Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures

Started Aug 15, 2013 | Discussions
spytrek007
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to Allan Olesen, Aug 15, 2013

Allan Olesen wrote:

Temperature

A lot of us have used ordinary, non weather sealed DSLRs in -15 - -20 °C without any problems. I don't think I have ever heard of a DSLR which would not operate at that temperature.

I feel having a weather sealed camera is being more on the safe side just in case condensation gets into the camera body. I was considreing a sony a390 but now sort of determined to get the pentax k30 just to be on the safe side.

However what if the weather is extremely cold and dry? I don't think that in dry and cold conditions, there would any condensation. I read somewhere that extreme cold causes lcd displays to crack. How true is this?

Altitude

What is "high altitude" to you?

A lot of us use DSLRs on ski trips which is usually somewhere between 1500 and 3000 meters above sea level. I haven't heard on anyone having problems at these altitudes, though I sometimes have a slight problem with the on/off button of my camera which will get stuck, probably because of overpressure somewhere inside the camera. The same happens on airplane trips where the air pressure is comparable to an altitude of 2000-2400 meters.

I have another co-worker who was on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, 5,895 meter above sea level. Most of the group brought cameras, but several of them stopped working at that altitude. Unfortunately, she couldn't tell which ones wouldn't function.

In the past, I have used a few compacts (canon sx110, olympus 800 uz) just over 6000m with no problem mainly because the weather conditions were quite good with the sun out.

I assume the cameras stopped working on Kilimanjaro is because the temperatures must have been quite cold.

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noirdesir
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to MarshallG, Aug 15, 2013

MarshallG wrote:

Merely saying that in the products I've built, temperature testing is performed. Statistics eventually come into play, because we can't freeze and bake every single part (nor would we want to). So I would tend to believe that if Pentax publishes a wider temp rating for their cameras, it's the result of actual work,

And that work could even just have been more testing (or pushing the component manufacturers to do more testing). But it could naturally also have been to change a few temperature critical components.

and not marketing, and it should make a difference. Of course, it's possible that Nikon and Canon are simply less aggressive.

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bobn2
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to MarshallG, Aug 16, 2013

MarshallG wrote:

MarshallG wrote:

Rod McD wrote:

I'd also recommend the Pentax K5 and it's more recent incarnations, the K5II or K5IIs (which lacks an AA filter). They're a very well featured, well built, reliable, water, dust and cold resistant, small DSLR. They're rated to -10C. Pentax's lens range is well suited to the outdoor photographer (in the sense that you can buy some excellent small light primes). The range caters for most needs, but they don't offer TS lenses or have the range of options that C&N do in very long lenses.

Suggest you read the DPR review.

Cheers, Rod

The ratings don't really mean anything in terms of actual performance, just how much liability that their lawyers are prepared to accept. In the past, the commercial temperature range for electronic components was quoted a 0-70C, which means that the manufacturers wouldn't have a claim against the component suppliers if the component failed being used outside that range, so, 0-70C has become the default warranty range for most electronic equipment (usually cut at the top end to allow for imperfect cooling, etc). More recently, with the change from bipolar to CMOS technologies, the range has got higher, -40-85C being typical - nonetheless it only takes one component to have a 0 limit to limit the whole thing. What is more likely to cause a low temperature limit is freezing of lubricants, and you have no information in which lubricants have been used or what is their limit.

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Bob

That is not my industry experience.

Commercial, Industrial and Automotive grades require different certifications and tests. A Tier 1 vendor like Pentax most likely ensured that each component (including the lubricants) was certified for the temperature rating, and the entire system is typically tested across the temperature rating. These certifications are usually very expensive to perform, because you have to test across all conditions, which is all known sample variants, temperature and voltage variants, and you need to test a statistically significant number of samples.

Of course it's a warranty issue, but warranties are expensive. If a manufacturer claims a wider temp range, it most likely mean they tested to that range.

What happens if a product is rated to -10 and you take it to -15? Probably nothing, but there is a probability of failure, which will increase with longer exposure to the low temperature and use at the lower temp.

From your reply, I can't work out what you are saying is not your industry experience.

That the standard commercial rating was 0-70 but has increased to -40 to 85? I can give you any amount of documentary evidence to support that.

That the most likely cause of failure if the rating falls short of -40 is due to lubricant freezing? What else would it be?

