Cold weather can kill your camera!

Skiing at Chatsworth house.
Early in my career in Canada cold and snow was a big problem, and I killed several cameras by not being careful! Hopefully this bloke is being more careful..

Now that winter has arrived proper, you need to be careful not to wreck your camera!

The big problem is moisture. Moisture can get into your camera a couple of ways at this time of year….

1) Snow gets on the camera. If you get snow onto your camera, don’t try to blow it off! This will partially melt it and drive the moisture into the camera. It’s best to brush the snow off, preferably before it melts! If it has partially melted then soak the moisture up with a cloth or towel… once again, don’t be tempted to blow the snow or moisture off the camera! (Even if your camera is “Weathersealed” this can still be an issue…. never try to blow moisture off a camera.)

2) Warm moist air gets into the camera when you come in from out of doors. This is the real killer, you have been out all day taking pics, and you bring your camera back into the house, or into the pub, and the warm moist air works its way into your camera, and then condenses on the inside, causing untold damage that may not show up for some time. The best way to prevent this is to seal your camera into a ziplock bag before bringing it indoors, and then allowing it to acclimatize before trying to use it. This way all the moist indoor air stays off the camera until it is warm.

So, if you’re going outside to do some pics this winter, carry a small brush to get rid of any snow that might land on the camera, and a ziplock bag to put the camera into before coming back indoors!

Batteries can also lose there zip when it gets really cold, so it is sometimes a good idea to have a spare set in your warm pocket to swap out.

Film cameras also have a few more issues in extreme cold. Film can get very brittle and breaks in the camera, and internal mechanisms which need lubrication can be damaged when this lubrication solidifies in the extreme cold. We used to overcome this by taping a chemical heat pad across the back of the camera. But I doubt if this will be such a problem here in the UK!

Don’t let these problems put you off! With a bit of care you can get out and make some great pictures!