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Cameras for Dark and Wet Locations? 68

Posted by Cliff
from the photographing-caves-and-rivers dept.
Lorenzo de Medici asks: "In August I have the great pleasure of being able to hike all sixteen miles of the Zion Narrows. I'd like to take along a camera, but the problem is that the water level in the Narrows can be unpredictable, with flash floods arriving with little warning. Light levels tend to be low as well. Does anyone have any advice on what kind of camera I could bring that would survive yet still bring in decent photo quality?"
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Cameras for Dark and Wet Locations?

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  • by bryanp (160522) on Monday April 26, 2004 @12:49PM (#8974261)
    A camera for hot & moist locations? Do you have any connections in the porn industry?
  • by beegle (9689) on Monday April 26, 2004 @12:50PM (#8974265) Homepage
    They make waterproof disposable cameras. If your local photo shop doesn't carry one, amazon has them here [amazon.com]. If you don't think one will be enough, buy two or three. It's still cheaper than the cheapest waterproof reusable camera. It's relatively dark underwater, so these things tend to have higher-speed film (meaning a lighter picture), too.
    • Can't remember the name, but there is a (was?) a $20 reusable camera with plastic enclosure for scuba down to 60 ft. Uses AA batteries for the flash and regular 35mm film (100 to 800). I belive it is French made. Bought it at a local camera store. Worked great on my trip to Belize until I went down to 70 ft. But up to that point, it took great pictures.
  • Waterproof (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AtariAmarok (451306) on Monday April 26, 2004 @12:50PM (#8974266)
    Was there recently.... would recommend an actual waterproof camera, for the chance of dropping it, and the danger of flash foods in the canyon. Pack a couple of those cheapy Kodak disposable water cameras for extras. However, I don't know what to recommend for a high-quality camera that is waterproof.
  • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@pacbe l l .net> on Monday April 26, 2004 @12:51PM (#8974278) Homepage
    I think an Olympus Infinity Stylus [google.com] placed inside a plastic ziplock bag would work great. The reason I suggest film over digital is, in such a condition, any trace moisture will be hazardous to a laptop (necessary to download photos), memory cards, or battery chargers. With the Stylus, you just need a sealed package of AAs and sealed canisters of film.
  • Bag-It! (Score:2, Informative)

    by grimessh (472937)
    Get yourself a waterproof bag to store your camera in, and get the camera from somewhere with a nice warranty like Ritz (in case it breaks).

    Or get yourself one of those professional underwater cameras.

    As far as lighting issues, either a nice external flash, or a nice lense should help.
    • My wife (a geologist) bought a camera from Ritz many years ago, and got the extended warrentee. Ended up dropping over a cliff once or twice and had it repaired/replaced with no problems. So I'd second this recomendation for anyone travelling in hostile environments.
  • A Graflex (Score:4, Funny)

    by Micro$will (592938) on Monday April 26, 2004 @12:54PM (#8974311) Homepage Journal
    Bring an old Graflex [graflex.org] but make sure you chain it to your ankle so you don't lose it in a flood. You need to use chain because it's kind of heavy, and make sure you lock it.
  • If you have a tight budget and are relatively experienced at handling decent (read expensive) camera equipment, I'd suggest visiting a good camera store and renting a pro-level camera, and a bright zoom lens. The pro level Canons are weather-proof and relatively rugged and will give you great quality pics, the kind of which you can even enlarge and sell for obscene prices...

    If you are not too keen on renting equipment then there are a bunch [dpreview.com] of waterproof [steves-digicams.com] cameras out there... [amazon.com]
  • Nikonos (Score:4, Informative)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Monday April 26, 2004 @01:01PM (#8974403)
    Is the classic 35mm wet/dry film camera. Nikon optics, rugged, just what you need. I don't think they are currently produced, but there are plenty of them available on ebay [ebay.com].

    • The last of the Nikonos cameras were discontinued in 2002. However, many fine examples can be had on e-bay or other used camera stores.
  • I do hope you know what you are doing, as I would be worried about quite a bit more than my camera if a flashflood were to occur. Aside from that, I would go with a cheap disposable waterproof camera.
  • Digital or Film? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by linuxwrangler (582055) on Monday April 26, 2004 @01:07PM (#8974465)
    You neglected to specify digital or film. In general, many cameras of both types have optional waterproof housings. For both light-gathering ablilty and waterproofness weight will be an issue.

    For landscape type photos you may be better off concentrating on camera shake instead of lens/film speed. Take a pocket tripod or clamp. I've shot quite reasonable night photos with an old digital camera just by using the tripod hand-held against a wall or tree.

    For film, choose your camera based on how much weight you are willing to carry vs. the f-stop of your lens (the larger your light gathering opening the lower light you can shoot in for a given ISO but of course that is also going to make for a heavier camera). Once you have settled on that, take film of a high enough speed to get the shots you want.