Anyway, so far as supplier qualification goes, these are mass produced product, suppliers will be qualified, but after then generally the suppliers specifications are accepted except for key components. As you say, certifications are very expensive, which is why they are only done in particular safety critical markets (automotive, aerospace, medical). Frequently it happens when a new supplier is being qualified, their components will be thoroughly tested to see if they make the grade. Temperature range is in any case a statistical matter. It is highly unlikely that every single copy of a component rated down to -40 will fail at -41, the real question is what is the residual failure rate at the temperature. For this reason these thing are often certified by design rather than testing - the testing would just be far too expensive.

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Bob

Bob,
I didn't want to get into an argument. Merely saying that in the products I've built, temperature testing is performed. Statistics eventually come into play, because we can't freeze and bake every single part (nor would we want to). So I would tend to believe that if Pentax publishes a wider temp rating for their cameras, it's the result of actual work, and not marketing, and it should make a difference. Of course, it's possible that Nikon and Canon are simply less aggressive. There's a stress test video of the Canon 7D on YouTube and it's amazing.

Yes, certainly i would expect any new product to go through temperature testing amongst other tests. That doesn't mean that the tests simulate every usage the real product will get.

It think the manufacturer's reluctance to give their 'weather sealed' cameras proper IP ratings is quite revealing. The test protocols are well designed, and not even too expensive pr difficult to do, and if they did them they could give the customer a real statement about what 'weather sealed' meant. But they don't.

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Bob

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Allan Olesen
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 16, 2013

spytrek007 wrote:

However what if the weather is extremely cold and dry? I don't think that in dry and cold conditions, there would any condensation.

I think you misunderstand what causes the condensation.

Condensation is usually caused by humidity in the indoor air, not in the outdoor air.

Hot air can contain a lot of water and usually does indoor. When you carry a cold camera into a building, the camera will cool the air around it. Now the air is too cold to contain the amount of water it contained before, so some of this water will leave the air and instead condensate on the nearest surface.

I read somewhere that extreme cold causes lcd displays to crack. How true is this?

No idea.

In the past, I have used a few compacts (canon sx110, olympus 800 uz) just over 6000m with no problem mainly because the weather conditions were quite good with the sun out.

I assume the cameras stopped working on Kilimanjaro is because the temperatures must have been quite cold.

This was not a temperature problem.

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spytrek007
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to Allan Olesen, Aug 16, 2013

Allan Olesen wrote:

In the past, I have used a few compacts (canon sx110, olympus 800 uz) just over 6000m with no problem mainly because the weather conditions were quite good with the sun out.

I assume the cameras stopped working on Kilimanjaro is because the temperatures must have been quite cold.

This was not a temperature problem.

There has to be some explanation as to why the camera stopped working? I am thinking maybe a lot of humidity.

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spytrek007
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to Allan Olesen, Aug 16, 2013

Allan Olesen wrote:

spytrek007 wrote:

I have looked into the pentax series of dslr that have minimum operating temperature of -10 C. What happens if temp. falls to -15C? Are they are any cameras that can handle extreme cold?

Temperature

A lot of us have used ordinary, non weather sealed DSLRs in -15 - -20 °C without any problems. I don't think I have ever heard of a DSLR which would not operate at that temperature.

Even if a lot of dslr cameras operate at minus temperatures, there are still not rugged as pentax cameras in the sense that they are not splash proof or dust/sand proof. The main reason why I would require this type of camera is to shoot in extreme conditions. Imagine going on a cruise around one of the lochs/lakes around Scotland in winter, the camera is surely going to get wet due to strong winds. Or shooting in extreme dusty conditions or like caught up in a sand storm.

How would these other dslr's perform in such conditions?

steelhead3 mentioned that the sony 700,900,77 and 99 are all weather sealed but i think with pentax, the lenses being weather sealed are good value for money compared to others.

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JamieTux
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 16, 2013

That's exactly the conditions I've used the cameras I mentioned in my post above.

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spytrek007
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to JamieTux, Aug 16, 2013

JamieTux wrote:

That's exactly the conditions I've used the cameras I mentioned in my post above.

The cameras you mentioned were the Nikon D70, Sony Nex, Sony A900 and the Olympus OMD.

I wondering are the cameras classed as weather resistance? I have not done any research on these cameras but initially I was considering a sony a390 which is a good camera with plastic body. I assume that in extreme conditions of sand/dust, snow, water or light rain, a camera like the A390 will not work.

