On-the-water cameras^

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OwenBurson
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On-the-water cameras^

Post by OwenBurson » Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:14 pm

I am look at buying a digital camera that I can use on the water.

I am not sure if I want completly waterproof or just splashproof with waterproof case - what do people recommend?

Any advice on particular types?

Thanks

Owen

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Tom_Laws
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Post by Tom_Laws » Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:22 pm

Hey

Personally I've been using a Sony DSC U60 (on ebay) for about a year now with pretty good results. It is deffinatly a point and shoot camera, and only has 2 mega pixels, but is good for exactly that, point and shoot.

The only downside is it has been discontinued so you have to get one from ebay or similar, but they seem to be there fairly often, for c.£100.

Other things are availiable, but I'm afraid I haven't got any details.

Tom

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ukrols
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Post by ukrols » Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:29 pm

With Tesco's floggin 5Mega Pixel cams for 30 odd squid I'm tempted to get one and put it in one of those aquapak cases (1/2 the price of the camera mind!!!).

Been using an (old by todays standards) 2M Pixel Fuji Finepix stowed in drybag, but it takes sooo long to get it out I don't normally bother. The zoom lens seems to suffer from condensation as well resulting in many useless shots!

Roly.

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Post by John W » Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:41 pm

I use a Pentax Optio 33WR (now replaced by the Optio WP). The WR is supposedly only water resistant but has taken everything I could throw at it (including a few underwater shots) and lives happily in my BA pocket.

The WP is waterproof to 1m (I think) and though I have not used it myself, friends have been happy with it. The only downside over the WR has been the lack of viewfinder (LCD screen only) and the use of rechargeable Li-on battery rather than AA's - that's progress I suppose.

Have a look at http://angleseypaddling.fotopic.net/ - all photos (except Falklands) were taken with the WR.

Previously I had a Canon 75 which I tried to use in an Aquapac, but that just did not work with the zoom lens and the lack of quality throught the 'bag'.

I have been very happy with the Pentax.

John

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Dec 29, 2005 11:38 pm

I used both the Sony U60 and the Pentax OptioWPi today. I have lost count of the number of film cameras I have had but I have had 6 digital cameras and the Pentax Optio is the only one I have ever been disappointed with. Its ergonomics are really dreadful.

The on off button is nearly impossible to switch on one handed and today with gloves I took many picture of the sea and my spray deck trying to switch it off.

There is no raised guard round the glass lens cover to keep your finger tips away and it gets covered in grease off your fingers causing blurred images.

Trying to hold it, your thumb lies over the main rocker switch and activates lots of menus when you are trying to snatch "that shot".

The 3x optical zoom is zoom is redundant, as on the water any movement blurs all shots except those at wide angle.

The large screen looks good in a shop but is not bright enough to see in bright conditions.

The battery is very sensitive to cold weather.

It generates a pink colour cast (which can be corrected by photoshop.

It does not focus "into the light" shots using the main program mode. I lost most of my recent Sound of Jura sunset shots shots because of this.

I could go on but all I will say is I agree withg Tom. Get a Sony U60 on Ebay, it's a cracker and beats the Pentax on all the above points and its properly waterproof. Only downside is that its asymmetrical design is for right handed use.

It might only have 2MP but it's good enough to get A5 sized photos published in Paddles!

Oh and it uses AAA rdisposables/chargables that last for ages.

Douglas

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Post by Philq » Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:58 pm

I have to say that I disagree with Douglas. I'd highly recommend the Pentax Optio Wp. My experience of the earlier 5mp version is that in the right conditions it will take excellent photos.

Yes, reds are a bit bright, like every other cheap digital camera the LCD screen is useless in the sun and like every other cheap camera it needs good light but in the right conditions I've had some excellent shots out of it including lots of arty-silhouetted-paddler-against-the-sunset. (if someone cares to tell me how to do it I'll post a couple of shots)

Take a look at Canoe & Kayak Jan and Feb 06 issues with the report of a paddle round Ibiza. Most of these were taken with the Optio Wp. Usually I'd have it set in "sport" mode using the focus tracker.

Just my twopennyworth

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Bruxy
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Post by Bruxy » Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:46 pm

Hi,

Having just returned from a lovely New Year's week of Scottish paddling with a somewhat knackered camera - I can whole heartedly recommend NOT using a standard digital in a plastic bag, like an Aquapac.

