Cold weather photography with the X-E1

Living in most parts of Canada means that you're either going to have to make friends with cold weather or resign yourself to spending large parts of the year indoors. Unless all your work is done in a studio, the same holds true for Canadian photographers -- and the start of this winter has been unusually cold.

I've had my Fujifilm X-E1 for almost a year and have been interested to see how it performed in the cold. A number of people have raised concerns about the lack of a weather seal on the X-E1, but I can't say that I've found it to be a problem. I never use my cameras unprotected in a downpour and am careful of blowing sand at the beach, so I take the usual precautions -- some sort of cover in the rain and an hour in a sealed plastic bag when coming in from very cold temperatures.

I recently spent an hour and a half taking pictures with the X-E1 and the 18-55mm zoom at the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. The estate is an interesting place visually in all seasons and just 15 minutes from where I live, so it is a good option for blowing off the cobwebs. This day, however, the temperature was hovering around -17C with a brisk wind. After 90 minutes, the camera was still working as it should and there appeared to be plenty of battery life left (although I've been fooled before by the X-E1's battery status indicator : it can drop from a "full charge" reading to almost nothing in a matter of minutes. Not helpful.).

I'm happy to report that I didn't end my little cold-weather safari because of the camera, but because the light was fading and my hands were freezing.

As a sidebar, I'd be interested to hear how other photographers keep their hands warm in cold temperatures. I got tired of the mitts-on-mitts-off approach and now use Lowepro gloves. The gloves are a big improvement as they combine a covering for the hands with enough flexibility to adjust camera controls (the raised bumps on the gloves helpfully provide extra grip and tactile feeling on the controls). At the same time, they're still not warm enough for really cold weather over extended sessions outside. Manfrotto used to manufacture an interesting looking pair of gloves, but they seem to have been discontinued. Any other ideas or approaches?

So, it's 2014. Stay warm, keep shooting and have a happy and healthy year!