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MiLei
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 17, 2013

It is the batteries which stop first. Then lenses may get foggy from temperature change from indoors to outdoors or from your breath. Then the photographer stops working because it is cold.

But if someone wants to buy a certain camera what am I to say no.

Simply cold weather is not a problem.

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Mike Hiran
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 17, 2013

Check out this person who posts on DP Review often regarding his arctic adventures.  I think he's said -15F is the coldest he's gone...

cold weather shooter

I know I've taken a Pentax k10d, k20d, k30, k5 into freezing rain, heavy rain, snow for hours without even changing a battery.  I kind of take it for granted...

But when coming back into the house (or other warm area) don't take your camera out as this is when condensation will occur - leave it in a bag near a cold(er)part of the house and let it gradually come up to room temp.

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JamieTux
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 17, 2013

spytrek007 wrote:

JamieTux wrote:

That's exactly the conditions I've used the cameras I mentioned in my post above.

The cameras you mentioned were the Nikon D70, Sony Nex, Sony A900 and the Olympus OMD.

I think that the only one that was classed as weather resistant was the OMD - the others all coped absolutely fine though.  I used the a900 and Nex 5 up in Skye for a few days where the temperature didn't get close to 0 and we got caught in some pretty horrible snow storms too.  The D70 had an easier time, the snow had already fallen and I only used it for an hour or so but the temperature was about -15.  The OMD was just used in the freakishly cold weather we had at the beginning of this year in the south of the UK.  That one actually kept switching to the EVF instead of back screen due to the condensation build up making it think that I had my eye there.

I wondering are the cameras classed as weather resistance? I have not done any research on these cameras but initially I was considering a sony a390 which is a good camera with plastic body. I assume that in extreme conditions of sand/dust, snow, water or light rain, a camera like the A390 will not work.

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Allan Olesen
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 17, 2013

spytrek007 wrote:

Allan Olesen wrote:

spytrek007 wrote:

I have looked into the pentax series of dslr that have minimum operating temperature of -10 C. What happens if temp. falls to -15C? Are they are any cameras that can handle extreme cold?

Temperature

A lot of us have used ordinary, non weather sealed DSLRs in -15 - -20 °C without any problems. I don't think I have ever heard of a DSLR which would not operate at that temperature.

Even if a lot of dslr cameras operate at minus temperatures, there are still not rugged as pentax cameras in the sense that they are not splash proof or dust/sand proof. The main reason why I would require this type of camera is to shoot in extreme conditions. Imagine going on a cruise around one of the lochs/lakes around Scotland in winter, the camera is surely going to get wet due to strong winds. Or shooting in extreme dusty conditions or like caught up in a sand storm.

You should have been more specific in your original post. You mentioned temperature and altitude, but not which temperature and which altitude. And I replied to that.

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CFynn
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 17, 2013

spytrek007 wrote:

I came across this article or blog post.

http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews_nikon_d300_antartica.php

It is about the nikon d300 being used below -20C. However this nikon d300 has same recommended operating temperature range as the sony a390, does this mean that the a390 can survive minus temperatures and function efficiently?

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Yukon+winter

Having lived there before, I can tell you quite a few of these pictures will also have been taken below -20C. Probably the main thing you need to worry about is the batteries (have several spares tucked inside a warm inner pocket). If you have a large enough coat, keep your camera inside it as much as possible. A camera with good weather sealing will help prevent condensation when going from outdoors where it is cold to  warm indoors.

There are covers like this too: http://www.cameraduck.com/

I've used mechanical film SLR's at -40C and below - but they didn't need a battery to operate.

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CFynn
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to Allan Olesen, Aug 17, 2013

Allan Olesen wrote:

spytrek007 wrote:

However what if the weather is extremely cold and dry? I don't think that in dry and cold conditions, there would any condensation.

I think you misunderstand what causes the condensation.

Condensation is usually caused by humidity in the indoor air, not in the outdoor air.

Hot air can contain a lot of water and usually does indoor. When you carry a cold camera into a building, the camera will cool the air around it. Now the air is too cold to contain the amount of water it contained before, so some of this water will leave the air and instead condensate on the nearest surface.

Yes even in cold dry places there can be a lot of moisture in the air indoors

I read somewhere that extreme cold causes lcd displays to crack. How true is this?

