Film gear for the cold days

It’s winter and cold outside, and you don’t want to go out without a camera. But which one to take? If you still shoot film, you most likely have a huge collection of cameras in all size and shapes. But when you plan to use them while its freezing outside, there come some other properties into play that you might have never thought about during the warmer seasons. I’ve used various cameras during the last months, here are some comments on their handling under this harsh weather.

Nikon FM2 with Nikkor 35/2 Ai

FM2 with gloves

FM2 with gloves

FM2 with bare hands

FM2 with bare hands

Definitely a workhorse, the FM2 is a solid camera that most likely will outlast you. This is definitely true during colder weather, since the copper-silium body conducts heat pretty well, and the camera fees cold instantly. And with hardly any leather/plastic to cover the body, there is lots of cold metal to touch. Luckily the FM2 is pretty useable with gloves on, only for the aperture you need to be careful not to miss the ring – at least with this lens. Overall, if you are out with no gloves, the FM2 might not be the best choice because of the sheer amount of cold metal to touch – a plastic ocular ring might be wise idea too. With gloves, the camera is still easy enough to use.
Bare hands: ★★☆☆☆
Gloves: ★★★★☆

Olympus XA

Olympus XA with gloves

Olympus XA with gloves

Olympus XA with bare hands

Olympus XA with bare hands

Lets get straight to the point: This is no camera to use while wearing gloves. Both aperture control and rangefinder are tiny and recessed into the body, and sometimes even with bare hands you often have to go by feeling.  Even opening the body shell is not easy if you wear thicker gloves. With thin ones, the camera stays operational, but its not fun to use. Without gloves, the camera is well equipped for colder weather, with almost all of the camera made from plastic, the camera never is as cold to touch than a camera with a metal body. But the best feature of the camera for the cold weather is its size. Its small enough that you can put the hand that holds the camera in your pocket while still holding the camera. That means you have better camera control because you arnÄ’t wearing gloves, but at the same time you can keep your hands in your pocket where they stay warm.

Bare Hands: ★★★★★
Gloves: ★☆☆☆☆

Konica Hexar RF with VC 35/1.7 Ultron

Hexar RF with gloves

Hexar RF with gloves

Hexar RF with bare hands

Hexar RF with bare hands

For some reason, Konica didn’t advertise it, but the Hexar RF has a titanium body, and while you might not notice it during summer,  you will during winter. Titanium is a much worser heat conductor than all other camera body materials (except plastic) and once its cold, you can tell that when you touch the camera. It feels a bit cold, but not nearly as cold as a camera like the FM2 would feel. Its size makes it a bit to big to fit in your jackets pocket, so it can’t benefit from the smaller rangefinder size like the XA. With gloves, its a mixed feeling. Focusing is good, aperture is ok, at least with that lens. That you don’t have to advance film by hand is a definite plus too. The only problem is the shutter speed dial, that is hard to use with globes. It great with bare hands, but with gloves, its more difficult to get exactly the speed you want.

Bare Hands: ★★★☆☆
Gloves: ★★★★☆

Koni-Omega Rapid 200 with 90mm/3.5 Hexanon

Koni Omega with gloves

Koni Omega with gloves

Koni Omega with bare hands

Koni Omega with bare hands

This might look like an unusual camera (and yeah, it might be one), its well prepared for the cold weather. It is made from a lot of metal, but on the body, everything you have to touch in order to take a photo is plastic, besides the shutter button. Aperture and shutter speed on the lens are metal rings, but usually you don’t hold them very long. The grip and the focusing knob are made of plastic  and those you will hold most of  the time. Also the film advance is done with pulling a large plastic knob. And speaking of large, you will have no problem operating the camera with gloves,  shutter button, film advance and focusing handles are big enough to use even with big gloves. Only setting shutter speed and aperture could be a bit difficult since those rings are pretty close together.

Bare Hands: ★★★★☆
Gloves: ★★★★☆

Once thing I didn’t mention: with the Koni Omega you will need an external meter, unlike the first three, this one doesn’t come with a build in one. Since I only shoot BW with the Koni Omega, this is not much of a problem to me, I meter when I  start my trip and get readings from various light situations (from open light to dark shadows) and with those readings, I can usually work for a film or two.

I hope you found this article interesting. If so, I will try to bring you more.

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