Can I take pictures in the cold?

The answer is obvious - you can. But, this must be done wisely - carefully. Read about what and how you can shoot in winter in another article - how to take pictures in winter. Here we will talk purely about the technical aspects of winter photography.

Yes, this is my DSLR. Yes, nothing happened to her. Yes, I shot in the cold at her. Yes it's me.

Yes, this is my DSLR. Yes, nothing happened to her. Yes, I shot in the cold at her. Yes it's me.

Battery Handling

In the cold, batteries run out very much, especially NI-MH batteries. For me, this is critical when using a flash that eats 4 such batteries. And the problem is not that they are discharged, but that they unable to provide quick reload. Often you have to change the batteries to warmer ones on the flash. Those that “froze” in the middle of the flash can be warmed up in a bag or pocket and they can still stretch out a couple of hundred frames. I strongly I recommend having at least two sets of batteries.

Conventional batteries also suffer a temporary loss of power in the cold. Try once, as your camera and flash drive and draw conclusions.

With regard to lithium-ion batteries, the situation is simpler, they are not so afraid of the cold. Almost all digital SLR cameras are powered by lithium-ion batteries. You shouldn't worry about their release. From personal experience I will say that on my SLR cameras Nikon D90, Nikon D200 the number of shots decreases with frost somewhere by no more than 30%. In order not to spend extra battery power, I advise you not to peer at the pictures taken on the display for a particularly long time. It is enough to check one two pictures from the series and the overall quality of the result. But still, I strongly I recommend having a spare battery.

Photo in frost on a SLR camera

Photo in frost on a SLR camera

Camera acclimatization

When they’ve filmed plenty on the street and entered the room - the camera needs to acclimatize... This means that it should stay in your bag for 10-20 minutes. And you don't need to worry too much about her. I do not advise putting the camera on a battery, etc. The problem is that when the camera gets from the cold to the heat, a lot of condensation settles on it. Condensation is especially visible on the lens, which becomes foggy. If it is a DSLR, then condensation appears both on the viewfinder and on the mirror and may appear on the shutter, and even worse, on the sensor. Condensation must not be washed... You just need to methodically wait a couple of minutes until he disappears himself. The only thing that can protect the matrix from dust is the built-in dust shake function, but protecting the matrix from light condensation is very problematic. Therefore, on almost any camera, small blots appear on its matrix. This is treated by cleaning the matrix with special means, or simply in a service center. Personally, I only clean the matrices on my cameras because of the dark streaks that appear over time.

Winter photography

Winter photography

Tricky solution

Often I have to personally work in the cold-warm-cold mode. At the same time, it’s practically not possible to cope with a single camera. I’ll explain, I rent the bride’s ransom at the entrance, then the fun goes to the house or apartment or to the limousine, and the condensation on the lens completely blocks the ability to take pictures. Therefore, I quickly take out the second warmed camera from the coffer and continue shooting. The same thing happens throughout the day of filming. Worst case, when the camera from the case also sweats. This also happens. Once my second camera fogged up when filming in the tropical climate of the botanical garden. I got out in this situation not in the most successful way, took out another lens from the coffer, warned that there were only a couple of frames and until the lens managed to fog up for a minute - I shot a series and saved the situation. I understand that the second camera is an expensive solution to such a small problem, but sometimes without it you just can’t get a photo, but the customer doesn’t need it, it requires a result.

Winter photo on a digital SLR camera

Winter photo on a digital SLR camera

Caution! Snow!

Be careful. Falling snow melts on camera... The resulting water from melting is poured between the buttons and can lead to a short circuit. I had a case when the snow melted on a warm camera, water flowed into the grooves between the buttons and froze there. Then the buttons stopped pressing. The solution to this problem is simple - before going outside, cool the camera on your balcony. The wardrobe trunk works like a thermos. The cold will remain cold, the warm will remain warm. And if snow gets on the camera - just blow it off, or sweep it away.

I'm filming. Please note no lens hood.

I'm filming. Pay attention to the lens hood.

If it is snowing (as in the picture above), you need to shoot only with a hood... The trouble is, snow falls on the front lens and often sticks to it, and even worse, melts. I have had cases when the snow melted on the front lens, and then froze, after which I had to twist safety filterto continue shooting. I recommend even with the smallest snow or rain to take off with a hood and protective filter.

