SLR Camera Survey

Ok, I know there have been many discussions about cameras on this board, but I have a survey of sorts that I want to do.

How many of you out there take your SLR camera and lenses with you paddling? If you do take it, what kind of waterproof housing do you use? Finally, what guidelines do you set for yourself regarding when to take the camera out and how to handle it while on the water?

Also, one more question for you Pelican (and such) box users. Do these boxes float?


No waterproof housing

– Last Updated: Feb-18-04 10:45 PM EST –

I've taken at least one SLR camera on every long canoe trip I've ever taken. I use a waterproof carrying case, but no waterproof housing. For years I used a military 50mm ammo box. They are dirt-cheap but should always be tested for water-proofness because some have bad seals. I usually use a Pelican box now because it's lighter and less clunky. I've never had a close call so far, but I don't take the camera out of the box during rapids or really rough conditions.

As far as whether the cases float, I think they always will, though perhaps if you came up with a way to really pack one full of heavy gear it might not. I can hardly imagine packing enough into one to make it sink. If you have any doubts, just test it before you go out on the water.

The only guidelines I follow is what feels comfortable. I'll take the camera out on any kind of flat water. I've never dumped in mild rapids either, but haven't been ready to risk an SLR for that. I'd probably be safe getting it out on some of the windy days on big lakes too, though I haven't had a reason to be tempted to do that yet.

pelican boxes
will float. However, as with any flotation device or floating box, it has limits. All the information is posted on their website.

When paddling, I shoot with my Pentax 645NII meduim format camera. This year I plan of doing some trips to the Apostles with my 4x5 inch view camera. all of my gear is stored in a Lowepro Dryzone backpack. Completely waterproof. It is useles for shooting from the boat so I use a drybag in my lap while paddling.

Armada or Photo Gear
I’ve got a prett wide gear of camera equipment, and I take it all kayaking with me. Here’s a breakdown.

Long Casual Trips

I take my Nikon N90 SLR (35mm) and a couple of lenses with me. I house these in a Pelican dry box (they float if not over loaded). I usually take my Gitzo tripod and my Pentax 67II medium format camera. Also in a Pelican box.

When I pack a pelican for a trip I always get a couple of dessicant packs from my brother who sells leather furniture (they stick em in the shipping crates).

Day Trip

I usually take my Nikon N90 or my N65 depending upon what I’m doing. I might also take my Pentax 35mm water resistant point and shoot with me. I put the Pentax in a little dry bag and clip it to my PFD.

I shoot from my boat with my SLR or my Point and shoot, but never my medium format. I really like the water resistant Point and shoot for snapshots from the water. If its a great picture, I stop and get out my good camera.


when I don’t take my digital
I take my SLR Pentax zxm 35-80mm and 70-300mm lenses, in a lowpro camera case, nothing is waterproof. I keep it all in a small drybag, and only take it out when conditions are calm.

but it’s in a waterproof case for landed shots. On-water -so far -is the UW dispo film cam. And I’ll continue top do it that way until I finally get a housing, case, or bag that I feel good about in terms of keeping the good camera alive AND which allows good pics to be taken.

I know more than one person who’s all wet in the phoito department because they carried unprotected equipment on water, and dumped, or dropped the equipment.

That way, I’ll get good pics on terra firma, and at least decent pixs -“a” shot, not necessarily “the” shot, while I

Paddle on!

-Frank in Miami

20 YR OLD PENT. K1000
IS MY SLR. Bought it before my oldest daughter was born and it’s going strong.

You can’t beat Ammo boxes for safe warterproof storage. I spray paint the insides gloss white and use a sharpie to put my name and etc. and paint the outside blaze orange.


I think you mean 50 caliber
50mm (2") rounds come in a rather big box! :wink:

stereo realist?
Anyone else have one of these? I’m trying to pry one out of a buddy’s hands so I can take it out on the water…:slight_smile:

will it float?

No housing
I could not get a suitable housing at decent price, so I only take photos from my kayak in calm conditions.

I’ve used Nikon F3 and N90s bodies; the N90s is better suited for kayak photography because it has autofocus and auto film advance. I usually take a light, inexpensive Nikon “consumer zoom” lens, 35-80mm but I have used a macro 105mm and much heavier 17-35mm lens as well. It’s easiest to just put the N90s w/35-80 lens in one Pelican box. If I take the other lenses I have to put them in another Pelican box and play lens-switching games while trying to keep any splashes from getting on the lenses or inside the two boxes, which I am leery of doing on the water.

The Pelican boxes do float. I tested them (empty) in my bathtub and had to hold them down to keep them from popping up to the surface.

Yeah, 50 caliber.

It’ll float
I just did a rough calculation, and a 50-caliber ammo box will float with at least 9.8 pounds of gear inside (the actual buoyancy is greater than that, since I measured the volume of the inside of the box, not the outside, and yes I did account for the weight of the box in this calculation). I doubt that it’s possible to put that much weight in camera gear within the available space.