No idea.

Cold can certainly make LCD displays refresh slower. If you can, I'd turn it off as it only drains more power from the batteries.

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CFynn
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to Allan Olesen, Aug 17, 2013

Allan Olesen wrote:

spytrek007 wrote:

I have looked into the pentax series of dslr that have minimum operating temperature of -10 C. What happens if temp. falls to -15C? Are they are any cameras that can handle extreme cold?

Pentax weather sealing is rated very good - most other DSLR makers only offer the same kind of weater sealing on much more expensive models

Temperature

A lot of us have used ordinary, non weather sealed DSLRs in -15 - -20 °C without any problems. I don't think I have ever heard of a DSLR which would not operate at that temperature.

The two most common issues are batteries and condensation:

  1. Bring spare batteries and keep them in a warm pocket.
  2. Every time you take the camera into a warm building or any place with temperatures above 0 °C, you should put it in a reasonably tight bag so the moisture in the hot air inside the building will condensate on the bag instead of condensating on (or in) the camera. I have a weather sealed camera now, but I still use this method.

I have a co-worker who for two years was in the Sirius Sledge Patrol, the Danish arctic special forces patrolling the north-east Greenland territory by dog sledges. He travelled for months in temperatures down to -48 °C. He used an ordinary, unmodified Canon 40D for his personal photos, but he had his lenses disassembled and cleaned of any oil to make sure that they would operate at low temperatures. As I understood him, all Sirius members did that, no matter which make of camera they used. They also kept their batteries in the pocket instead of in the camera, and only inserted the batteries when they took a photo.

According to him, Canon generally was most reliable in that climate. Nikon owners had problems with high battery consumption so they would have to bring several batteries for a trip. He also mentioned that Sony had been tried, but did not mention which problems they had. (Perhaps he just want wanted to tease me because he knew I have a Sony a77).

You should show him this:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/antarctica-2009-worked.shtml

Canon were apparently the least reliable while his Sony A900 did fine.

Altitude

What is "high altitude" to you?

A lot of us use DSLRs on ski trips which is usually somewhere between 1500 and 3000 meters above sea level. I haven't heard on anyone having problems at these altitudes, though I sometimes have a slight problem with the on/off button of my camera which will get stuck, probably because of overpressure somewhere inside the camera. The same happens on airplane trips where the air pressure is comparable to an altitude of 2000-2400 meters.

I have another co-worker who was on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, 5,895 meter above sea level. Most of the group brought cameras, but several of them stopped working at that altitude. Unfortunately, she couldn't tell which ones wouldn't function.

Yes. Other than it getting colder as you get higher - altitude shouln't be a problem. I've lived in Bhutan for the past 9 years and I've never heard of anyone having a problem with their camera because of altitude. I have heard of laptop hard drives stop working at high altitude due to pressure differences, and recovering when back at a lower altitude - but I can't think of anything in a camera likely to be affected similarly. Your ON-OFF button must be very well sealed or badly designed if it is getting sticky at a pressure equiv to an altitude of 2400m

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bobn2
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to CFynn, Aug 17, 2013

CFynn wrote:

Allan Olesen wrote:

spytrek007 wrote:

I have looked into the pentax series of dslr that have minimum operating temperature of -10 C. What happens if temp. falls to -15C? Are they are any cameras that can handle extreme cold?

Pentax weather sealing is rated very good - most other DSLR makers only offer the same kind of weater sealing on much more expensive models

Who rates weather sealing? Do you know how they test it?

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thorkilry
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to spytrek007, Aug 17, 2013
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Allan Olesen
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Re: Looking to purchase dslr for minus temperatures
In reply to CFynn, Aug 17, 2013

CFynn wrote:

Allan Olesen wrote:According to him, Canon generally was most reliable in that climate. Nikon owners had problems with high battery consumption so they would have to bring several batteries for a trip. He also mentioned that Sony had been tried, but did not mention which problems they had. (Perhaps he just want wanted to tease me because he knew I have a Sony a77).

You should show him this:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/antarctica-2009-worked.shtml

Canon were apparently the least reliable while his Sony A900 did fine.

I guess he will say that his dog sledge expeditions of up to 3 months length trump their 2 weeks trip.

He will probably also say that his -48 °C trump their -3 °C.

And I will have no usable defense against that.

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