Nikon D750 in -75°F

THE FROZEN HELL - Nikon D750 with Nikkor 20mm f/1.8 lens in -75°F temperatures

On Saturday, January 6th, 2018, my friend Nathan and I climbed New York's seconds highest mountain, Algonquin Peak (5,115 ft) in the Adirondack Mountains to experience some of the coldest temperatures on earth. On this day, most of America was frozen over by the coldest weather of the season yet. The ambient temperature on the top of the mountain was -36°F with a 45 mile per hour wind, making it -75°F on the summit. It was by far the coldest experience I have ever had in my life. When something is hot enough, if you touch it, you can be burned easily. That was the same thing with this weather except the opposite. It was so cold that not only did I get wind burns on my face (I had goggles), but I burned my hand from touching a metal shovel that was connected to my backpack.

Below are photos from the journey taken with my Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f/1.8. There is also a video attached, a documentation of the trip itself recorded on the same camera. Throughout the entire trip, I was very curious to see how well my camera would perform In such conditions. I monitored it closely. Within 5 minutes of being outside of my car, the back monitor of the camera already started to lag due to the cold. Because the Nikon d750 has probably the worst weather sealing of the professional line up, I was a little nervous with the temperatures. I've had my camera in -30°F temperatures before and it lasted, but this was different. I had two fully charged batteries inside of my camera the entire time, one inside the camera and one inside the battery grip. For some reason, the first battery inside the grip died much quicker than the second one and the second one eventually died right after I summited the mountain. I didn't consider writing this post till after the fact, so sadly I have no photos of the camera itself on top of the mountain. But below I have attached a photo from Google Images of roughly what my camera looked like in the moment!

The entire time I was handling the camera, I had -50°F Rated mittens on my hands. It was rather difficult to control the camera with these on, but I made it work. The camera acquired a thick layer of frost and ice everywhere on the camera. I mean, of course this is expected. I had to constantly keep scraping the frost off of the front of the lens. the shutter kept lagging and the autofocus wouldn't work anymore. It was really rough. I'm a very experienced mountain climber and conditions like this do not frighten me. I felt very prepared and dressed appropriately for the weather. I took every precaution and every step that I could to ensure my safety, yet it was still very difficult and painful. I'm a professional landscape photographer from Ohio, but I spend a lot of my time in the Adirondack Mountains. You can find all of my other work on my Instagram @JonathanZphotography or at my website

Photos from the trip:

This entry was posted in Nikon D750 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Heinz Richter

    So the camera was actually used in -36 temperatures. The -75 is the wind chill temperature which has no influence on the camera at all. While -36 is definitely cold, it is actually nothing all that unusual here in northern Minnesota. The record low temperature for Minnesota is -62 actual air temperature.

    • Mike

      I agree. I spent 4 years in Thunder Bay, Ontario and thats a special kind of cold. Ice fog. Block heater plugs seperating from the cord when being pulled out. Cold. Kudos to Nikon for making stuff that just works. Perhaps though they should have made a NASA covering for the public. 🙂

      • whisky

        i’ve spent time with my Nikon’s in the sandy california deserts, suffered through northern ontario winters, accidentally dropped them from fire towers (took a good bounce), drowned them in howling nor’easters, smoked them in air-choked fires — and they ‘just work’. at least their semi-pro or pro-models.

        that said, this often gets lost in their arrogance, failure to listen, and poor customer service. everything seems front loaded and hind-sight deprived. JMO.

    • “no influence at all”

      Oh be quiet, Northern Minnesota! LOL. That kind of wind chill will have a HUGE effect on the most important part of the camera, the nut right behind the viewfinder.

      Also, yes you can kill a camera with icy wind, so, even though a camera surface isn’t he same as human skin, it’s still not impervious to wind chill.

      • Hermann Kloeti

        With an ambient temp of -36 (F, C, whichever) the camera will cool down to exactly that level – no matter how strong the wind. Windchill is about what one feels, non-scientific and not what the thermometer records. I have not noticed NASA or NOAA wind chill temp Graphs!

      • Allen_Wentz

        Not that wind has no influence on photography. Just that usage of the term “Wind Chill Factor” specifically applies to human exposure and is inappropriate to apply to cameras.