Winter photo

Winter photo

Minimum cold movement

Whenever possible, we expose the main settings in warm home conditions. We make the ISO settings, shooting speed, image quality and focus method. With experience, you will immediately understand what needs to be configured. Also, check other settings. Is autofocus turned on, how many frames are left on the memory card and what is the battery charge. If the charge is low - change or recharge the battery. All this is done at home, so as not to waste time in the cold in the cold. In severe frost, every second is important for both the camera and the photographer.

Photo taken in the frost on a DSLR

Photo taken in the frost on a DSLR

Personal experience:

If I don’t need to do commercial shooting, I try to shoot on my inexpensive lenses, it’s fast Nikon 50mm F1.8DHelios-81 Kit 18-55. Personally, I prefer to take fixes in the winter. Zooms have more moving parts, more lubrication, therefore, there is a greater chance of damaging the lens at low temperatures. In the cold, the lubricant freezes and focuses, sometimes it becomes impossible. Also, in the cold I advise you to use a minimum of technology, a camera is enough. Even the flash I try not to use when shooting in the cold. All unnecessary photographic equipment requires attention and time, and during this time the photographer, camera and people in the frame freeze (if any).

Winter photography.

Winter photography.

Display and frost

In cold weather, the liquid crystal display starts to slow down just like on a mobile phone or on an electronic watch. This is normal. After acclimatization, everything always bounced back to me.

Winter photography. Photo during a snowfall

Winter photography. Photo during a snowfall

Warm your hands

I had a case when I was shooting a mobile set in the snow, and I was so cold that I could not press the shutter button. Therefore, I highly recommend learning how to work with the camera with gloves. With the usual a digital device is not convenient, but I manage to shoot perfectly with good warm gloves on the SLR camera with its large buttons and large sizes. The only serious problem with gloves is that you don’t feel whether you pressed the focus button or not, but you can perfectly orientate yourself by the sound of the lens motor or camera. If you need to configure something in the menu, I advise you to remove the gloves.

Winter photography. Photo during a snowfall

Winter photography. Photo during a snowfall

Well, really?

In fact, I used to feel sorry for my “expensive” SLR camera and blew dust particles off it. With experience, I realized that in frost, cold and high moisture, nothing bad happens to her. Therefore, it is better to get a good shot than to go for a winter walk without a camera. And in fact, all the photos in this article were taken with the simplest Nikon D40 и Tamron 17-50 F2.8 and virtually no processing. Special thanks Natalya Romanenko for backstage and heroism when filming. You can see the processed winter photos in the gallery Winter Photoshoot on another my site.


In order to make the camera and the photographer as good as possible when shooting in the cold season, it is enough to follow these rules:

  • cool the camera before shooting
  • stock up on batteries
  • do not waste unnecessary time in vain on settings and checking the shot material on the camera
  • allow the camera (especially the lens) to acclimatize in warm conditions
  • shoot with a hood and protective filter, for ordinary digital cameras we try to prevent snow falling on the lens
  • learning to take off gloves

Thank you for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 65, on the topic: Is it possible to photograph in the cold?

  • Ivan

    Thank you!

  • Nicholas

    A few bags of silica gel in a case are a must, and not just in winter! If necessary, they can be dried periodically, for example on a battery.

  • Olga

    Arkady, on the link on your site, how did you take the 8th photo from above against the sun, achieving such a beautiful effect: the sun is not smeared with a white spot and shadow in the snow with glare? Does it need a special lens or special settings?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Everything is very simple, the minimum allowable ISO, the maximum clamped aperture and the backlight of the model with a flash. Closed aperture petals themselves give the effect of a star.

  • Dima

    I don’t know, I probably read your article late (in fact, I started looking for how it all happened)
    The front lens is fogged up from the inside. Do you have to wait until it dries itself or do something? It’s just that you don’t see this, and when you look through the lens holding it close to the eye and so that the light falls on the front lens at an angle, you can see small droplets. Damn purely by chance noticed.

  • "tubeless"

    in accordance with the laws of physics, a cooled matrix should be less noisy. Interestingly, did anyone compare the noise of a “frozen” matrix with a warm one ??? until the winter is over.

