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Digital Cameras


#1

It is that time of year again and Helen and I have decided to treat ourselves to some camera equipment for Christmas. I intend to supplement my existing 35mm Canon SLR with a digital version (the EOS 400D) and buy a replacement digital compact.

I have a very nice (it was expensive at the time)Olympus digital compact at present but is has become very unreliable particularly on the summits. Its unreliability manifests itself in two ways, first the flash will go off when you don’t want it and not work when you do (even in manual)and secondly if it is cold it doesn’t work at all but tells me the batteries are flat when they are fully charged. I suspect that damp has got inside on one of the SOTA expeditions.

I have read thousands of reviews and cannot make up my mind and no one seems to do the extreme testing of these things that would make the choice easy. So who has a reliable on the summits digital compact to recommend?
It needs to be small, light and near indestructible with batteries that don’t fail when they get cold. Well if you don’t ask!

Steve GW7AAV


#2

In reply to GW7AAV:

Steve, I’m not sure of the make, but there is currently an ad running on TV where a little boy throws his mums compact camera for the dog, who returns it to the little boy. The boy throws the camera again, which bounces off numerous objects and rocks before landing in a mud pile. The boy then rinses the camera under the tap to clean off the mud.
Should be 100% ideal for summit use in all weathers.

73 Mike


#3

In reply to GW7AAV:
HI Steve
I just sold my very small well used Olympus FE-150 digital on e-bay. (Over a 1000 pictures on Geograph). That was a more or less entry level camera and I was not happy with the results outdoors, compared to my older and larger 2 Mp Canon Powershot A40 which I still have. The Olympus was great indoors, but for us lot outdoors is more important! XYL Judy has a Canon Ixus 40 (now long superseded) that gives fantastic results and I was considering spending more this Xmas and buying the Ixus 950IS, this has a viewfinder as well as a screen which I like. I’ve read a few reviews though, and am coming out in favour at the moment of the Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3, which is about the same price. This has a 10x optical zoom, is a little larger, but sadly does not have a screen. It’s a point and shoot camera but has lots of presets which suits me.
I think you get what you pay for in digital cameras, and I am unsure about the reliability of the cameras mentioned, although my XYLs 3 year old Ixus 40 has been up a few summits in the hot and cold and has never given any trouble.

Good luck
Phil


#4

In reply to GW7AAV:

Whichever compact camera you decide upon it is essential to purchase one with a viewfinder as well as a screen. The majority of small digital cameras come with screen only, which is totally useless in sunny weather - you often cannot even see enough to check the horizon is straight.

73
Roy G4SSH/A
Cornwall


#5

In reply to G4SSH:
Hi Roy

I read that the screen intensity for practical use in bright sunlight varies very much from camera to camera, but I agree with you Roy, that a viewfinder is an important feature. However, the vast majority of none SLR digital cameras now don’t have one.

73 Phil


#6

In reply to GW7AAV:
well steve no matter what you ask about battery’s, when it’s cold on a summit battery’s often say they are flat or out of charge. but when you get down to ground level they are fully charged again, just ask m0lmp or 2e0hjd when they did LD-001 in 2005, regarding camera’s my girlfriend has just bought me the fuji s5700, 7-1 mp and 2gb sd card, and it works great in and outdoors. just done loads of picture’s over 1000 for Nicola’s birthday party, great value for the money I think, but not took out up yonder hills yet but watch this space when I do,
Steve m0sgb


#7

In reply to M0SGB :

well steve no matter what you ask about battery’s, when it’s cold on a summit
battery’s often say they are flat or out of charge.

Performance drops rapidly as the temperature approaches zero. Many LiIon cells are only rated above 0C. Expect the cell to have only 25% of its normal capacity when it’s really cold. Windchill excepted it was well below -3C when I was Ben Chonzie last Monday. (Waterbottle froze whilst inside my rucksack during the ascent!) I could take no more than 3 pictures at a time with my Nikon E4300. Giving it a few minutes to rest allowed me to take more pictures.

I’ve found that keeping the battery close to my body helps. When sat down operating I keep the battery inside my trousers next to my skin. Worse part is putting a cold hand inside to recover it! A silly mistake is to leave the camera inside the bag or in my case hanging on a strap. Sure it’s easy to get to the camera when walking but it gets really cold that way. Best to keep the camera if not just the battery close to your body till you need it. Same advice goes for those who rely heavily on GPS units too!

Andy
MM0FMF


#8

In reply to MM0FMF:

A useful tip is to use an external battery pack and flying lead to the camera’s DC input.
The battery pack can then be kept next to the skin in a warm place, with the flying lead coming down one of your sleeves. The camera can be plugged to the flying lead as and when required, then removed while you do other stuff.