        Note that showing a headline stating “-75F” is a flat lie. The person who wrote it should run for President.

        • It’s not a lie, it’s an alternative truth. Get your “facts” right. THEN run for president. 😛

      • Captain Insane-O

        Windchill has to do with evaporating water causing endothermic reactions (absorbs heat and cools further). It does nothing to an object that cannot evaporate water. If the camera was wet, then yes it will cause the temp to drop. Humans evaporate water off our skin, so we are cooled below the ambient temperature; hence Wind chill factor.

        • “If the camera was wet”

          …it’s always wet! 😛

          • Captain Insane-O

            Oh, that would explain a few things then

    • Evan Richardson

      -36 doesn’t grab as many clicks/likes/etc as a -75 headline though..duh.

      • Either number in the title would be impressive 😉

    • RC Jenkins

      Lil’ Yachty would agree with you.

      About Minnesota but also a Sprite soda…

    • Ordinary Citizen

      The record low in New York State is at least 52 below. I would not be surprised if at various times,the Algonquin has been colder Kudos to Jonathan Z for making the Algonquin Peak ascent under very tough conditions. I’ve been on the summit a few times under more favorable circumstances during the summer and fall – Jonathan Z seemed to prepare very well for this hike although Eneloops in the grip rather than an EN-EL15 might have been a better choice.

  • TurtleCat

    Definitely cold. Although I always think back to my first D300 when it would shut down and become nonfunctional when the temp dropped below 45F. I sent it to Nikon and they said nothing was wrong with it. I would have to take it inside and warm it up before I could use it again. I then got a refurb one that worked great. I never understood why that one worked so poorly.

    • That’s weird, I shot my D300 for a 63 minute exposure in 10 degree weather no problem. Actually I LOVED shooting that camera in temps below ~35, because it really cleaned up the long exposure noise and thermal noise! Just gotta make sure you have a name-brand, healthy battery and you’re good to go.

      • TurtleCat

        At the time all I had was Nikon stuff. It was very disappointing. But thankfully that was the only Nikon I’ve owned that had any issue in cold.

        • Yes, considering you swapped for another D300 that was more trusty, I suspect the one camera was just a lemon. :-

  • Actually wind chill does have physical impact, that’s why it’s noted in weather reports. Liquids in motion (water, air) drain more energy i.e., are colder than static liquids. That said, a static -62 is cold!!!

    Regarding the weather sealing, the D750 is used by many pros but it’s not a pro model. It’s really a D650 with an upgraded name.

    I’ve liked the low-light performance but have always been disappointed by the D6xx button layout, for instance. I plan to sell mine (I have <100 frames shot on it, I think) and upgrade to another pro model.

    • Hans J

      Go for the D850 its the best DSLR ever made, period.

    • CSIROC

      Noted in weather reports for *humans*

      The camera doesn’t care what the wind is doing – it sees the actual temperature and nothing more. Even if you did want to look at the convection and radiation heat transfer (why would you? Discharging the battery at a 1C rate would only yield 13 W of power), the wind chill value plays absolutely no part in that. The reference temperature for those calculations will still be ambient.

      Also, I bumped up from a D600 to a D810 – the button layout is excellent. First gripping the camera, my fingers just fell right in place. It has excellent ergonomics.

      • Agreed. I’ve owned D200 and D300 cameras and now a D500 and D800E (still have my D300). And a barely-used “D650” aka D750.

        The pro cameras’ layout and ergonomics are all much better and their builds are more solid and better sealed. I’m getting rid of the D650/750, just haven’t taken the time to sell it yet.

        Regarding wind chill, what you’re saying is correct regarding convection. Regarding effect, yes it’s for humans but also for equipment (e.g. snow and ice will build up faster if they’re being blown against a surface compared to their buildup under windless conditions so windy conditions are not exactly the same).

        • CSIROC

          Snow and ice aren’t tied to windchill though. It has nothing to do with precipitation. You could easily have those numbers with no precipitation at all.

          I specialized in heat transfer in graduate school, I worked as a thermal engineer straight out of school, and I now integrate equipment onto aircraft for a living. Windchill plays no roll whatsoever in thermal engineering of equipment. It is seriously only used for humans to give an idea of how the wind will impact how cold it *feels* outside. Inanimate objects do not feel.

