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Old 11-16-10, 04:29 PM   #1
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Bicycle touring photography: Equipment

Since Michael W asked, I'll provide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Do we need a few general photography threads. They usually crop up as a result of "what camera do I take" .
I figure three should do the job.
1. Photography: kit
2. Photography: techniques
3. Photography: admin and management

1 is for all the stuff you might want to take or leave, reviews of particularly fine (and available) kit.
2 is for your actual picture taking tips relevant to cycle touring*
3 is for file management, power management, care, cleaning, storage, security, insurance, travel tips, extreme environments etc.

If we need to include photos to illustrate techniques, could they be as small as possible. Extra large photos seem to expand the text to fit, making it harder to read all the other entries on the page.

* Solo touring pics, including the bike, pics from a moving bike, panoramics, wildlife, whatever...

Whaddyaallthinkofthis.
I use a Pentax K100D for road touring for several reasons. I have all kinds of lenses for Pentax and Pentax's shake reduction is on-board the camera instead of the lens.

I also use it because the camera takes AA batteries which are easier to find out in the hinterlands than than a proprietary battery. I don't want to carry any more excess junk than I already carry so I'd rather not carry a charger if I can avoid it. If you aren't using the flash a lot and you turn off the LED preview, a set of alkaline AA will last a long time.

I carry the camera, card, a spare set of batteries and small tripod in an Ortlieb handlebar bag with photo insert. It carries well without worrying about water since the bag is waterproof.

I carry a Hama Clamp table tripod to hold the camera. The tripod can be used as a small tripod or it can be clamped to an object to hold the camera. I combine it with a remote shutter release if I want to take pictures of myself (not something I do often).

If I'm going to be touring off-road, I don't like carrying my SLR so I go with a point and shoot. This is partly weight and partly due to lack of handlebar bag space but it's mostly do to the higher risk of crashing while riding off-road. I don't want to fall on the camera! You can do okay with a point and shoot as these pictures of the Grand Canyon attest, even shooting at night



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Old 11-16-10, 09:01 PM   #2
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Nice!

Do you find yourself using a point and shoot as well as your DSLR? What percentage of the time is one chosen vs the other do you reckon? Is it an either or decision?
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Old 11-16-10, 11:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safariofthemind View Post
Nice!

Do you find yourself using a point and shoot as well as your DSLR? What percentage of the time is one chosen vs the other do you reckon? Is it an either or decision?
I carry one or the other but never both. The point and shoot is better for off-road just because of it's size, weight and lower cost.
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Old 11-17-10, 07:21 AM   #4
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For a while I was workiing through point and shoot cameras, always wishing they were better, using adapter lanses to expand the lens range etc. Then I thoughI had found a decent compromise with my Canon XTi, it had many of the features of the higher end DSLR cameras of the time in a lighter body. It worked pretty good, but god it was still bulky and heavy compared to a point and shoot. I was looking into chest harnesses because I was still reluctant to just grab it out of the bag due to the heft.

Then I discovered the world of Micro 4:3. Most of the resolution, flexiility in lenses and the kit size is literally half that of a standard DSLR.


Panasonic DMC-GF1 Kit by rperks1, on Flickr


Panasonic DMC-GF1 with Tamrac Aero Zoom 20 and Lowepro 1M lens case by rperks1, on Flickr

I have been shooting this setup for a year now and will never look back to my bigger camera. Actually I keep it as a back up still, but wen I can expand to a second Micro 4:3 body I will sell the Canon.

I did a write up on how I cary the camera here:
http://oceanaircycles.com/2010/10/18...c-gf1/ http://

I love the Hobo bag because it stays on the bike. The extra topload cases protect the camera on or off the bike and the reduced sise of the kit more than offsets the added bulk and extra batttery etc.

So far so good, and the results are what I want, feel free to take a look around my photostream.


Wayfinding by rperks1, on Flickr

Next up a review of my tripod choices
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Old 11-17-10, 09:33 AM   #5
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Then I discovered the world of Micro 4:3. Most of the resolution, flexiility in lenses and the kit size is literally half that of a standard DSLR.
I also ultimately found my XTi to be too big, as much as I still love it. The Micro 4:3 was a very appealing option, but went a little cheaper and have been using a Canon S90 for the past year. I like it because I have easy access to manual controls (for a small form factor camera, that is).

I carry several SD cards and import photos each night into an iPad. I'm a geology professor, and this enables me to annotate geological shots along the way so I don't forget what they are when I get home.

