December 27, 2005

Happiness is a Warm Cam

…or rather, a warm Compact Flash card. Score it Illinois winter 1, JNack 0. Short story: take care when shooting digitally in cold weather.
Longer story: On Friday my wife and I hiked around my snowy little hometown, filling a 1GB CF card via my Canon Rebel XT. The weather was brisk (maybe 35 degrees F) but sunny and not uncomfortable, and we captured plenty of images I’d love to have back. I kept the camera inside my jacket much of the time, and reviewing the shots in the field, everything seemed fine. Sadly, when I popped the card into my Mac, the photos were nowhere to be found. Bridge could display a few image fragments, but nothing usable transferred. The next day I reformatted the card in the camera and happily shot indoors for another couple hours; then things hit the wall. I got errors in the camera, and neither it nor the Mac could reformat the card. The card now resides in a trash can, and much of two days’ worth of shooting exists only in my memory.
I should note that I have no special expertise in this area, and I haven’t yet gotten to consult teammates who likely know a good deal more. The card itself claimed to be “unfazed by… arctic cold” (hmmm…); memory is generally supposed to work well in the cold; and it appears that Canon rates their cameras for shooting at freezing and above, so I thought I was in the clear. I might chalk this up to a fluke, but last Christmas I lost another batch of images taken in the same area (different card, different camera), so I suspect the technology is more fragile than we’d like to think.
In any event, it’s not a complete bust: I was able to salvage a few interesting shots of trains, real and imagined.

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