Digital Cameras

-- Last Updated: Jul-28-05 9:41 PM EST --

Excuse me for asking for advice twice in a row. Before our planned vacation as discussed on a previous post, the Mrs. decided we need a digital camera. We are usually 10 years behind the technology (we had wooden tennis rackets when the rest of the world had aluminum and then graphite) and we still have a very good 35mm Canon. I noted with interest a previous post about the Pentax Optio WP when it was still new. Does anyone have any further experience with this camera? Any other water resistant or waterproof cameras that we should look at?

Thanks in advance for any guidance you may be able to provide.

Some Canon digital cameras
have waterproof cases that you can shhot through. He have an older A20 and a waterproof housing for it.

Waterproof, shockproof, rugged!
Bushnell 3.2MP Outdoor Digital Camera

Not a bad camera. Not too expensive either.


All I can tell you is that if you want
use your new camera on the water make sure you can get a housing/bag for the one you buy. They do not make housing/bags for all make and models!!! And even if they do some cost as much as a used camera will cost you. So check it out first. Maybe check out the bags and then see what cameras they fit and then buy that way. The 2 bag makers that I know of are Aquapaq and the other is EWA

Here are some reviews…

I have a Canon PowerShot S400
which, when combined with the Canon underwater housing, takes very high quality pictures. The downside; it makes a very small digital camera into the size of a small SLR. I bungie the camera on the front deck, right in front of me to have access to it at all times. Recently kayaked with a friend using an Aquapac and he got nowhere near the quality when it was filtered by the pac. Olympus makes some “all-weather” cameras but they probably would still require some type of waterproof housing/cover.

I can’t compare shots side by side with the Canon cameras, but we are on our fourth Olympus digital camera including one with a separate waterproof housing available, works better than most of them but it is nulky, and the last two being water-resistant enough to tolerate splash or an occassional quick dunk without damage. All of these cameras have been used, and gotten wet, in salt water for an intensive time of 3 weeks every summer when we vacation in Maine and are on the water 6 days out of 7. They’ve been very hardy, behaved as advertised.

Can’t Really Help You
Cause I’m looking too. But I’ve been looking at the Bushnell Outdoor Digital Camera (at REI) for $199.95. I’m sure there are better cameras out there (There always are) but having just plunked down a bunch on Kayak, paddle and truck rack, this one will better fit my budget.

Anyone had any experience with this one?

Quite a few options
There are disposable waterproof cameras that you could use. Depends upon whether that’s good enough for the waterproof outings.

There are ‘water resistant’ digitals (come on, since when has ‘water resistant’ meant anything?). Probably want to keep it in a bag, anyway (ziplock, etc.) and take it out when you need it.

There are waterproof digitals - a good option. and then waterproof/dive cases for specific digitals. This’ll make the camera pretty big but is waterproof (I have a Sony P93).

The aquapak just seems like a severe compromise: use it if you have no choice with an existing camera, but if you are buying a new camera, look into getting one specific to your task (i.e. watersports).

Personally, I like the dive housing; it is big (has to go on the deck), but don’t have to worry about it going overboard - plus, you can get some, erm, interesting underwater shots.

It is great in the pool. The thick acrylic housing also takes a few dings and scratches with no detrimental effects. Rogue wave? Drop the camera and grab the paddle. Typically, all the buttons are available with the dedicated waterproof housing: don’t underestimate that capability.

With a seperate housing, you are also not compromising the cameras capability by having the ‘waterproof’ capability when you don’t necessarily need it.

The only annoying thing is water on the lens area; but this’ll be an issue with any method you have.

Price for me was a total $550 investment - $300 Camera (Sony P93), $150 waterproof housing, $100 1Gig memory stick. You could spend less, and way more. Previous camera was a Canon with waterproof housing. Worked great til the camera broke (not related to kayaking activities). I also like a camera that takes standard batteries (AA or AAA): the rechargable capacity is eeking up there, giving longer periods between charging. Don’t want to sweat changing batteries half way through a trip. Plus get the biggest memory card you can afford (well, fo me, I need movie capability, which the Sony provides with great resolution and frame rates - 1Gig gets about 12-13 minutes of movie - which is good enough). Just my thoughts.

Basically, look at what your needs are in priority. Price, waterproof/water resistant, battery type, storage media, megapixels, movie capability, battery type, physical size, optical zoom capability (digital zoom is generally meaningless), etc.

If you really want to know some stuff you can go to

One I’ve been looking at is the Olympus Stylus Verve. It’s tiny and they make a waterproof housing for it. Since it’s being discontinued, you’ll probably find it for under $200 and the housing for under $100.

The camera is auto-everything and doesn’t have an optical viewfinder (like the latest Pentax) and uses their special XD cards. But it still looks pretty good - and it’s splashproof without the housing.

Steve- I didn’t think the new Pentax

– Last Updated: Jul-29-05 9:33 AM EST –

had an optical viewfinder??? One of the comments on a previous post on the Optio WP was by an individual who was concerned that his over 50 eyes did not see an LCD that well. This is a concern to me because I don't carry reading glasses when paddling.

