Using cameras in cold weather

Just like other electronic devices, cameras can be affected by low temperatures. If you want to use cameras outdoors during cold weather, it's important to take steps to prevent damage.

Before you take your camera into the cold, check out the manufacturer's guide. Most will give operating temperature limits (typically between 0 and 40C).

This doesn't mean that it's not possible to use your camera when the mercury drops below freezing - it's just a recommended guide for optimal performance (and to stop customers demanding refunds if their camera is damaged due to extreme temperatures).

However it is important to exercise caution and common sense. Here are some tips for using cameras in cold weather...

Camera batteries in cold weather

At very low temperatures, batteries will lose power. If you're venturing outdoors in cold weather, keep the camera and batteries as warm as possible (for example by carrying them against your body).

Cheaper copper-nickel and older Ni-cad rechargeables are affected by cold weather the worst, so it's a good idea to invest in higher quality lithium and lithium-ion rechargeables.

Take along a spare set of batteries and store them under your outer layer. Swapping over the batteries will give the other set a chance to warm up and regain power.

Protecting against condensation

A second major problem caused by cold weather is condensation. This occurs when moist air encounters a cold surface and it can affect the lens, film and mechanical and electrical components inside the camera.

Condensation most commonly damages cameras after you bring it indoors and the warm air meets the cold surface.

The best way to avoid this is to carry your camera in a seal-able ziplock bag with a silica gel pack. Take the bag outside with you when you bring cameras out into cold weather and place the camera back in the bag when you go indoors. Allow the camera to return to room temperature before removing it from the bag.

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