For a start, I've lost count of the number of ruined shots I've had thanks to the confines of the plastic not allowing the lens of my Canon Ixus II to fully extend ... result ... very out-of-focus objects.

"Lovely picture, Chris ... err .. what exactly is it ?"

I've also suffered from the condensation problem resulting in no shortage of similarly distorted and sad looking sunsets or surreal "blobs" that should be cheeky seals.

Another problem I've found (which could easily be remedied but I keep forgetting to) is to replace the retaining strap on the camera with something that doesn't absorb water. Once damp and sealed in the Aquapac, the strap guarantees a moisture-laden atmosphere ... and I suspect it's this that has put paid to my poor old camera. The LCD lights up, but is mainly blank with the odd black, vertical line and most of the controls just seem to have given up.
I'm hoping that a few days at room temperature will allow it to recover - but I'm not optimistic.

If I have to buy another digital camera - it'll be a waterproof one - although I have to say the Ixus has been really good and reliable on the mountains; even surviving a 20 foot tumble on the Aonach Eagach !
But salt water ???? Forget it !

Cheers
Chris

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Post by mintokames » Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:38 pm

Five of the pictures on the Islay tour recently featured were taken with a Pentax WP.

I find the on/off switch manageable but fiddly, and, for me, it's not worth trying to change picture modes on the water. It's the first camera I've had without a viewfinder and find myself still trying to bring the camera to my eye to take the picture. I think that's more out of habit than anything else. Perhaps if I'd never had a camera with a viewfinder then I wouldn't find it a problem. And the lack of a lens cover seems a glaring omission to me. I'll agree with Douglas that the battery does appear sensitive to the cold at times, but would add that it can quite often warm up equally quickly.

But having said all that, it's allowed me take pictures on the water that I would otherwise never have taken. and left me with good memories that otherwise would have been forgotten. It's small size allows it to fit easily in a BA pocket.

But I'll have to confess that the camera isn't the limiting factor in taking pictures - it's me. Someday I'll manage to stay upright and not take pictures of folk paddling uphill !

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meatballs
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Post by meatballs » Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:59 pm

I'm quite tempted by the pentax, easy to slip into a BA pocket for pictures whilst on the water and quickly whilst off... My Ixus in its waterproof diving case is far too bulky, I have to stow it in the back of my boat, meaning I cant quickly take pictures in an eddy either.

Not so much a problem for sea kayaking, but waves often land over the top of it on the deck, and the globs of water that cling to the area over the lens often ruin a picture :( How is the pentax for this kind of thing, does water cling to the lens often, or does it have a cover?

Any news of the competitors bringing out something similar? The discontinued Sony one wasn't high enough quality for my liking. The screen was far too small to see if a picture was decent or not as well...

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:39 pm

Having both the cameras mentioned in the above thread, I have been using them side by side on recent paddles.

Here are some pics to illustrate the different ergonomics of the Optio WPi and the Sony U60.

Image

The Optio is very smooth and difficult to hold. My thumb keeps activating the rocker switch that controls the menus and I have lost a lot of spur of the moment pictures trying to cancel them. The on off switch and shutter release are right next to one another and I take a lot of pictures of waves trying to switch it off.

Image

Image

Pulling the Optio out of the BA pocket, you can't feel the lens and finger grease gets on it.

This produces pictures like these:
Image

Image
I didn't take this one, maybey it's a bogey!

The Optio loses a lot of shots like these two below due to the autofocus not coping with a light source in frame.

Image

Image

In the above two shots the lens was clean and the exif data shows the shutter speed was 1/250th, I was on dry land and I have a steady hand so the blur is not due to camera shake.


For comparison here is an on the water shot taken a few minutes earlier with the Sony U60.
Image

Here is the Sony U60, the pictures were taken by the Optio, note the pink colour cast on the white background compared with the pics of the Optio, taken by the U60 above.

Image

It is very easy to hold with the the on off switch under the thumb and the shutter release under the forefinger.

Image
There is a raised ridge round the lens which keeps your fingers clear.

The angled body (same angle as your forearm held up to take a photo) looks odd in a showroom but is very natural to use and more of my U60 horizons are straight than those of the Optio.

