View Full Version : Cameras and Film
What type of camera and film do you use on the trail? Comments, concerns, questions, regarding cameras and film.
To date, I rely on a simple Kodak disposable, weighing in at 3 ounces. I'm searching for a lightweight digital camera with at least a 3X optical zoom, mini-LCD preview screen, good color replication, excellent battery life and removable memory. So far, the qualifying products come in at 7-8 ounces and I'm not quite ready to add back a quarter pound.
I use a Kodak Advantix T700, which weighs 6 oz. loaded, and is
small enough to genuinely fit in my pocket. And, most importantly,
it's weatherproof, so I don't need to worry about rainstorms or
morning dew. It has a 2x zoom, plus the three print aspect ratio
options that the APS system supports, giving lots of options for
composing a particular shot.
Disadvantages: It uses expensive KCR2 lithium batteries. And the
setup time when you open the cobra flash (the lens extends using
the zoom motor, and the flash charges) is long enough to make
wildlife shots rather difficult.
Full disclosure: I work for Kodak, and get free film and processing.
The light weight, small size, and weatherproofness of the Advantix
camera might be less of a draw if I had to pay for my film and
processing; I might be more inclined to risk my digital camera in
And some 35mm purists don't like the APS system due to the smaller
frame size of the negative, but the difference in the emulsion
used in Advantix film negates that; it's only an issue if you're
trying to do optical enlargements larger than 11x14.
The first question to ask yourself is what are you going to be doing with the pictures.
There is a wide range of cameras used along the trail. If you just want snapshots, then a disposable works just fine.
Myself, I wanted slides, so I carried a pocket Olympus.
If you want to put photos on the web, then a digital is preferable. Their major downfall presently is batteries.
If you are a serious photographer, then you will want a full size 35 mm camera.
So, first, what are you going to do with the pictures? Like all gear, there is no clear consentous on what type of camera or brand works best.
Right on Peaks!
I used to be a camera nut and still like making great 35mm pix. So, much to the point that I sometimes drive people (my wife) nuts.
I used to carry a 35mm, spare batteries, variable zoom lense (to save weight LOL!) and several rolls of film. No telling how much this weighed.
This year when I ventured out backpacking for the first time in 12 years I took a 35 mm disposable. Shot about half of it up on the trail. Took some of the most memorable pix I ever took. Scenics aren't as great...but the memories are.
Think about what you are using it for. I recommend the disposables. They make decent pix and are light enough. Carry them in a zip lock in an easily accessible place.
I'm a photo taking fool if ever there was. I take some of the dumbest pictures of the dumbest things....
I have a Cannon Elph 370 for long hikes.(lightweight)
And then I have a Minolta Maxxum 530si RZ with a 28-80mm and a 100-300mm zoom lenses for shorter hikes.
I've been real happy with both.
To Weeknd--I use to carry my Minolta in a big, thick leather bag for protection (this baby cost me some doe) inside of my backpack which was a pain getting it in and out. Now I just make a bag out of bubblewrap for the camera and one for the zoom and put them both in the hood. Makes it real easy to reach, light, and does a good job of keeping them away from damage. You still have to be somewhat careful. Plus it was free, from work.
And the disposables take amazingly good pictures, nothing wrong with them. Just drop them off in town and grab another one.
I'm also looking at the digitals, prices coming down, memory going up means wallet getting light.
For longer hikes or when I'm going someplace a bit didgy, I carry an Olympus Stylus Epic. No bag or anything, I just jam it into my pocket while hiking. I find if I keep it in my pack, I only get pictures from lunch and them in camp. I try to get lots of snapshots with people or pictures of odd things, like my feet after a week or so. For shorter trips or long, touristy type trips, I carry a Nikon N80 which, with the 28-105 lens,
weighs in at around 3lbs. I don't take so many pictures of my feet with this camera.
for really great results at low cost i'd reccommend the olympus stylus epic (about $80 @ b&w in NYC) or the yashica t4 if you can find one. the t4 has a very nice carl zeiss lens and if you use a 400 asa film it forces the lens tosurrender some very sharp negs. used t-max 400 b&w film on my last weekender and love the results. both weigh in at about 5 or 6 oz. and are somewhat weather resistant though not waterproof. both have fixed 35mm lens so that may deter those that live by the zoom.
