Posted by: wrmcnutt | August 24, 2009

I Need A Camera

I’m undertaking a new blog project, and I’m going to need a specialized camera for it. 

As most of you know, I’ve resurrected my father’s tiny sailboat and have started sailing on the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville.  Like many venues, the river is “shared” by watermen of all types.  Canoeists, rowers (racing skulls), houseboats, fishermen, and pontoon “party barges” all share the river with greater and lesser degrees of cooperation.  The lesser degree includes a minority of the fishermen and a narrow majority of the waterskiers, who tear up and down the river at fourty miles an hour, kicking up two foot wakes, rattling boats at the dock and threatening to swamp small craft.

An adventure I had this weekend has inspired me to create the Knoxville Waterfront Hall of Shame, where I will post pictures of boaters engaged in unsafe behavior.

Because I sail a small boat, and the process of being passed involves a lot of fast boat-handling to avoid going swimming, I need a camera with specific characteristics:

1) It must be cheap.  Sooner or later I’m going to lose out to one of these jerks, and the boat’s going over.  When that happens, the camera is going to get soaked and probably be a total loss.  So I need to be able to replace it without screaming in wallet-induced pain.

2) Must be fast.  Generally the jerks I need to photograph are moving at 40 mph.  If I can’t get a clear picture, the exercise is pointless.

3) Must be operable with one hand.  I need both hands to operate the boat. I can open a bottle of water, get a gulp, and close it, but just barely.  Any more complicated than “point and shoot” isn’t going to happen.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

UPDATE: Fixed broken link (above)

UPDATE: Welcome Instapudit Readers!  Thanks Glenn!

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  1. […] BILL MCNUTT is looking for camera advice. […]

  2. Getting soaked doesn’t have to be the end of your camera. I have a Canon D10, which is waterproof to 10M. It turns on _instantly_ and seems to focus pretty quickly. Does video, too.
    $299 at B&H or Amazon.

    Panasonic, Pentax, Olympus and Fuji also make waterproof cameras (3-5M). The Fuji is _really_ slow (from personal experience) and the reviews say the Pentax is pretty slow too.

    My local Costco carries one of the waterproof olympus models for ~$150. It takes xD instead of SD so I never really investigated and have no idea what it’s like.

    • Thanks –
      My PDA takes SD and my SLR take xD, so I’m already a mixed-media guy. I’ll bear in mind your speed advice. Posting pictures of boat-shaped blurs won’t be nearly as fun as being able to read the registration numbers.

      • Erik –
        The Canon site claims the D10 is only tight to 33′. Is 10M really only 33′? Kinda shallow for a dive camera.

      • 10 meters is real only 33′ (1 meter = ~39 inches). Not as good as a proper dive housing, but better than the other point-n-shoots (most go 3-5M which is 10-15ft). So far at least, the category is more recreational than for the serious diver – my D10 is certainly a big hit in the pool:-).

        btw – I found a roundup of the various waterproof cameras at DP review:

        The other thing I did when considering cameras was to search by model name on youtube and flickr to get some representative samples.

  3. First of all, you can get a water-tight housing for most any camera….with that said, I would get a strap that goes around your neck…that way if you were to get swamped, the photo you just took of the boat can be used in a court of law.

    Good luck in your journey.


    • Yeah – but I bought my SLR for its zoom, and taking pictures of artifacts for research. It has a reputation for being particularly slow. And, frankly, I don’t think I can operate it with one hand. So I’m gonna need something else for this project.

  4. There are cheap underwater housings for many point-and-shoot cameras, good to about 5 meters but easy to use with one hand. Think Granma snorkeling. Using one of these will allow you to use a better camera.

    I like the Canon G10 (14.x MPixels and shoots in RAW format).

    • I’ve got a fuji I’m pretty happy with for static shots, but its too slow to get the action shots this project calls for. I’m going to have to find something faster. Then maybe a waterproof housing. Anybody know any housing brands that are particularly good?

  5. That url / link under the text “resurrected my father’s tiny sailboat” …

    no bueno. bad.

    • Opps. Thanks – fixed.

  6. I use an Olympus SW model and it has preformed great, even below its service depth (used while diving). Easy to use one handed, shoots good shots and is fairly quick. Mine came with the orange float strap which means you will find it floating after going overboard. Good luck with jetskis and motorboats while sailing, I sailed most of my life on Lake Geneva WI and we had lots of run ins with stupid powerhulls and now jetskis (I view jetskis like bike messengers). mpw

    • Thanks. I’ll look into the Olympus. It goes diving? Hmmmm . . . I might consider that. I dive (occasionally), and I’ve been meaning to look into a dive camera. If it’s fast enough, it might kill two birds with one stone.

      The jetski’s havent been much of a problem yet. They displace so little water that, even though they tear up and down the river, they don’t kick up much wake. As long as they don’t actually HIT me, they’re less of a problem than the giant, oblivious ski boats.

  7. Hey Bill, It’s been a long time. If you want, send me an email so we can catch up.

  8. Ignore the guy with the Canon G10. It is too heavy and expensive. A very nice camera to be sure, and it makes terrific pictures in the hands of a good photographer*, but about $250 more than you need to spend.

    I am a fan of the Canon point and shoots. Their optics arebetter many others in their class. For what you want, if you don’t want the waterproof D10, the A480 ($120) or the A1000 ($150) may be better bets.

    Link to chart on Canon Cameras

    Link to chart on Waterproof Cameras

    *Charles Johnson at posts a lot of shots made with his G10.

    • Thanks – the D10 is looking pretty good, but it’s a little more money that I was looking to spend. Then again, it’s more flexable than some of the cheaper models.

  9. […] Read the original here: I Need A Camera « Will's Miscellanous Musings […]

  10. Cheep disposable underwater camera. Instant on, instant focus (point and click is all you get) less than $10.

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