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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:04 pm 
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Does anyone have experience of or recommendations for cameras at high altitude? I'm looking for something which is small and light, has a battery which handles extreme cold, yet still captures good images - and ideally also supports a polarising filter?

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:21 pm 
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Real Name: Henk Grobler
You can buy my Olympus u-tough 8010, good as new at half the new price.
It can do all you need. Personally I am dissapointed with the image quality though.

http://www.olympus.co.uk/consumer/digit ... _22707.htm

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:45 pm 
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What type of altitude are you talking about?

I've used a number of different cameras over 6000m and as high as 7000m. Cold is more of the problem but modern digital cameras can take a great deal more cold than advertised.

I shot with a Panasonic GH1 at 7000m at around -25 before wind chill and had no problems aside from the manual focus freezing - but the auto worked fine. Shoots very nice HD video and goes for around $1400 with 14-140mm lens which will take polariser.

I would say buy what you can afford and keep it under your jacket most of the time. Grab a couple of extra batteries and keep then in your down jacket and sleep with them in your sleeping bag.

On a separate note GoPro cameras really suck at high altitude because the batteries really suffer from the cold. If you want more info send me a pm.

KYle


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:32 am 
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Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
What sort of altitude and temp are you looking at?

Why are you so keen on using a polariser?

Shooting at altitude is a hell of a lot easier with digital than it used to be with film. No need to worry about brittle film and relaoding, and any shortcomings in image quality can be cleaned up afterwards.

Were you thinking Compact or DSLR?

And yes, Go Pro battery life is shocking in the cold.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:50 am 
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I've found polarisers can really mess things up at high altitude especially when there is snow. If you expose correctly for the snow you can end up with almost black skies if not careful. I find I always need to dial the polariser in to its max and then back of quite a bit to a mid range. If you want that polarised feel you can always create it in post.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:20 am 
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Real Name: Pieter Nel
I used a Canon G9 in the Himalayas to well over 20000ft and in temps as low as -15degC.

I was on an expedition with Adventure Consultants (one of the best-known international guiding companies), and their guides and most of the people on our expedition happen to also use either G9 or G12.

I took a couple of hundred pics before I had to swop out batteries. I carried two batteries for it, and although there were charging opportunities in some of the lodges, it was few and far between. I never had an issue though. If you really have to - get a solar charger - most people using electronic gear in places like the Himalayas carry them.

I carried a fully manual Pentax with Velvia film on the same expedition. Never used it. It stayed in my expedition bag at base camp - never even took it out. The G9 lived in my moonbag and was always close by to take a shot. (Summit shot taken with my G9 on Island Peak - 6189m included). Oh, and it's usable with gloved hands - important point :-)

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:01 pm 
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Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
kyle wrote:
I've found polarisers can really mess things up at high altitude especially when there is snow. If you expose correctly for the snow you can end up with almost black skies if not careful. I find I always need to dial the polariser in to its max and then back of quite a bit to a mid range. If you want that polarised feel you can always create it in post.


Pretty much my experience too, why I asked the question.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:27 pm 
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Thanks all for the responses.

Destination is almost 7000m (weather and physioligy permitting). Expecting temps between -15C and -20C.

Compact vs DSLR : good question. Is the quality of the DSLR photos worth the effort of hauling it up there and getting it out? @pwnel suggested that compacts are better, just for convenience; @kyle, how did you find the Micro Four-Thirds camera for size, weight and image quality?

Polariser - in a previous photographic incarnation, I found polarisers useful in the harsh Cape summer light, and was extrapolating my experience to digitals in snow. But, judging from the consensus responses, this is a bad idea. Good to know.

CiAo.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:21 pm 
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Real Name: Justin Lawson
BAbycoat wrote:
Compact vs DSLR : good question.

We went from having a compact to an SLR and then back to a compact.

- In my experience - you tend to take more photos with a compact (it's just handier)
- SLR is great, however it can be cumbersome to get out.
- It is certainly heavier and I would imagine the lens is more prone to cold temps.
- Compact will be easier for you to keep the camera/battery warm.

