Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Camera & Equipment

12th January 2010

Kayaking and photography go hand in hand, as does most activities which allow you to explore the natural world.  Taking pictures when I go kayaking for me is part of the experience, and usually I can't wait to get home and play about with them.  There are a few problems taking pictures for a boat but the main one is salt water.  I used a non water-proof camera for ages.  It did the job but was hard preventing it from getting wet and inevitably started to deteriorate.  I decided to get this Olympus Tough 6020 before I went to Skye last September.  I was after something that was tough enough to withstand the weather and a few knocks and needed to be fully waterproof.
Olympus Tough 6020

At £200 minus a penny it wasn't the cheapest camera but not the most expensive either.  I was very pleased with the results and couldn't put it down.  As it's name suggests it is tough.  Waterproof down to 5m, shockproof against falls from 1.5m and freeze proof down to -10*c, the metal bodywork should also protect it from anything you subject it to.  It is apparently dust proof which should keep the sand out.  The panel that protects the SD card, battery and sockets can be locked with a sliding button to minimise the chance of accidentally opening it in the water. 

The camera shoots high resolution 14 mega pixel images and can take high definition 720p video.  I was really surprised the clearness and quality of the pictures.  I used to have to upload my pictures and make the necessary adjustments.  Now I just upload them straight to the blog. The large 2.7" LCD anti glare screen on the back is perfect for viewing pictures in bright light or when it's wet.  The camera lens is positioned in the top right hand corner, which frustratingly is where your finger lays when taking a picture.

There are plenty of useful features and modes to play about with, the one's I tend to use most are night, sunset and panoramic modes (seen bellow).  The final outcome is a bit tricky to get perfect as you usually drift and the water is continually changing.
There is a 5x optical zoom or 18x digital when combined with optical.  This isn't bad but as with most cameras you don't get the quality when the zoom is maxed out.  It is great for getting that little bit closer with your shots as long as you don't over do it.  For close up wildlife shots you best get an SLR with a very expensive lens.  I have never had a problem with focusing, even in low light or on the move.  There is a night mode which slows the shutter speed etc but requires a tripod to get best effects. 
The on/off button is small and a bit difficult to turn on with gloves but on the plus side difficult to accidentally turn on/ff.  It is simple to use just aim and shoot.  There is a 2GB internal storage on this camera so if you do use up the memory on your SD card there is no excuse.  I found I can easily use up the battery in one weekend but I use the camera almost constantly and can't help having a sneaky preview before I get home.

Only one negative for me is that although you can manually adjust a lot of functions I have yet to find a way of manually adjusting shutter speed.  The night mode does this automatically but doesn't really work in light conditions.  A negative that I have seen in many reviews online is the slow turning on speed.  This introduction clip can easily be fixed however and turned off to allow for instant picture taken when you turn it on.  On that note a quick tip, when I plan on taking a photo I press the on button just before I take it out of my pocket, that way by the time I get it out an aim it's ready to go. 
On the whole if you want good quality pictures and video from you waterproof camera I highly recommend this.
Joby Gorilapod

I loved this little gadget until two of the legs dropped off.  The idea is this mini tripod has three legs which flex around almost anything, essentially holding on.  I usually wrap it around my deck lines and clip my camera in and press record when I go through the rough stuff.  
Camera, Gorilapod and Kill Cord

I also bought this before I went to Skye in September last year and by December lost two of the legs.  The legs are made up of a series of balls and cups which pop together.  I have snapped out the broken balls and popped in the next one in the link.  It has fixed it for now but is now obviously a little shorter.  I have looked on the net and it seems this is a common problem, although Joby do seem to replace them if you can be bothered to contact them and send it back.  This little gizmo will cost you around £20 depending where you buy it but I would spend my money one of these in the future - Fat Gecko

Kill Cord and Karabiners

I have Richard to thank for this little tip.  This Outboard Kill Cord can be found at any marine chandler.  They are advertised online at £6.50-7 but I'm sure I only paid about £3.  The idea is clip one end to your buoyancy aid or deck lines and the other to your expensive equipment knowing that if you drop it overboard it will be safely attached to the other end.  I have one for my camera and it is the perfect length, and stretches too.  You get a few adapters with it which ain't any use.  Try to get one with a plastic clip at one end for attaching to your buoyancy aid.  For the other end I bought a pack of small karabiners.  You can get these pretty cheap from almost anywhere.  I bought a pack of three assorted sizes from Cotsworld for £5.

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