Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Famous for its enormous icebergs, towering glaciers and shimmering summer light, Antarctica offers some of the planet's most awe inspiring landscapes. The North Atlantic and Arctic evoke images of sparse snow covered lands, but when summer comes it bursts with colour and life.

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Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby amyjomartin » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:20 pm

Hello everyone! I'm going on the Quest for the Antarctic Circle over Christmas and New Year 2013-2014. I'm looking forward to getting some awesome photos! My question for all of you who know cameras is: what would be the best camera to take?

I don't mind purchasing a new camera, but don't want to be weighed down by heavy equipment and lenses. I currently have a Canon PowerShot SX230HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera. It takes nice photos and I used it on my trip to South Africa and Victoria Falls last year. Would this be a good camera to take? Or should I invest in something a little higher-end?

Also, what about weatherproofing? How do you manage to take photos in snow or rain without destroying your camera? Would a waterproof camera be better?

What brand/make/type of camera do you have and what would you recommend?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Amy
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby PaulTeolis » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:41 pm

hi amy,
ask yourself what you want to spend first and what do you wish to achieve with your camera equipment.

your current camera gives you full control, so my guess is you want to get better photos or
closer to the action, so you probably would have to move into a camera with interchangeable lenses. is this your goal?

Most canon/nikon entry level DSLRs are decent. Lenses give you the quality.
check out dpreview.com for camera makes and reviews, this is a great online resource
for camera professionals.

As for weather in antarctica, snow, sleet can happen any time and cameras need to keep dry on board zodiacs in the event of splashing or rougher weather which does happen. A dry bag works fine for this and on land I use a storm jacket to keep my DSLR and lens dry. Cold is another issue altogether.

People brought underwater cameras but it shouldn't be part of the decision making process if you buy some thing new.

cheers
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby DanielBMe » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:57 pm

It really depends. If you bought a better camera would you use often or would it mostly sit around until your next trip? If it just sits around until your next trip, it's probably not worth it. Were you happy with the pics from your last trips using your current camera?

There are other options to dslr's. I just recently sold my dslr, Nikon D90 and lenses, and bought a micro four thirds mirrorless camera which is much smaller. I bought the Olympus OMD-E-M5 which is weather proof as is the lens it came with. There are a lot of options in the mirrorless category. Quality wise I find my E-M5 better than my D90. You could also just upgrade to a Canon G12 which would still be a step up and give you great photos.

Also keep in mind buying a new camera means learning to use it as well. For pics in Antarctica, if you don't want to have your snow appear blue, you will need to know what settings to use.
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby amyjomartin » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:19 pm

That brings up a good point. I definitely need to take a class or two on how to use my camera - whether I change to a DSLR or keep my point and shoot. I don't know anything about settings and so when I was in Africa the only setting I used was the color enhance feature, which really made everything look so much better. Everything else was automatic.

I'd hate to spend so much money on a fancy camera when I don't even know how to use it. I do plenty of traveling, so it's not like it will be unused for a long period of time.

What I'll probably do is upgrade to the higher-end Canon p&s and take a class on how to use it (manuals don't do it for me - I'm more of a learning-by-doing person).

My goal is to be able to take good close-up photos and get right in the action. I've never been to Antarctica, but I've heard that the wildlife that live there aren't very skittish of humans - so I hope I will be able to get close enough to the animals without having to use a mega-zoom thereby diminishing the quality of my photos. I want to get nice pictures of the water and icebergs, too, and some nice landscapes - so, no, I don't want the snow to look blue. LOL!!

Perhaps I'll invest in the newest Photoshop software, too. I had CS2, but that no longer works with my upgraded OS on my mac. :( I just wish it wasn't so darn expensive.

The bottom line is that I want to come home with GREAT pictures that will look awesome when I enlarge them and make photo canvases out of them to hang on my walls (and to make all my friends and family jealous, of course.) :D
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby PaulTeolis » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:36 pm

HI amy
this is your camera correct:
http://www.dpreview.com/products/canon/compacts/canon_sx230hs

you have full control with this camera to do anything you want, so if you move up and stay
point and shoot, yes something along the line of the canon G15 would be fine. It has the same
control except you can shoot RAW.

In Antarctica, with the exception of Port Lockroy where penguins are at your
feet in some instances, you will be at least 15 feet back from most penguin colonies
and more for seals and such. So take this into consideration. You need a decent zoom
to get close up.

