High altitude and digital cameras


Link Posted 30/12/2006 - 13:43
In general terms are there any maximum altitude limits on operating digital cameras?

Is there also a limit on carrying but not actually using them?

I'm contemplating a trip to Tibet which may involve being as high as 17,000 feet (5,100 metres).




Link Posted 30/12/2006 - 13:51
There are temperature limits for all cameras - at very low temperatures batteries are not reliable and lubricants stiffen. However, I know people who have taken their digital cameras up at least to Base Camp on Everest with no problems whatsoever with cameras or batteries. I don't know how high that is...

How long without using? I'm guessing that you mean that the batteries will gradually lose their power whether used or not, and that is true, but I have had NiMH batteries in my *istDS for up to three weeks and they have still given a good day's shooting. The Li-ion in the K10D will probably be even better.

Facilities for recharging batteries should also be reasonably available, as are memory cards and film. You find these things in some amazingly remote places these days.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 30/12/2006 - 14:25

Thanks for reply but I'm concerned about altitude, not temperature.

I know computers have a typical limit for use of 10,000 feet because of HD damage risk and higher limits for storage and shipping (though what the difference is between those two I don't know).

I was wondering if low pressure could present any problems for cameras.



Link Posted 30/12/2006 - 14:52
I have just been enjoying photos from Nepal on another forum, taken with a Km7d, and on yet another forum I've also seen photos taken in the high Andes with a Canon 350D. Neither photographer reported altitude problems. (At least not with the camera!)


Link Posted 30/12/2006 - 15:38
There isn't a HD in a camera, so the two will probably not be comparable. I can't think of any reason why high altitudes should have an effect, other than the lower temperatures.

No-one who has been to these places has reported a problem.

Unless someone knows differently.....

Why not phone Pentax and ask them directly?
Best regards, John


Link Posted 30/12/2006 - 18:10
I used my DL at 16000 ft in Peru. It gave no problems at all. I didn't use it for too long because I wasn't feeling all that great...
I expected any problems to come from fluids in the batteries or lcd screens. To the best of my knowledge, the only way the electronics would be affected is if a solar flare directed at earth hits, but then even being at lower altitudes wouldn't help that much.


Link Posted 30/12/2006 - 21:37
Everest base camp is around 17,000 feet. I think temperature is more likely to be a problem. Apart from the batteries (and lithium are I believe recommended for low temps) I have heard of LCD screens being unreadable.
Tim the Ammonyte
K10D & sundry toys


Link Posted 31/12/2006 - 00:44

the main problem with altitude is that water boils at a lower temperature, due to the gasses erupting from fluids at a lower air pressure. That means that your breakfast cuppa will be luke warm at best.. around 70 at the top of Everest.

Far more important..



"Make your hands respond to what your mind demands." Jesse James

Best wide-angle lens? Two steps backward. Look for the 'ah-ha'. Ernst Haas

George Lazarette

Link Posted 31/12/2006 - 01:11
Against that, a nice Rum Daiquiri will be super cold.

Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.


Link Posted 02/01/2007 - 00:16
Thanks for responses.

I had not come across any issues that would cause me concern (cold may not be too much of a problem in this case) but had wondered about the effect of low pressure on displays.

However whilst it will not concern me it might be appropriate to mention that cameras with microdrives would encounter problems.

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