Camera precautions

3:52 p.m. on October 28, 2008 (EDT)
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I've mostly used my wife's Canon A95 recently, but decided to go back to my larger EOS A2E (film) camera until I can purchase either a nice digital point- and-shoot or digital EOS. I like Canons, as you might guess. The A95 is a small camera that's a little larger than most of the point-and-shoots, but not as large as the SLR-type EOSs, so it has never presented any problems packing or carrying. It's starting to show it age now as it doesn't think batteries are charged, even when freshly charged.

I like the larger SLR-type cameras for the feel and flexibility, and realize that a lot of that is in the smaller cameras now also, but until I decide on one, I'll probably pack the EOS for a while. How do most of you that carry larger cameras pack them. Where do you usually place them in your pack? What should I look out for?

Thanks for any suggestions.

4:38 p.m. on October 28, 2008 (EDT)
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I usaully use a standard belt style Lowe pack to protect my Canon EOS Rebel XTi in or out of my pack. I miss the old style camera pouch like the older 35mm camera used, but the Lowe camera bag is good.
I also have a waterproof bag as I have in the last few years gotten into canyoneering in slot canyons that often have lots of quicksand and/or deep water holes. I doused a Canon XT camera a few years ago and it came out fine without a waterproof bag but I did not want to take anymore chances.

7:36 p.m. on October 28, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks for the suggestion. Size matters, and the XTi is probably close to the A2E. Mind telling me which Lowes bag you use? There's tons of them out there.


9:49 p.m. on October 28, 2008 (EDT)
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I have the Lowepro Topload Zoom Mini Camera bag. Its about $19.95 I got mine thru REI in Seattle. Thats Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) Look under Travel in thier list of supplies. There are also many other brands, but I like Lowepro.

12:51 a.m. on October 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Good to see you back here!
I mostly use DSLRs these days (film is still clearly superior, just not as convenient). But I occasionally use Barb's Canon P&S. It is pretty versatile as P&S are concerned, and quite compact and light. The particular model, A620, is no longer made (well, models change every 6 months or so, you know), but there are a couple in the same category that will do much the same, but with a higher pixel count. The thing I like about it (for a P&S) is that the zoom (a real optical zoom) goes from a very wide angle (equivalent to 24mm for a 35mm film camera) to a moderate telephoto (something like 105 or 135mm equivalent). It does have a manual mode, which is important to me to get the camera to do more what I want instead of some ingunear in Japan who has decided that everyone takes "memory" shots and doesn't care about the artistic factors. But it does have several programmed modes for portraits, closeups (the "flower" symbol), "sports". scenics, and a couple other modes. You can turn the autoflash off if you want to take pictures in museums (which usually forbid flash). And MOST IMPORTANT for the traveller - it runs on AA batteries, so you don't have to worry about where to plug your charger in 6 days out on a 2 week backpack (yes, you can, and I have, take a foldup solar panel and use NiMH rechargeables). Some of the photos in my Antarctic report here on Trailspace were taken with that camera, as were a couple of the photos in the Africa report (most were taken with the DSLRs, though).

8:00 a.m. on October 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks GaryPalmer, I'll investigate.

Hey Bill,

I think a lot of the features of the A95 were carried over into the A6xx models of Canon. It has all the bells and whistles like the rotating LCD screen and such. Pixel count was lower on the A95. I've been trying on EBay for an A630 or A650 until the price comes down in retail. You can't beat those little Canons.

Well, thanks to you as well Bill. I'm thinking of making a trip up into GWNF somewhere or maybe Dolly Sods if my wife's health doesn't regress any soon (she's scheduled for some more major surgery, but just can't get all the doctors to sign off) and before she finally enters the hospital. It'll be my first snow trip. Not sure how hunting seasons will affect it all, and what I should look out for, so a call to the regional office is in order.

Until the next time....

3:36 p.m. on October 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi Steve, Good to see you again. I also have the A95. Bill's 620 was the one after it, as you noted. I think the major difference is the A95 is 5mp and the 620 is 7mp, if I remember right.

There is a new Panasonic out that is not exactly a true SLR, but is smaller and has a couple of interchangeable lenses. I saw a story on it in the New York Times online.

As far as the A95 goes,what kind of batteries are you using? I have some Sanyo rechargeable batteries in a package sold by Eneloop. They work fine. You might try changing battery types and see what happens.

