Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cold Times with the K-7

Having used the K20d in extremely cold weather, I have been waiting for a chance to use my K-7 and SMCP DA★ 60-250mm f/4 in similar. I lucked out today in that work was canceled due to 12" (30 cm) of snow, strong winds, and a temperature of 8 °F (-13 °C). What better time to break out the snowshoes and go for an hour hike in the woods?

The first picture of Luna trying to stay warm. I took this shot because the camera records to temperature inside the camera body in the EXIF data and I needed a baseline shot. Camera had been sitting inside.
Camera temperature: 70 °F (21 °C)

I drove to the park and unloaded my gear and put my snowshoes on. It took me a few minutes to get ready and I had my camera set on the cold ground while I was getting ready. I took a shot near the beginning to get the initial outdoor temperature of the camera. Ambient temperature started at about 12 °F (-11 °C)and ended at about 8 °F (-13 °C).
Camera temperature: 48 °F (9 °C), 3:40 pm (EXIF is off by 1 hour).

Then I walked around for a bit and took a picture of the stream,
Camera temperature: 37 °F (3 °C), 3:50 pm

Held up an electricity pylon to keep it from falling over,
Camera temperature: 28 °F (-2 °C), 4:05 pm

Walked through the forest,
Camera temperature: 27 °F (-3 °C), 4:13 pm

Waved my hands at another pylon,
Camera temperature: 25 °F (-4 °C), 4:17 pm

Left some tracks in the snow,
Camera temperature: 25 °F (-4 °C), 4:24 pm

and finally watched a tree try to blow away, but settled for being buried by snow,
Camera temperature: 23 °F (-5 °C), 4:28 pm

The camera had no hiccups in the extreme cold today, now I can't wait to try it in sub 0 °F conditions, but that will have to wait for a cold day. The zoom ring on the 60-250mm did get slightly stiff, but was still very usable. Focus was perfectly smooth, and I noticed no impact to focus performance. Battery is still showing full after 150 pictures or so in the cold.

I was surprised at how easy the K-7 was to use with ski gloves given the small button size. The worst part is actually the locking mode dial, which I find easy with no gloves (middle and thumb to turn, with index finger depressing the lock). T

Touching a metal camera body with your hands at sub zero temperatures is not so pleasant, but whatever finish the camera has helps a bit. Thankfully you should be wearing gloves if the temperature is below freezing.

What I notice is that this K-7 operates significantly cooler than the K20d, which maintained an internal temperature above freezing in much colder ambient temperatures (about -25 to -30 °F). When the weather gets extremely cold I might do a stress test to see how long the camera will run before shutting down.

Another great cold weather Pentax, but I do need to dress warmer next time as I thought I might freeze :)


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