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Camera usage in the rain

Old Jun 28th, 2011, 08:10 AM
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Camera usage in the rain

I am leaving for costa rica in 9 days. I have my camera and back pack ready. Even ordered some rain protection for the camera from Amazon - cheap plastic bags but they look like they will do the job. We are going to be involved in water activities (white water rafting/kayaking/canyoning) and didn't think I would be able to bring my 60D with me on those trips. Any tips on camera safety/usage when the conditions are less than ideal? Needless to say, I am not an expert! thanks in advance for your help...
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 08:43 AM
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If you really want to take a lot of photos in wet conditions, think about an underwater camera. A Canon D10 served me well both about and below the water. Now I use it everywhere I don't want to lug the big camera and tripod.
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 09:22 AM
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I was going to suggest the same thing. We ended up eventually buying an underwater camera. They also make cheap disposable type underwater cameras if you don't want the expense of buying the real thing.
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 10:12 AM
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Thanks a bunch. Just checked out the D10 on line and it looks like something I can use for sure -now and in the future. It'll be nice to have a camera when we go down those waterfalls, one that will take decent pix. I truly appreciate the information.
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 11:51 AM
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There are some nice point and shoot waterproof models now, too - I have a Pentax Optio W60 and my husband has a Fuji Z33. The latter is a decent all around camera, very small and easy to use. The Optio is fantastic under water and in macro and panorama modes but doesn't do well in low light.
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 12:08 PM
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We have the Pentax Optio too. hopeful, I think we got it based on your rec. so thanks!
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 04:42 PM
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The waterproof suggestions are good ones and the best all round solution although the picture quality is limited.

Even if you don't dunk them in the whitewater or shower them under a waterfall most digital cameras are susceptible to the environmental conditions in Costa Rica. The very high humidity can totally trash them especially when combined with air conditioning. If you use a non-waterproof camera be sure to keep it inside an air tight (ziplock works well) container for at least half an hour when you take it outside from an air conditioned space.

The problem is that the warm moist air will condense on and inside the cool camera destroying the sensitive electronics.
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 05:10 PM
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You can buy silica gel packs to keep in the ziplocks. They suck the moisture out of the camera while you sleep and you can "recharge" them for future trips by drying them in low temp oven.
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 05:58 PM
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I really appreciate the suggestions about protecting my camera. I have a few silica gel packs but will look for more and will definately take some larger ziplock bags for storing and acclimating my camera to the conditions.

I feel so much more prepared and am grateful to everyone for their help. Hopefully I can pay it forward with tips of my own when I return.
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 05:45 AM
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"The waterproof suggestions are good ones and the best all round solution although the picture quality is limited."

The picture quality of the Canon D10 (and other underwater cameras) is not limited in my experience. With 12 megapixels and good optics, they are the equivalent of other good point and shoot cameras. You need to follow instructions carefully to restore them to watertightness after changing batteries or memory cards.

The silica gel packs will not likely gain you anything. In the tropics, they reach their very limited capacity quickly. Reusing old gel packs is pointless. Do what's needed to prevent bringing a cold camera into warm or hot, moist air. Cameras get cold in airconditioning, so some people keep their cameras in the bathroom, closet, or some other area that is not airconditioned. If you put your camera into a plastic bag filled with moist air, and it gets cold, the moisture in the bag will still condense on and in the camera even if you have a dozen packets of silica gel in with it. Over time the gel packets will absorb moisture up to their capacity, but they are not quick-acting dehumidifiers. A camera in a baggie placed in airconditioning will get cold enough to create condensation before the gel can act.
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 08:43 AM
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I agree that the ac/condensation issue is huge. We've had great luck with the packs, though. The trick is to keep them carefully sealed in ziplocks until they're needed and have enough to get you through the trip; it's impressive how much good ones can absorb. We use the kind that the crystals change color when they're to capacity and use a new set when that happens. You have to dessicate them in an oven before they're any use again.
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 09:48 AM
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And they also keep your house safe from tigers. In just about 80 days in Costa Rica spread over the last decade, with 5 different cameras, a modicum of care and common sense has prevented any moisture problem at all with the cameras and lenses--with no bags of desiccants. I have seen and heard tell of cameras damaged by rain, mist, and sweat, but not from daily use. People place their electronics at risk but moving cold devices into the humid air, but those problems are preventable without the expense and bother of bags and desiccants. If sense and simplicity do as well as additional expense and complexity, keep it simple.