73 Mike


#9

I have had mine since mid 2003, and have been very pleased with it. It is Canon Powershot A300, although I think that this is now obsolete. I understand an updated replacement model is available though. Always worth looking for a decent 2nd-hand A300 on eBay or Amazon though!

I swapped the memory card in it for a much bigger one before doing the Pennine Way last year, and now it easily stores several activations worth of publishing-quality size photos. It has a screen and a viewer “eye”, reliable flash, good battery life (I rotate two pairs of NiMh AA’s). It is idiot-proof* to use (*almost - see my activation of The Cheviot G/SB-001 on my website http://tomread.co.uk !), and includes a video camera setting.

Photos taken with this camera appear all over my website - albeit much compressed for speed of page loading. Magazine quality photos have appeared several times over recent years in SWM, Radio Active, Radio User, Monitoring Monthly, PW and the RSGB Yearbook. (The most recent example would be my article on Pirate BBC Essex in the October 2007 edition of Radio User). Examples of videos appear in the SOTA Video section, linked from this site.

I would not hesitate to recommend this VFM digital camera, which has proved itself with use on well over 400 SOTA activations.

Tom M1EYP


#10

In reply to GW0DSP:

In reply to GW7AAV:

Steve, I’m not sure of the make, but there is currently an ad running
on TV…

It’s Olympus… they make pretty good splash and bash proof compacts…

Although if you’re a Canon digital SLR user Steve… and used to a bit more flexibility, you might want to make sure you get a compact that can shoot RAW format too… It’s worth it if you’re keen. Check the specs.

73 Marc G0AZS


#11

In reply to G0AZS:

Well as I said earlier I didn’t rate the results from my Olympus FE-150. Very lack lustre results in sunlight and unable to cope well with a high contrast of dark and light. Olympus analogue cameras were always outstanding but this digital camera was poor. Tom’s comments about his old Powershot - our old one (the A40) which would probably raise £25 on e-bay now, performs very well on 4 AA cells, however in my opinion it isn’t compact enough to carry on your belt whilst walking/climbing. I’ve dropped that camera on Hungarian cobbles and no damage - Canon are good and most have viewfinders.

Battery wise after reading the comments from Tom again, maybe you should look for a camera that takes off the shelf rechargeable AA cells if extreme conditions are called for. The small digitals with li-on cells have a battery the size of After 8 mint.

Phil


#12

In reply to G4OBK:

I didn’t rate the results from my Olympus
FE-150. Very lack lustre results in sunlight and unable to cope well
with a high contrast of dark and light.

Good experience Phil but bear in mind the models all vary of course…

If you are worried about the results in challenging lighting conditions (like fog, cloud, bright low sun etc up on a hill), then that’s the ideal reason to get one that gives you the option of shooting RAW format. You get up to 2-3 stops latitude for underexposure and a bit less for overexposure. Try that with conventional “tranny” film!! :slight_smile:

73 Marc G0AZS


#13

This is the Olympus shockproof/waterproof/freezeproof camera that the lad put under the tap to clean. Sounds Ideal for sota.

http://www.purelygadgets.co.uk/prodinfo.php?prodid=8430&start=10&thislist=5~199~253

73 Mike


#14

In reply to GW7AAV:

It needs to be small, light and near indestructible with batteries
that don’t fail when they get cold. Well if you don’t ask!

I suppose most of the new small pocket cameras will do if you keep them warm in your pocket and take only simple snapshots. In the new http://www.camptocamp.org/ photos there is also info on the camera used.

I was in Lappland Christmas 2002 with my Japanese colleague to take aurora photos. The temperature was around -30 C. He used a classical camera with sensitive film. You can check the November aurora gallery for the digital cameras used http://www.spaceweather.com/aurora/gallery_01nov07.htm

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL


#15

Thanks for the advice so far. I may well go with the Olympus because not only does it claim to be tough and freeze proof but it also takes the XD memory cards that I use at present. Still weighing it up against one of the Canon compacts which is nicer looking and better specified but doesn’t make any claims of being bomb proof.

Regards Steve GW7AAV


#16

In reply to G4SSH:

In reply to GW7AAV:

Whichever compact camera you decide upon it is essential to purchase
one with a viewfinder as well as a screen. The majority of small
digital cameras come with screen only, which is totally useless in
sunny weather - you often cannot even see enough to check the horizon
is straight.

73
Roy G4SSH/A
Cornwall

This is excellent advice!

The sloping horizon syndrome is very common with digital camera users, I suspect because the weight in a digital camera is not as well balanced as in a decent film camera. There is a fair bit of software available that will allow you to correct this problem in edit, but by far the most user friendly that I have come across is Picasa 2 which is a freebe from Google. I would recommend Picasa 2 even to people with top level image handling software, it’s quick and easy!

73

Brian G8ADD