Above the Arctic Circle
With snow, wind and temperatures of -24 degrees Celsius, professional photographer Jonas Borg really put the LUMIX S1 and LUMIX S1R to the test. He went to Kiruna, in northern Sweden, to find out how these cameras perform under extreme conditions. ‘I was really amazed by their durability, they withstood the cold better than I could.’
It was the second time Borg went so far north in his homeland Sweden. ‘But it was the first time as a professional photographer. I wanted to test these new cameras in the most extreme conditions. So I visited Robert Ungh: a professional photographer and an outdoor and alpine guide. He knows the terrain like the back of his hand.’
When we arrived in Kiruna, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, the temperature was -10 degrees Celsius and later it dropped to -24 degrees C. ‘It was cold and the sky was clear. Conditions were perfect. So instead of preparing for the days to come, we started photographing on the first night.’ They wanted to capture the northern lights.
‘We went a little outside of Kiruna, to prevent light pollution from the city from interfering with our images. To see those amazing green and purple colours was breathtaking. It was like watching snakes of light glide across the sky. More importantly, the camera had no problem dealing with the cold. Beforehand, I was worried about how the cold might affect the battery, the screen and the autofocus. When photographing in cold conditions, the autofocus can really slow down, and the cold tends to drain the battery. I had none of these problems with the LUMIX S1 and S1R. The autofocus performed at normal speed, and I didn’t have any issues focusing, even in low light situations.’
The next day they went for a ride on a dog sled. ‘The dogs are raring to go as soon as the harnesses are put on them. I was impressed by their enthusiasm to work, and also by the interaction between the dogs and their handlers. This was the perfect opportunity to put the new animal recognition function of the LUMIX S1 and S1R to the test. It worked beautifully: I was able to quickly choose which animal I wanted to focus on.’
The following day, Borg flew on a helicopter to do some more tests. ‘Photographing from a helicopter with the doors open is extremely challenging. There’s a lot of wind and vibrations. It’s really difficult to get sharp images under conditions like that. However, the Dual I.S. (Image Stabilization) helped me to get the right focus and images I wanted.’
Seeing the northern lights, riding a dog sled, a helicopter ride: those four days in Kiruna were really action-packed. But it’s all just another day at the office for Borg. ‘Looking back on this trip, I was really amazed by these cameras. They handled the cold better than I did. No matter the temperatures, the cameras kept performing, including the battery. I could photograph and film a whole day with just one battery.’
Borg feels safe with the LUMIX S1 and S1R. ‘With these cameras I don’t need to worry about my gear. The cameras are well made, and are a perfect combination of quality and ruggedness. The only thing to worry about is getting the right shot – with these cameras I can’t blame the hardware. If the result isn’t good enough, it’s because of me, not the gear!’
Professional photographer Jonas Borg has lived, worked and studied all over the world, including Singapore, Japan, the UK and USA. Now back in his native Sweden, he has established his business in Stockholm. Jonas has more than 15 years’ experience as a full-time freelance photographer.
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