Photographs on the road...

Discussion in 'Tools, Accessories & Spares' started by Stefan, May 31, 2001.

  1. Stefan

    Stefan New Member


    Next near (March) I'll be on a MC-Trip from India to Germany (4 months - Enfield Bullet). Right now I'm trying to get some information about cameragear (SLR) for the trip.

    I'd like to spent up to 500$ for the cam-body. Has anybody some tips for me. The cam should be able to resist the conditions on the tour (Vibrations, Dry & humid climate...)

    Any information (your own equipment, additional photoequipment and so on) would be nice.

    Besides that I'm looking for a combination of day/photo/fueltank-pack. The only ones I found so far where either daypacks or fueltankpacks. Any ideas?

    Thank you!
  2. Nick

    Nick New Member

    For the camera as long as you stick with one of the major brand Nikon-Canon-Minolta you should be safe as they will do the job you expect. I will choose a model between middle to top of the line rather than an entry model.The worst enemy for a camera nowadays isn't anymore the change of climate (hot or humid) but still is vibration. For this never put your camera on direct contact with the gas tank or at the bottom of any hard bag. For the lens I will choose a zoom lens like a 35-135mm or even better a 28-200mm if you can afford it. I myself use a 28-135mm when I travel and find seldom the use of my 75-300mm or the 20mm I also take along. Another word about the camera, choose a model with a pop-up flash as it will be enough for most of the situation you will need one and save you in weight and carrying another piece.

    Regarding the bag you have to consider several factors. First you want the camera to be handy. Second you want to keep the lens mounted on it to avoid any possibility of sand or heavy dust to enter the body. My personal choice will be a bag you carry around your belt. Why? Easy to reach and no need to go through the bag to find the camera. One thing you want to avoid when traveling is having to display the content of your bag to strangers around you. The other thing is when you're on your way to be able to stop, snap your picture and go so you don't have to loose a lot of time if you see something of interest but not enough to stop and visit.

    Having a belt bag allows you to have direct access to your camera (like with a fanny bag) when you walk and when you ride you can swing it to your side or your back so it won't be on your way but still handy. I hope these advises will help you to choose the right equipment. Good luck in your project.
  3. gs_nomad

    gs_nomad New Member

    I took a little bit different approach from others, but I can't really relate any experience yet as I just got the camera last week.

    I bought a mid to high end consumer digital camera; a Canon G1 (3.3 megapixel). My objective was a camera with auto and manual modes to give me the ease of taking shots without too much hassle, yet manual over-ride so I could take control when I wanted. I also wanted a camera system small and light enough that it would not be a burden to lug around.

    Prior to this camera I had a Pentax MX 35mm SLR with all the lenses, etc. - but when traveling there always was a decision to be made about what to take and what not to take, and the camera kit sometimes got left behind when hiking/skiing/biking due to its size and weight.

    This time around I did not want to leave the camera behind. Moreover, I did not want to be lugging around film, or more importantly worrying about wasting film and money on developing shots I did not want, or getting it developed and learning that a shot I really wanted was flubbed. To me a digital camera was the answer.

    Sure they are more expensive, but I got mine for $700 and I am for the most part happy with it so far. I wish it had a bulb mode (max exposure is 8 seconds), and that I didn't have to go to f8 to get any shutter speed over 1/500 (max is 1/1000). If you don't mind giving up manual over-rides, the Canon and others have even smaller digital cams for between $350-$550 - the Elph is about the size of a pack of cigarettes and is 2 MP as I recall.

    I do like the movie mode (320x240 with sound - limited to 30 seconds per movie due to internal memory), the freedom from film and developing costs (I have taken 100 shots so far and only kept 11), and especially the instant feedback on the shots I just took.

    It is nice to be able to easily hook it up to any TV monitor that has NTSC or PAL inputs and show people my shots. An it is nice to be able to take panoramic shots (that camera and software can stich them together)

    Nikon has a new digicam coming out (955?) that has a 1/2300 shutter and bulb mode, but no panorama mode (although with the right software and care you can probably still take panoramic shots) for about $600 - but the Canon G1 was closer to my needs.
  4. TomB

    TomB New Member

    First thing to understand in purchasing gear is that your camera body is simply a light tight box that may or may not have a variety of useful (or not) features. Concentrate your dollars on your lense and not vice versa. This is critical. A 2000 dollar body with a 200 dollar lense will not as high quality images as you will get from a 300 dollar body and a 2000 dollar lense. This is the golden rule.

    Most modern SLR bodies are made of plastic until you get near spending 1000 dollars for the body. This is not bad per se but you need to pay a lot to get a truly bombproof body. A trip such as your overland ride will be rough on any camera. However, two cameras to note that are still metal and remain cheaper (because they lack full auto features) are the Pentax K1000 and the Nikon FM2. The latter is still used by some pros because of its proven reliability. Which is key to note -- many photjournalists who work in the far corners of the world use cameras designed almost 50 years ago. So don't think that a simple looking, non electronic camera is an outdated tool. And don't be afraid to buy used, this can save you tons.

    Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta all offer pretty much the same thing for the same dollar when it comes to modern SLRs. 500 bucks will get you a very similar body in any brand. Durability etc should be about the same. Choose for feel (in hands) and personal preference. But save money for that lense.

    A very useful lense would be a zoom lense that goes from 24mm to 105 or 120. Nikon makes a nice one that goes from 24 - 120. If you matched that to a Nikon N80, N8008, or F90 (possibly out of budget) you would have a highly functional/durable set up with a high enough quality lense so that you couldn't blame your gear for bad photos.

    I shoot with Nikon myself and use an F100 body and a range of Nikon zoom lenses. The F100 would be perfect but it's about 1000 to 1500 for the body alone.

    On the camera bag that you describe look at, they sell a bag designed by a photojournalist who used his bike in his work. He has a modified tank bag built to fit a lot of gear. It's padded and divided like a high-end camera bag. I don't have one but have thought about getting it. Also consider a small Pelican case, you could mount this a variety of places. It's dust, waterproof and padded to offset vibration.

    hope that helps

    LORLICK New Member

    hirty years ago I purchased a Canon FT SLR in Southeast Asia and it has yet to fail me one single time and takes great pictures. I have used it as a weapon to fend off thieves in Saigon, and it has bounced along in my baggage of my motorcycle for a zillion miles. Disadvantage: it is pretty heavy...but VERY solid and sturdy and that is why it has lasted so long with nary a complaint. The modern slr's that are much lighter and filled with electronic stuff may be a slightly superior camera but they are much more fragile. You may need to know a bit more about photography to get the effects you want as everything is not "point and shoot" or very automatic, but it has stood the test of time and like a Timex watch "it takes a lickin and keeps on tickin". One advantage to this old clunker is that I occasionally see them at photo swap meets for under a hundred US dollars, so you will not be out much if it gets lost or stolen...can't break it though as I have tried repeatedly. It has a through the lens metering system and lots of interchangeable lenses are available. I have found that I only use my wide angel zoom (28mm-105) for everything and a polarizing filter and it does it all. I am very happy with the quality of pictures it gives me and cost me about $130 dollars in 1970.

    I agree with Nicks suggestions except for having it hanging on my belt, If you fall with it you will have a large object that will break your ribs in a second. Keeping it somewhat hidden until you need it will avoid getting stolen or keeping you from being "a mark" for its theft. Maybe a bit more of a hassle but you will find that getting scammed over your possessions will get old. Also take a small tripod with you, natural lighting will enhance the quality of your photos greatly and add a lot of clarity and allow you to get in your own photos too. Have fun on your trip.
  6. northrider

    northrider New Member

    I agree with everything in LORLICK's posting. After using big, heavy Nikon manual focus SLR's in every kind of weather and climate from the equator to the Arctic with out a mechanical failure I will put up with the extra weight and dearth of electronic bells and doodads in the interest of ruggedness and reliability. Packing a camera and lenses around on a bike in the bush can pretty hard on equipment so I use a small Pelican box in my tank bag for anything that is not needed at hand. It will hold a capped body and a couple of lenses and well as small flash unit [essential!]. Keeps out dust, water and vibration (foam padded). However... even while riding around the block I always keep a cigarette-pack size point and shoot in the top pocket of my jacket for those grab shots that would have got away.
  7. Alex

    Alex New Member

    I have to echo Tom's comment about the non elecronic cameras. I carry a Canon AT-1, fully manual camera with 50mm, 80-200 zoom, and wide angle lens. A filter for each lens and a tripop and my gear is complete. The AT-1 is BULLETPROOF! I've ridden with it from Alaska to Guatemala, and it hasn't been pampered. Where as a couple of my friends have experienced electronic failures with more modern cameras. A Pelican case provides the safety for the body. I also carry a pocket 35mm Nikon for instaneous shots. I hate that camera though. I don't like the delay from button to shutter, I don't like not seeing through the lens when I want absolute perfect framing. But hey, in a pinch!
  8. Richard K

    Richard K New Member

    I agree that you can't beat a fully manual camera for reliability. However, a modern AF will focus faster than you can, usually, 'specially when its a fleeting moment type of shot. Leave your camera in full auto mode, if you whip it out and snap you'll at least be ballpark with exposure. If you have the time to get creative, you can take it out of auto then. Whatever camera you use, make it easily accessible as well as protected, or all your pics will be taken with your point and shoot. One thing I found ESSENTIAL for shooting was a lightweight clamp/stand. This thing would clamp on to any solid object, like the bike or a road sign, or had legs that would pop out, letting you do self portraits or longer exposures. Sorry, don't remember the brand name, but bought it in the local drugstore (Optex?). This removes the need to take a bulky tripod.

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