The only major tradeoff I've encountered has been the lessened ability to control depth of field, unless the subject is very close to the lens. This, unfortunately, is inherent to all small-sensor cameras. For landscape shots in good light, however, it does a very nice job. (That said, MOST cameras do a good job when there's plenty of light.)

If interested, here are some shots from the Northern Tier this summer:
http://hpscott.smugmug.com/Travel/Northern-Tier-2010
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Old 11-17-10, 10:35 AM   #6
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I just got a Nikon P100, more features than a point and shoot but not as bulky as a true DSLR.

[IMG]
AUSABLE CHASM, NY
by 1nterceptor, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]
CROTONA PARK 2010 TOUR DE BRONX
by 1nterceptor, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]
NEW YORK CITY
by 1nterceptor, on Flickr[/IMG]

It also shoots nice videos:
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Old 11-17-10, 05:42 PM   #7
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Keep those incredible photos coming folks! THIS is fun!
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Old 11-17-10, 06:49 PM   #8
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I use the canon g10, it's the best compromise for me. The SLR was just huge in my handlebar bag, and I found myself to take it out less than a smaller camera.




Some examples:






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Old 11-17-10, 07:05 PM   #9
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I've used Nikon DSLRs for extended trips. Although they're heavy and bulky, I love having a real viewfinder. I usually just bring enough memory cards to last the trip. One time I carried a laptop so I could import the photos and add them to my blog. An iPad would be a worthy replacement for a laptop.
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Old 11-18-10, 08:13 AM   #10
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I bought a cut-price canon compact camera, A620.\
It wasn't a deeply planned purchase, I just saw one ex demo at huge discount so snapped it up. Its served me well enough and has all the manual control and modes I could want but using it isnt as slick as I would like.
Especially bad is the self portrait timer thing. I set it up on a tripod and when the self timer is tripped, it focusses on the background. I run into frame and I'm out of focus. I have to use manual focus which is very fiddly.
Pictures are not bad.



I am sorely tempted by a 4/3 type model with better sensor and controls.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg Moonrise..jpg (42.2 KB, 9 views)

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Old 11-18-10, 08:46 AM   #11
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I am really happy with my Pentax K100D, but I don't want to damage it or any of my many lenses for it.



So, for biking, canoeing, kayaking, etc., I use an old Canon A70 point and shoot (vintage, only 3 megapixel, uses 4 AA batteries, has a viewfinder) that has a scuba diving waterproof case.

This year I decided to replace the Canon for one that has a bigger zoom range and more megapixels but I could not find one that was waterproof (or has a water proof case), uses AA batteries and has a viewfinder so I am still using my old A70.

Photos below from a canoe trip in early October or my bike tour in late October with the vintage point and shoot. It is amazing what an old point and shoot can do.







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Old 11-18-10, 12:10 PM   #12
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Heresy:

I've settled on my cell phone cam for most touring photos. Just fine for recording the trip, making small prints, and posting on CG. Lighting and composition are what make emotionally pleasing pictures for family and friends. My instant postcards. I do take a Canon point and shoot along for the few occasions when the subject is interesting enough that I want more resolution and contrast. Most images can be quickly enhanced with a simple editing program.

As technology advances, cell phone cams will become the predominant recording device for all but the most discriminating, due to their convenience. I'm predicting a huge decline in sales for conventional point and shoot cameras.
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Old 11-18-10, 12:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Heresy:
I've settled on my cell phone cam for most touring photos.
I see nothing wrong with this if you're willing to sacrifice quality for convenience which, for many, is a totally reasonable tradeoff.

Personally, I think the quality is so low from most cell phones, even with very good lighting, that I'm more than happy to carry a dedicated camera. But, I do like to make some prints, and I use a small subset for course materials. Plus, even though I'm not very good, I enjoy trying to get the best photos I can.

Anyway, my point is just to say that what you propose certainly is not heresy -- it's just one end of the spectrum.
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Old 11-18-10, 09:36 PM   #14
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Well, how much do you want to spend? If money is no object, I recommend the Leica M9, which not only is very portable, but also has a full frame 35mm sensor and is a really fantastic camera. If you can afford it, that would be my first choice.

For most 'mere mortals' I would recommend cameras like a Canon S90 / S95 or Canon G12 (G11 is fine too, it just lacks HD video), or the new kid on the block, the Nikon P7000.

