Aurora + Fairbanks + February -- anything special needed to keep gear warm?

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Kim_Captures

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I'm traveling to Fairbanks in February to shoot the Aurora Borealis (fingers crossed). It's been on the bucket list for a while, so we decided to just go for it. I'll be taking my A9 and a couple of wide angle lenses, and of course my tripod for those long exposures. I have lots of extra batteries and the "tough" cards to deal with the extreme cold. I know to keep the batteries in my pocket, in an inner layer or near hand warmers, but I'm wondering if there's anything I need to do to make sure my camera body and lens stay functional hanging out on the tripod?
 

Jeff A

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I once was involved in a little Army sponsored camping trip to Alaska in January & February, 1963. It was severly cold and most days it took all of our time and effort to just stay alive. Normal mechanical devices just didn't work it was so cold. What are the normal temperatures for your destination for that time of year? My only recommendation is to do what you are doing now, Research! I wish you well.
 
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Kim_Captures

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The average high is 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, and average low is 0 to -5F. We anticipate being out in the middle of the night at times (though it's dark 24/7 that time of year). Most of the activity seems to be around 2am, so we'll be dealing with those lows when shooting. So it's not CRAZY extreme but not very hospitable.
 

Jeff A

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The average high is 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, and average low is 0 to -5F. We anticipate being out in the middle of the night at times (though it's dark 24/7 that time of year). Most of the activity seems to be around 2am, so we'll be dealing with those lows when shooting. So it's not CRAZY extreme but not very hospitable.
Well, that's much better than the -55° F or worse than I saw but I still doubt I have any other worthwhile advice to impart. Hopefully someone with actual cold weather camera experience will see your post. Good luck!
 
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AlphaLG

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Keeping the batteries warm is key. Ive spent the last few nights shooting the Geminids. I set my camera up in the back yard and the lows overnight ranged from 0-10F. The first night my battery was completely dead after 3-4 hours of continuous 30s shooting. Day 2 I hooked up a USB-C battery and it made it all the way from 8pm to 6am when the sun washed out the images. The usb-c was dead but the internal battery still had 75%. Last night i wrapped the battery in a long sleeve shirt, put it in a small cooler and ran the usb cord out. This morning when i went out the external battery was at 25% and the internal was at 100%. For day 2 and 3 the settings were identical and the biggest thing i did was turn off the screen while it was shooting timelapses. I didnt have any issues with moisture since it was so cold and other than battery life no issues with camera operation. Note: your camera will be cold so watch out for your fingers sticking to it if you take your gloves off.

For cards, I used 2x 256 GB Lexar Pro 250MB/s and had no issues so your Tough Cards should also be good to go. If there's any chance of precipitation i would cover the body of the camera. Ive done this with a gallon plastic bag before and it worked great.

Alpha LG
 

Kim_Captures

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That pretty much reinforces what I was thinking, so thank you! I'm not planning any hours-long exposures or sequences, so sounds like I'm set with my existing gear. Whew!
 

johonew

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I'm traveling to Fairbanks in February to shoot the Aurora Borealis (fingers crossed). It's been on the bucket list for a while, so we decided to just go for it. I'll be taking my A9 and a couple of wide angle lenses, and of course my tripod for those long exposures. I have lots of extra batteries and the "tough" cards to deal with the extreme cold. I know to keep the batteries in my pocket, in an inner layer or near hand warmers, but I'm wondering if there's anything I need to do to make sure my camera body and lens stay functional hanging out on the tripod?
When my wife and I went to the Antarctic two years ago, we did many of your preparations, although the weather during the antarctic summer was moderate, at around 32 fahrenheit. I did bring along a rain cover for my camera along with a wet bag, but other than that, it sounds as if you have the battery situation covered which is very important. I hope you will consider posting some of your results and how your trip went, as I am trying to do the same type of trip, either to Alaska, Iceland, or Norway. Color me jealous! Enjoy your journey!
 
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Kim_Captures

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I do have a rain bag and will for sure have it in my bag. Thanks for the suggestion. And yes, I will most certainly share the results here!
 

Ziggy

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Have a look at Shutter Muse for cold weather shooting info. Dan has good reviews of tog gloves and of rain covers.
The A9 copes well with the cold.
 
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