Digital or film camera for rugged use

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Orrie, Aug 13, 2003.

  1. Orrie

    Orrie Guest


    My wife and I are planning a trekking trip in the Andes, which will involve
    hiking in all weather, tent camping, probably some rock scrampbling,
    temperatures that may range between 20F and 100F, and high altitude
    (13,000'). I'm considering buying a good quality digital camera due to the
    compact size of the cameras, memory cards, etc. So far, I'm considering
    either the Canon G5, or the Nikon 5400 or 5700. I'm leaning toward the
    Canon. Are digital cameras like these as rugged (not likely to break or
    malfunction) as a film camera like my current Nikon N70 with 24-120 zoom
    lens. Of course, I would try to protect the camera from hard knocks,
    moisture, heat, etc. as much as possible. And, yes, I intend to get the
    camera well before the trip, so I can learn to use it.

    Thanks for your help.

    Orrie, Aug 13, 2003
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  2. Hi Orrie

    If you want rugged, I'd suggest a Nikon F series camera.

    The F5 is currently one of the great relative bargains
    in photography. Tanklike. Pick up a Minolta 5400
    scanner and for under $3000 you've got the ability,
    with a proper lens or two of course, to technically
    achieve just about anything in the imaging world.
    I'd bring along a 28-80 and 80-200 lens, either
    Nikon's 2.8 models or the Tokina 2.8 ATX Pros,
    which are maybe a tad less sharp but are rugged
    and quite adequate.

    Prosumer digitals such as the models you mentioned
    are NOT rugged.

    Stanley Krute, Aug 13, 2003
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  3. Orrie

    Orrie Guest

    Thank you Phil,

    I'll carry an old, but reliable film camera as a backup -- Olympus XA-3 or
    maybe an old Leica, and we intend to take lots of batteries and memory
    cards, but due to the strenuous nature of the trek, I would rather not have
    to carry both the digital camera and the N70/zoom plus tons of film,
    batteries, etc. I'm thinking of either/or. My primary reasons for
    considering digital at all are
    1. weight/size
    2. being able to share pix with my family and friends quickly after we
    3. ease of cropping, manipulating and organizing images without having to
    scan them first

    Thanks again.

    Orrie, Aug 13, 2003
  4. Orrie

    Orrie Guest

    Thank you for your reply, Butovnik.

    I hadn't considered a Fuji camera, because I had some bad business
    experiences with the company a few years ago, and simply don't buy any Fuji
    Yes, that is really important on this trip. Of course, with any camera, if
    it is not recording images - whether on film or digitally -- there's nothing
    much I would be able to do about it.
    The 5700 is pretty sexy, and looks almost like Nikon intended it to be a
    "transition" camera for guys like me who are moving from film to pixels.
    (I've been using Nikon cameras since about 1958.) I think I'll try it and
    the Canon G5 and see which feels better to my hand and eye.

    I'll try to get over my grudge against Fuji and try the s602 as well.

    Orrie, Aug 13, 2003
  5. How long is the trip duration? And how long between places with AC
    power? The canon elphs will do well over 100 shots per battery, which
    weigh mere ounces, and you can get big CF cards now. By turning off
    the LCD execept for review you can extend that even further. Put it in
    a soft case and it will be rugged enough, and far lighter than any
    film solution. No fears with airport Xrays either.

    Downsides - only the Digital Stylus (the film version is a good tiny
    35mm option) is weatherproof, perhaps a few other models. And for the
    great sunrise/sets you may see, I don't think it's as good as a slide
    film SLR. But...half a pound and volume the size of two decks of cards
    is worth a lot when you're climbing at 13,000.
    Jason O'Rourke, Aug 13, 2003
  6. I saw a few photos of Sony F717s in use during that little military
    escapade in Iraq. Horrendous environment, everything gets a pounding,
    temperatures are nasty and there's massive amounts of dust everywhere.

    The Sony F717 has a fast f/2-2.4 lens, has a wide zoom range (39mm to
    190mm), and is very well made. The lens makes it a bit bulky but it is
    otherwise quite lightweight (magnesium chassis/skin) while still being
    rugged. It has excellent low light focusing and other operations, and
    takes standard 58mm filter accessories without requiring adapters. The
    lens does not collapse or change size on power-up/down cycles, and it
    is quite responsive. Best of all for your purposes, you can fit it with
    up to 1G storage cards and it is one of the most power efficient
    digital cameras on the market, with easily available, light weight and
    small batteries.

    Godfrey DiGiorgi, Aug 13, 2003
  7. I've gone hiking at 12,000 in the Sierra with a guy bringing an entire
    pack full of gear. It was definitely worth it to him, though it caused
    some consternation to the group leader when he would disappear without
    notice. But, if the purpose of the trip is to do more than photography,
    the weight and bulk is not a plus. Those plastisized little guys
    do better.
    Jason O'Rourke, Aug 14, 2003
  8. And the price! :->
    Phil Stripling, Aug 14, 2003
  9. I haven't seen a pro using a Nikon F2 in about a decade and a half,
    Jim. Most of the pros these days are using Nikon and Canon DSLRs, which
    have weight and size penalties over the prosumer class cameras this
    gentleman was inquiring about. His requirements are far less severe
    than that which the US military and press corps were dealing with.

    A "real metal-bodied SLR" like you suggest has severe weight and size
    disadvantages for a hiking expedition in the Andes ... Not only the
    camera but film to feed it with as well.... four Memory Stick PRO 1G
    storage cards fit in less space than a single canister of 35mm film and
    hold 2000 or more photos. My F717 plus spare batteries and 2G of
    storage cards take up 2/3 the space of a Leica M kit with three lenses
    and weighs less than 1/3 the amount ... That's a MAJOR advantage for
    the digicam. That light, small package can also be protected against
    the elements more easily and with less bulky bags and padding.

    BTW, The Sony F7x7 cameras are a magnesium chassis and skin, much like
    the current top of the line Nikon film SLRs.

    My suggestion if one wished to carry a backup camera for such a trip
    would be to carry a second F7x7 or a V1 for its more compact size. In
    the past, I'd likely carry a Rollei 35S and two rolls of film as a
    backup, but I found on my last few trips that I never shot a single
    exposure with the film camera ... it's just wasted space and weight to
    carry something that would never be used.

    Godfrey DiGiorgi, Aug 14, 2003
  10. No, they won't. But since there is no cost reason to buy MD and they
    definitely consume more power, there's little reason to buy one new.
    But if you already had one, go ahead and use it.
    Jason O'Rourke, Aug 15, 2003
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