The biggest worry for the original poster will be how to keep from dropping the camera during the strenuous activity described, or banging it into a rock or a tree. I use a sturdy neck strap and try to keep the camera tucked into my shirt, life vest, or support straps while my hands aren't on it.
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Old Jun 30th, 2011, 06:19 AM
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The picture quality of waterproof cameras is limited not by the number of megapixels but by the geometry imposed by the necessity of enclosing the moving parts of the focus mechanism. This means a small lens and a small chip which necessitates smaller light gathering cells ("pixels") which reduces the light gathering ability which decreases the ability to detect and accurately record incident light.

Contrary to the myth used to market high megapixel cameras to consumers, experts agree that picture quality generally deteriorates as you cram more megapixels into the same space. This is an oversimplification of the phenomenon, but if you research you'll find that the picture quality of underwater cameras is indeed limited and if you want both optimum image quality and resistance to the elements you should buy a non-waterproof DSLR and put it in an underwater housing.

BTW I do not necessarily recommend silica gel packs unless used with a great deal of caution because they can actually absorb so much moisture that they liquify and damage the camera. We just use the ziplocks and as Kinakazote suggests "a modicum of care and common sense" to prevent condensation and keep any non-waterproof cameras we're carrying dry.
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Old Jun 30th, 2011, 07:12 AM
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Your points on the geometry of the camera posing a limitation on thin, flat (underwater) point and shoots are well made. The Canon D10 alleviates this by not being thin and flat. It is very oddly shaped with a hefty bulge on which the lens sets. And as with all small sensors, pushing the ISO up will degrade the overall quality. Theory and speculation aside, the D10 produces images that are the "equivalent of other good point and shoot cameras". The higher megapixel count (which still signified "not cheap or budget quality" even a year ago) allows you to work well without a long lens and be able to crop out good pictures. I think your statement of limitations are too general and shift the goals from "good" to "National Geographic excellent."

For instance, these were all taken with the D10 about a year ago.
Perhaps I have low standards, but these seem good for what they are.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/page1/

(Link is from a trip report below "Trip Report: July 2010 OAT Tour")
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Old Jul 1st, 2011, 05:02 AM
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Nice photos, kink; here's a link to my flickr site in case anyone is interested:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
Glad other people have found what works for them, too. After more than a dozen, typically month-long trips to Latin America we know what works best for us and will stick with it. Happy trails!
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Old Jul 1st, 2011, 12:20 PM
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I'm pretty darned impressed with the photos I'm seeing both from Hopeful and Kink. Can I leave today for C.R.?? I'll take my 60D and multiple lens along with my D10 and use the best one for the occasion. If I can bring home some pix like these I'll be a happy lady. Thanks for sharing.
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Old Jul 1st, 2011, 01:48 PM
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5 days and I'm off for 3-4 weeks split between Guatemala and Honduras. Yay!!
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Old Jul 1st, 2011, 03:24 PM
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Very nice photos Kinkazote and hopefulist. I apologize for any implication that photos taken with waterproof or any other point and shoot were bad and I certainly didn't mean to imply that you personally had taken bad photographs.

I've carried the 10m waterproof Olympus SW1030 for years and more recently the Lumix DMC-TS2 as well and shot thousands of photos with each that I never would have gotten with a SLR. None of them will ever appear in National Geographic - more likely because of the limitations of the photographer than limitations imposed by the laws of physics on the equipment - but I'm happy to have them none the less and nearly always have a compact waterproof camera in my pocket.
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