If you invest in a class to learn your camera, the best thing you can do it learn how to
compose your images, this is everyone's weakness.

I taught for 5 weeks in antarctica last fall as resident photographer on board the ship
and I saw every type of camera imaginable. remember that the best gear does not guarantee
great results. You need to learn to see your photo. If you are lucky, maybe I will be back on board for that sailing...will keep you posted.
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby DanielBMe » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:45 pm

I'm pretty envious of you! I would love to make it to Antarctica but I suspect it's off my list for the next 10yrs or until I can find someone willing to take care of my dogs during the winter months...

As to what Paul said about framing...well there are a couple of books I've been thinking of buying. I thought I'd share them ...

The Photographer's Eye
http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Eye ... +of+Seeing

Photography and the Art of Seeing
http://www.amazon.com/Photography-Art-S ... +of+Seeing

Photographing the World Around You
http://www.amazon.com/Photographing-Wor ... Around+You

Picture This: How Pictures Work
http://www.amazon.com/Picture-This-How- ... tures+Work
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby amyjomartin » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:40 pm

Yes, that is my camera. The pink one. :D I really like it, but want something with higher zoom and more mp.

This is the camera I think I may get: the Nikon Coolpix P520

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-COOLPIX-P52 ... on+coolpix

I looked at dpreview and was able to compare cameras and this one seems like it has everything I need. 42x optical zoom! The zoom on my Canon is great, but it does get blurry. I will probably bring both cameras.

I'm fairly good at composing images. I've never really had trouble with that, but it can't hurt to brush up. I'm an artist, so composition is kind of my "thing". But I'm a painter - not a photog. I'll look into those books, too.

Paul, that would be awesome if you were on my trip!! Daniel, I'm sure you won't have trouble finding someone to care for your dogs. I have 4 cats that I'm leaving behind for 2 weeks while I'm on this adventure. You should go. Then I'd at least know someone and you can help me with my photo ops!
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby leahlovestravel » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:45 am

Amy, not sure where you are located, but is there a camera club in your area? I joined one a year ago and it helps me with my photography.
If it does not bring you joy, why are you doing it?

Image

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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby amyjomartin » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:50 pm

Hi Leah!
That's a great idea! I just joined some photography meetup groups based on your suggestion. Hopefully I'll meet some new people and learn a lot.
Thanks!!
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby travellinghappy » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:23 am

Hi Amy,
I have just returned from an Antarctica trip and agree with everything that everyone above has said.

I upgraded my camera just before this trip and the following points were important for me:
1. A good zoom.
I previously had a 15x optical zoom that I used with a 2x converter in Africa and I knew I wanted something bigger than that.
2. Control + simplicity.
To be honest I use automatic mode most of the time and spend my time/energy on framing the shots. However there are times when automatic just doesn't deliver, so I find a simple point & shoot frustrating. I therefore wanted something that could do both.
3. Brand
I wanted to stick with the same brand so I didn't have a lot of relearning to do. I'm a Canon-girl and I find it easy & intuitive to switch between their cameras.
4. Cost
I had a budget to consider!

When I saw the Canon SX50HS with a 50x optical zoom (going up to 200x digital zoom) I practically wet myself. In old 35mm terms it's the equivalent of 24-1200mm. I could take photos of things other people could only see with binoculars, or get detailed shots of feathers and eyes. The sports setting meant I could shoot 10 frames in quick succession which was great for taking pictures of whales - I framed the shot and then the moment it started to emerge, I started shooting knowing that one of those would deliver a great picture. It has lots of useful features and also shoots RAW so if I felt like being clever, the option was available.
For me, it was the perfect camera.

However for you, there will be probably be other criteria. Just think about what's important for you.
Whatever you do though, PLEASE get to know your camera well before you go! You're spending hard-earned cash on one of the most important bits of kit you'll take on a trip of a lifetime. I say this from bitter experience as I had the video setting turned to widescreen/letterbox format on my camera and found I needed a more conventional view, but I couldn't find the setting to change it!
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby coqui14 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:52 pm

