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A few weeks ago my friends and I hiked up Mt. Marcy, in New York's Adirondack region, so I brought along a 702 to gather any interesting ambience we'd encounter. The peak's only 5,343 ft, but temperatures were down at 10-15 F. Around three-quarters of the way up, the 702 developed an odd, loud, stuttering buzz on both channels; it seemed to be triggered by pressing the record button, but was just as likely to start without provocation. By the time we reached the top, the 702 refused to boot up. Only after we had descended halfway did the 702 finally turn on again.

Could it be the battery? I'm not sure because the 702's buttons, etc., would light up as long as I held down the power button, but the device just wouldn't boot up. Perhaps it was condensation then? Odd.

~Cheers

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When you work in cold conditions you need to keep the recorder insulated, it is even more important with the batteries. The solution is to strap the recorder onto your body underneath your jacket and on top of some thin layers of clothes so that your body helps to keep the recorder warm. Padded down jackets are the best for this sort of thing. It looks odd with you spending so much time peering into your jacket but it really is the only way. If you are not generating enough heat from your body you pop hand/feet/pocket warmers into the jacket. Even when you have got it working the batteries will not last very long so make sure that you take an external battery pack as well. http://www.sonicstudios.com/batsys98.htm#bd12

  • Welcome back Iain! – Andrew Spitz Nov 7 '10 at 8:18
  • Good points... We've also used the battery powered electric blankets they sell at camping goods stores to keep equipment warm (I once did sound on a short that was shot in -40!) – Sonsey Nov 7 '10 at 15:45
  • Great tip with the jacket. Did this in the mountains/snow in 15-20 degree F temps and everything worked like a charm. – Stavrosound Jan 4 '13 at 0:55
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I live in Minnesota and every year I end up doing shoots in 20 or 30 BELOW zero temperatures. It sucks for a lot of reasons. My 744t always works at those temperatures but the LCD screen definitely needs to be kept warm. I generally keep a bunch of hand warmers in my kit during the winter months. I'm also very careful to not take the gear in and out of warm/cold temperatures. I let it get acclimated to whatever temperature we'll be shooting in. You'll get condensation and numerous other problems in a hurry if you go from a 70 degree house to -30 degree outside (that's a 100 degree temperature drop in about 3 seconds for the quick-at-math folks out there).

I'm guessing the issues you encountered were not directly due to temperature. You may have some condensation that then froze when your recorder hit the colder temperature. I've never heard of altitude affecting these recorders, but I've never heard definitively that they aren't affected by it.

  • The problems definitely appeared at Marcy's iceline, so maybe it was frozen condensation. – Miles B. Nov 8 '10 at 3:21
  • +1 on hand warmers! Classic trick for any media pro in the cold. Just test 'em beforehand to make sure you get a sense for how hot they get..! – NoiseJockey Nov 9 '10 at 16:22
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Wow, that sounds hectic! Good to know in case I'm ever on a cold job.

Just reading from the 702's manual, it's rated down to 5°C / 41 ºF so you where at a significantly colder temperature.

Batteries will also definitively suffer in cold temperatures.

Regarding condensation, this only really happens when the temperature climbs again. So if you're in cold, and then go back top heat, that's when it would condense. So I don't think that was your issue...

I know mics are affected by temperature too, but you'd hear the issues while monitoring and not only hitting record, so that can't be your problem.

  • @Andrew Spitz. Well, the buzzing did occur while monitoring. However, considering the way the 702 stopped working, and how pressing the record button aggravated the buzzing, I think you're right that the mic's not the issue. – Miles B. Nov 9 '10 at 9:03
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I totally agree with Iain on this. You need to keep your recorder warm and dry. I know it is a pain but at least it will work. I have experienced this in cold shoots in Canada when you don't keep the machine at a constant temperature. I have actually wrapped a machine in plastic cellophane (tightly) to insure that the condensation from the air doesn't get inside the machine and cause issues. This also helps if you begin to perspire and it prevents the machine from getting damp. I will ask a friend who shot in Antarctica how he stayed away from this issue of equipment issues in such an extreme environment.

Take care.

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