Given that being out in the cold for any length of time is sure to zap a battery...is there much of a benefit to using a battery grip (and thus having two batteries in the camera)? Or would doing so simply increase the need to have more spare batteries waiting in a warm pocket?

My intended gear is a 5D mk II and I do have the grip and two batteries. I don't have the AA tray but could probably procure it if need be. Same with extra batteries.

So for a day of shooting - is the best practice to use one battery in camera, one in the pocket...two in the camera (and buy more for in the pocket)...Or load up on AA's.

(Keeping in mind that I'm trying to spend the least amount of money on this, as getting to Iceland, Finland, and Russia from the US isn't exactly cheap)


My experience:

Temperature -45C. Standard lithium battery for Olympus E-3 has weakened after about 25 shots. Grip with 6x lithium iron phosphate batteries (every is 1200 mAh, but I doubt it's correct value - they were bought on e-bay) has allowed me to take about 300 photos during 40-minute walking and then still has been in good mode.

So for very cold temperatures (I live in Siberia) I always use LiFePO4-batteries.

Update 1. Photo was taken about minus 33 Celsium (just for fun not as proof :) )

dance for the glory of the sun

Update 2. But this one was taken when it was about minus 50.

a forest near my home

  • I updated my question to pose more parameters. I'll be in St. Petersburg for a part of the trip at the end of this month. Does your suggestion of AA's still stand with the updated parameters? – OnBreak. Dec 6 '17 at 16:47
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    Winter in St. Petersburg is much more warmer than in Novosibirsk where I am. I think the temperature will be about 0 - minus 5 Celsium. So it is'nt strong suggestion to buy such AA batteries. Usual grip could help you without problem. Anyway 12 LiFePO4 batteries cost about 25 dollars for all, so you decide. – Viktor Tomilov Dec 6 '17 at 17:21
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    Novosibirsk looks awesome! My wife and I will have to head that direction on our next pass through that part of the world. Sounds like Li is the way to go, if not for full-time use, then as a backup at the least. I'll have to start looking for the AA tray that goes in the grip. – OnBreak. Dec 6 '17 at 17:41

If your battery grip takes AA batteries, you can get disposable lithium batteries that work at -40°C.

  • The last time that I tried this was with NiMH batteries in a 20D. There wasn't enough juice to shoot more than a few frames. I realize that Li is worlds ahead in power, but I'm still hesitant to trust AA's fully. – OnBreak. Dec 6 '17 at 2:08
  • @Corey the batteries mentioned here are closer in chemistry to disposable alkalines than they are to rechargeables. – Blrfl Dec 7 '17 at 5:58

Keeping one battery warm while you use the other should, in theory, give you better results. The battery well inside the camera is usually slightly better insulated than most grips and is also closer to the heat producing parts of the camera. Your hand wrapped around the battery well (as most cameras are designed) would provide additional insulation. The benefits are probably pretty marginal, though, compared to running a single battery in the grip while warming the other or, even better, warming two spare batteries while two batteries are in the grip.

Ditching the grip should probably be balanced with other environmental considerations. Extremely cold environments also tend to present other issues that make us not want to open up our cameras when shooting in them. Snow, ice, wind blown dust and other particles, etc. are better left outside the camera's body. If you can expect to get away with not having to open your camera at all by using two batteries in the grip that might be a better option than using a single battery in the camera (without a grip) and having to expose the interior of your camera to the environmental conditions in which you are shooting. Even if one is going to have to make several changes over the course of a session some of us would prefer to risk only the interior of our grip rather than the interior of our (presumably) much more expensive camera body. Of course this assumes that the camera/grip combination we are using is adequately weather sealed at the interface between the grip and the camera's battery well.

Another minor benefit would be the availability of the vertical controls a grip provides. When we are all bundled up, using the camera in portrait orientation without a grip is even more difficult than it is when we are wearing only a t-shirt over our upper body.

  • True story on the additional controls. I'm an Arizona boy about to spend a good bit of time at the end of this month a good deal closer to the Arctic than I'm used to. I will have to put on my layers and do a test shoot. – OnBreak. Dec 6 '17 at 16:51

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