A great site for reviews of cameras is

They review pretty much every camera out there and the reviews are very detailed.

How are you preparing for your snow trip?

8:10 a.m. on October 30, 2008 (EDT)
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I have tried a few different brands of batteries, and different chargers. I have sort of made sure the chargers are matched to the batteries (output and sensing capabilities). Googling tells me that there are a few people who experience this problem with the earlier Axx models. Seems the lens extension (when you turn it on in picture mode, or when you switch from preview to take-a-picture and the lens extends) causes enough drain that the camera thinks the batteries are low on current output.

I haven't really started serious planning for the trip. I would have liked to have went in late September or early October, but the indecisions of my wife's doctors kept changing when her surgery was going to happen, so I kept putting it on hold. Now the snow has started falling in the WV mountains, so it becomes a snow trip, and the doctors are sort of agreeing on when she might get into the hospital. She'll need something like 3 months hard recovery, and a year of gradual recovery, so I need to go before it all happens.

For now, though, a change in the bag I'll sleep in, clothes I'll take (more layers mostly and gloves that weren't on the list originally), and more soups for food, and maybe a light waterproof tarp for under the tent footprint. I'm sure I'll think of more, but for now that's about it.

4:26 p.m. on November 4, 2008 (EST)
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Blackbeard wrote this:
: How do most of you that carry larger cameras pack them. Where do you
: usually place them in your pack? What should I look out for?

Well, you'll probably laugh this off as ridiculous, but it's what I do. I have invested a lot in camera gear to enable me to get the best possible shots, since my purpose is to produce gallery quality images for sale, not just shoot snapshots for personal use. So I carry a Bogen 3021 tripod lashed onto my Kelty frame pack.

For a camera, I carry a Nikon D300 DSLR with a 17-55 pro quality lens. I carry the camera & lens in a LowePro Toploader 75 AW bag. Although most of my shots are tripod-mounted, I want to have the camera ready to catch any "quick" shots I might want, I want the camera available for quick access. So I don't pack it away in my pack (besides, its' wayyyy to big to fit into my loaded pack). So I carry it "tourist style", over my shoulder and under one arm.

It probably gets lots of laughs from veteran hikers, it's not the most comfortable approach in the world, and it's a little unwieldy if I'm on unstable footing (especially at 13.7 lbs for all the gear), but, hey, why take photos with a P&S since they just won't meet my needs... for what I'm doing it's worth dealing with the weight an inconvenience.


1:00 p.m. on November 5, 2008 (EST)
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Bill said, concerning carrying his camera gear out where he can get at it -

It probably gets lots of laughs from veteran hikers,

In the woods, hills, Open Space Reserves, other parks, Baylands (a type of park common around the SFBay Area), the Sierra, and elsewhere here in the West, there are so many avid photographers who are serious about getting more than "memory" photos, that your method of carrying your gear is common. In building our new house, we have included a deck on the 2nd floor because Matadero Creek is our lot's back boundary, and a flyway from the SFBay in an area that has several wetlands parks (the Baylands of Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park form a continuous set of wetlands with hundreds of bird species year around). Two days ago, while I was "supervising" the construction, a flock of about 10 snowy egrets decided to perch for a while in a tall tree in my neighbor's yard. The deck will make an excellent platform for photographing the many birds that fly up and down along the creek.

Sometimes in my hikes in the local parks, I carry everything from 12 to 400mm for the lenses, as well as one of my Gitzo tripods, plus of course extra batteries, memory, and a variety of filters. It is not at all uncommon to see someone in the Sierra travelling ultralight, except for the 10-20 pounds of camera gear (well, ya gotta cut weight somewhere, and you don't want to sacrifice the photo capabilities). And it is vital to keep the camera ready for those fleeting moments (a good reason to not hike alone is to keep 2 or more cameras with different lenses ready for those "decisive moments").

Unfortunately, though, like umbrellas are rain prevention devices, cameras seem to be wildlife barriers - my most recent mountain lion encounters were with the camera left at home, while I see track and scat every time I have the camera ready (I went to 2 of our parks where there had been sightings for 2 or 3 days each right after the reports, camera at the ready, but no cats, not even bobcats). Even the P&S zooms seem to be wildlife repellents).