The superior ergonomics and rapid start up time of the U60 mean you can get on the water pics like these:

Image

Image

Image

I bought the Optio WPi to replace the U60, as I was attracted by the Optio's 6 megapixels. However, it is the U60 that I will be keeping!

Douglas.

mintokames
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Post by mintokames » Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:40 am

Meant to say that I also find the viewing screen on the Pentax susceptible to scratches.... again not sure if this is a common complaint....

Did I see something recently about a manufacturer supplying a free waterproof housing with their digital ( Fuji ? ) Never paid much attention at the time ....

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Post by active4seasons » Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:43 am

Douglas,
I value your opinion on photography but I am not sure you are making fair comparisons. The Sony is definitely quicker off the mark but the Pentax has far more on offer. I have only had mine since Xmas and some of the pictures are fantastic. I am still experimenting but one of the reasons I bought it was for the video facility and the sequence shots. I am hoping to get some video clips of clients on the rapids or surfing etc. whilst on the water and for this I think it will be great. I accept what you say about the movement when using the optical zoom.

Image

Click to enlarge.

I will get some photos up on the weekend but am very happy with the depth of field in poor light conditions, for a small camera it is excellent.
The Sony does look great for the fast shot though although it appears it is more useful for the close up shots.
Ollie
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seismicscot
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Pentax Optio WR

Post by seismicscot » Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:22 am

After championing its predecessor the Optio 33WR, I am afraid to say that I am very disappointed with the Optio WP.

The seals on my 33WR finally gave up the ghost at the Uist symposium (apparently they are supposed to be replaced 'frequently') after repeated and prolonged dunkings over the last year. Admittedly, this sort of abuse was beyond the spec. for this camera. I decided to trade up to the Optio WP. On paper it has all the makings of great on-water camera. Unfortunately in practice I have found that this is not the case!

I agree wholeheartedly with Douglas' comments on the ergonomics of the camera; however, I have learned to adapt to these limitations, but this does make for very fiddly photography - not what you want when being beaten up in storm swell in a rock garden!

Most annoying, however, is the autofocus (as pointed out by Douglas) and its inability to handle a light source in the frame. I am constantly previewing my shots on zoom mode to make sure that I have captured a focused image. Even under 'normal' lighting conditions the autofocus sometimes has a hard time coping. Now I almost always use the camera on manual focus mode.

Ollie, mentioned the video mode. Sorry, I think you will be very disappointed with the results. The video mode on the older 33WR was far superior and produced much sharper images.

I would not recommend the Optio WP; you are probably better off with the earlier 33WR or 43WR models (probably still available from some retailers or on that auction site).

Cheers,

Clark
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Vulch
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Post by Vulch » Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:11 pm

I have an Olympus miu mini digital camera - 4 megapixels. Costs about £130 if you look around, and you can also buy a waterproof case for about £50 - a point and shoot camera - but I've got some good shots with it... Only thing is that it looks a bit girly when it's not in it's case - not that that's a problem of course.

Vulch

andreadawn
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Post by andreadawn » Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:14 pm

Hi Vulch,

How do you get on with using the mju on the water. I've just bought a mju 800 (8 megapixies) but I'm reluctant to take it out with me at the moment as it's described as splashproof rather than waterproof.

Picture quality is superb, but it feels incredibly flimsy compared to my Nikonos and all the controls are so tiny that they could be a problem with cold wet hands.

Girly is good of course. The girlier the better!

Andrea.

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Post by Owen » Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:33 pm

Andrea,
How does the picture quality compare with the Nikonos.

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Post by Erling » Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:58 pm

Has anyone had the chance of trying the new Sealife Reefmaster DC500? If what they write is to be trusted, it should be an interesting candidate. Time Magazine apparently awarded it one of "the most amazing inventions of 2005", whatever that might be worth. It certainly seems to be built to be operated with gloves, at least when using it with the waterproof housing. 5 Mp, 3x optical zoom. The price is right too, at 310 UKP.

Image
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Vulch
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Post by Vulch » Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:15 am

Hi Andrea, I think that the camera itself is splashproof, but I have a waterproof case as well - purpose built for this camera - good to 2m or something. They also do a diving case - waterproof to - well - quite a bit more I expect. I chose this camera as you could get these cases for it. Depends where your priorities lie I suppose.