Hi Any, I have the same camera as you (14x optical) and I also have the new version with 20X, and they do a great job. I can get close ups at more than 50 yards. I also own a DSLR with a whole set of lenses. I found that the DSLR takes nice pictures but is not worth, in many cases, to be carrying all the equipment around and trying to change lenses in the middle of a picture moment. I usually use my DSLR with a general purpose lens when I am on a regular vacation. If you use your Cannon 14x in South Africa and while on safari and you were satisfy, I think you will be fine using that one in other places. NOW, this is my experience with the Cannon 14x. Because the camera is relatively thin, it needs to use liquid batteries instead the solid face ones. As soon as it gets a little cold, the camera stops working. I remember getting mine into the sun to take few pics and froze again. I used to sleep with the camera, get it closer to my body, etc.. It always stops working in the cold. My old bulky cameras never did that... Because you are going to Antarctica, that will be my only concern...
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby origcavy » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:32 pm

I was on that same trip this year and you will have an absolutely amazing time! :)

Passengers had every kind of camera from very high end DSLR's with a full backpack of gear to simple point and shoots and even a handful using the phone cameras for some shots. It's most important that you're comfortable with your camera and that you know ho wto use it. The best camera in the world isn't worth much if you don't know how to use it. The lady using an iPhone camera for a lot of shots has some fantastic shots from it as does the lady with a little Lumix P&S. Realistically, Antarctica is simply so mind-blowingly gorgeous you could take photos with an old polaroid and get beautiful photos. :)

I took my Panasonic Lumix FZ100 and loved it. I have some 8x10's already printed that look amazing and I have a canvas on the way that is 20"x60" (I have very large canvases up from other trips using camera with fewer MP so I know it'll look great). I was extremely happy with my camera and loved that I didn't have to change lenses (it's a bridge style camera) back and forth and risk getting moisture inside the camera body. That also meant low weight and very convenient to carry.

The few things that made me wish I had (and knew how to use) a DSLR were speed and a few times I wanted a bit more zoom. The main times I wanted more zoom and speed were to get clear shots of penguins porpoising and of the birds following the ship across the Drake. It was a good compromise for me since I'm not comfortable with a DSLR and didn't want to spend the money for a quality camera body and lenses.


Whatever you take, be sure to pack a couple small (and large) lens cloths. I kept a small lens cloth (meant for glasses) and a larger cloth (about 12" square) in my coat pocket. That came in handy all the time. I could easily wipe snow off of my camera before it had a chance to cause a problem and could keep cleaning the snow off the lens so I didn't have spots in the middle of photos. We got very lucky with the weather and I never needed to make use of my precautions but a simple drybag (a couple dollars at a camping/sporting goods store or online) will make sure you get your camera from ship to shore safely if there are waves. A gallon size ziplock bag is also great for shielding the camera while you're using it (cut two holes in the bottom crease and feed the camera strap through it so that you don't risk dropping the bag and having it fly away). You can keep the camera mostly covered (lens open) and see/use the controls through the bag.

Also take more memory cards than you think you'll need and back them up! There are one or two computers available on the ship and many people take netbooks/laptops and were always happy to transfer files from a memory card to a USB drive or portable hard drive. Do NOT trust your photos to just a single copy! One passenger lost his photos when his hard drive crashed but thankfully he had backed them up with another passenger before heading home. One copy of your photos is asking to lose them, two copies is much safer. :)

Take multiple batteries so you can switch right into a fresh battery if you need to. Some people did have issues with their batteries running out faster than expected but it generally wasn't too bad. I think I had about 5 batteries for my camera because my Mom has the same camera and I borrowed hers for the trip. 2 batteries is probably fine and 3 is certainly enough.

Whatever camera you take, your photos will be amazing just due to where you are so don't worry too much! :)
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby dmitri1999 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:10 pm

For penguins something like 24mm lens is enough as you are pretty close to them.

I used 50-500mm lens with me with great success,but most shots were at about 200-300mm.

I also had 24mm on another camera and 70-200L as backup. 70-200L didn't come out of the bag much.
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby kcupp95 » Wed May 15, 2013 3:37 am

The Pentax K-30 is weather resistant and has lenses that are also weather resistant.

Can get the body and lens for about $600. Won't have to worry about snow or splashes then
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Re: Antarctica - best camera for a photography amateur?

Postby amyjomartin » Wed May 15, 2013 10:06 am

I got the Nikon P520 for my birthday and I love it. I just need to work with it a lot before my trip so I learn how to use it. I joined a photography meetup group, so hopefully will be able to get some pointers and tips from others, too.

I have an iPad that I'll be bringing so that I can backup my photos (bought the memory card adapter for it). I have two 16 GB and one 32GB memory cards. I'll probably bring another 32GB just in case.

Thanks everyone for all the comments! I can't wait for this trip!!! :D
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