          • Thanks for the clarification, very helpful.

  • FountainHead

    Article says -36.
    Fake news.
    And the pictures aren’t anything an iPad couldn’t do.

    • Mike

      Try it.

  • Eric Calabros

    When we non-American readers concentrate to convert F to C

    • Don’t worry, at -36F, it’s the same as -36C. F-ING COLD.

    • Mike

      Even for this Canadian. 32 seems arbitrary to be the point at which water freezes. Lol. But -40 is when both scales match up. So -35 in either is damn cold.

      • surgeon67

        “32 seems arbitrary to be the point at which water freezes”

        In case you’re curious, the scales differ because they were set up with differing reference points. 0 C water freezes, 100 C water boils (at seal level, standard barometric pressure). Simple enough. However, 0 F SEAWATER freezes (depending on pressure, salinity etc), 100F (was supposed to be) normal human body temperature…but Dr. Farenheit missed by a bit on that one, and chose two reference points that were not easily reproduced.

        There’s your bit if useless knowledge for the day.

        • Mike

          I like useless knowledge. I am the Cliff Claven (of Cheers fame) among my friends. lol

          • surgeon67

            I almost started that post off with “It’s a little known fact…”

    • Nikkor300f4VR
  • Photobug

    Nice story. Coldest I have ever had my D750 exposed to was zero degrees with a 20 mph wind…that was in Wisconsin. My record was with a D300 at -10 degrees with some wind. Sounds like the author was well dressed for his environment.

  • raziel28

    this is a definition of the extreme conditions…
    they did a good job.

  • animalsbybarry

    I am considering a future trip to photograph penguins
    But a trip to Antarctica to photograph Emperor Penguins is beyond what I want to do….I am instead thinking about Patagonia to photograph King Penguins (just thinking about it , and it will not happen this year because I already have 10 other destinations planned for this year)

    Good to know my Nikon cameras can handle the cold and have good battery life…..I have far less confidence in my Sony equipment

    • animalsbybarry
    • I you are using a Sony camera, you can just start recording video in live view and the camera will warm up pretty fast 🙂

      • Hehe. True, but not for long – from what I’ve read the battery may drain before the camera warms up!

      • Mehdi R


    • michael rackson

      Some time ago I did my own tests on Nikon batteries. (I forget if it was for the D700 or the D800, but I suspect the results would be the same.) I fully charged them, then put them in the freezer at -25F. Then I warmed them up to room temperature and tried to use them. They had ZERO power — completely inoperable.

      I suspected as much. So I put them in the charger for one second, and tried again. They came back to full power.

      Usually lithium batteries have a protection mechanism that prevents further discharge when the voltage drops below a specified minimum. This is to protect the battery from catching on fire or exploding when discharged too much.

      When you cool off a battery its voltage drops. Apparently, cooling off the Nikon battery pack to -25F was enough to lower its voltage such that it tripped the protection mechanism. Briefly applying adequate voltage in the charger reset it.

      At the time Nikon specified the minimum operating temperature for the camera as 32F. However, they did not specify a minimum STORAGE temperature. There was no hint that storing the camera with battery installed in a cold area, then warming it up to 32F would result in non operation of the system.

      I called Nikon and asked about it, because I wondered if they had a field work around. I went through 3 or 4 levels of inquiry until I reached the USA engineering level. They refused to acknowledge the problem.

      So, be warned. Do your own tests. If you are going into cold conditions do not rely on Nikon lithium battery packs (unless they have changed them). In my view, this was (is?) a serious design deficiency that is not publicized.

      In such conditions you have the option of powering your camera with an external battery using, for example, alkaline cells. Or, you can use lithium batteries if you warm them up and reset the protection mechanism.

      Having said that, there are penguins in Tierra del Fuego, and it’s a maritime climate. There may be some in southern Patagonia in Chile, too. In the summer it’s warm. In the winter it’s quite a bit colder, but it’s still maritime.

      The seafood in Puerto Montt is wonderful.

      • Thom Hogan

        No, the voltage does not drop in a battery as you cool it. The resistance increases. To a voltage meter that looks like a change in voltage/amperage, but it is not technically that.

