Posts Tagged ‘Photography Equipment’

September 6, 2011

Photography on the Go

For anyone who enjoys photography on the go, the “go bag” is essential.

Okay, so this bag isn’t actually designed for photography. It’s a small knit purse. Don’t let that fool you. By bringing this bag with me I have a spare lens easily at my finger tips. The purse fits my largest lens (55-200mm kit lens), if but just barely, a spare battery, memory card and a shower cap. It’s small enough that I can bring it into most museums and sporting events without anyone fusing over it and light enough that it’s not bothersome for long hikes.

The “go bag” also folds up small, and fits inside my full-sized camera bag. Now when we go on travel, I bring my regular camera bag with all my favorite lenses. I then pick what lenses I want for the day, pack up my “go bag” and leave the camera bag locked up in the hotel room safe.

Oh sure, it would be nice to have all my lenses with me at all time. Large camera bags can be heavy. And be honest, how often do you need more than a few lenses, anyway? I mean really need them.

I got this idea while we were honeymooning in Greece. We were visiting Olympia during a tour of the Peloponnese. The historical site had recently had some vandalism, so they were no longer allowing large purses or camera bags. Like most DSLR users, my camera bag is large. Our tour guide warned us that I would not be able to bring it in to the stadium, and there was a short supply of lockers. They had a designated space for oversized bags when the lockers were full, but it was out in the sun and exposed. I was worried about my equipment.

The night before we were to go to Olympia, Domingo and I went looking for a smaller bag that could hold a minimalist set of camera equipment and wouldn’t upset security. The “go bag” worked out so perfectly, I used it for the rest of our tour. The rest, as they say, is history.

We’ve all been there. We’re out with our camera, enjoying the day, and it starts to drizzle. What to do? You don’t want to ruin your camera, but you’re also not done yet, and it’s only a drizzle. You could invest in an expensive waterproof casing for your camera, but that adds one more bulky item you need to carry around. Enter the shower cap.

It’s a great camera protector in a pinch. Just wrap it around the top of the camera, and use a rubber band to hold it on the lens. Most hotel rooms offer them complementary, in nice wrapped packages that fit nicely into camera bags. I take two with me when I go out, one for my camera bag to protect the equipment inside and one for my camera.

Don’t rely on the shower cap in a downpour. After-all, it’s not providing 360 degrees of protection, or creating a water tight seal. Rain can still get in from underneath in heavy winds, or if you’re not pinching the sides tightly. But if it’s a light rain, or just a drizzle, the shower cap should do the trick.

I used it when we were in Hawaii. We were out whale watching when it started to drizzle. The other tourists sought shelter, but I stayed out and captured this.

(I can’t take credit for this idea. Someone told it to me, who learned it from a professional photographer.)

March 10, 2011

Underwater Snaps

It’s a general rule in photography that the more light you have, the less of a difference you’ll notice between a sophisticated camera and a simple one. Since there’s generally a good amount of light when snorkeling, a simple underwater disposable camera would be all that we need. Right? At least that’s what we were told.

The benefit for a disposable camera is the cost. I thought I would be saving money when we purchased the two disposable cameras for our Hawaii trip two years ago. The cameras were only $15.99 a camera, much better than a digital camera. (They were even cheaper in Hawaii, at only $12.99 a camera, hello Californian High Cost of Living!) Turns out I forgot about the cost to have the film developed for the two cameras, an extra $20 dollars. In total I ended up paying about $52 plus tax. That’s about half the cost of a cheap underwater digital camera. Below is the best photo I took using one.

Snorkeling in Hawaii ’09
Disposable Underwater Camera

Size: 7 X 3 at 220 DPIs
Number of Photos Taken: 34
Percentage of “Good” Photos: 38%

The underwater photos have a bit of a grainy texture, but that could have been the way they were developed. It also might be possible to have the photo developed at a higher resolution. I didn’t include the above water shots in my total counts, (although I didn’t factor them out of the costs). I didn’t want to bring my normal camera and leave it on the beach, so I took a few pictures of the bay top side using the disposable camera.

We enjoyed snorkeling so much, I figured we would do it often. I purchased a FugiFilm Underwater XP10 (for $110), since it was only twice the cost – just two trips and it’s paid for itself. Another option would be an underwater carrying case for my old point and shoot, but the camera wasn’t a particularly popular model, so the cases were rare and nearly twice as expensive as the new camera. Below is a comparable picture from 2011 using the FugiFilm to the “best” 2009 disposable picture.

Snorkeling in Hawaii ’11
Digital Underwater Camera

Size: 18 X 13 at 220 DPIs
Number of Photos Taken: 175
Percentage of “Good” Photos: 54%

It took a little while to get into the groove with the digital underwater camera, the first dozen were almost all bad. I had to point the camera lower than where it looked like the fish were. But once I hit a groove, they were turning out much better, and I got so many more of them. I could also stop to look at the photos, determine if I got “the shot” and move on to other areas of the reef. For this trip I was limited by the battery life, rather than the number of exposures. As you can see, I got nearly 9 times the photos!

On drawback to the underwater digital camera, the waterproofing supposedly doesn’t last forever. The instructions say to send it back in to the factory about once a year to be re-coated. I’ve owned it a little under a year, so I have no notion of how necessary this step is.

Which is better? It depends on what you want. If you’re only going to go snorkeling once, and want a few pictures to remember it by, the disposable camera works great. Otherwise, my advice would be to go with a digital underwater camera above the disposables, despite the general rule of light. You can also use it any time you go swimming, really and if you go snorkeling twice, it’s the same cost.

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