Vulch

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Post by andreadawn » Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:55 am

Owen wrote:Andrea,
How does the picture quality compare with the Nikonos.
Hi Owen,

I haven't really taken any 'proper' pics with the Olympus yet, just a lot of test shots.

Picture quality is very impressive, although they were shot at highest resolution on a sunny day at 64 ASA; I wanted to see just how good an 8 megapixel sensor is. Printing a couple at A3 size gave better sharpness and clarity than my Nikonos/Minolta Dimage III scanner combination.

I've got a waterproof box for it to live in on deck now, so once I actually get out and do some paddling, I'll see how it performs under real conditions.

Andrea.

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Post by Richardb » Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:30 pm

Douglas Wilcox wrote:I used both the Sony U60 and the Pentax OptioWPi today. I have lost count of the number of film cameras I have had but I have had 6 digital cameras and the Pentax Optio is the only one I have ever been disappointed with. Its ergonomics are really dreadful.


Douglas
Hi Douglas

you have consistantly posted good quality images here and on your site. Are the images taken with the 2 cameras you mention here, or are there other cameras you use on and off the water ?


Richard

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:33 pm

Regarding 'how does the quality of photos from camera A relate to those of camera B?' type questions, this is a good first (and last?) port of call...

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/
Mark Rainsley
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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:12 pm

Richard>
Are the images taken with the 2 cameras you mention here, or are there other cameras you use on and off the water ?
Thanks Richard, I also use a MinoltaA2 8MP, 28 to200mm zoom, for on land and calm on the water shots. Older shots on my site were taken with a Sony P1 3MP camera in an underwater Sony housing. This worked well but was a bit bulky. However, it was MUCH more ergonomic than the Optio WPi.

Mark>
this is a good first (and last?) port of call...

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/
I also like Steves Digicamsas he reviews all the cameras in detail. However, like all reviews there is an emphasis on numbers rather than ergonomics. For a true on the water test of an "on the water camera" you need look no further than here....
Image

Douglas :o)

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Post by Dave Thomas » Sun Jan 08, 2006 11:07 pm

Personally, I'm not sure that the ergonomics of my camera (or even its whereabouts) would have been one of my prime concerns just at that moment!

Dave Thomas

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Splashproof

Post by Chris Bolton » Sun Jan 08, 2006 11:41 pm

Douglas,

Which ever camera it is that takes pictures in the dark, in conditions where you must have operated it with your mouth or ears, has to be good. Was that the Pentax?

Andrea,

I've had the film version of the mju for the last 5 years, also rated at splashproof, and it's been stuffed in a BA pocket and left to look after itself, with no ill effects. I haven't had to roll with it there, however.

Chris

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Jan 09, 2006 3:34 pm

Chris>
Which ever camera it is that takes pictures in the dark, in conditions where you must have operated it with your mouth or ears, has to be good. Was that the Pentax?
Hi Chris, no all the on the water shots were taken with the Sony U60. The Pentax took the on land pictures of Cuan and Ardinamir Bay which can be seen here.


Chris>
Andrea,

I've had the film version of the mju for the last 5 years, also rated at splashproof, and it's been stuffed in a BA pocket and left to look after itself, with no ill effects. I haven't had to roll with it there, however.
I very much agree with Chris, I have a film Olympus mju2 which is advertised as weatherproof. It survived several rolls and swims in rivers. It produced this nice sequence of Davie in the Awe after I had rolled twice in the same spot. I have not tried it in sea water yet though!

Douglas.

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Post by NickB » Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:38 pm

I thought I would paste across my 2 pence worth from the Sea and Surf site on the Pentax Optio WPi.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with some of Douglas' comments regarding the Pentax Optio WPi, I have one of these little beauties and for the use I intend to give it I think it fits the bill pretty well. Any camera will suffer from finger grease on the lens (or cover) if you touch it, yes we have noticed that it appears very easy to touch the cover but the touches become less with familiarity. We find the menu system very intuitive and easy to get around and adjust the basic settings of the camera. The tracking focus is a huge improvement on our previous digital compact for capturing moving objects, even with the subject(s) running around like mad the camera seems to lock on with the shutter half pressed and track their movement whilst adjusting the focus. We also found that the battery life was a massive improvement on the NiMH AA used in our previous camera, the lithium ion took over 500 kept shots (how many deleted I wonder?) over our month holiday, I think for 4/5 recharges.

