Specialist Gear - Photography
From Bushwalk Australia
Tasmania is a wonderful place to photograph. Here is some information to get you pointing in the right direction when combining bushwalking and photography.
The following discussion is about Digital Photography.
The biggest factor with photography when bushwalking is gear weight, although less of an issue on a day walk unless you want to really pack light and cover some distance, such as the Mt Anne walk in a day.
As a very broad statement, the better the camera gear, the heavier it gets. Better lenses use more glass - glass is heavy. Magnesium alloy camera bodies are more robust than their plastic counterparts, but are likely heavier too.
Many a great photograph has been taken with what is called a P&S camera - Point and shoot. These cameras are light weight, small, and many come with a whole host of features. Factors to consider when looking for a P&S camera for bushwalking -
- Weatherproof / weather resistant
- Light weight
- Enough zoom range in the lens to cover your needs
- Enough pixels to produce the quality of image desired
- Interchangeable batteries
- Readily available memory cards
Many of the cameras available have proprietary batteries. A good option is a P&S camera that takes AA batteries. These can be used in your GPS, some head torches, etc so it makes your power source interchangeable as devices need - far better to rob the camera of its batteries for the head torch if you are forced to walk somewhere in the dark, for example.
A tripod is an important consideration if you want to try and get the best possible results with your photography, or if you are doing time exposures or slow exposures, typically anything slower than 1/60th second. An exception to this is that some Digital SLR camera lenses have a stabilization feature. In Nikon this is called VR - Vibration Reduction. In Canon it is called IS - Image Stabilization. In Sigma it is called OS - Optical Stabilizer function.
Vibration reduction technology can reduce the need for a tripod by as much as (claimed) 4 stops. If you are using a tripod, IS / VR should be turned off, usually a switch on the side of the lens.
There are three major considerations when looking at a tripod for bushwalking. Size - you need to be able to fit it in or on your pack, and giving thought to how you will achioeve this is best done before your purchase. Weight - because everything we take with us when walking, we have to carry. As such, the lighter things are, the better it is for us. Cost - because light weight in items like a tripod usually means that weight reduction comes at a price. Introduction of specialist materials like Carbon Fibre for example.
Other factors to consider - Stability, there are a lot of rickety tripods in the market. There are a lot of good ones too. See what the recommended maximum weights are for the tripods in your short list and whether they are going to be up to the task for what you perceive you will be doing with it.
Ease of use - some of the leg locking functions are quite cumbersome and weak. See how easy and quick a tripod is to use and consider that in your assessment.
Weather resistant - You will be taking your tripod into the most extreme elements. Get one that will cope with what you want to do with it. Will you be standing it in a creek half underwater? Will you be using it on the beach and in salt water? Will you be strapping it to the outside of the pack, exposing it to all the weather you are going to encounter?
Multi purpose - can you use the tripod for multiple purposes? They're great for hanging a japara on at camp or in a hut if there's room, but can you disassemble the tripod and use the legs as splints for example...
(work in progress)