As for taking a DSLR camera, I think it's fine but you are going to be carrying more weight. The weight thing is more manageable if you go with a 'micro 4/3' sensor camera. A camera based on the micro 4/3 standard is going to have a smaller body and lenses then an APS-C or full frame DSLR. Here is a size comparison for reference:
http://a.img-dpreview.com/previews/P...paredto60d.jpg
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Old 11-19-10, 04:46 AM   #15
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I am not really a photographer more of a snapper - but I do have both a Nikon SLR and compacts - I find the durability of cameras on tour to be my main issue - and keeping them charged up - on my most recent tour I bought a Ricoh G600 - reasonably waterproof (I am always concerned about getting the camera out if it is deluging - several tours I have done I have no photographs at all during wet periods) - shock resistant - more than enough Mp so that I can crop photos down without impairing their quality for most purposes - works both from a Lion and AAA batteries - also has a decent strap - and so far it would seem that it takes a decent picture in most conditions - and it survived.

I think when I am choosing a camera to take cycling the questions are - am I going to spend more time taking photographs than cycling - and what am I going to do with the photographs - most of mine just end up in a journal - a couple printed at A4 and framed in the hallway
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Old 11-19-10, 10:54 AM   #16
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I use a DSLR with three lenses ranging from 12 to 300mm. I also bring a waterproof compact along. I've tried selling my DSLR stuff for m4/3 and will probably switch next spring wether I sell the DSLR or not.

Some other equipment:

- Extra battery and charger for DSLR and compact. I charge whenever I can, often in campground bathroom or while doing the laundry. With m4/3 and its electronic viewfinder, I'll probably bring two or three extra batteries.
- 46gb worth of SD card in a film canister. I really don't want to run out of space!
- Wireless remote.
- Cable remote
- USB adapter for SD cards. Bought this on tour to upload photos to my site. Also used as USB drive at home.
- Polarizing filter which fits two lenses.
- Full size carbon fiber tripod. It's a Feisol 3441 and Feisol's smallest ballhead. The tripod is excellent. The ballhead itself is fine but the screws aren't captive so they can and did fall off from vibration. I lost the locking screw on a dirt road and found it back by some miracle, otherwise the tripod would've been unusable. Now I make sure to screw them tight when I pack the tripod. I'd get a RRS BH-25 instead if I were buying new.

I carry it all in a Tamrac Aero 70 backpack sitting on the front shelf of a Surly Nice rack. I've tried many things and it's the best I've found to carry this much equipment. Handlebar bags are nice for a camera and lens but the large ones get heavy quickly for structure and don't have enough room for non-photo stuff. The backpack is also more comfortable off the bike and the only viable option for "serious" hiking. This bag in particular is relatively light, has side mesh pockets for water bottle when hiking, has lashing point underneath and no extra straps (sternum and waist straps are useless on such a small bag. One other feature is the way the bag opens. When on the rack shelf, it opens like a handlebar bag. Here's a photo. I found a better way to strap the bag since but I don't have any photo of that.

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Old 11-19-10, 11:59 AM   #17
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I'm still looking for the perfect jersey camera. My Fuji f100 fd isn't bad. I love the wide lens, and the quality is OK.
I really want a camera that fits in my jersey, has a wide lens, and shoots RAW. The Lumix LX-5 is close, but just a bit large and the lens doesn't collapse.
Here's an example shot.

Jim in mountains by ccorlew, on Flickr
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Old 11-23-10, 10:57 AM   #18
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I've taken a DSLR and found it too big and heavy. I have taken a Coolpix S550 point and shoot, and while it was a joy to carry, I found the wide angle capability a bit limited for my tastes and I also missed the ability to screw on a polarizing or other filter.

I have decided to jump on the 4:3 bandwagon by buying an Olympus PEN E-PL1 with a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens. I do not even have it yet and am anxious to get my hands on it. I will at some point probably buy a longer lens to supplement the kit. The shortest focal length of the standard zoom happens to be equivalent to my favorite focal length from my film camera days (24mm with a film 35mm camera). I am pretty happy about that. I may also spring for the accessory digital viewfinder, but plan to live with the LCD screen for a while before deciding since the viewfinder is pretty expensive.
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Old 11-23-10, 12:05 PM   #19
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In a recent discussion in Amateur Photographer, the consensus was that RAW provides little advantage for small sensor compact cameras as opposed to its use with large sensor (APS) sensors.

My old 35mm film compact was the Ricoh GR-1, it was a fantastic piece of kit. The digital versions seem to be pretty good as compact wideangle-lens carry cameras.
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Old 11-23-10, 12:58 PM   #20
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Quote:
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In a recent discussion in Amateur Photographer, the consensus was that RAW provides little advantage for small sensor compact cameras as opposed to its use with large sensor (APS) sensors.
IMO, drawing conclusions from perceived consensus in an amateur internet forum is about as unreliable as you can get. For example, shooting raw can be very useful in post processing if a person understands its benefits. If not, it's useless to them.

