Digital cameras in seriously hot environment

Neftun

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Today I had an peculiar request from a customer in my shop. He told me he was going to Dubai, so he needed a camera that would operate in 50 degrees C (122 dgr F). I checked a few websites, and between the ones that show in the specs the camera's operating temperatures, noone exceeds 40 dgr C (104 F).

I found this a bit odd, but being Norwegian, what do I know of hot climates and photography? I've only worried about cold fingers, dead batteries and condensation before. The customer claimed his nex simply shut down when it was hot enough.

Don't people photograph in warm countries all the time? Do the cameras sold in dubai have special heatsinks? Or maybe they sell watercooling systems for sensors as accesories?? Is my customer excaggerating the grossly? Or am I missing something?
 
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Interesting. My iPhone has been known to overheat and shutdown on really hot (for the Washington, DC area) summer days. Most often this has happened when the device has been getting direct sunlight while running the gps for some time.

Still, you see a lot of pictures from that part of the world, so I assume adaptation strategies would include short usage bursts while keeping the cameras in shade? Perhaps keeping the batteries out of camera when not in use?
 

b_rubenstein

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I've been in the Mid-East experienced 40º C in the late afternoon. The temperature range manufactures state is the certified range that the camera will meet all of its specifications, not the absolute operating limit. At 50º C there may be more noise in the images, LCDs may not display properly, etc., but the camera won't suffer and permanent damage. I'm sure in Norway people use their cameras in lower temperatures than they are rated for all the time in winter.
 

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I wonder if turning off ibis would be a way of coping with the intense heat. I understand Ibis generates a lot of heat.
 

Ricoh

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Electronic component ratings are 0 to 70C for Commercial and -40 to 85C for Industrial.
The designer has to de-rate from the values shown to allow for internal heating, so in hot climates, like Dubai, use the power switch whenever practicable. I've been there and it does get hot. Black cameras aggravate the situation.
 

kinlau

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I had issues one time with my Canon 1D pro body in 40C heat.

If you're concerned about heat, a camera with an optical VF may be more suitable rather than a mirrorless that requires the sensor be active pretty well as soon as it's on.
 

Neftun

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I'm sure in Norway people use their cameras in lower temperatures than they are rated for all the time in winter.[/QUOTE]

We sure do. It is below freezing point half the year, two thirds if one live further north than I.
 

robbie36

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I live in Thailand which admittedly isnt the hottest place in the world but where temperatures are regularly over 40 degrees. I have certainly come across circumstances whereby my ipad (which is black) doesnt work because it is too hot. This has been usually because it has either been sitting out in direct sunlight or left inside a lock car. In both instances it can get too hot to touch. To Apple's credit that has never been a serious problem as it will work when it cools down.

I have never had a problem with any camera I have used with it not working. My black EM1 has got extremely hot sitting in a locked car but it still worked fine. Perhaps the biggest problem is usually that when I go from a cool air conditioned environment to the very hot outside, the lens mists up and you have to wait for the temperatures to equilibriate.

I think the biggest potential problem with heat will come if you have a 'black' camera on a fairly insulated surface in direct sunlight. A white epl or epm would help - even say a silver em5.
 

Ricoh

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Electronics don't stop working necessarily once the upper limit has been reached, in fact this is not the case. At approx 200C,however, semiconductors stop working in an 'ordered' way and start working like a resistor, ie the function of the device is permanently damaged. Here I'm talking about the temperature of the die, and not the case of the component. There are other considerations such as the stability of the die carrier and wire bonds from the pins of the device (effectively) to the die, so there are also thermo-mechanical effects to be added to the 'mix'. It means that reliable operation can only be claimed within certain limits.
A quick search revealed the following spec:
Commercial: 0°C to 85°C
Industrial: −40°C to 100°C
Automotive: −40°C to 125°C
Extended: −40°C to 125°C
Military: −55°C to 125°C
Cost goes up exponentially with durability, and I'd expect cameras manufacturers to fit commercial grade.
As an aside, I remember watching the Apollo astronauts using hasselblads on the moon, and they must have experiences quite a wide range of temperatures.
Silver or white is best as said earlier.
 

Ricoh

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I don't think they had electronics in them
That's why I wrote aside, I thought it was obvious.
I'm not at all knowledgeable with the brand, so I'm not aware how exposure was set. All I remember is that cameras of that period had light sensitive semiconductors, and they too can't defy the laws of physical-electronics.

PS It appears even the king of cameras don't claim to operate outside 0 to 40C. All the same, I do crave an M9. Anyone want to donate one to a worthy cause?!!
 

b_rubenstein

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What happens to semiconductors at 200º C is irrelevant to the discussion. The different operating temperature range of semiconductors is based upon their packaging (plastic, ceramic, metal). De-rating is done for reliability calculations; it is not related to meeting performance specifications. It is unlikely that the operating temperature of a digital camera will be determined on the basis of the commercial IC's used: it will be based on whatever the lowest range is of some component or assembly. IBIS is only on when half depressing the shutter button. So long as one doesn't hold the button half way down for extended periods of time, the heat generated is inconsequential.

The only way of actually knowing how a specific camera will perform outside of its stated temperature range, it to use it outside of its range. Everything else is pure speculation.
 

Ricoh

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Not quite, even at fairly benign ambient temperatures (40) the die could be at 200 with poor thermal management.
 

b_rubenstein

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When companies design poor thermal management into their products, then it's a factor to consider. Unintentional bad designs, that were not adequately tested or a specific defective item may have the problem, but it's the exception not the rule. When speculating, it's more useful to assume the typical than the outlier, because trying to account for every improbable possibility will result in an infinite number of possibilities and no possible reasonable conclusion. And, there more than just IC's in a camera. To guess how a camera will operate at elevated temperatures, one has to guess about a lot more than IC's.
 

Fri13

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Just suggest him to use camera bag when possible and then just keep camera turned off when not required to shoot. So avoid direct sunlight for carrying/storing and then shoot away normally. The dry air with dust particles is more of a problem than heat itself.

I have been shooting in +65-120°C temperatures on dry and moist environments for few hour lengths without problem. But that was few years ago with a E-520.
 

elavon

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I live in Tel-Aviv and travel around the country which is as hot in summer. I have never had a problem of camera not functioning because of temperature.
Sand on the other hand is more problematic, a sealed body and a zoom is preferable. It is impossible to change lenses during a sand storm.

My suggestion wold be to get an EVF, LCD are useless in the sun.
The major problem is when stepping out of an air conditioned the camera will get condensation, it might not happen in the Gulf because of the dry weather.

This picture was taken in well above 40 C day,

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Stone arc - Timna by Ehud Lavon, on Flickr
 

Fri13

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It is impossible to change lenses during a sand storm.
Done that and no problems. Trusted to E-520 system and home study shown no sand or mud (it was more of a mud storm).

But now with a E-M1 I didn't want to swap lens on similar situation as air was full of mud dust, moisture being only 24%. Needed to wash camera after that short exposure (what couldn't do with E-520) as the dust was everywhere.

Still wondering why doesn't m4/3 cameras have a mechanical iris front of the sensor what closes when camera is powered down?
 

barry13

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FWIW, High temperatures permanently degrade (reduce capacity) of lithium batteries; the degradation is worse when they're exposed to heat fully charged.

I try to avoid leaving my camera and laptop in the trunk of the car on hot days, but camera batteries aren't horribly expensive.

Barry
 
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