sub-zero 35mm usage.

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by roger_shepherd, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. I have an old Canon AE1 35mm camera.
    Recently I was using it in the mountains in sub-zero conditions. At some stage the shutter wouldn't release back, so I had to close it with the film advance lever. Now I am off the mountains it works fine. I assumed that some working parts like the material around the curtain got frozen stiff? I changed the battery in the mountain, but same issue.
    My question/s is...can sub-zero temperatures have this kind of effect on old cameras like mine? Is there a way to prevent that in future?
    Will the affected shots be rendered useless?
    Thank you for your time and expertise.
    Roger Shepherd.
  2. more likely the lubricants (greases) being used are getting too sticky and thick at low temp.
    In the old film days, you could have a camera 'winterized' if you were going to be doing a lot of sub-z shooting. They replaced all the oils and greases w/ 'better' (wider temp-range) materials. Keep your batteries warm and dont rewind or advance too fast (static electricity and brittle film)
  3. The same thing happened to me-or rather to my very first 35mm film camera (a Minolta SR-1S) back in the early 70's and, as Howard said, it had to do with the lubricants.
  4. As well as the lubricants sludging up, another thing is the battery. Your AE-1 is 100% electronic and strictly battery-dependent, so in really cold weather, the diminished battery output may not be enough to run the meter and the electronic shutter.
    For what it's worth, Canon actually had a solution for the A series cameras, called the External Battery Pack A. It's a sort of Rube Goldberg device with a battery box you keep inside your coat, and cords which connect it to the camera and winder. I have one but I've only used it once or twice.
  5. Starting with 'Geographic, many people have prepped their cameras for the cold/arctic. I'm presuming that the shutter and the lens/es need to be prepped. I'd suggest, since the 35mm film cameras are relatively inexpensive, and if you'll be doing this on semi regular basis, have one camera set aside just for cold temps. This way you don't have to apply mild weather lubricants after your cold shootings.
    True, dealing with brittle film can be a pain.
    Good luck.
  6. Leszek brought up an interesting point re film in cold weather; if you should find yourself rewinding film in cold weather, don't rewind quickly as you might well get static electricity-not good for your images. cb :)
  7. Thank you all for your answers. I will see about getting it winterized and taking note of how I advance/rewind the film in cold temperatures. The meter settings were all working fine, and as a precaution I changed the battery on the mountain when I was having that issue as well, so I assume it must be to do with grease etc.
    Best regards.
  8. SCL


    Most people shooting in cold weather keep their camera protected somewhat from the elements, sometimes by keeping it inside a jacket pocket (but not under the jacket as there is too much humidity from your body). Also people keep their batteries warm under the jacket until they plan to use them...extending their life in cold weather.
  9. The static usually shows up as very cool looking lightning bolts or spider-webs on the film. Most often on the 1 frame you REALLY wanted. :(
    Realistically, the winterization will probably cost more than the camera is worth since they have to go all the way in and remove the mfgr greases. Just prepping you for the price quote ;)
  10. 1+ Stephen Lewis. Bring camera out of warm shelter for a shot or two, then back into the warmth. True winterizing can be quite expensive.
    Best Regards...

Share This Page