Matériel photographique, drone, etc… — Dji Mavic Pro 2 Leica M240 in cold winter gear (utilisation dans des conditions hivernales sévères)

Sommet du Hohneck (1300 m, Hautes-Vosges) [cliché Balliet JM, déc. 2018]
Sommet du Hohneck (1300 m, Hautes-Vosges) [cliché Balliet JM, déc. 2018]

Recently, I made a lengthier and moderately difficult hike — low temperatures and knee-deep snow  — to the Hohneck summit (only 1300 m) in the Vosges mountains (France).I used my usual gear — Leica m240 & Mavic 2 Pro — and even if there have be a lot of tips and how to do it on the subject of flying drone in harsher winter conditions out there, I think that the experience should be shared.

Prepare yourself!

First of all… Prepare yourself for harsh weather conditions : Feeling cold can't allow for good flying and best pictures. But that should be quite evident but, sometimes, you are taken aback by the lack of adapted equipment used by some hikers!

Winter season shouldn't necessarily be dull! [Balliet JM, déc. 2018]
Winter season shouldn't necessarily be dull! [Balliet JM, déc. 2018]

The first hurdle is to bring all the flying and photo gear in best condition for using it. In case of the drone as Dji states in his own tips is is essentially resumes in the "drone’s lowest operating temperature and battery temp". Even if true, that is, by ways, insufficient.

A great hike to the summit albeit, it should have been easier using nordic skis… a matter of choice!
A great hike to the summit albeit, it should have been easier using nordic skis… a matter of choice!

Between flying cessions [Balliet JM, déc. 2018].
Between flying cessions [Balliet JM, déc. 2018].

In this case, I followed the following steps…

1. Protect your drone and photo gear as much as possible from the cold (especially the wind) and against shocks. When hiking I am systemically using a (very) good Backpack. More recently I switched from the sturdy and combat proven Camelbak to First Tactical Tactix 0.5 day backpack. This sleek and compact backpack is simply combined with Tenba Byob camera inserts (BYOB 9 for the Leica and several glasses, BYOB 10 for the Mavic 2 Pro).
The BYOB 10 does not only a good job against shocks but provides a rather good insulation against the cold and humidity what's especially important in winter condition. The BYOB 10 , in spite of being very compact, can accommodate the M2P, RC, 4 to 6 batteries, tow sets of Polar Pro cases for ND filters, an iPad mini and several other accessories!

2. A landing pad is, of course, a must… especially on snow but I use it in all circumstances.

3. Most DJI drones have an operating temperature range of 0°C to 40°C but flying under 0°C is a common practice. The main problem is that the batteries don’t last as long if they’re cold, so flight times may be lower than expected… be always aware of the fact and adapt your flight mission accordingly
You can reduce the impact by keeping the batteries reasonably warm before you insert them into the aircraft (see the first steps in 1.).
Additionally, when you taking-off let your aircraft hover for a minute to warm up the cells and be gentle with the sticks i. e. fly as smoothly as possible to avoid the strain on the aircraft motors and the batteries.

Tip: after a flying cession, put the used and rather warm battery in the insert while putting a fresh one in place. That warm up the atmosphere inside the insert and keep (albeit to a reasonable level) the other batteries in good working order.

Focus on the featured gear.

Of course, a matter of personal taste but also the result of experience!

First Tactical Tactix 0.5 day backpack

First Tactical Tactix 0.5 day backpack

First Tactical Tactix 0.5 day backpack with Tenba BYOB 10 insert
With Tenba BYOB 10 insert


First Tactical Tactix 0.5 day backpack with Tenba BYOB 9 & 10 inserts
Loaded for bear with Tenba BYOB 10 & 9 inserts!

Tenba BYOB 9 & Leica m240

Tenba BYOB 9 & Leica m240

Tenba BYOB 9 & Leica m240

Tenba BYOB 9 & Leica m240

Tenba BYOB 10 & Dji Mavic 2 Pro

Slightly larger but still light and sturdy… and even plenty room to spare!

Tenba BYOB 10 & Dji Mavic 2 Pro

Tenba BYOB 10 & Dji Mavic 2 Pro
Loaded with three extra batteries… space for two more!

Tenba BYOB 10 & Dji Mavic 2 Pro

Tenba BYOB 10 & Dji Mavic 2 Pro
A fitting sleeve for the iPad mini 4.

Photography & technique.

4. I will not look further on the matter of snow and exposure since this would lead in lengthier developments. Simple be aware IMHO that the ND filters (16, 32 or even 64) is a must and that alternating between still photography and video are more then often very tricky.

5. Focus Adjustment… I will simply quote Dji in this case since I am following these rules : "The problem with winter photography is that the scene you want to capture might have low contrast. If it’s foggy, overcast or snowing, this means that it can be difficult for the lens to autofocus as it may struggle to find enough contrast to autofocus. The good news is that it’s easy to fix as all you need to do is switch your drone to manual focus in the DJI GO apps and select the focus of your shot on the flight screen."

6. A last tip: Upon landing, I often place a sort of makeshift tarpaulin — my Snugpack backpack cover ! — over the drone even in moderately windy conditions. This should hopefully help conserving some of the temperature, which build up during the earlier flight.

Makshift drone cover… Snugpack! [Balliet JM, déc. 2018]
Makshift drone cover… Snugpack! [Balliet JM, déc. 2018]

See also…


Video… for pleasure!





Best regards from France

Dr Balliet JM — 16 décembre 2018



Alsace as seen from the Hohneck summit this day [Balliet JM, déc. 2018]
Alsace as seen from the Hohneck summit this day [Balliet JM, déc. 2018]








Commentaires

Frederik Alberda a dit…
Very good job!
Un travail très intéressant mettant en valeur nos sites et notre fortification couvert d'un manteau neigeux.