        This is why most of us shooting in low temps rotate batteries constantly. One in the camera, one in an inside warm pocket. The minute we notice the battery meter dropping, we swap batteries. Most of the time you can get by with just two batteries this way, though at -36° I’d probably be swapping four batteries through.

        • michael rackson

          You are partially correct. When you draw current from a battery, its internal resistance increases with the amount of charge (current x time) transferred. This results in a decreased battery terminal voltage when you draw current. If no current is being drawn, the effect diminishes over time as the cells “depolarize”. So, your strategy of swapping batteries is beneficial in that regard. However, unless you are drawing a large current (e.g. starting a car) the more significant change is probably due to increasing the battery temperature (hence voltage) in your warm pocket.

          If you measure battery terminal voltage with a volt meter, which has an extremely high resistance, and that’s all you are doing, then you are drawing negligible current. In that case, the internal resistance of the battery is insignificant to the measurement, and you are measuring the potential of the electro-chemical reaction only.

          The self protection circuit of a lithium battery has a high resistance and draws negligible current, just like a voltmeter. Otherwise, it would rapidly deplete the battery. So, unless you are drawing current from the battery (which in storage you are not), that self protection voltmeter is measuring the electro-chemical potential directly.

          The electro-chemical potential is a well understood function of temperature. (Most chemical reactions are.)

        • Luca Motz

          I’ll have to disagree with you.
          The colder it is the lower the resistance will be. The voltage will therefore drop. And yes, it does drop. Not just some illusionary thing. The camera will draw the same current, conservation of energy dictates a lower voltage when resistance is lower.
          The consequences you take out of that are still 100% correct.

  • KevHot

    No biggie. Short some 30-60 seconds shots last winter in Winnipeg at 35 degrees Celsius with the Nikon d5500. Was outside for about 30 mins though.

  • I really put my D850 through at trial. You see, I live in Canada, and as the whole world knows, Canada is fricken cold!!!!! We had a cold snap a few weeks ago – the coldest that I have seen it for a while. I think it got to -3 degrees Celsius (about 30 degrees F). My D850 performed flawlessly.

    I live in Vancouver and I hear that it gets even colder the farther east you go. The 49th parallel does not appear to be a factor.

    So after making a tonge in cheek point that not all of Canada is cold and in all seriousness, I spent about 4 hours filming an outdoor even in the rain. It rained about an inch in that time period – which is what Vancouver is famous for if you are a Canadian, but Seattle is not much different. I think it rained about as hard for that time as my morning shower.

    I had my 24-70 2.8E on my D850 and my 105 1.4E on my D800. Both were absolutely soaked.

    The only issue that had relates to my GP-1 that was plugged into my 10 pin remote terminal. When I got home I noticed that the green light was lit on the GP-1 even though the camera was off. It would not turn off. The next morning the battery was dead. However, when I replaced the battery, all was fine.

    So I suspect that cable’s (GP1-CA10) connection to the to either the 10 pin terminal or the GP-1 was the issue and after it dried out, all was fine.

    • Well, I wasn’t so lucky. One of my d850’s died already: random buttons/controls/display stopped working during a shoot. Nothing extreme, a little mist, 32f, I’ve put Nikons through 10x worse that this, and the d850 crapped out after 1 week of use. Not a good sign!

      • Kob12

        This is certainly a concern. I wonder if we gonna hear other cases in the coming weeks/months. Hopefully your experience is an isolated case.

  • Allan

    Aldo, if you ever shoot a wedding in f__king cold weather, your D750 will be fine. You, on the other hand, … 🙂

  • Mehdi R

    This is why I shoot Nikon 🙂

  • Mehdi R

    Love this lens enormous field of view.

  • Nikon User

    I am going to upgrade my DX to FF, but I also want to do video in my new FF, my D5200 has a further 1.3 crop when filming videos, is the D750 do the same thing by not using the full senor when shooting movies? Best.

    • The D750 can do FX, 1.2x and 1.5x for stills, but I believe it can only do FX and 1.5x for video.

      However, 1.3x on a 1.5x DX sensor is still “more reach”. I think it equals roughly 2x total, but I forget how that works. I don’t do math late at night on Saturdays, it’s against my religion.

