I really don't like the soft focus effect
September 24, 2008 9:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be taking photos this weekend in an artificial ski field, (mixture of cold and warm environments), the people facilitating the event have said that last time they had someone shoot at a similar event their lenses fogged up when moving between the snow and the heated cafe. How can I prevent this?

I'm going to be shooting in what is essentially a huge refrigerator (SnowPlanet), which also has a heated cafe/other facilities, also the outdoor temp will likely be between 15 and 20 degrees. The people I'm dealing with said they had someone else taking photos for them in the past and their lenses fogged up when they moved between the cold and warm areas.

I'm using a 400d + a variety of lenses. Has any one else worked in a similar environment, or have any ideas of how to prevent any condensation within or on the lens?

Bonus question: Is the low temperature likely to shorten battery life significantly?
posted by chrisbucks to Technology (9 answers total)
You need to keep the camera as warm as possible or some how warm it up before you go inside maybe one of those battery powered cooler/heater things
posted by hortense at 10:03 PM on September 24, 2008

Divide your lenses between hot and cold lenses; use the hot inside and the cold outside.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 10:13 PM on September 24, 2008

Take some of those hand warmers you put inside your gloves and rubber-band a couple of them around the barrels of your lenses. I guess you'd probably want to make sure they don't get in the way of the zoom rings, unless you're using primes.
posted by Venadium at 10:43 PM on September 24, 2008

You can't take the camera back and forth between venues. In the cold space, it will cool down enough that there will be condensation in the warm space no matter what you do. Changing lenses won't work because you'll get condensation inside the camera when you go in to change lenses. It aint easy to unfog the mirrors and interior surfaces.

For winter camping, I just let the camera get cold. I've done this even at -20c in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Have a second battery. Warm it up in your pocket, and swap them out as necessary. Wear a pair of thin gloves that you can work all the controls. You'll get a bit of condensation on the back of the camera when you put your face to it. Don't worry, the camera can take that.

Warming just doesn't work. The part you would need to keep warm to prevent fogging is the front piece of glass. There's no way to heat that in the cold space. It needs to be exposed all the time, and it can't be heated from the edges with a heat pack. It -will- get cold in the cold space. The warm space will easily get to 100% humidity with tracked-in snow and sweaty people, so you'll get condensation even if the front element cools a little bit.

Your best bet is to borrow/rent a second camera. Then have a warm setup and a cold one. The only problem with this is that you'd have to leave your camera unattended or with someone who's not going to move back and forth between spaces.

The other way is to plan your day so that you make two moves. Start in the warm space and get some of the shots you need, then get in the cold space and do all your cold space shooting in one go. Then put your camera in a plastic bag and suck out the excess air. Bring the camera in the warm space and wait 15-20 minutes for it to warm up. Use your hands to warm the crucial bits. Once the camera's warm, you're set, but don't go back out into the cold space.
posted by thenormshow at 5:48 AM on September 25, 2008


Bring a hair dryer for the lenses.

Get inside early enough so the lenses have time to de-fog.

Keep the lenses in plastic so the condensation gets on the bag and not the lens. This will also take some time.

Bonus question: Is the low temperature likely to shorten battery life significantly?

posted by girlmightlive at 7:46 AM on September 25, 2008

My understanding of the battery life in cold areas isn't so much that it shortens the battery life, but once it gets past a certain temperature, the electricity just isn't flowing. If you have two batteries, keep one on your inner pocket against your body and swap it out, you should be okay.
posted by perpetualstroll at 8:34 AM on September 25, 2008

I've shot northern lights at 40 below using canon cameras. Yes, the battery will die in the cold, but warming it will bring it back. I've had a brand new battery last as long as an hour, believe it or not. Use two batteries, as per perpetualstroll. The plastic bag trick has never worked for me.

If possible, tell your clients that you have to shoot all inside pics first and then outside pics. If I were you, I would use 2 sets of cameras/lenses, although I realize how difficult that might be.

Don't worry about long term damage to the equipment. When you do bring everything inside, leave it alone! Don't adjust your lenses or water might get inside. wait until it is dry.
posted by Brodiggitty at 9:59 AM on September 25, 2008

If you store the cam in an insulated bag (they're all padded anyway) it will warm or cool slower.
Allow me to sugest that you do NOT use the hand warmers on your lenses, if you mean the catalytic kind with a little fire inside. They will get too hot. Same reason you don't ever store a cam in a hot car. Assuming these are SLR or DSLR lenses, the thing inside that causes the F stop to adjust is a series of matte surface blades that expand and contract. If the lens gets too warm, the oil they put in at the factory is in the ring of ball bearings the blades ride on. The oil gets hot and vaporizes and then settles on the blades, leading to a problem called "oily blades", which means the blades stick and won't open and close fast enough.
I used to fix cameras, and I've seen grown men cry at the repair estimate for that; it's usually cheaper to buy a new lens, because they have to gut it to get in and fix it, and they charge by the job, but it's based on the time involved. I wouldn't try to warm it with anything warmer than sticking it inside your coat, just to be safe. I have no data on how hot the little chemical ones you break the inside packet get, but I wouldn't do that to my lens either.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 12:50 PM on September 26, 2008

Actually, the right answer IMHO is to use 2 cams, a warm one and a cold one. (I have this all the time when I shoot greenhouses, especially if I go out side to smoke in sub-zero weather and come back. So shoot me. The recovery time in that case is around 10 to 15 minutes, and a little tough on the electronics as the condensation gets into the chips.)

If you do not presently own a second cam, allow me to recommend the Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS. The original MSRP was about 450$. The SO will go shopping and call me at home to look up reviews of things online if they are on sale cheap, and I couldn't find anything against it, so he bought ours at Sam's for about 280$, which I am guessing means it's disco'd or about to be. I liked the sound of it well enough I had him buy me one also. Nice cam. I'm sure there are newer and fancier ones, but the price is right and the image is Right There.
Between us, we own two Sonys I paid 900$ each for, both just recalled for a bad CCD, and I have the pro Pentax 1.2K$ model DSLR with a stack of killer lenses, and would you care to guess which one I shoot most? The Kodak. It's small, convenient, killer zoom, acceptable macro. I only break out the big guns if I'm shooting heavy duty macro, which you won't need for this job.
The downside? As a former pro, I refuse to be seen in public shooting anything that says Kodak on it. I put black electrical tape over anything that says Kodak, including the lens cap.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:50 PM on September 26, 2008

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