    For digital, I've always liked the Olympus cameras. IIRC, the Olympus C-series support ISO equivalents up to 400 and have optional waterproof housings. Also check out the Olympus "Stylus Digital" series of "ultra-compact, metal, all-weather digital" cameras that according to Olympus "can be used in rain, snow and any other situation Mother Nature throws at it"
  • by n1ywb (555767) on Monday April 26, 2004 @01:08PM (#8974486) Homepage Journal
    Any photographer worth his salt knows the old put the camera on a tripod and use long exposures for shooting in low light trick.

    As for wetness, just get any popular camera that has a waterproof housing available as an option. These housing are typically very rugged and probably also afford the camera a greater degree of resiliance to physical damage.
  • Although a little bulky, you will get great 5 MP shots and the guarantee that your equipment won't be ruined by water or moisture.

    The camera is a little positively buoyant when used in the housing which will help you not to lose it if you have to jump in a river or a pool.

    Camera review [dpreview.com]

  • repost to photo.net (Score:4, Informative)

    by ncmusic (31531) on Monday April 26, 2004 @01:12PM (#8974523)
    It would probably be much more advantageous to post your question on photo.net. Be sure to include whether or not you want to shoot film or digital and how much you are looking to spend.
  • Take a tripod too - to give you the stability you need for those long exposures - which give that spooky, misty effect to the flowing water. You can get very lightweight ones nowadays - or even a combined monopod/walking stick. Of course, that means that whatever camera you end up with, it will need to be tripod-mountable in its waterproof form.
  • i picked up a canon a80 a couple days ago, and started to look for accessories, then came across this [digideep.com] waterproof case. It's just a housing the camera sits in and lets you use all the regular buttons and dials you normally would..

    perhaps your camera has a similar accessory..
  • Parents... (Score:4, Funny)

    by way2trivial (601132) on Monday April 26, 2004 @01:20PM (#8974616) Homepage Journal
    do you have any?
    Do they own a camera?
    borrow it..

    (parents are very understanding)

  • There is a waterproof housing WP-DC700 [amazon.com] that fits the Cannon Powershot A60, A70 A75 [steves-digicams.com], A75 nd A80 digital cameras.
  • I take a lot of pictures, and also Scuba dive. I have found Ike Lite [ikelite.com] makes a wide range of housings for cameras. They aren't exactly cheap, a plastic zip lock might suit your purposes better, but this housing gives you full functionality even underwater. Hope this helps.
  • One solution that would be inexpensive would be to use plastic bags. Seal your camera in a Ziploc-type bag (not cheap ones - good ones) after use. The best part is - you get to keep your existing hardware!
    • by ApharmdB (572578)
      There are places outside the park that rent stuff specifically for hiking the Narrows. I was there last fall and rented shoes, a staff, and a dry bag to keep my camera and lunch in. Spend the money on the shoes, it is so worth it. Most people had their own shoes on. Sure, hiking boots are meant to withstand getting wet. But they aren't meant for hiking 3 hours through a river. Having your regular boots dry later is so worth the cost of the rental. And you can rent a stick too! Actually, no joke, the
      • I once found myself alone at 10,000 feet in the Himalaya having to walk down a gorge with a thigh to waist deep river that was trying to get to the ocean in a hurry. That walking staff saved my life several times! After a quarter mile the last escape from the gorge required a pole vault from one rock to another. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, with the exception of the staff.

        One major advantage of getting a disposable camera: weight, about 4oz. The picture quality is indifferent but composition is 9
  • google answered this pretty quickly.

    Ask Google [google.com]
  • Yeah right, I don't even know if I can survive dark and wet locations, let alone a camera.
  • Retails about $160US, Waterproof up to about 20 feet. Load up some 400 or 800 iso film, or use a tripod and the ten-second timer, and you're good to go. Decent wide angle on it, too.
  • Priorities (Score:2, Funny)

    by slevin (67815)
    I'm not sure about your priorities, to tell you the truth. It's sort of like me saying, "I am fortunate enough to commute to work in a densely packed metropolis, but occasionally I have to cross the street or ride the subway. Does anyone know of a good camera that can withstand being crushed by a bus or the impact of an out of control speeding train? Ideally I'd like one with 4megapixels and optical zoom. Any ideas?"
  • Why not ask a professional? You linked to Brian Klimowski's site where he has several fantastic pictures of his trip to Zion National Park. The photos [pbase.com] look very nice. [pbase.com] Some [pbase.com] are even time lapse jewels. [pbase.com]

    Instead of asking a bunch of inexperienced amateurs on Slashdot, why not ask Brian what he used and what he recommends? He left his email [mailto] for all to see. Ask him.
    • In my haste to post the above I forgot to note that Brian specifies the camera that he used at the bottom of the large pictures. A Canon Powershot G2. He also includes a link to further information, on his site about the camera.

      You should still probably ask him what to use because even though his pictures are fabulous, he may have learned, through his experience, that a different camera would have been better for that particular trip.
  • This reminds me of an idea I had a few years ago. I'm something of an outdoor enthusiast, hiker, etc.

    Wouldn't it be cool to have outdoor trips recorded completely in video?