  • Oh yes I forgot, Sony batteries don’t last long 🙂

  • purenupe1

    “For some reason, the first battery inside the grip died much quicker than the second one and the second one eventually died right after I summited the mountain”

    Lol that reason was pretty obvious, it was cold!

    • Ordinary Citizen

      It seemed to be somewhere between cold and very frigid ….

      Panasonic seems to tout their batteries as working to -20F (“Excellent performance” claimed at 0F)
      I think Nikon doesn’t recommend using the EN-EL15 below 32F (Although a number of us do)

    • Bill Ferris

      Nikon cameras don’t draw power from both batteries, simultaneously. In the menu, you do have the option of selecting which batt is drawn, first. Assuming both the author’s batteries were from the same manufacturer and roughly the same age, I’d guess he’s set up his D750 to draw down the battery in the grip, first, followed by the in-camera battery.

  • Graham Blaikie

    Just an idea – it may work better inside an underwater housing with a fresh pack of silica gel inside. It might be easier to handle the controls.

  • Yes, I updated it.

  • Joe Koytch

    I have the D750, so enjoyed your perspective of using the camera in the cold. Agree with the others, that it’s still a -36 degrees out, no matter what the wind speed is. Wind chill is based on the evaporation of moisture from the skin, so technically it “feels” like -75, depending on wind, temp, and humidity. Same idea applies when it’s hot out. It might be 80 degrees, but if it’s humid, it might “feel” like 95, but it’s still 80. Either way, thanks for your article and look forward to others!

    • True about humidity, however hot weather works a little differently when it comes to “factors” that make it seem hotter. You can cook something’s guts by leaving it out in the sun; the object absorbs heat and gets hotter and hotter. That’s why you can kill a baby or a dog by leaving it in a car on a sunny day, even if it’s not 100 degrees outside.

      Moral of the story: don’t leave your D750 in the sun on the front seat of your car on a hot day, even if you live in the safest town in the country, or are parking in the middle of nowhere. You’ll melt the grip rubber right off the poor thing. 🙁

      • Joe Koytch

        Your talking something completely different regarding hot weather. Ever listen or watch weather reports that show heat index? It’s based on humidity and temperature, and they provide a “feel” like temperature, not a temperature in your car, etc. Same idea as wind chill. Here’s the official definition:

        Definition of Heat Index: The heat index is an estimate of how hot the air “feels” to the human body and provides a relative indication of potential health risks. Among others, the two primary factors in the heat index equations are temperature and water vapor (i.e., moisture/humidity). Humidity affects the efficacy of perspiration to evaporatively cool the skin. When the air is very dry, sweat can evaporate efficiently, allowing the skin to cool via evaporative cooling. Conversely, very high humidity stifles the body’s natural cooling mechanism by limiting, even preventing, the evaporation of sweat from the skin. This can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heart attack, and other health complications.

        Similar to Wind Chill removing the moisture from the skin to make it “feel” colder. As others stated, only affects living creatures. Wind Chill and Heat Index have no effect on other items, like cameras.

        • Again, science is cool, but in the real world with cameras, those two things seem to take a back seat to what really happens when you leave a camera out in the hot sun, no matter how dry or humid it is, …or what really happens when you take a camera out in an extremely windy, sub-freezing situation, if there is any moisture at all in the wind… (Hint: it will ice over the camera, just like it ices over everything else in sight, and it will be much worse due to the wind, compared to a calmer sub-freezing night in which your worst enemy is just a little frost.)

          High or low humidity, high or low temperature, and high or low wind… I’ve experienced almost all possible situations, and have had cameras suffer damage (or survive) in almost all situations.

  • FYI -60°C, 213K in non-retard units

    • If you think a 45 MPH wind can’t “affect” your equipment, you’re wrong. It might not make metal or glass any colder, but it can still do some damage with its sheer force, and any icy humidity it may contain.

  • You are the first person I’ve heard reference the D750 as a ‘pro’ camera. Most people consider the D750 and its D7500 twin to be ‘prosumer’ cameras. Nikon’s pro lineup includes the D5, D850, and D500. Having said that, I believe there are a fair number of pros who have a D750 in their bag as a backup.

    • Here we go again with the “pro vs prosumer” thing.

