be going from getting exterior shots to interior, from very cold to very warm. When I last did this I simply had to wait for the lens, that would fog up when I entered someone's warm cabin, to unfog.
Is there anything I can do to mitigate this problem?
Also: I'm having to carry lights in a bag that I'll check. It'll be well and tightly packed, but... should I take the bulbs out anyway?
Thanks very much for any advice,
Malcolm
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Old January 12th, 2012, 11:31 AM   #2
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

One thing that helps is to use zip lock bags around gear. It will keep condensation from the warmer more humid air from covering all cold surfaces.

You have to wait until the lens/camera lights etc warm up, that is the only time condensation does not happen. So keep them in the bag until they have warmed up.

Also keeping your camera turned on will keep it warmer, the lens will still be cold.

I use a polar pack (from PortaBrace) with iron oxide heat packs next to the camera, especially the battery/batteries and the lens when shooting outside when it is below freezing.

We have the same problems in hot humid climates when gear has been in AC. Tight ziplock bags and moisture absorbent bags help in those conditions.

Unfortunately patience is the only way to keep the cold surfaces from fogging up.

In the days of tape this was a huge issue as the whole transport mechanism could jam up and make a real mess when they got covered with moisture. And/or you would get dreaded error messages from the camera.

Here is shooting in 30 below:
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Old January 12th, 2012, 11:41 AM   #3
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

Thank you Olof for your very thorough instructions.
Quick question: do you mean put a zip-lock bag (the biggest one I know of, meant for food that's going into a freezer) around my EX1 lens?
I can try this, for sure. And yes... patience.
Yes I recall the days of tape cameras (big Sony betacams), and the problems of extreme cold.
Regards,
Malcolm
P.S. should I take my bulbs out for travel? The reason I ask is that I hate to do it if it's not necessary, partly because the only times I seem to have bulbs go on me (other than the whole light stand falling over) is just after I've installed them.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 11:51 AM   #4
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

Malcolm, you can get larger zip locks, look on the internet.

We get them from Uline:
6 Mil Minigrip in Stock - ULINE
http://www.uline.com/BL_239/8-Mil-Reclosable-Bags

I put the whole camera in there. The trick is to keep moist warm air from hitting a cold surface, warm air holds more moisture.

Hand warmers are easily found in winter sport stores.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 12:16 PM   #5
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

To expand on the condensation issue --

It isn't simply a matter of waiting for the lens to 'unfog' -- you really want to avoid the fogging happening at all. A fogged lens may end up with spots on the inside, impossible to clean. If at all possible, bag your camera when cold, and don't open or unbag until it has thoroughly warmed up.

You can accelerate the process with a hair dryer, but don't melt anything -- as mentioned previously leaving power on will protect the internals though don't be surprized with how short your cold battery life is going to be.

I see from the 14 day forecast temperatures won't be much below -30C ... FYI, -40 Celsius and -40 Fahrenheit are the same point!

Cheers,
GB
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Old January 12th, 2012, 12:48 PM   #6
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

One of the best things you can do is plan your shot to go from warmer to colder instead of the other way around.

If you are shooting multiple days outside don't bring the gear in to the warm area if you have a secure place in the cold to keep everything. Once its cold, keep it cold. Don't go back and forth if you can avoid it.

If that isn't an option a tip for getting really big zip top bags is to get vacuum storage bags. You know the ones you see on TV that you use your vacuum cleaner to suck down. They come in really large sizes and are air tight. You can get them off the shelf at retailers like "Bed, Bath, and Beyond".

A more expensive alternative is to get several different sizes of dry bags like you would use for backpacking and rafting. Some have windows in them so you can see whats in there. They are ridiculously strong and I've put my EX1r in a 10l bag I have many times. Its a tight fit but goes in. I keep that bag in my pocket as an emergency rain bag if I'm out in remote areas.

I know this next part is going slightly OT but I think its good info. I keep a set of lens cloths and other items needing to be clean in dry in these ziplock vacuum storage bags (one or two cloths per quart bag). The starter kit comes with the little vacuum pump. I've had mine now for a couple years and its still on its original set of batteries. The bags are reusable and you immediately know what you have already used by seeing if the bag is still vacuumed. It lets me treat my reusable microfiber cloths like single use ones. When I get home I wash and dry the cloths then vacuum them back into their bags ready for the next gig.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 02:16 PM   #7
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

If you continuously heat the lens to a temperature that is above the
dew point in the interior, water will not condense on the lens.

Sometimes a chemical handwarmer wrapped around the front element
of the lens will keep it just above the dew point. This works well if
the outside is on the order of 45 or 55F. If it is really cold outside
you may need to have some sort of electrical heater and associated
massive battery.