Pwnel mentioned Canon's G9 and G12 - another compact to look at is the Canon S95 (much the same camera but with less zoom) - just thinking about it the G series would probably handle better with gloves on.
Whatever you get make sure it has a wide angle lens (like the models mentioned above).

What mountain you going up?

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:49 pm 
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I always prefer a DSLR, but then again my primary objective is usually shooting video. The difference between a compact and DSLR is that you are more likely to put your DSLR in a bag rather than have it handy to take more shots. At high altitude that is a big difference. One thing I would recommend is buying a good padded strap (not the biting nylon one that will inevitably come with any camera you buy) - this means you can comfortably have it around your neck/shoulder the whole time and just tuck it in your jacket if the weather turns nasty - also keeps the battery nice and warm. That said if you are just taking stills I would go for a G12.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:58 pm 
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Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
It also depends what type of climbing you are doing. If it's mostly snow ploddy stuff you can have a DSLR round your neck or shoulder, but if you plan doing anything technical it can be a right pain, and invariably ends up in the pack unused, whereas you can easily slip a compact into a jacket pocket or clip to your harness.

Safest bet, take both! :)


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:31 pm 
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Location: Gauteng
In the mountains (vs looking at the mountains) the important things to me is 1) small enough to carry in an easily accessible pouch the whole time even whilst climbing / walking 2) wide angle lens 3) fast start-up time 4) a couple of features such as auto exposure bracketing, image stabilising, etc.

This led me to the complete opposite to a DSLR. I have now used the Panasonic Lumix DMC- FT2 (rugged, waterproof, 12mp, insulated battery) for 6 months and it is excellent for in the moment type pictures when climbing (you can take a photo in about 1.5seconds from turning it on). You might want to back that up with something that looks more the part on a tripod that stays at the main camps for background- and landscape photos where you have time, but for action shots where you have to shoot and move on it is hard to beat. I was in Peru for a month and took 4 000 photos at up to 6 500m on technical peaks and if I had anything bigger than a shirt pocket (even the slightly larger compacts) most of the in the moment shots would have not been taken (or one would have had to stop completely).

Just a bout everything at altitude is a compromise so for this one the major downside is that it does not accept a polarising fitting (but I can use my large square Tiffen filters in a fiddly manner), has a poor flash and does not have a RAW mode and the lense is much more sensitive to dust and smudges that cause flaring.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:55 pm 
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Real Name: nathan post
I have been using a canon g10 for three years it has traveled to several countries and elevation is not a problem the battery life is amazing. I picked up for 400 dollars. It is compact compared to a dslr and it will blow the socks off most compact digital cameras. I don't think they make the g10 anymore but you can find a g11 or g12 for around the same price and I believe the g12 comes with hd video.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:20 pm 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
A few years ago I worked for Sharpshooters- and American Company with a monopoly on the skiing photography market- at Breckenridge, Colorado. They have done years of research into which cameras to arm their photographers with and settled on the Nikon range. I am not sure if there were any financial reasons for their choice but it was very interesting talking to the managers of the branches and hearing their perspectives: basically they found that the Nikons lasted longer than the cannons, Pentax and Olympus models that they tested.

It was amazing to see how much abuse the cameras were taking on a daily basis: I saw some photographers leave their cameras (D40, D80 and D200) around their necks in all weathers for up to 8 hours a day for the entire 5 month season. This includes blizzard conditions which- while the camera was fine- the operator wasn't and so every 20mins they would hide inside the lift operators hut to warm up. The camera could instantly fog up, then before the camera had dried off it was taken outside again to have the fog freeze. Outside temps of between -20 to -40c were normal, although on blizzard days it would be colder than -40 plus substantial wind chill thanks to the gales pumping through. I was good at action photos, and as such would be posted halfway down a slope for 5 hours shooting skiers as they passed by, again normally in temps below -20c. I could happily take over 1000 shots on a single battery and one day at -10 took about 3500. This is all at about 12000 feet. As I was trying to sell the shots it was very important that i had the preview screen on, a major power consumer.

Having said all of this I can't believe an expedition would take more than 500 shots while on the mountain between charges- in fact I would be surprised if you took more than 2000 on the whole trip- depending on you of course.

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