A Li-Ion in Winter
Here are a few tips about outdoor photography in winter. Mostly, I'll describe how to get maximum life from your batteries in low temperatures. That means two things about the scope of this article:
- This article will not get into other aspects of outdoor photography, at least not very much.
- The information in this article applies to other battery-powered devices just cameras. (There's even a section about your car!)
As I set about researching this article, I discovered something interesting: Nothing! I can not find anything on the Web that supports the tips I'm about to give you, and I've never read about it in print sources. I can not believe I'm the only one who knows this, and it is certainly no breakthrough scientific discovery. And I can not believe I'm the only one who has ever attempted to use a digital camera in sub-zero temperatures, but maybe we are so small a market that nobody has bothered to publish this information. Frankly, I've considered it unlicensed that this has never been published before, but I can not find it.
So, here you go. You might have to consider this something of a "myth," but you can easily confirm it on your own.
Here's the thing. Electric batteries are a lot like old, cranky hikers. They get slower and crankier when it's cold.
It does not matter what kind of batteries you have, whether primary or rechargeable, carbon or alkaline, nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion, lead-acid automotive batteries, or, I dare say, any battery that's ever been invented or probably to be invented any time soon. They all operate much better at temperatures close to normal human body temperature than to the temperature of ice.
Okay, maybe there's some exotic battery that nobody outside the secret laboratory has ever heard of, but any battery you're likely to find on the consumer market likes warm temperatures. And maybe batteries of one type operate best at 84.37 degrees Fahrenheit while batteries of another type prefer 88.64 degrees, but the point remains that batteries work better near body temperature.
You can observe this very easily. If you keep your camera (or other battery-powered device) outside in very cold temperatures, you'll see that the batteries are depleted very quickly. Place the camera inside your jacket for a few minutes, and the batteries indicate a much higher charge.
Any battery produces electric power by chemical reactions, and any chemical reaction occurs more efficiently at higher temperatures, up to a limiting temperature where complex chemicals begin to break down. These limiting temperatures are way above your body temperature, so do not worry about it. Just do not drop your batteries into a fire and expect them to work better.
So what can you do about it? Two things, one simple and one with ramifications.
First, carry your extra batteries in an inner pocket. (You do dress in layers when you go outdoors in winter weather, do not you? Good!) The nearer to …