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14 Essential Items For Shooting in the Cold

Cold weather can be devastating to equipment and can very easily ruin your shoot. Don’t let that happen by bringing these 14 essential items with you next time you’re shooting in the cold. If you’re looking for some tips on shooting in the cold, check out this article!

We all know that metal can become very, very cold in a short period of time. Since this is common sense, why would you bring a metal tripod out on your snow shoot? I promise your life will be much easier and your shoot smoother if you bring a Carbon Fiber Tripod instead. Your fingers will thank you! Plus, carbon fiber tripods are great for shooting in extreme temperatures in general and they’re lightweight compared to their metal counterparts.

Snow is incredibly reflective, even in overcast weather (so maybe even bring sunscreen). You can get a huge amount of unwanted light hitting your lens just from sunlight bouncing off the snow. This is why it is crucial for you to being ND filters with you on your shoot. Without them, it’ll be challenging to expose your shot properly. ND filters cut out incoming light and allow you to use a wider aperture even in bright conditions. This is really important if you are wanting to control your depth of field.

3. Dehumidifying Camera Cap

Condensation is a serious problem when it comes to shooting in the winter. I think it goes without saying that you don’t want your camera to get water forming inside of it. One way you can significantly cut back on condensation is to put a dehumidifying cap on your camera. These caps are designed to absorb moisture making your camera body less likely to experience damage  as a result of condensation. You can get these caps for both Nikon and Canon cameras.

4. Multitool with Rubber Handles

There will be times when you take your gloves off, and when you do, it’s extremely nice when you don’t have to touch metal. Find a multi-tool that does not have metal handles. You’ll thank me later.

These blankets are great to use as a barrier between the cold, snowy ground and your precious gear. I’m sure you can think of a few other ways a blanket can come in handy during your shoot too. The best part is, they pack down small so they won’t be taking up too much space in your kit. It’s usually a good idea to bring multiple if you can.

6. Extra Batteries

Batteries die at a much faster rate in the cold. You have to be prepared for this. You’ll be changing them much more frequently and if you’re unable to charge them, this could be a huge problem. I’d advise you to bring way more than you think you’ll need. One tip when shooting in the cold is to keep extra batteries near your body to keep them warm, this will keep them running longer. Once these ‘dead’ batteries warm up, they will often times still have a bit of juice left.

7. Micro Fiber Cloth and Air Puffer

I’ll admit, these are also important to have in warm climates too. You should always have someway to clean your lenses on the go. A Micro Fiber Cloth and Air Puffer will always do the trick in a pinch. Not a bad idea to bring a sensor cleaning kit as well, but I do not recommend cleaning your sensor while you’re in the cold.

There are a variety of different hand warmers that react in different environments. There are chemical hand warmers that have adhesive on them for sticking to things. These are great if you want to keep your camera warm (which you should). I have stuck these directly onto battery packs/camera body and they help keep your camera rolling a little bit longer. However, when these hand warmers are directly in the elements, they don’t last forever so be sure to have plenty on you.

9. Plastic Bags

Here’s another item to help deal with condensation, and I’m sure you’ve got plenty of these lying around your house. When moving from a cold to warm climate, condensation will build up on your gear. Putting your gear in a clear plastic bag and sealing this bag until your gear gets to room temperature will help counteract this. The moisture will gather on the inside of the bag, keeping your gear dry. 

10. Warm Gloves

Obviously, your hands are useful when it comes to operating and maintaining your camera. Have you ever tried doing that with cold hands? I promise you, it’s not fun. Do yourself a huge favour by spending the time to find great gloves for the outdoors. It can be difficult to find warm gloves that aren’t too bulky so that you can still maneuver properly but it can be done. Worse case, you can put a couple of those aforementioned hand warmers in your gloves. It’s really up to you and your preferences, so experiment a little. One aspect I highly recommend in a pair on gloves is having the ability to still use touch screens while wearing them.

11. Dress in Layers

One of the single most important things, in my opinion, is to dress in layers. If you are doing something very physical you will need less cover than if you are not moving around. Dressing in layers allows you to remove or add clothing to suit your current conditions. Avoiding sweating is crucial if you want your shoot to go on for awhile. When picking out a jacket, use one with a bunch of pockets so you can easily access any gear you may need when shooting. 

Another thing to fight against moisture. It doesn’t hurt to have a few of these laying around in your bag.

13. Use a Coated Lens

Most modern day lenses come with special coatings that allow them to withstand the elements. This is especially important when shooting in cold weather as it is easy to get things like snow and condensation on the lens. If you’re considering renting a lens check out if it has a specialty coating on it.

14. Use Winter Proof Cases

I’d say it’s fairly obvious why this is important. Always do your best to protect your gear! Especially when shooting in the cold.

What Are Your Experiences With Shooting in the Cold?

As always, we love to hear your own personal experiences. Share your story when you had to shoot in a cold climate!

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3 thoughts on “14 Essential Items For Shooting in the Cold”

  1. Avatar of Rob Krauzig

    Shooting 2 nights at -45 below in Yellowknife I used kids insulated soft sided lunch boxes. Cut lens hole in bottom, and cut small mount hole on hinge side, sandwich lunch box between camera and your mounting plate . This way your camera is easily mounted on tripod, and you can simply zip open the back to add heat packs or make camera adjustments, zip it up and body stays warm enough to keep working. Some even have pockets that you can slide heat packs !

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