    This would be the kind of thing that would make a great dynamic screensaver backdrop, or something to put on the TV in place of commercial chatter and hype (kind of like fishtank, fireplace, etc.)

    But it could be really useful in planning trips, to help people know which fork to take, what do the landmarks really look like at different

  • Canon makes some nifty waterproof enclosures [powershot.com] for their digital cameras. The case for the S50 [powershot.com] is waterproof to 100' and allows you to take photos while the camera is in the enclosure.

    Presumably you could overcome the low-light issue with a tripod and and a long exposure.
  • by acomj (20611) on Monday April 26, 2004 @02:02PM (#8975039) Homepage
    Its been commented on before that use a plastic bag. Its been a "funny" comment but in fact
    They make waterproof plastic bags that you can put and use the camera in. These bags aren't cheap (about 100$) although cheaper than a full hardshell case. There not just plasic bags because the have some glass/plastic you attach the lens to so you can shoot with the camera in the bag. It seems perfect for your use.

    As for the dark conditions get a bright lens (f1.8 to f2.8) and/or use 400 or 800 iso film.

    check adorama for other makes/models but here is an example

    http://www.waterproofcases.net/ziplock.html [waterproofcases.net]
    • $100! Here's the 89 cent solution. Buy some disposable plastic bags, you know, the high quality Ziplock kind, and smooth out a section over the lens so as not to detract from the picture. Unless you have an extremely nice camera, you won't even notice any reduction in picture quality. If you're really concerned, double bag the camera. If the outer bag tears, replace it. That's what is nice about getting a bunch of bags real cheap, you don't have to worry about replacing them when they rip.
  • by linzeal (197905)
    We use two of these 50 dollar deals [amazon.com] in the front of our house with a motion detection software package called Tincam that emails all of us photos so we can see what is going on with the pad while we are away at school and work. We have all of our computers running this software as well with a cheap webcam. Currently we have had only one suspicious person come up to our window and look in but I was there in 10 minutes after the email came to check it out. I could not imagine having children alone without
  • Many die-hards out there will undoubtedly tell you that it's not the camera; it's the photographer. Thus, a waterproof point-and-shoot will work fun. That said, it's much more of a pain in the ass to try and figure out how the point-and-shoot will react... and you don't often see those die-hard professionals using point-and-shoots, anyway.

    I'm assuming that by nature of the fact that you posted this question, you're concerned with your shots coming out well, so I'll ignore the disposables for now. Your

  • It's imersable, and works nice. You are not supposed to operate under water, but it should work for your purposes, it has many exposure modes, including manual, I've really liked it. Takes SD memory, I got 256MB for $75 or so. Camera cost $267 on line.

  • Being a scuba diver, dark and wet is where I take most of my photos.

    Reefmaster [sealife-cameras.com] makes reasonably priced waterproof cameras in digital and film version.

    Above that price level, get any good quality film or digital 35mm SLR camera or digital camcorder, and buy a good waterproof case from Ikelite [ikelite.com] or Light and Motion [uwimaging.com]. These cases aren't cheap ($1000USD+, but are pretty damn rugged.

    • Olympus do some quite nice little cases for their digital cameras. Water tight down to about 20M (so no wreck diving) or so and quite adequate for splash/dirt protection as well. The price of such cases is about $200 and it is fairly robust being made of plexiglass. Something like 5060WZ is a semi-pro camera with 5million pixels. High-end housings are great under water becuse of buoyancy but above they are a PITA with their size and weight.
  • The only way to get more light into the camera is with a big lens, The larger the diameter the more light gathering ability it had. Since SLRs are about all that will have big lens options you're going to have to get one.

    As for dealing dith water, keep it in a dry bag. If you want to use it underwater then be prepared to spend lots of money. Lots.

  • Canon makes a waterproof case [amazon.com] for it's S-series of digital cameras. These are good enough for snorkeling so I'm sure they'd be fine for Zion.

    I've only been there once, but it was my favorite place in all of Utah.
  • by ffsnjb (238634)
    Ebay for a used Kodak DC5000. They're vacuum sealed, water and shock resistant. There was a recall for a screw problem; if you can get the serial number before you bid, you can call to see if it has been checked/fixed. If not, it's done for free (including shipping).
  • For your purpose, you don't need a waterproof camera, or even a bag for underwater photography (like Ewa-Marine). All you need is a waterproof storage bag or box to carry your usual camera.

    And for the dark conditions get a TRIPOD. Don't use sensitive film. Yes, I have been in Zion [gdargaud.net].

  • You did not mention cost

    Most rugged camera for wet conditions

    Any of the Nikonos series - these are Nikon cameras designed for underwater use. In an emergency you can drive nails with them. Older ones can be had on ebay for cheap money.

    The newer automatic ones can be rented from most large camera rental houses if you do not want to buy them

    Minolta makes a great underwater point and shoot camera the Vectis Weathermatic. Uses APS film and is bright yellow and rubber armored it's about $250 US

    Underwa

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