4 Practical Tested Ways to Easily Protect your Camera in Winter

Photographing Snowy Owls requires that you take care of your gear

Protecting Your Gear In Winter

We all know that winter images can be stunningly beautiful and that the winter weather can be stunningly harsh. When you are photographing in winter weather, you need to take precautions to keep your gear safe and functional!

Camera Batteries in Winter

The number one problem that you will have is keeping your batteries fully charged. Batteries discharge twice as fast at 0 degrees as they do at 50 degrees.

  • Your Battery Meter will NOT Be accurate. Fully charge every evening.
  • Keep your spare batteries in an inner pocket closest to the outside. The area closest to your body can be humid, and they would be hard to reach quickly.
  • Warming up an apparently dead battery will return some life.
Be Careful About Your Breathing

I am not going to say don’t breathe, but rather be careful where you breathe. I am going to guess more than half of you hold your breath while shooting and then make a big exhale. Your exhale can and will freeze on the LCD and worse the viewfinder!

Condensation

Moisture and electronics are not a good mixture, and with extreme temps, you need to be careful of condensation. Bringing your cold camera into a warm hotel room will cause condensation, so you need to zip it up.

  1. While outside, remove the battery and memory cards
  2. Place your camera in a Ziploc bag with the body cap on
  3. Place your lens in a Ziploc with the lens caps on
  4. Put your gear in the coldest part of the room, e.g., a window sill
  5. Let them warm up for about 45 minutes

If your camera backpack is relatively dry, you can zip your gear up in your bag and let it warm for at least an hour before opening.

Silica Gel

You’ve all seen this little bags that come with most every kind of electronics box and most don’t know why. They absorb moisture and are quite useful to have around.

  • Put them in the condensation Ziplocs
  • Put them in your camera bags
  • Put then in your shoes or boots at night

Summary of Cold Weather Photography

It all boils down to managing your batteries and avoiding condensation from your breath or from rapidly warming up your camera.

I hope you get out in the weather and make some great images in your winter wonderland. Snow can be a magical element and if you are prepared you’ll be just fine!

Did I leave out you favorite snowy weather tip? Leave me a comment, and I’ll add it to the list.

16 Comments

  1. Nathan
      December 30, 2016 at 7:39 PM

    I didn’t know that batteries discharge faster in the winter. It makes a lot of sense! Going to pick up some silica gel packs too. I didn’t know they had a purpose honestly.

    1. Jeff
        December 30, 2016 at 8:23 PM

      I know right! Even worse, your camera will not tell you the truth. Sometimes it shows 50% charge and actually the battery won’t power the camera!

  2. Joanna
      January 1, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    Glad I saw your tips about condensation. Just bought a new camera and would hate for that to happen. I would have never thought of doing any of these tips.

    1. Jeff
        January 1, 2017 at 5:24 PM

      Well I was in the same spot; I didn’t know any better and my lens froze. I missed some great shots because I did not take easy preventative measures.

  3. Chuck
      January 2, 2017 at 10:42 PM

    Oh I didn’t even think about snow getting into my bag. Those silicon socks will help if that happens?

    1. Jeff
        January 3, 2017 at 5:46 AM

      Yes, I leave mine in my backpack 24/7 and I try to remember to replace then now and again. If the little bags feel full, it’s time to replace them because they are full of moisture.

  4. Sanders
      January 4, 2017 at 12:06 AM

    My question is are cameras really built for the cold. I mean could to much cold be harmful for the equipment?

    1. Jeff
        January 4, 2017 at 7:05 AM

      Sanders, most modern DSLRs are rated to work as expected down to 0F degrees. After that, you will eventually lose all functions. My friend was in the Yukon last week and they lost all function at about -20F degrees

  5. Sanders
      January 4, 2017 at 10:34 PM

    -20F degrees?! Wow I haven’t been in that kind of temperature in a long time! Yeah I could see the cameras giving out. Will the camera go back to normal?

    1. Jeff
        January 5, 2017 at 7:03 AM

      I know right! It’s not my favorite temperature. The good news is that once the camera warms back up it should be fine. Just remember to watch out for condensation and warm it up slowly.

  6. Jessica
      January 5, 2017 at 4:19 PM

    How many batteries do you like to bring with you?

    1. Jeff
        January 8, 2017 at 6:56 AM

      I normally take two per camera and I charge them up every chance that I get. I also have a really nifty charger that will even work from a cigarette light port. http://www.safariguy.com/charging-your-gear-on-safari/

  7. Bill Berryman
      January 6, 2017 at 7:02 PM

    Those silica gel packs can be recharged. All you have to do is remove the water from them.
    Place on a cookie sheet in oven, 250 deg for several hours. Let cool inside the oven then put them into a Tupperware container.
    Good as new.
    Been doing it for years.
    Looking forward to the trip.

    1. Jeff
        January 8, 2017 at 6:44 AM

      Hey, thanks for that Bill! I was not sure about that. See you soon. Day 1 was awesome!

  8. Shelby
      January 7, 2017 at 5:40 PM

    Oh I’m so glad I saw this. I thought something was wrong with my camera because it kept saying my batteries were full and they were not. I thought I ended to have my camera fixed.

    1. Jeff
        January 8, 2017 at 6:46 AM

      Cold plays lots of tricks, but that is one of the worst! Glad that I could help!

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