      I think I’m approaching a half-million clicks with my rent-paying D750. It’s definitely a professionally capable camera, regardless of what Nikon markets it as for the sake of their profits on more expensive cameras, and regardless of what other Nikon shooters call it just because they get snooty about button layouts.

      I’ve used two D700’s, a D800e and a D810, but I still “downgraded” to the D750 and never looked bak when it came out. And a handful of fellow full-time wedding photographers I know have done the same, making the D750 their primary camera and their D8xx’s their backup.

      • What ever floats your boat. More power to ya.

        • Mike

          The D750 competes with the “pro-level” 5DIII spec for spec, but is priced $1000 less. I bought the D4s when new and sold it after a wedding season was done because the D750 was 90% of the D4s for 1/3 of the price. Handling was great for a gripless DSLR, and AF was very close (for my purposes) and focused in low light better than almost all cameras I had before it. It’s pro for sure. Just meant for a different arena than the D# flagships.

      • FWIW, I have made money with a D5500 and a D70. But I would hardly call them pro models.

        • No, the D70 was not a pro camera, but it was still better than the D100 in most ways, so that’s why I bought two of them when I got into digital wedding photography from film. A pair of cameras is more “professionally acceptable” than a single camera, especially without dual card slots.

          But, while the images I captured with the D70 were “good enough to deliver”, there was still a clear disadvantage and compromise in certain lighting conditions, none of which is still present today with a camera like a D750, or even a D610. They’re really apples and oranges. The D750 has pro AF and dual card slots, and is roughly par with the best image quality that we’re going to see from ANY current CMOS / Bayer sensor technology, period, until the next big breakthrough comes along.

    • br0xibear

      Depending on which Nikon you ask, you’ll get a different answer…
      Nikon USA list their Pro DSLRs as D5, D850, D810…With Nikon UK it’s D5, D850, D810, D750, Df and F6.
      I’ve no idea what criteria they use when categorising their cameras or lenses.
      If you add cost into the equation, I still think the D750 is Nikon’s best all round body.

  • Allen_Wentz

    Like Thom said below, key to cold weather photography is constantly warming extra batteries in an interior pocket. The other key is not to ever let the camera/lenses warm up unless they will have plenty of time to defrost and defog before shooting again.

  • Dont understand this Farenheit fuss… This photo is yesterday, in – 65 F. An ordinary walk in the park with my Husky. Nikon D750 and Samyang 14 mm. No one or nothing complains….

    • Allan

      I think you need to edit your temperature. 🙂

      • It was -18 degrees Celsius, minus 18, way down on the blue side 🙂

        • Allan

          Nice picture.

          Temperature still needs a little work.

  • Lladnar

    as soon as i saw new york i knew this was bogus. stopped reading article, didn’t watch video. stop blowing cold smoke up my butt. thought this blog was better than click bait.

    • I don’t see any clickbait in this post.

      • br0xibear

        I think he/she is mixing up New York State and New York City.

  • Toni Benamar

    The low temperature does nothing to a camera except to batteries perhaps (they run out quickly or in some cases instantly if not kept in warm pocket). That will kill the camera is when you take the gear inside without a sealed Ziploc bag and let it warm up. Without the bag the camera will get soaking wet everywhere, inside and outside and no weather sealing helps at all. That is how I’ve killed my Sony at least three times but they have 5 year warranty and sold it as weather proof (and -40 C/F weather is not an extreme I have to travel somewhere to experience). That’s how you get mold on lenses and broken electronics. Nothing except that airtight bag and waiting until everything is back at room temperature will help.

  • Konstantinos

    By ‘climbing’ you meant ‘hicking’ right…?

  • Rich Poinvil

    About 10 years ago I went to Norway to photograph the Northern lights. We left our cameras outside mounted to tripods for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours. No issues with my D300.

    I was so cold out that my Nikon Remote trigger’s (MC-36A) flexible cord remained straight and horizontal when the remote was held sideways. Gotta say I was pretty amazed back then. No longer amazed at the durability of Nikon gear. It just works.

    Here’s a pict of my D810 on a 20F ish degree day. No issues.

  • Nice work 🙂 Now I miss hiking!

    Lol, with mittens that big and temperatures that cold a voice controlled camera could come in handy 😛

  • Back to top