The Canon 5D Mark II vs. Extreme Heat

The Untitled Navy SEAL movie has taken me to some of the most extreme working conditions that I have ever experienced in my career as a Director of Photography.  We traveled to the following locations:

  • The jungles of Costa Rica
  • The swamps of Mississippi
  • Out in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans on an Aircraft carrier
  • Flying in Blackhawk helicopters
  • The hot box of El Centro, California
  • Dumont Dunes, California

The last 2 locations have been very challenging for the camera because heat attacks the 5D in a very strange way.  The camera and the sensor get incredibly hot even when you have the LCD screen off.  I have been using an HD monitor to light from and the camera overheats sitting there.  You have to power down the whole camera to cool it down.

Crash Cam

Crash Cam

When the 5D Mark II gets hot and you are recording, there is an increase noise in the blacks and a contrast increase.  Try to keep the camera shaded and powered down right up until you need it.

In El Centro we had a big T-Bone crash with an old Mercedes and a dump truck. The temperature was 117 degrees.  The 5D’s in our crash housings over temped in the hot sun right before we were about ready to do the stunt.  We took a can of Dust Off , turned it upside down and blasted the body with the cool burst.  Then, waited 10 seconds, turned it on and smashed the truck.

Creative solutions that happen in the midst of shooting are exciting because that is where keeping it simple matters the most. My elite team inspires me with their ingenuity and ability to generate solutions every day on this project.

  1. Jauder Ho 6 years ago

    Interesting technique. I don’t suppose you could use/try something like dry ice to get similar results.

  2. Shane 6 years ago

    I feel that would probably work, but would not happen as quickly.

  3. charles lim 6 years ago

    do you get condensation problem on the lens and sensor with fast cooling?

    • Author
      Shane 6 years ago

      charles lim, absolutely, you need to acclimate your lenses to whatever climate you will be filming in. Do not leaves the lenses in the truck at night and then bring them inside. Do not have the lenses stored inside if you are going to film outside. You can do all this as long as you do not want to film immediately. It usually takes a lenses 30 minutes to acclimate.

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