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Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

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Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby markhallam » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:58 pm

Hello all,
I am going to Aconcagua end of January and will be taking my Nikon D40 + 18-200 zoom lens with me. I used the camera + 18-55 lens with good effect in minus 15 at 4810m on Mont Blanc, but am wondering how it may fare much higher and colder on Aconcagua. If anyone can offer any information on how resistent modern SLR's are to cold and practical tips on camera care, be much appreciated. On Mont Blanc I (tried to) sleep with the camera in my sleeping bag to prevent it from freezing. Is this necessary - or is it enough just to keep the battery in a pocket? Am I mad to try and take the 18-200 zoom up high or would it be a safer bet to use the original 18-55 lens, which is much smaller (& lighter!).
Thanks - and happy new year! Mark
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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby adventurer » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:24 pm

On Aconcagua in Jan. 2007, we experienced several nights with temps in the minus 20F range. The main issue folks had with cameras was the motor drive either not working at all or reacting very slowly. Cold was the culprit. The altitude never presented a problem by itself.

Most people managed just by keeping the cameras as close to their body as possible for warmth during the day and wrapped up in their down jackets at night.

You might consider leaving the long lens at home just to save the weight. Aconcagua is a big hill and anything you don't really need is best left at home.
"When you travel, if you avoid the people, reject the food, ignore the customs, and fear the religion..... you might as well stay home"
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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby jthomas » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:03 pm

I have a D40; it should do great on your climb. Keeping the camera wrapped up is usually sufficient. You can keep it in the sleeping bag at night if things are really bad. Sometimes in really cold conditions, the LCD display will go blank, even though the camera still functions. In that case, just use the viewfinder and pretend you have a film camera like the old days.

Strongly recommend leaving the 18-200; way too big and heavy and the long end will have zero use. If anything, you may find yourself wishing for an extreme wide angle, but the 18mm is probably sufficient.

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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby radson » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:57 pm

Just try and keep your batteries warm. I keep a spare battery very close to my body, ready to swap out. Look up tips from Jon Griffiths, Jake Norton and Alexandre buisse (natreb) on google for further advice.
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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby spiritualspatula » Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:30 am

Read this- http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/mountain-climbing.shtml
It's by the SP user nattfodd http://www.summitpost.org/users/nattfodd/44337.

Should answer pretty much all your questions.
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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby radson » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:24 pm

whoops, I wrote the wrong SP user. Apologies.
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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby Day Hiker » Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:15 am

I was (also) on Aconcagua in Jan 2007, but the coldest we had at night was about -20C or just below 0F. Granted, our highest camp was at 18300 feet and perhaps we lucked out with the temps. But I was under the impression our temperatures were not considered abnormal for the middle of summer there. We were on the mountain 12 nights, from 03 Jan to 15 Jan 2007.

Temps on the summit (daytime, obviously) were probably somewhere in the teens (F).

Anyway, I brought my Canon EOS 20D (DSLR) as well as a Canon PowerShot S1IS (not SLR). I carried both cameras to the summit. (Compared to my annoying size-13 mountaineering boots, the camera weight was minor.)

Both cameras worked just fine every time every day. No issues whatsoever.

The 20D had its own specific Li-ion rechargeable battery, but for all the things that use AAs, I brought lithium batteries instead of alkaline because of past problems I have had in the cold with alkalines.
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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby hatidua » Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:45 pm

Keep the batteries warm and you'll be fine. My 5DII has been OK to -16* but I keep a few spare batteries in an inner shirt pocket at all times.
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Re: Advice on Digital DSL camera care at altitude

Postby markod72 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:31 am

I've found regular alkaline batteries to be inferior to NiMH and lithium at around freezing, and when the temps are around 0 alkaline are pretty much worthless. I'd go with lithium.
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