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Old July 23rd, 2010, 06:17 PM   #1
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Sony V1U performance at high altitude 20,000 ft

I will be taking 3 Sony V1U cameras to film a summit and ski descent of Aconcagua. Tallest peak in S America at Chile/Argentina border, over 20k feet. I have two specific performance questions:

1. most importantly, has anyone experienced mechanical malfunction at such elevation (and associated cold - temps will consistently be below 0 Celcius). I may be able to manage the quick battery drain, but I need the tape slot to open and close and the camera to record audio and video without issue.

2. Could someone provide me an idea of the "performance impact" on the batteries. ie. if a battery operates for 10 hours at 70F, what can I expect at 20F and -10F. There may be a chart available somewhere that you all have come across.
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Old July 24th, 2010, 12:31 PM   #2
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I would also like to know the answer to this as i love to snowboard.
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Old July 25th, 2010, 08:57 AM   #3
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I have not used a camera at that altitude, but have used them in the Arctic at low temperatures. The main problem came when the camera was taken indoors. The higher temperature and humidity caused condensation problems.

I also felt that there was more need to use a cleaning tape - I had to use it twice in a week - which is far more than normal. Maybe this was chance, or maybe the low temeratures got to the tape.
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Old July 25th, 2010, 12:33 PM   #4
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tape cleaning due to cold

Alan,
Thank you for your response.

a. Condensation - good news is that there is no indoors to go to on the mtnside.

b. tape cleaning - I have a cassette to clean soiled video heads on the cameras themselves (which I have never used). Is this what you are referring to or did you have to clean the actual tapes themselves?
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Old July 26th, 2010, 05:41 AM   #5
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It was the head cleaning tape.
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Old July 26th, 2010, 10:20 AM   #6
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Try these sites:
Battery Life
http://www.discover-energy.com/files...s_charging.pdf
Neither are exactly what you want but I'm willing to bet that the curves are close enough to Lithium Ion for you to make some estimates.
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Old July 27th, 2010, 04:23 AM   #7
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Hi Mark..............

Ain't actually done it myself, but have read heaps from people who have, and here's the condensed results:

1. Tape drives:

Being mechanical, will be subject to lubricant thickening and possibly total drive failure if the temperature drops too low. How low is "too low"? Not answered. I, personally wouldn't take a tape based camera anywhere near such an environment (if I was on my own) as it is just asking for trouble, but, hey, people have and have shot some superb footage ( I realise that the preceeding was about as much use as an ashtray on a bicycle, but hey!)

2. Batteries:

If I were you (and I'm not) I'd find some way to get the batteries off the cameras and tucked nice and snug in a full technical Arctic jacket (inside) pocket, with a flying lead to the camera. At those air temps they're going to go flat in the wink of an eye, and my experience with LiOn batteries is that once (frost) bitten, forever stuffed.

Not rocket science to make a remote lead and keep the batteries snug and warm.

Sorry, can't provide graphs, can't even find any relevant links!

3. Issues:

The issues come after. Because tape is subject to the same laws as anything else, at cold temps, it shrinks. If you shoot a cold tape in a cold camera, there is a real issue in playing it back again if the tape (and camera) temp has increased by 25 degree C.

The tape will have stretched, and so will the camera.

You may well find that the only way to get the camera/ tape couple to give you anything other that the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) is to stick the lot into your local Freezing Works for a day and download it there.

Gee, ain't I the bl**dy good fairy with all this great news?

Should take up writing Obits.

Hope the trip works out, sounds a blast (damn, I'm jealous!)


CS
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Old July 27th, 2010, 01:01 PM   #8
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thanks

Chris,
Thank you for your detailed write-up. I really like the idea of a battery leader.

Whether we stick with tape based or switch to solid state, I will post results here after the expedition.
Mark
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Old July 27th, 2010, 01:12 PM   #9
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Batteries

very helpful. thank you.
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Old July 30th, 2010, 08:23 AM   #10
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I have been to Kilimanjaro with V1 "sister" FX7 and temerature was about -20 degrees of Celcius. I made also many skiing videos during winter in last 4 years without any problem. If the temperature is not changing quickly, then the risk is not so high, but still is there.

Martin
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Old July 31st, 2010, 04:17 PM   #11
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I've taken my V1u out during winter here (+20F to -20F) in the Anchorage area, but I've never had it out more than 10-12 hours at a time. I also have one these:
Porta Brace POL-MV1 Polar Mitten POL-MV1 - B&H Photo Video
The only thing I don't like about that cover is that I can't have my DR60 attached to the camera shoe. Also, if you're not using the stock microphone, the cover makes a tighter fit. Aside from that, it does help keep your hands (and the camera) warm while you're out and about.

I have the giant NPF970 batteries, and in my experiences, my battery time is about 50%-60% of normal if I have no covering on the camera and if I leave it on the whole time. If I use the covering and turn the thing off between shots, I can float that up to about 70%. You'll definitely want to keep all your extra batteries in an inside pocket so your body heat keeps them warm. Otherwise, they WILL lose their charge, or at least a good portion of it.

So far, knock on wood, I haven't had any problems with the tape mechanism. My DR60 drive works well in cold weather too. The only thing I've noticed with my camera in extreme cold is that the zoom and focus rings become stiffer than usual. I find that I have to frequently work them to keep their operation smooth.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 04:08 PM   #12
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V1U reply

Martin,
Thank you for providing details of the conditions that you successfully used the V1U in.
Mark
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 04:41 PM   #13
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Battery Charge Decay

Shawn,
Thank you.
Regarding battery decay, in order for them to maintain their charge should I simply be warming them up just prior to use, or will I have to keep them in a warm environment for as much time as possible during the mountain ascent?

We will require a couple days out in the cold to get to base camp and then it will become progressively colder and we climb.
Mark
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 07:22 PM   #14
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Whenever I went outside with my batteries, I would always keep them in my inside pockets. Since you'll be gone for more than a day or two, and since you'll probably need more than 3 or 4 batteries, would you have the ability to spread out your battery load and have everyone carry a couple? When you go to sleep at night, just dump them into your sleeping bag so you keep them warm while you sleep.

You might also try storing them in an insulated pack, but nothing works as well as body heat.

I've never tried warming them up after having them out in the cold though, so I can't offer any input on that. It would be something I'd try to avoid, simply because you'll need to have a few warming up for when it's time to replace the current batteries anyway.

Have you looked into one of those solar chargers that you can drape across the top of your pack and charge up your batteries while on the move?
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 07:02 PM   #15
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I live at 8,000' elevation and routinely shoot at 12-14,000', summer and winter. I've used the V1 and the Z1 with no problems, outside those of rapid battery drain and condensation. I have used hand warmers inside a rain cover to help reduce battery drain.

I'd certainly recommend going tapeless, after having done so myself. But that has nothing to do with altitude or temperature.

Just remember to go with as little weight as possible. Walking and breathing is hard enough at altitude.
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