BTW- Thanks to all of you above who have responded. The posts were valuable and I will research the options you suugested.

Pentax Optio Wp
Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

I purchased a Pentax Optio Wp a couple of months ago. It’s a nice little camera - very small, fits into a PFD pocket with plenty of room to spare. Decent pictures. Alas, no optical viewfinder but a large LCD screen. Only problem I find in low light is that I have to either rest the camera up against something or put it up against my nose to keep it steady or else blurry pictures result. Other than that it’s a good digital point and shoot.

Fat Elmo

Pentax Optio WP comments & pictures
I bought Pentax Optio WP in April this year and most of my paddling pictures are shot now with that camera, although I still use my older Canon PowerShot S40.

First impressions comments:

and there more comments on this camera and some practical tips in my later blog entries.

The camera survived Texas Water Safari which is quite tough test:

Pentax Optio WP
We’ve had one for a few months and find the pictures quite good, though not quite as good as our Canon Powershot S400 for which we got the waterproof housing.

My only problem with the Pentax is that, for me, it is point and click unless I put on my reading glasses (which I do carry in my pfd while paddling) because of the lack of a viewfinder.

I wouldn’t base my choice of camera on how it performs around water. That is if you want to get serious about your photos.

Photos on water during the heat of the day suck anyway. Too much sunlight. When sunlight shines directly on water it reflects in all directions, thus washing color away. Only during the winter months can you avoid that problem.

I just got a Nikon D-70. I already had Nikkor lens so I now have more range than my old Coolpix 5000. I’d recommend the Coolpix for most recreational people. It has excellent reproductive values up 8x10 photos and a zoom lens. Carry it in a Pelcan box and I know you’ll be very happy with it.

to avoid blurry pictures …

– Last Updated: Jul-29-05 11:50 AM EST –

with Pentax Optio WP, I often shoot with the 2 seconds selftimer and/or stabilize the camera on a paddle at least on the board of my tippy Sisson kayak:

and here is the picture I took in this shooting duel:

and a slide show from that paddling in Colorado:

Cameras are like boats
This is good advice if you consider yourself primarily a photographer who paddles.

If, as perhaps most here do, you instead consider yourself a paddler who simply wants to take some good photos on your outings, many of the abovementioned cameras will work well. Just as there are different boats intended for different purposes, so too with cameras.

As a bit of a nature and landscape photography enthusiast myself, I use a Nikon Coolpix 8700 with a couple accessory lenses and a compact tripod to shoot some of the unique and interesting places a kayak allows you to go. But I would never consider removing it from its waterproof case while on or even near the water. My fly-fishing buddy just spent $200 to repair his $400 camera after a teaspoon of water got into the Ziplock bag in which he stored it. Such cameras are best kept safely belowdecks until you are on dry ground.

But I also want to get those on-the-water shots of my paddling partners and some of the scenic shorelines we encounter, so a smaller, more durable and waterproof camera is called for. I’ve been using various waterproof, disposable film cameras for this lately, but am now looking for a good digital point-and-shoot to clip to my PFD or deck.

Midday is indeed a bad time to shoot, and often to paddle, but the morning or evening hours offer some of the best shooting and paddling opportunities. I recently headed back to shore just as darkness was falling, and the colors of the setting sun reflected on the black water as I glided thru it, luminous gold and orange and deep blues and purples, was positively mesmerizing. I’d have gladly paid the full purchase price of my boat for just those ten minutes spent in that otherworldly place. And a good pocket camera may have even captured a reasonable facsimile of it …

Putting you camera in a pelican box or a
zip lock bag is not really a good option. If you are in rough water or surf or rainy weather then you can’t use it a housing or water proof bag for it is the only way to go so you can use it in all conditions.

Optical Viewfinder
What I meant was that neither the Optio nor the Stylus Verve have optical viewfinders, sorry if I wasn’t clear. Anti-reflective coatings or not, I don’t imagine they’re very easy to use in bright sunlight.

I agree with Pahsimeroi; bright sun on the water really tests what a camera can do. Cameras don’t see like our eyes do, we can pick up a much larger contrast range. What this means is that bright areas (like the sky) might be completely white while shadow areas might be completely black even though it looks different to our eyes. Negative film (print film) is still superior to digital in this regard, but digital has it’s advantages. I usually use 35mm for on-the-water shots with my Pentax WR but am considering a digital for this. It’ll look great in less contrasty light (overcast, early morning, late afternoon) but I’ll have to settle for what I get on sunny days.

I shoot negative film, slide film and digital, and each has it’s own pros and cons. The shots that I take on the water usually aren’t the best ones, but the ones I’d really like to take are in conditions where I don’t want to let go of the paddle! Oh well…

Sony DSC-U60
I started using a Sony DSC-U60 last year and have been happy with it so far. Waterproof to 5 feet, 2mp, simple design, reasonably rugged. I just stick it under the bungee cord on my front deck. Really ony useful for daylight photography. Pictures blurry indoors or if light is real dim (even using the flash). I don’t believe Sony still markets this camera.