Camera Tips for Winter Use : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I coming up on my first winter to use my large format equipment and would hope for some cross country skiing and outdoor work. Often the contents of my pack reach sub-freezing temperatures, which causes a variety of paranoid thoughts. These include condensation on the film, frozen shutters, cracking bellows, lens fogging, and so forth. Do others take specials precautions or have concerns about these, or have I been drinking too much coffee. Thanks much.

-- Roger Rouch (, October 08, 1999


For cold westher use i keep my equipment in the car overnight so its near the same temp as weather conditions, and keep the batterys in the house, dont want them to freeze and i shoot 4x5 crown graphics, so i manually operate the camera several times before shooting, this will keep the condensation down to a minimum. then all is carried in the trunk of the car, my minolta 7000i seems to fare well this way too

-- Bill Jefferson (, October 08, 1999.

I have been doing 4x5 winter photography for several years now, and the list of things I do to manage the gear in cold is not easy. Here are just a few important ones.

1. The only thing I strive to keep warm is my light meter, my cleaning bag because it contains liquid lens cleaner, Polaroid film and holder, and my loup. At night I store them in the foot of my sleeping bag.

2. I use a medical germ mask when I using the equipment. This helps prevent my warm moist breath from fogging up my gear. For those of you, like myself, that work above 10,000 feet, the mask can cause accute epidemia so bring some asprin.

3. I store all gear and film in soft coolers to help guard against frost and extreme cold. I hang my loup inside my shirt. I bring my lens cooler inside the tent with me at night so the lenses do not get to cold.

3. I have not found a very effective solution for frozen fingers. I guess it just comes with the nature of the beast. Ouch!

-- Stephen Willard (, October 08, 1999.

Here are a few things that I do in Alaska, where I live. 1. Use an old credit card to scrape the condensation from the ground glass.

2. Use micro-wipe to remove condensation from filters and lenses. This won't necessarilly be a reult of your breath, but may come from working near open water in sub-freezing temperatures, or even in the fog in warmer temperatures.

3. Use a small towel or hankerchief to remove condensation from the camera itself and your loupe.

4. As noted above, be sure film, camera, tripod and lenses are all at ambient temperature. Keep your meter warm by storing it in an inside pocket of your coat. BUT, if you are active, put it in a plastic bag to keep your perspiration from condensing on it.

I have not had problems with bellows (Linhof TK45), film, holders or readyloads down to -25F, which is the coldest temperature that I've worked. My camera is more difficult to set up in the winter because the contracted metal parts fit more tightly together. Don't force things or they may break. Be patient, things may take a bit longer to set up.

Keep your gear covered when you bring it into a warm place until it reaches room temperature. Otherwise, you may have condensation on everything.

Do be concerned with keeping yourself warm while using the camera. Wear a hat and either fingerless or thin polypro (thermax, ...) gloves. Wool gloves are OK, but watch for fibers on your film holders and lenses. Look in "Mountaineering, freedom of the hills" for more thoughts on how to dress for physical activity in cold weather.

Best wishes, Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (, October 09, 1999.

Let your camera, filters, film, etc. reach the temp. you'll be working at before you try to set up. Don't take a warm camera out of your car and try to immediately make pictures. You'll get condensation on everything such as your ground glass & film. Carry things in your trunk. I cary mine in the bed of my pickup in a shell.

-- Leo Lutz (, October 18, 1999.

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