  • Mikhail Rybak

    Thanks for the article, it’s interesting to know about the filters, what (UV, polarik, gradient), when (frost, winter sun, snow) and their significance (not needed, if possible, necessary) when shooting in winter?

  • Alex

    I bought a camera down Nikon D 600 went to take in the cold -15 all the pictures are broken violet noise in all the pictures. In the room everything is fine and in the cold nothing works. Tell me what to do?

  • Andrei

    I used to shoot in the mountains at - 30 on my nikon d80 and everything worked fine in the lens, I had no lubricant but roller bearings !!! and from moisture, you can throw bags with silica gel into the wardrobe trunk - there is also such a vologopoglinach Bison sold in the Epicenter - finally, if you are not bothered by the exit, print a female pad - when we were in the army, we threw ourselves into our boots in the rain - maybe some advice will come up -

  • Andrei

    By the way, after the absorption of moisture, the silica gel becomes unusable and cannot be dried on the battery !!! only in an old frying pan but at a low temperature !!! if the balls are transparent it means it is wet - if it turns white it means dry !!!!!!

    • Victor

      Dry silica gel - blue

      • Vodichkin

        dry silica gel white
        maybe your blue is some kind of dyed

  • Andrei

    On a brush of clear frames in winter - compared to summer - did you not notice that in winter the air itself is much more transparent, there is no haze and the heat from a roaring zeil does not come - by the way, at -30 the frame is cleaner than, for example, at 0 degrees !!!!!

  • Alexey

    I don’t know how the CZK, but Zenit ET (I use it) when the temperature drops (street-room-street), condensation forms inside the chamber and can freeze, thereby blocking the operation of moving elements. I had problems with the curtain shutter, not opening….

    Interestingly CZK similar suffer?

  • Sergei

    Thanks for the helpful tips! I’m also shooting on Nikon D40, I want to try shooting at 55-300mm, but I think at minus 25 go to 35mm (I’m running), I just wanted to shoot a ski marathon :).

  • Michael

    I shot with Canon 650d in -35 frost nature during a ski trip. At first I kept the camera in my backpack and took it out every time to take a picture, but soon I got tired of it and just hung the camera around my neck. So I ran with him for over an hour. Everything worked fine, only the battery was half discharged. When entering the heat, I hid the camera in my backpack and took it out only after an hour, but there was still condensation on it. And I’ll add on my own - try not to breathe while shooting, the steam quickly condenses on the camera and lens and freezes.

  • Polina

    Hello. Maybe the question is not the topic, but suddenly someone came across this. Nikon D700 camera, with it were batteries: original, acme and lexand, it seems to be such a name. The first one stopped holding an acme charge, if you do not take it off for a week, the battery is discharged to zero. The charger is not native. There are two questions: are there batteries in other manufacturers' chips and can a non-original charger not fully charge them? Depreciation of the batteries themselves is not ruled out.

  • Alim Bekirov

    Wonderful article Arkady! Is it possible to use the flash in winter, the lamp will not crack from heating ?!

  • Dmitriy

    Hello! Tell me how best to insulate the camera if it is necessary to leave it in autonomous conditions for a long time (according to the plan - for a year). The device will be powered by a solar battery, but what about the cold. Maybe there are some protective boxes for such cases? Or do you need to organize its heating?

  • Sergei

    I shot a video in frosty weather minus 12 with two video cameras \ warm-cold \ at the wedding at the end I relaxed and did not turn off the camera I was shooting with a warm camera on the street, then when I entered a warm room I watched condensation? And after 30-50 seconds the camera went out ... when analyzing all the material M2TS had a miscalculation error and the data could not be taken, but the camera remained working! Thanks to the Japanese for the reliability ... Canon HF M 406 Still working!

  • anonym

    Panasonic GH3 with whale 14-140, 2 hours in the cold - 20, no problems, even the touchscreen worked as usual ...

  • anonym

    Greet us ... On the new rik we sent a couple of photos to the yalinka in the night to shoot a couple of photos. d10 linza bula tokina 800-11. after trying the picture without lingzi, there might be some risks, but there weren't any problems with video….

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