Image

We have not used the camera from a kayak yet but it has been to the beach and swimming without a problem. The thought of spending £100's on a camera and then letting sea water or sand get inside, just fills us with dread.

Image

Not everyone wants to produce magazine quality pictures, for us wanting a small compact with a good level of water resistance and reasonable quality of photo for personal use this baby seems to fit the bill.

One thing that I do find frustrating is the lack of a viewfinder, in bright sun the screen can be difficult to see.
Cheers
Nick Benny

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Post by Neilgr » Fri Mar 17, 2006 6:52 pm

Somebody mentioned putting Tesco's 30 quid 5 MP cameras in an Aquapac.
I tried that. Don't bother. You need a calender to measure the time delay between pressing the shutter and the picture being taken.

The refresh rate on the screen is also quite slow, so a panning movement appears on screen as a series of stuttering images. The flash flared on the inside of the bag and obscured half the picture and was a pain to disable.

The image quality seemed reasonable enough.

I'm happy enough with my Pentax WP.

Cheers,

Neil.

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Post by andreadawn » Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:22 pm

(Following on from a discussion about cameras on the Lexan cases thread.)

Hi Owen,

I used to have a Canon Sureshot A1 before I got my Nikonos. It was quite good in very bright lighting conditions but on cloudy days it's performance was woeful.

I was, needless to say, very impressed with the image quality from the Nikonos when I got it, and like many people I suspect, I have been desperately clinging onto the hope that digital would never catch up with the quality from film.

I think for most non-professional users though, we are already well past that point, hence my recent decision to start experimenting with the Olympus mju 800 (8 MP).

Although it is weatherproof, I feel in retrospect it was the wrong camera to buy. The picture quality is superb, certainly sharper than the Nikonos from what I have seen so far. But it lacks any manual control and the wide end of the zoom range is a rather weedy 35 mm, so it was no good to replace my Nikon SLR for 'on land' pics.

I've finally decided to switch permanently to digital capture though due to the better quality. I want something I can use on the water as well as on land that will still give me good enough quality for A3 enlargements. So far, despite a few minor issues, the Canon Powershot S80 with it's dedicated underwater housing is top of my list. It has full manual control, 8 MP and a zoom that goes down to 28 mm.

Sorry, this post is droning on a bit. Here's a few piccies to relieve the boredom.

Image
Canon Sureshot A1, bright sunlight, good enough for A4 print.

Image
Canon Sureshot A1, overcast, not really any good for printing at all.

Image
Canon Sureshot A1, heavily overcast, not sharp anywhere.

Image
Nikonos, hazy sunshine, an A3 print off this looks very sharp.

Image
Nikonos, overcast, this still looks very sharp.

Image
Olympus mju800, the original of this is exceptionally sharp, (view from the end of my road).

Image
Olympus mju800, bright sunlight, an A3 print off this is unbelievably sharp. (Don't know where the colour cast has come from; it's not there on my original).

Some sharpness lost on all the above when resizing them. The original files were rather large.

I guess it really depends on what you want to do with your pictures. I like big prints, so need high quality images to start with. Sad really, but I think even some digital compacts can now exceed the quality of 35 mm film. If you just want to look at your pics on a computer moniter though, you certainly don't need 8 MP as Douglas's outstanding pictures show. On the other hand, if you like a traditional slideshow, 35 mm film is still hard to beat.

Anyway, apologies for such a long post. I've not really had anything better to do this last week. I was supposed to have been on holiday, but have spent the week sat on top of the radiators with a streaming cold.

As I say, I'm finally going digital after dithering for a long time. I'll be keeping the Nikons for a bit, but I don't think it will be getting much use in the future if the Canon S80 is as good as I'm expecting.

Andrea.

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Post by Owen » Sun Mar 19, 2006 6:24 pm

Andrea,
Thanks for that, I think I need to save my pennies for a bit longer; or take up Bank robbery. In the mean time I'll keep an eye out for something second hand.
Nice shot by the way.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Mar 19, 2006 6:34 pm

Hi folks rather than buying a dedicated waterproof camera, may I recommend using the really excellent Ortlieb Aqua zoomwaterproof bag to keep your non waterproof camera on deck?

I was quite happy to use it for a Canon 5d yesterday crossing eddylines at the Kyleakin narrows with the tide running at 15km/hour.

Douglas

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