I think the Yashica T4 has been discontinued.
Originally posted by chris
I think the Yashica T4 has been discontinued.
Yes the T4 has been discontinued. Its to bad it is an awesome camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. From what I heard they ruined there contract with Zeiss and are now using inferior lens in all there camera's.
I myself use the Olympus Stylus Epic. I'm on my second one within a year since my first one got ......(never mind). If the Yashica T4 was still availible I would use it. Used T4's are almost as expensive as new ones were. I still might get one, the T4 is the greatest point-n-shoot of all times.
Slabfoot mentioned B&W in New York. That is where I purchased my cameras, I also order bulk film from them and save tons.
I need some advice on which camera to choose for my thru-hike next Spring. I am trying to decide between two cameras: Rollei Prego 70 and Olympus Epic.
I like that the Rollei has a zoom feature and a panoramic feature. A friend of mine owns one and has shown me some prints, and they are really nice. But the cons are 1) it weighs about an ounce more than the Epic, and 2) it is not weather resistant.
Do you think I should allow either of these points deter me from getting the Rollei?
If you have not heard of the Rollei and want more details, here is a link for you:
Just click on compact cameras and then Rollei Prego cameras.
The choice depends on you. The Olympus may be watertight, but isn't waterproof. It's still going to get damaged if you drown it.
If the Rollei takes the type of pictures you want, and it's an ounce more, then go for it girl.
PS: Don't just take our word for it. Go to a good camera store and talk with someone knowledgeable about cameras. They usually have some good insite into what holds up and what doesn't last. The quality of cameras changes all the time, so there may be better things on the market now.
I have used the Olympus Stylus Epic for almost 10 years and have been very pleased with it. It will fit in my shirt pocket and is light enough to hang around my neck without being a bother while hiking. I bought it from LL Bean, not for the light weight (about 7 ounces I think) but for the weatherproof rating it was advertised as having. I was carrying a Boy Scout troop on a 55 mile canoe trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas and wanted a camera to survive the soaking, dunking and unplanned fully clothed swims the river gnomes were going to dish out (and they did, twice!). I talked a long time with the tech people at LL Bean about the camera before buying it. I'm a picture taking fool when I get out of the house and wanted a dependable camera that would withstand the water and other wilderness conditions. I made the purchase about 6 weeks before leaving on the canoe trip so I could try it out. I took a roll of film and shot various items to learn the few settings and modes the camera has to offer. Then I loaded it with a new roll of film and submerged it in a bucket of water for 30 minutes. I wanted to give it the supreme test and it passed with flying colors. (LL Bean's warranty made this a lot easier to do, I will admit!) I dried it off externally including the internal part of the battery compartment but did not open the film compartment. Then I took up this roll of film, opened the film compartment and it was bone dry. I had both rolls developed at the same time using Wal-Mart. Both rolls came back in excellent condition and I could not have told which one had been submerged, there was no difference. So I have to say my Olympus Stylus Epic didn't leak. I usually wear it hanging around my neck and did so on the canoe trip. It has joined me on the bottom of several rivers and creeks around the country and has not failed me yet. I have taken almost 2500 pictures with this camera in the past 10 years of various Scout trips and the like. All the photos I have in the White Blaze Photo Gallery were made with this camera. I have been so pleased with it that I will buy another one if this one ever does "kick the bucket." The one thing I don't like about the camera is the battery which is not avaiable at every store so you have to plan accordingly. YMMV but I have had extremely good luck with this camera.
I suppose I am the ba hum bug guy but I gave up carrying a camera a while back...seeing it like this, anything stunning on any section has already been photographed by better photographers than I will ever be. I have a digital and a lightweight Advantix camera, but in the end I decided not to have to deal with it. I take pics in my mind and leave those extra ounces at home...soon there will be a complete DVD set of the entire AT with panorams at all the view spots, I'm thinking of getting the DVD set when it comes out.