1:43 p.m. on November 5, 2008 (EST)
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Yep, Bill, my load (and bulk) will just get bigger when I'm able to add lenses to my arsenal. At present I only have the 17-55, great for landscapes, but for wildlife or distant objects, not so good...

But as you pointed out, the camera seems to act as a wildlife deterrent anyway. About the only interesting wildlife shot I've gotten so far is this one where an osprey dove into the river next to my campsite this summer, caught a fish, and dragged it ashore for breakfast. But as you can see by the lack of sharpness, I had to really crop the image to give the appearance of a close-up shot...

p.s. I tried using the new "img" tags but the picture didn't get included. Are there some size or other limitations that cause the tags to be silently ignored?

1:48 p.m. on November 5, 2008 (EST)
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I think you were trying to use the img tag with the URL of the HTML gallery page (, which won't work. the img tag needs the URL of the image file itself. The way your gallery is set up, I don't see an easy/obvious way to copy and paste the image URL.

1:51 p.m. on November 5, 2008 (EST)
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That is really a fantastic image! This is a case where I don't believe the slight lack of sharpness detracts at all, but adds a bit of authenticity.

You might consider either the Nikon 18-200 (has Vibration Reduction) or the much less expensive Tamron 28-300 (the newer version that has Vibration Control - different term for the same thing). I have both and find they work very well. The Tamron can also be used as a macro lens. The Nikon 80-400 is a bit longer for the wildlife photos, but it is much heavier than either the 18-200 or the 28-300, as well as being much more expensive.

4:20 p.m. on November 5, 2008 (EST)
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Yes, a great picture bheiser1!

Now if only you could get that bird trained to bring you a couple fish.

11:39 p.m. on November 5, 2008 (EST)
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Dave, thanks for the feedback on the IMG tags. You're right, that url points to a "slide" page produced by Jalbumwin which I use to maintain my gallery pages. Maybe next time I'll upload the image to Pbase or someplace.

Bill S and Trouthunter, thanks very much for the comments. I really appreciate it.

And, Bill S, thanks for the lens suggestions. I understand the 18-200 is a considered a great "walkabout" lens so I really should think about getting one. For now I've got my eye on the 70-200VR ... very expensive, but as you know, also considered "top notch" by the real pros.

I haven't looked much at Tamron, but the Sigma 50-500 has my eye ... it would complement my 17-55 nicely :).

For now the Bay Area job market has all lens purchases on hold though :(.

2:26 a.m. on November 13, 2008 (EST)
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I prefer my Olympus OM-1 to my wife's digital SP-500UZ. I find the ability to control the light settings better (especially in snow) with my OM-1. The biggest bonus is the price of film development has dropped by 50%!! ;-)
Plus with Vista, I am having difficulty downloading digital photos on to my computer, so for me film is good.

6:50 a.m. on November 20, 2008 (EST)
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I'll chime in with my two cents here, too. Last summer I experienced a three week trek into the Himalayas of Northern India. It was a stunning trip and taking quality pictures with a lightweight camera was a high priority. Everything from waterfalls at remote pilgrimage sites, to women in colorful saris, to men serving tea in tea stalls, and of course those 7,000 meter peaks - was going to be in my sight at some point, as I had experienced the summer before.

After a year of research on point and shoots that still accomplish three important aspects of light weight, high pixel rate, image stabilization, and high optical zoom, I chose the Canon S5 IS. And what a workhorse it was!

A good friend of mine on the trek had a larger Canon DSLR, and she was jealous of my camera the entire time. I know that digital SLR's are the ultimate. I own a film SLR, and there are just no subsitutes for the clarity, artistic choices and more. But if you are looking for something smaller that still takes amazing pictures with all kinds of options, might I recommend this camera?

On dpreview, this camera was called the top camera out there, just before digital SLR's.

I could not be happier!

Scott S

12:05 p.m. on December 7, 2008 (EST)
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Been a while since I walked this way, but appreciate the replies.


I have had my eye on an S5 for a while now, and even some S3s on EBay. I like the long optical zoom and the IS. My wife continues to become more shaky as there seems to be no fix for what ails her, so the IS is important.


A long, long time ago, in a far off....

The OM-1 caught my eye due to it's compactness. I was using a Mamiya Sekor TL 500 then and it was pretty hefty. I got the Mamiya back in the 1960's as I recall, so some time after that the OM-1 must have came out. You must take very good care of your equipment.

