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Zachary Fink

Tips for filming in EXTREMELY COLD temps

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Hello - I'm going to be shooting on a Sony F55 in a freezer room with temps ranging from about -30 to -70 fahrenheit (yes, negative).

 

I'll only be doing short stints inside when it gets really cold - maybe 15 minutes at a time. I have a Portabrace Polar wrap for the F55 which is great. I plan to stuff some hand warmers in there as well.

 

Does anyone have experience filming in these temps?

 

If I'm going to be coming and going with frequency, our team is thinking we should leave the camera in the cold room, in the Polar Bag, and then inside a large standard Portabrace bag with additional hand warmers to keep the temps up. Better than coming and going?

 

I'm concerned about condensation when I step out of the freezer and back into a normal 70 degree room. I'm planning to bring some big trash bags to create a vapor barrier liner around the camera in hopes that the condensation forms on the exterior of the bag. Should I plan to double bag it so the condensation happens between the two bags?

Any tips, tricks, or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

 

 

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Condensation also forms inside hollow objects when brought from cold to warm. Why would inside the camera body be an exception? Even the space between the lens elements could become fogged. I'd be more concerned with the camera electronics.

 

I could be totally wrong, I'm just a spark.

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I would be far more concerned with the effect those temperatures will have on your body. Be sure to research everything you will need to wear/do so that you and your crew will not suffer any ill effects.

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You could test the lenses. At some point on the way to aclimatising to -70F (-57C) they may stiffen up and the mechanical functions become unusable, especially if they have the normal lubricants.

 

If the lubricants are suitable, then remaining in the cold environ may be an option. The good thing about remaining there is that once stabilized, the air is quite dry, except when the doors are opened to let the people back in. But -70F is a big ask. The best aproach would be an experiment that will test the factors that are actually most critrical. Determine what they are and design the test for that.

 

In EXT natural sub zero environments the weather itself, with varying wind chill is a hard teacher. But you have the advantage of a known environment. So your tests can be about how to adapt to that known environment.

Edited by Gregg MacPherson

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Shot in one of the world seed banks in the arctic a few months back.. .not that cold but -20 or so.. the portabrace polar is good...but the design for the VF is too far back if your using a zoom.. (probably a good idea ) and you need to shift the body back and VF forwards for any handheld.. if you have the time I,d get one custom made..

I would agree that its better to keep the camera in there,rather than taking it in and out .. as thats what will cause the condensation.. get your tripod and lens winterized .. you,ll get some lag/blurring/blue tints with the LCD VF.. OLED might be better not sure.. and really cold you risk the side LCD cracking..

Keep your spare batts outside.. or in some sort of heated bag/pocket..

Can you get them to turn it up ! to -30.. thats totally do able with the F55.. but-70 I think is pushing it.. also you,ll only be able to shoot for very small time limits in that cold.. thats really going to take a toll on your body.. way beyond nose hairs freezing up.. !

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I would be far more concerned with the effect those temperatures will have on your body. Be sure to research everything you will need to wear/do so that you and your crew will not suffer any ill effects.

Thanks Bill - We are going to be well equipped for the cold, and will only be in the deep freeze for about 10-15 min at a time.

Edited by Zachary Fink

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Thanks for all your responses. I'll take them into consideration and report back with my findings after the shoot.

Should be interesting!

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Hi All - Thanks for weighing in. Here's what I did and how it worked out.

 

Day 1: -82 degrees. F55 was wrapped in a Portabrace polar bag. We stuffed a number of extra large hand warmers in the interior pockets, and around the LCD. Instead of our usual ENG lens, we used a simple Sony e-mount 16-105 (we figured better to kill that lens than any other in our kit). It was a little short to control from inside the Portabrace bag, and I hard a time getting to the wide end of the zoom because the drawstring around the lens kept getting in the way of the mechanism.

 

It operated perfectly well at that low temp. I shot with it for about 15 minutes. However, as predicted, we got some serious condensation in the lens upon bringing it back into room temperature. Camera wasn't useable the rest of the day.

 

 

Day 2: -40 degrees. Same Portabrace procedure. This time after using it in the cold, we dropped it into a standard Portabrace bag with about 6 other hand warmers in there and left it in the cold, powered on. I was able to come and go, using it all day long (1 battery change), with no problem except a little frost on the LCD display loop once (easily scraped off).

 

At the end of the day, We made a vapor barrier liner by double bagging the camera with garbage bags (in the Portabrace polar bag), and then brought it to room temp. We left it untouched overnight. The next morning, we opened the garbage bags and the Portabrace polar bag. The camera and its bagged environment were completely dry. No condensation at all. It powered up fine, and all the footage looks great. I suggest this approach for anybody filming in really cold conditions.

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