Camera Advice Wanted

My wife and I are going to Alaska next Summer for 2 weeks+. Naturally we will be doing some kayaking. What camera would you recommend I take. It has to be at least waterproof for taking pictures from a yak. I will also be taking pictures in other circumstances. Something like a Nikonos is out of my price range but I would like something moderately decent.

Digital or film?


I saw that you had posted film as your preference, but I thought I would give you a suggestion anyway. I just got an Olympus Stylus digital camera. It has taken some great photos. Plus, with an optional larger memory card there are no worries about changing film while kayaking. And there is also an underwater housing available, which waterproofs the camera to 130’.

Maybe TWO cameras
If you want better quality for your land-based photography, you could buy something for that (lots to choose from), and then buy an inexpensive waterproof point-and-shoot for your water-based shooting. Vivitar sells at least two waterproof point-and-shoot film cameras, one of which I saw on sale for about $50.

If one camera has to do it all AND be waterproof, you either spend big bucks or accept a lesser camera (less control over exposure, focusing, etc.).

Did you get the 300 or the 400?

Try one of the Pentax WR series cameras
There are three models, WR-90, WR-95 and WR-105, with the name denoting the maximum focal length. They are “dunkproof” cameras, good to 3’ of depth, which is plenty for kayaking. As long as you don’t drop it overboard, it’ll be fine.

I’ve got a WR-90 that I picked up in a Ritz Camera auction on Ebay. It was supposedly a display model, but although the packaging was in rough shape, the contents appeared new. It cost me a total of $82 delivered, including the full manufacturer’s warranty. I’ve put a few rolls of film through it while kayaking and the quality is much better than I expected. It doesn’t quite rival my SLR, but the SLR doesn’t get taken out on the wate. One nice feature for off the water group shots is the included remote control.

I definitely recommend the camera and highly recommend the Ritz auctions.

Two Suggestions
I carry two cameras when I’m paddling.

I’ve got a Nikon N90 and a nice assortment of trappings in a Pelican Box. (I’ve got 3 lenses, a flsh and a slave, filters, SPARE BATTERIES, and film).

I also have a Pentax IQZOOM 95WR point and shoot that I carry in a clear Dry bag on ym deck. Its reasonably waterproof (I’ve dunked it a time or two) and has a 38-95mm lense which is perfectly suitable for snapshots and suck on the water. I keep the strap attached with a 'biner to my dry bag when its being used (dropping it stinks).

Paddle On


If you’re shopping for a bargain and not afraid of Ebay try a Minolta Weathermatic dual 35 mm. Has a wide angle and normal lens, is waterproof, and usually goes on Ebay for about $75.00. I got mine for $40 including shipping and have had it for 2 years. Many dunkings and no lost film yet.

Yes to pentax wr105
Mine has sat in a pocket through rolls and come up ready to go. This is after three years. Works for me. I would not want to put my wr105 through surf blast though.

One of those new digitals with 100 foot case is tempting but I’m not going there now.

I bought Linda a Canon S50…
…with the housing for Xmas. We’ll be using it in the pool tonight, shooting short rolling videos. Way cool!

Digital Camera Underwater Housing
You might try one of the Olympus underwater housings for their digital cameras. The housings are relatively inexpensive, but the good cameras are not. Try this web site:

I’ve dealt with them for years and never had a problem.

I own an older C-700 2.1M Olympus digital with a 10X optical zoom. The C-750 is a 4M replacement for it which fits in this underwater housing.

This gives you a 38-380mm equivalent in 35mm photography in one small package.

For a review of digital cameras:

Good luck and have fun!


Thanks everyone for the advice.
I appreciate your responses.

camera for Alaska
The Pentax series mentioned is fantastic! I have ruined three SLR cameras over the twelve years of taking on-water photos in Alaska. I have two Pentax cameras, the 90 and the 105. I bought the 105 after the 90 finally failed after ten years. On a hunch, I sent it back in, works beautifully. I wore it around my neck or on the deck in all kinds of weather and conditions…take it home and run it under the faucet to rinse. Takes great photos…had one cover shot for Camping Life Magazine and several article shots all taken with that camera!!!

Be advised that any of the official underwater cameras are just that - underwater - are not set up to take good “in air” photos - refraction of the water, magnification and all that stuff.

One thing about the Pentax, you look through a viewer, not the lense, so best to make sure the lense is clear and dry — not obscured with a big water droplet that distorts final picture. One bad thing about the Pentax is that it has no lens cap at all…fully exposed.

Great camera, but zoom is really what “standard” 55mm lense would give you in an SLR camera…By the way, if you are into slides, Velvia by Fuji is great film for on water in Alaska.

Velvia 50 or 100?
I love the old RVP 50 but it’s too slow for hand-held photography in anything but bright daylight (not exactly the prettiest light). There is a 100 speed version out now but I haven’t tried it. Have you?

Meanwhile, I am using Provia 100F.

Camera Advise
Dr Disco,

I’ve had good success using an Olympus Camera in an Olympus UW housing. It’s a much smaller package than my previous camera (Nikon N90 in Ikelite housing). The SLR was good for scuba but way to big for kayak photos.

Here’s some examples for you.

PS: look closely and you might even find Flatpick in the photos .

Nice Pictures!
I am seriously considering the Olympus. Especially after I picked up a used Pentax 105WR on Ebay for $5.50 plus $5.95 shipping!

Velvia 100F
Is an awesome film. It is my standard film as of now.

Almost all of my rescent stuff on my site has been shot with this film:

W.S. Tempest convention?
Beautiful pictures, Wade! Top left-hand corner,

all Tempest owners?