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Old 11-23-10, 01:14 PM   #21
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In a recent discussion in Amateur Photographer, the consensus was that RAW provides little advantage for small sensor compact cameras as opposed to its use with large sensor (APS) sensors.
I always shoot RAW with my Canon XTi (APS-C), but I don't bother with my Canon S90. This is for two reasons:

1) The S90 does a very nice job with in-camera noise reduction (better than the default treatment in Adobe LightRoom); and

2) Similar to my reasons for taking the S90 over the XTi, I just find shooting jpg more convenient when I'm dealing with hundreds or thousands of photos. For an overnighter, sure, I'm happy to spend time doing lots of post-processing when I get back, but after a tour it would just be too much (for me). In the past I've tried shooting RAW+jpg and only pulled up the RAWs for my favorite shots, but on my last tour I decided to just do jpg. I'm pleased to say I didn't regret it.
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Old 11-23-10, 05:28 PM   #22
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I use a Fuji Finpix s5000 that I bought of CL for $50. Its an older model, probably 4-5 years old but works great and I don't have to worry too much if I break it. It is about as close as you can get to a SLR without it actually being one. 10x zoom, viewfinder, and takes 4AA which were all important to me. It works great with my gorilla pod too. My model is 8 megapixel. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/FujifilmS5000/



Here are some pics from a recent trip across Korea during monsoon season. These are actually off my facebook so I think the quality may have gotten reduced....

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Old 11-23-10, 10:04 PM   #23
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point and shoot guy here. They are small, take reasonable photos, and as zepp says, there are loads of even new ones that are not expensive so one doesnt worry about stuff happening to them. I have spent a good part of my life schlepping around various bodies and lenses in the 20 years of working in commercial photo, and frankly, with digi bodies heavy sonofaguns, I have absolutely no interest in worrying about them (even just vibration) and messing with them. Point and shoots work great. Even in film days I used pt and shoots on my bike trips.
I could see having a Canon G-whatever (10, 11, 12) or newer Nikon lookalike as a nicer option, but still smallish. Would take more care of it than the mediocre jobs I have used for family stuff over the years (but as i said, I dont worry about it, which I like a LOT)
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Old 11-24-10, 11:03 AM   #24
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I bought the Canon S90. My DSLR is just way too heavy. In most conditions the S90 shoots nice photos, although I haven't gone past testing so I have no real photos to share. I literally had it for few weeks.

And RAW is the way to go if you want to get the best image spossible. One of the reasons I got this camera is because is shoots RAW. Regardless of the sensor size RAW format allows for image control and post-editing that is simply impossible with a bitmapped images like TIF or JPG. Saying that RAW doesn't give any benefits over bitmapped image shows lack of understanding of what RAW format is: RAW is not an image, it's pure matrix data as captured by the sensor without ANY changes to it done by the camera electronics. Once the camera electronics process that raw data to convert it to TIF or JPG information gets permanently thrown away. Editing RAW data is almost like making changes on the camera before shooting the photo. RAW data also has wider dynamic range and gamut than a postprocessed image so it allows for greater recovery of overexposed pictures without messing up shadows and midtones.
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Old 11-24-10, 11:21 AM   #25
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Bikes: Roubaix Expert, Motobecane Ti Century Elite turned commuter, Cannondale F500 Mtn bike, Some old French thing gone fixie
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RAW is great, but don't oversell it.
1. You really need to know what you're doing. You have control, but you have to know what to do with that control, otherwise you'll just hit auto and you might have well as shot JPEG in the first place.
2. RAW takes a lot longer to write to your card.
3. RAW will eat up space faster than you can imagine.

You need to be a dedicated photographer, not a snap shooter, to take advantage of RAW. You need to know what you want to get out of your files to make it worthwhile, and you need to be willing to spend the time it takes to get it.

For a lot of folks who just want to make photos from their bikes it's overkill. Don't think you can't make good photos without RAW.
If I may be so bold, check the photo I posted here earlier. It's JPEG from a point and shoot.

Now, I'm not saying RAW isn't a good way to go. I hope my next P&S will have RAW. But it isn't a requirement for a good photo, and it does have downsides.

Enough. I'm off to teach my photo class! Todays' assignment: Hue vs tone, along with creating effective B&W using Photoshop.
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