I've just recently broke out my Canon A2E again, and was pleasantly surprised at the cost of developing film these days. The autofocus on that thing made me realize how old I was and that maybe I couldn't see well enough to focus on a matte screen anymore. That was about ten years ago when I got that camera.


I know what you speak of with the repellent theme. It's not just digital or wildlife associated, either. I go up to Babcock State Park every year trying to capture the fall foliage in it's peak colors, and have yet to get what I am after as the leaves either haven't started turning or have mostly fallen to the ground. The smell of film seems to be the cause for the delay or acceleration.


I think being made fun of is part of the joy I get out of carrying cameras. I walk around town here looking for things that I want to remember, and remember, I use one of those bulky film cameras. I even used an old Mamiya twin lens. But heh, it's about what I can view later after the prints are made. Those smiles and snickers only get to see me with a funny looking camera around my neck, not what the outcome is. Sometimes, I even get to take memories of them home with me.

Til next time

2:01 p.m. on December 7, 2008 (EST)
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Blackbeard -
My most recent experience with photo-repellents was a couple weeks ago when I went for a run up Windy Hill. It was a drizzly day, so I did not take the camera. Very few people were out that day. When I got near the top, I came across a full-grown coyote, investigating ground squirrel burrows. Beautiful animal. He looked over at me, then went back to his stalking, with an occasional glance my way. I was moaning about not having the camera, but after about 10 minutes of watching, I remembered that the cell phone has a camera. So I got it out. While I was trying to remember how to take photos with it, the coyote stopped his stalking, watched me struggle with what order to push the buttons (gotta get into photo mode, not the movie mode, push the button to capture the image, then Options - Save). About the time I figured it out, he gave me a disgusted look (yes, coyote can show emotions!), then trotted around a nearby bush. I waited a bit to see if he would come out, but all he did was peek around the bush, then hide when he saw the phone out. I finally gave up and put the phone away, at which point he came out to resume his stalking, with several more glances in my direction. Little Brother is smart!

2:17 p.m. on December 11, 2008 (EST)
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LOL @ Bill S's coyote story. Smart beast (the coyote, not Bill). Not that you're not smart too Bill :).

9:47 a.m. on December 13, 2008 (EST)
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I have the Canon Xsi and love it.

Fits in my Sundog (The replacement appears to be the LowePro). It has been dropped a considerable distance with a long scree runout at the bottom and stuck between boulders in a large talus field. Camera came out with out a scratch. The case looks like the luckless hero in an action movie. It now has 'presence'

I have a harness for when I just want to scoot around town. The Sundog has two 'D' ring attachments close in on the side that I mount to 'D' rings I've attached to my large pack harness. This gives me secure access from the front and a convenient place for extra batteries, digital chips and small Sony digital recorder.

Its a bit of a pain when taking off or putting on the large pack as the camera protection acts like a wrecking ball if you are not careful.

I use a 'tunnel' rain cover when it is messy out. With the elastic threaded 'holes' at each end it works as advertised -- with care. If drenching rain I use a waterproof cover over the SunDog. Covering only the camera inside is possibly a good idea if you expect submersion, but it allows a lot of moisture inside after an hour of rain driven by a thunderstorm.

8:35 p.m. on December 15, 2008 (EST)
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Hello Blackbeard: My wife and film the Grand Canyon - I carry about 15 pounds of camera gear with me. We just finished a Rim to Rim to Rim plus some side canyons - 53 miles total. I never knew my camera gear was with me. I have a Lowepro camera belt. I strap the neck strap to the top of my back and run the belt through the front straps of my back pack. If you look close at my picture, you can see the camera pack. It also carries great just by itself. If you really want a great camera, the Canon 50d is great. I carry the 50D, 10-22 lens, 17-40 lens and a 100-400 lens in the Lowepro. I hope this helps.

9:31 a.m. on December 24, 2008 (EST)
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Thanks again for all the tips. The Lowepro stuff seems to be well thought out and I've never seen anything bad written about them.

I've always owned a Canon since my eyes went "old" and the auto-focus part became a necessity. It's really hard to decide which camera would be the best between all of the models that Canon offers, but the 50d has always been a favorite.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all who venture here. Take care of yourself and of those who can't do it for themselves.


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