You should do a calculation to figure out what the dew point is inside
before trying this method because it may be impractical to keep the
lens warm enough.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 02:36 PM   #8
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

When I go to Norway for my annual Northern Lights trip (I shall be going Jan 20th, but it's a very mild -15c this year) I try to leave the cameras in a sheltered outside area to avoid bringing the cameras into the warm any more often than necessary. If your getting condensation on the lens you can also be sure you will have condensation inside the camera body and this leads to corrosion of the aluminium body and damages the circuit boards.

A simple trash bag will keep the camera dry enough to significantly reduce condensation when you do need to bring it inside. Then once it is warmed up remove it from the bag for an hour before turning it on to give any internal condensation time to evaporate. Another way to deal with the situation is to use a large ice chest to keep the camera in. Because this is insulated if you place the camera in the empty ice chest before moving from hot to cold it will make the temperature change much more gradual so condensation should not form. You could use the Ice chest as a storage box for the camera.

Don't leave the camera in a bag or any other type of sealed box or flight case once it has acclimatised as any lingering moisture won't dry out.

If the temperature starts heading south of -30 be very careful as the liquid in the LCD panel can freeze and this will crack the LCD. Also the plastics will become brittle so be gentle with it. The grease in most tripods freezes below about -10c so you may need to consider that. Chemical hand warmers around the lens is a great tip that I use every year.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 02:52 PM   #9
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

Hi
I have learned to have two cameraes - one for outside use and one standing inside to grasp and work inside.
I have never been able to do the shift with one camera. :) - unless I had an hour to wait.

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Old January 13th, 2012, 09:56 AM   #10
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

Wow... if I'd been a shooter for a hundred years, I don't think I would have figured out so many tips about working in cold temperatures. This forum is a godsend! Thanks very much everyone,
Malcolm
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Old January 13th, 2012, 11:40 AM   #11
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

yep take the bulbs out wrap them in bubble wrap or foam then pack them. Just the shock of them being thrown around by baggage handlers can destroy them if they're in the socket.

Don't forget, while keeping the camera and accessories at the proper temp, it's also just as important to keep the operator at the right temp. Dress warm!

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Old January 27th, 2012, 09:28 PM   #12
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

I, too, have subjected my EX1 to a bevy of extreme weather conditions. It's quite the champ! I wish I could keep up. Run and gunning for network news doesn't always present ideal situations for proper handling to prevent the dreaded fog. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as "shoot planning". We're all over the place, all the time...cold to warm, warm to cold, hot to crappy hotter. I've tried big Ziplock bags, hairdryers, holding the cam out the window of a speeding pickup truck in Haiti...my biggest issue is time. There's never enough of it to really let the bag trick work its magic.

In a week we leave for Japan. Temps will be in the 20s-30s. Not the coldest conditions, but chilly enough to present condensation issues. What's everyone's opinion of placing large silica gel packets (6"x4") in the Ziplock bag? Would that help quickly absorb the moisture?

I have a Polar cover from PortaBrace I could use with chemical hand warmer packets...not a fan of going handheld with that bulky jacket, but if it can prevent condensation, I'll definitely strap it on! Thoughts? (Sadly, "Get more assignments in Fiji" isn't an acceptable answer.)
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Old February 4th, 2012, 10:45 AM   #13
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

You don't really need to put silica gel in the bags unless you intend to use them for long term storage and the Polar Bear won't prevent condensation, but it will keep the camera a bit warmer which will help you batteries last longer and may prevent the LCD from getting too sluggish.

I just got back from Norway where we experienced at least -18c every day. For a week it was -20c and the coldest it got was -34c. Bagging the cameras worked well as usual, but you do need to wait an hour or more before un-bagging. Iron oxide heat packs inside sweat bands were used on the ends of lenses to help keep the frost away and prevent ice forming on the lens when outside. Biggest problem was the tripod freezing up. Do remember that conventional rain covers will freeze and become brittle below about -15c.

Had a hell of a time starting the crew bus when it was -34c. Even with the block heaters and diesel auxiliary cab heater running full blast it refused to start, it takes a long time to warm up a big truck battery! Quickest way to warm myself up in the mornings was to use the pull start on the snow scooters to get them going. Got taken on a trip to a remote location some 30km from base camp by a local on a turbo charged snow scooter. We hit the limiter on the snow scooter a few times, which is 148km/h, an interesting ride to say the least. Sweden next week, expecting about -18c.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 11:35 AM   #14
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Re: shooting in cold: tricks re going from cold to warm (foggy lens)?

Talking about ... shooting (and slightly off topic): with a temperature of -10 Celcius is the local shooting range this morning my super accurate Smith & Wesson model 52 (.38 special wadcutter) refused to reload due to a cold recoil spring. It warmed up itself though, after a few shots and functioned perfectly again. Now back to this other shooting.
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