View Full Version : Video Cameras

02-02-2010, 15:21
I'm planning a PCT thru this summer and would like to take along a video camera. I really have no idea what I want, except for something under $500. I'd like long lasting battery and durability but i don't think i'll be as wet as i was on the AT and i can always get a waterproof bag for it. Has anyone else carried a video camera on a long hike and if so what kind did you use?

Mountain Wildman
02-02-2010, 15:34

This Sanyo got a good write up by Backpacker Magazine and its under $200

Mountain Wildman
02-02-2010, 15:35
$189.99 http://www.amazon.com/Sanyo-VPC-E2-Digital-Camcorder-Camera/dp/B001DQKHX0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1265139291&sr=1-2

02-02-2010, 15:38
I suggest you poke through the pct-l list archives (http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/pct-l/), sort by author, and find a message from Squatch (Scott Herriot) and send him an email. Squatch did the "walking" series of DVDs on the PCT (http://www.walkpct.com/) and so has a lot of experience at carrying a video camera, and on that particular trail FWIW so he could likely give you some good advice.

Or just post your question on pct-l.

02-02-2010, 16:12
I have a bit of advice concerning this.

I carried a Sony HC-38, which was a camera that used mini-DV tapes. With the advent of larger memory in current cameras, this may not be the way to go, but I liked this format because I didn't have to worry about taking up computer time (and finding a computer) transferring video, and I didn't have to worry that if I damaged/lost my camera I would lose more than 1 hour of what I shot.

The downsides are that the PO might lose what you mail home (which didn't happen to me), and that you transfer the data in real time).

I didn't have any problems finding tapes, though.

But here are some tips for you as far as shootng goes, regardless of camera type:

Even though you may have a video camera that takes stills, I'd recommend carrying an actual still camera. And remember to use it often -- many times those shooting video forget to get pictures as well (in my experience cheaper video cameras take crappy still shots. Don't know why.)

I would invest in a larger battery than what the camera comes with, which will most likely be a 1 hour battery. I carried a 10 hour battery on my trip. It was heavy, but I never had to worry about not shooting something because I was running low.

Shoot as much as possible. No one ever sits down to edit and is pissed off about having too much to work with.

Carry your camera in an easily accessible place. If you can't reach it with your pack on, it's not accessible enough. I carried mine in a fanny pack where I could always get to it.

Weather will not be as much of an issue on the PCT. Nonetheless, keep a couple of gallon ziplocks in whatever you store your camera in. There will most likely be some thunderstorms, and some weather in OR & WA. And you'll be a lot more comfortable with some of the fords if you know your camera is wrapped up.

One last note -- there are some pretty extreme temperature swings on the PCT, and camera bags are almost always a dark color, and not insulated. You might want to look into making a sleeve you can slide you camera into that has some insulation level to protect your camera from both the heat and cold of the desert, as well as colder temps in the Sierra & further north. I had a little zip-up insulated sandwich holder, believe it or not.

Good luck!

Powder River
02-02-2010, 23:23
They make camcorders now that have large flash memory storage as well as SD slots. This would be the way to go, as you could just get a bunch of 8gb cards and keep mailing them home. Most computers you encounter are likely not going to be powerful enough to unload several gigs worth of video. The other thing I would get is HD. 640x480 (standard definition) is already long in the tooth, and when you bust out your video in 10 years to show to your friends on your $300 105 inch HDTV, you're going to wish you had shot it in HD. I would say 1080 over 720, if you can.

And like Jester said, I would also carry a camera. Most camcorders take very crummy pictures.

Canada Goose
02-02-2010, 23:44
I have a bit of advice concerning this.

I carried a Sony HC-38

Hey brother! When is the movie coming out?

In time for this years' Oscars, or next?

You know I'll line up for it! Maybe even buy a copy...

First showing at the Doyle, maybe?

Honk! ;)

02-04-2010, 01:48
Oof. Working on it. Will have something to show at the warmer. A trailer or somesuch. Movie should be done by the end of April.

02-06-2010, 01:24
This past year, I carried a Canon HF S100 HD camcorder on the PCT. It's more expensive then you want but I'll tell you my experience with it.

It's flash memory based, no moving parts (and lower power required), and lighter then a tape based or even a Hard drive based camcorder of similar spec. The lack of moving parts is a definite advantage and there are issues with using a hard drive at altitudes over 10,000ft (the head rides on the disc on a layer of air, but the higher you are the thiner the air is, and many HD manufacturers don't recommend use above a certain altitude). I used 32GB SDHC cards. You either have to carry several cards for your hike, or send some home to be copied off and sent back to you on the trail, or (in my case), copy them off onto an external HD. If you choose the copy to a HD, you'll have to occasionally find a computer such as at a library that will allow a USB device to be plugged in or bounce a laptop (I bounced a 9" netbook since 32GB on my camcorder only lasted for 3hours at max resolution). The use of tapes means you can mail them home when you are done with them. But no tape based camcorder records at full 1920x1080 HighDef; if they are HighDef they only record at 1440x1080 due to the limitation of what can be stored on tape. The down side to HardDrive and Flash based units that use the ACHVD highDef codec is they don't like fast motion and can leave artifacts in the video (if you keep this in mind, you can avoid the issue in most cases).

If you carry a small one like those Sanyo xacto models, then you can carry in a hipbelt pocket. But if you carry a regular sized one, you'll have to find a place to mount it. If you carry a comcorder in your pack, you are likely to not use it as often and miss stuff. I carried mine in a lens case mounted to my shoulder strap. I used an Op/Tech Large size Lens Pouch attached to the D-Ring on my shoulder strap. I sewed on an elastic strap to the lower half to hold it to the shoulder strap. Squatch seemed to carry his in a fanny pack style camera case mounted around his waiste above his hipbelt.

02-06-2010, 11:14
Squatch seemed to carry his in a fanny pack style camera case mounted around his waiste above his hipbelt.

It's the largest fanny pack in the history of somewhat effeminate gear storage. We call it "The Codpiece."