Antarctic Photographer Explains The Weird Effects Of Sub-Zero Temperatures On Cameras

Going outside to take some photographs, the worst weather you’ll encounter is a bit of wind and rain, perhaps snow depending on where you live. This is nothing compared to what Kiwi photographer Anthony Powell has to deal with down in Antarctica, where it can get as cold as -50°C. And when temperatures are that low… things get very difficult.

For example, just making sure batteries work properly is a big problem. As they get colder, the voltage drops, the camera detects it as flat and shuts down. To circumvent this, Powell uses a “fake” camera battery wired up to a 12V lead-acid one, which can handle the lower temperatures.

Image: Anthony Powell / Vimeo

The cold can also play havoc with the physics of the electronics. According to Powell, the cameras can usually withstand -40°C, but any lower and they start to act weird. That said, heating is only necessary if the temperatures are going to hit -50°C or more.

Then there’s the cold itself causing certain materials to simply snap — something Powell demonstrates by sticking a power cable outside at the start of the clip and retrieving it halfway through. It breaks like a twig.

Powell has a number of videos dealing with his Antarctic antics — check them out on his Vimeo channel.

[Vimeo, via PetaPixel]