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9 Tips for Shooting in Cold Weather

Caleb Ward

Keep your equipment safe when shooting in cold weather.

Winter is upon us. So, in light of the recent polar vortex, we’ve rounded up our best tips for cold weather photo and video shoots.

1. Avoid ‘Cold Soaking’

“Cold Soaking” is allowing your camera to become as cold as the environment around you…and you want to avoid this. Allowing your camera to reach sub-zero temperatures is a recipe for disaster as most cameras aren’t created to withstand subzero temperatures. Keep your camera in it’s case/bag until it’s time to shoot. In extreme temperature scenarios it may be beneficial to include additional insulation in your camera bag.

2. Carbon Fiber Tripod

fiber-3

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a cold metal tripod in cold weather is a bad idea. Instead of freezing your fingers off try using a carbon fiber tripod. Carbon fiber tripds are great for shooting in extreme temperatures. They’re also extremely lightweight when compared to their metal counterparts.

3. Bring Extra Batteries

Batteries drain faster in cold weather. So next time you have to shoot in extreme cold make sure you pack 2 to 3 times your normal supply of batteries.

4. Use Hand Warmers

Hand Warmers

Small hand warmers are a lifesaver in cold weather and they can serve a variety of other purposes. For example, a small hand warmer can be placed in your camera bag to regulate the temperature.

5. Bring ND Filters

Snowy is bright even in overcast weather. For this reason you should bring your ND filters along. ND filters cut out incoming light and allow you to use a wider aperture even in bright conditions. This is really important if you are wanting to get a shallow depth of field.

6. Gradually Go from Cold to Warm

Problems may arise if you quickly go from a cold environment to a warm one – condensation can form on your camera and lens. It’s best to allow your camera slowly to adjust to room temperature. One trick is to keep your lenses in Ziplock freezer bags, allowing them to acclimate to the temperature change before opening. Adding silica gel packs in the baggie can help cut help alleviate any humidity.

If condensation gets inside the camera or lens body it can permanently damage the hardware. In these extreme scenarios it is best to let the camera completely dry out before attempting to use it again.

7. Dehumidifiers

One way you can significantly cut back on condensation is to put a dehumidifying pack in your camera bag. Just as you might imagine, these packs are designed to absorb moisture making your camera less likely to experience damage as a result of condensation.

Lens cap manufacture BRNO make dehumidifying lens caps that have silica gel built-in. If you’re going to be doing a lot of outdoor cold-weather photography or filmmaking it might be worth it to get a few.

8. Get a Coated Lens

Lens coating

Most modern day lenses come with special coatings that allow them to withstand the elements. This is especially important when shooting in cold weather as it is easy to get things like snow and condensation on the lens. If you’re considering renting a lens check out if it has a specialty coating on it.

9. Winter-Proof Cases

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 11.47.18 AMThere are a few winter-proofing camera cases that you can buy to protect your camera gear, including the Camera Duck which goes for about $130 on B&H. Camera Duck also sells large warmers designed to fit over their weather covers.

Even if you don’t want to spend the money on a winter cover, a waterproof case is a worthwhile investment.

Have any other tips for shooting in cold weather? Share in the comments below.

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