I find that our most interesting pictures were those of people. The vistas are great, but most of my friends scream by those and go straight for the pictures of people. We actually do the same for remembering who was who. Taking a que from Yogi (AT '99, PCT '02) we are planning on developing the pictures along the trail on our next hike. It reminds you of how much fun you are having :) They also make great postcards!
I bought an Olympic Stylus Epic Zoom 80, supposedly at a good price from a K-mart that was closing down. It had no box (display model) so I was told if I had any trouble take the reciet with the elecronics manager sig to another Kmart. The camera was messed up, so I went to said Kmart and was told it wasn't their problem. I called Olympus, was told since I did not have the warranty card, just a receipt it wasn't their problem. I went back to the original closing K mart and was told all sales final. I informed them that I was sold something under false pretense, so they got a manager. He said it wasn't their problem. so I got the electronics manager. He said, yup, it's messed up, I'll change it for another camera. They were sold out of light weight cameras so I wound up paying extra for a larger model of the Epic, only to find that Target was selling them cheaper. The camera takes good pics, but it's huge, cost me a lot of cash, and the Olympus customer service sucks.
I carry an anchor for a camera.
Sony F-707 5 Megapixel Digital Camera. 5x Zoom. Carl Zeiss optics. It weighs just over 1.5lbs with a polarization filter and 2 128MB memory sticks. Battery kicks ass, I've been using it for over a year, and get about 400 pictures per charge. Using the max picture quality and resolution of 2560x1920 (pretty much a poster-size photo-quality image), you get 51 photos per 128MB memory stick. It has built in nightvision for setting up shots at night, and a laser-assisted macro auto-focus function for flower and insect close-ups.
The new model, F-717 has a USB 2.0 connection for faster uploads to your comp. The F-707 has a USB 1.1 interface. Thats the only difference I'm aware of, so if your interested in carrying a cement block, finding the F-707 may fetch you a discounted price.
I went with a little digital from Panasonic called the DMC-LC20. 2.1 mpixel with 3x zoom Runs on 2 - AA sized NiMH rechargables. Camera with batteries weighs around 7 oz. I carry 2 extra batteries and a little rapid charger that weighs 5 oz. I get several hundred exposures (non-flash and no LCD) on a single set of freshly charged batteries. Camera uses SD type media cards. I have 5 - 32mbyte cards. As I fill one up I sent it home to be off-loaded / uploaded onto my journal and then it gets send back to me. At the resoultion I will be using I get around 168 pics per card. Have been using the system for several months and have found it very efficient and easy to use. One concern is moisture though. I'm carrying it in a ziplock with dessicant packet inside.
I've used the Olympus Stylus 80 with great results, but processing film can cost a bundle. You're talking $300-500 or more for a thru-hike. That's a lot of beer!
So recently I went out a got a refurb Olympus Digital 510 which also takes great pics and will pay for itself in no time.
Digital is the way to go!
I agree with GravityMan. I have taken so many pics out there that the pile is growing out of control. But the pics others want to see, the ones with the best stories behind them, are the ones of other folks out on the trail.
Bear in mind that I'm no camera-junky. Until recently, I've always used those "idiot proof" 35mm cameras. Since '01, I've used an Elph: it just has "thruhiker" written all over it.
Eventhough I'm not a pro, I can say the panorama shots tend to come out grainy. But those shots are more for me and my own memories than for others anyhow. The Elph is small, light enough, durable, easy to keep dry, and readily accessible (I sometimes carry it as a necklace.)
Of course, I've got all the pictures of all the places in all kinds of weather already - now I just want shots of the new folks I get to hike with.
Aubrey- If you think the pano shots are grainy, have them reprinted in the 4X7 format. You can do that with the APS cameras. APS cameras shoot every picture in the 4X7 format so that you can have your picture printed out as any size.
No kidding? If I do that (and there are quite a few I might like to see more clearly) will I lose a lot of the shot or does processing as a 4X7 just compress the image to fit the new format?