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Photography on tour

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by friedel, 3 Sep 2007.

  1. friedel

    friedel New Member

    Location:
    On our bikes!
    Photography and touring often go hand in hand so I thought it would be good to have a thread where we could talk about the equipment we carry, how we carry it, tips and tricks for getting great shots.

    I'll start, everyone else chime in!

    We use a Nikon D80 for most of our shots, which is a SLR (single lens reflex) or manual camera. We also have two lenses for it, a Tokina 12mm-24mm wide angle lens (great for landscapes and fisheye type portraits) and a 50mm fixed lens, which allows us to take macro shots.

    We also carry a Lensbaby set around with us but have hardly ever used it. It weighs nothing though and is so tiny we haven't bothered to send it home either.

    On top of that we have a Sony T9 but we really only use that for shooting videos and occasionally we use it to snap quick pictures if we don't want to take out the big camera. Truth be told, we are not so in love with the Sony. It is okay, but sometimes it really can't handle things like bright skies (they just wash out to white). It doesn't perform as well as we'd like and if we had to do it again we might get a Canon A540 Powershot, which we have been very impressed with looking at the photos taken by the person behind 14 Degrees.

    Both the Nikon and Sony live in Andrew's handlebar bag, unless we are using the Ultrapod II, attached to my top tube, with the Sony mounted on it for moving video filming/picture snapping.

    [​IMG]

    Taking great pictures, in my opinion, is more about knowing how to use the gear, thinking a bit about how to frame your shot, starting to "see" interesting pictures and then maybe doing a bit of post editing... much more so than "how big is your camera". To get just the right shot you may have to take dozens of pictures. This sunflower shot, for example, took me about 50 tries to get right, holding the flower, looking up, waiting for a perfectly clear sky, the sun in the right place!

    dsc_3112.jpg

    Where post processing is concerned, we have the free editing program GIMP, which is every bit as good as Photoshop for the average user. We also have the free version of Photomatix, which lets you take three pictures (one normal exposure, one underexposed and one overexposed) and put them together to give you a rich photo. Great for making sure bright skies don't get blown out when you are trying to get the landscape just right and vice versa.
     
  2. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    Photography is something I used to be 'into'. Now I am starting to tour i will get back into it...I carry a small Minolta Dimage xt camera, that is it. It does most things well enough, but the main reason i like it is because it is small and always there to catch the moment. I also have a very small tri pod which i will take on trips from now on for those night light shots and self pics.
     
  3. Good thread! Some misc observations from over the years.
    I carried a full size tripod on our last trip - a pain in the ass but worth it as I ended up with lots of shots of the two of us.
    I also carried a 200mm zoom lens - again quite heavy, but it enabled me to take take some people shots I wouldn't otherwise have been able to get.
    I used a Canon SLR and Fuji slide film (yes, I still write with a quill and ink too), but the photos taken by Rowena using a point and click digital Kodak were of almost equal quality.
    Composition does count for a lot. I found that most of our biking shots had to staged, i.e. I'd pedal ahead, then wait for Rowena to cycle towards me. Otherwise you end up with far too many photos of a tiny cyclist disappearing into the distance.
    It's important to take a lot of shots with some human interest in. These are more useful for slide shows and illustrating articles then endless pictures of huge vistas.

    PS Friedel, I hope you have made your mind up to go to Tajikistan - fantastic place.
     
  4. HJ

    HJ Cycling in Scotland

    Location:
    Auld Reekie
    Anyone tried a GorillaPod? It looks like something which could be useful.
     
  5. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    For those of you that still use film, I can recommend the Olympus XA2/3 as superb go anywhere cameras - nice clamshell design, small enough for a jersey pocket, and really good sharpness and colour rendition from the lens (along with typically excellent Olympus metering). The camera is light enough to work well on a 99p flexible tripod, so long as you don't need the height of a "proper" tripod.

    Going rate seems to be between £5 and £10 on eBay.

    I've never covered the sorts of distances most of you have, but my digital kit is usually a Nikon D70, and the 18-70 AF-S DX that was bundled with it - super, much underrated lens that's pretty light and covers a nice range. I have the Tokina 12-24 mentioned by the OP as well, but find it a bit wide in the great outdoors (superb city lens though) - it's heavy too. I hear good things about the 55-200 VR (light, decent image quality) that Nikon have just released, and I reckon that plus the 18-70 would be a nice "ready for anything" setup to have.

    I usually have one 35mm body with me when shooting digital, either an FE, F3, or F90x (largely for the matrix metering, great with finicky slide films), and the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-N is a permanent fixture there. Currently my rides are short enough that carrying the kit in a crumpler bag is comfortable enough.

    Tripod wise, I only have a Uni-Loc 1700 - excellent, but not portable by bike. The Velbon Luxi F is often recommended as a good choice in terms of lightness & stability by other photographers though.
     
  6. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    I'm still on film and usually take a Contax G2 around with me plus 21, 35 and 90 mm lenses. The lenses are on a par with those of the Leica M series (i.e. can't be bettered). I think I'll stick with film (colour slide) and get a scanner thus having a lasting archive and the advantage of being able to update scan quality. The bargains you can get now in pro level film gear are astounding.
     
  7. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Location:
    Limoges or York
    My touring camera is a rather very out-of-date 2 megapixel fujifilm job.

    Its plus points are long battery life, simplicity and expendability. It's not too good in bad light as the flash tends to cause flare but otherwise good for snapshots. Before that I used an Olympus Mu2 film camera which produced some nice pics.

    What I would like is a more up-to-date simple camera with a better lens and CCD - not bothered with zoom and all that stuff. Cheap would be good. I'd be grateful for any recommendations of any such camera.
     
  8. friedel

    friedel New Member

    Location:
    On our bikes!
    Can you define "cheap" for us?
     
  9. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    The Mju range are really nice cameras - I don't like the motordrives on them though, so stick with the XA2/3 :biggrin:

    For your next camera, have you thought about the Fuji F31d? Everyone I know with one loves them - great low light performance and decent image quality. I believe they're about £120 at Amazon at the moment.

    Andy - very jealous of your Contax G2, they're lovely cameras.
     
  10. I used to carry a Pentax K1000 with a long lens. I kept it all in a waterproof bag in my bar bag. Recently I've gone digital and have been using a Panasonic Lumix DFZ7 which, despite a recent purchase of a Nikon D200, I'll probably keep using for camping trips because it's small and light and has a very good zoom lens (12 x optical) and long battery life. If you want a better camera, Asterix, I can't recommend these highly enough, and you should be able to get one off the internet for under £200. Have a look at the link in my signature to see the results you can get with one.
    Good thread Friedel, by the way.
     
  11. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    They are excellent. My G2 has rendered my SLR system redundant and it has to be the bargain at the moment. The amount of quality you get for current prices is ridiculous. I did hope that somebody would produce a G mount digital body for the lenses but I'm not really missing one.
     
  12. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Location:
    Limoges or York

    Yes, around the price of John The Monkey's recommendation i.e. below £150.

    Cheers for that JTM, I'll give them a look.
     
  13. friedel

    friedel New Member

    Location:
    On our bikes!
    Well, if our Sony broke tomorrow I would definitely take a look at the Canon Powershot range just based on the photos I've seen on the 14 Degrees site I listed in my first post. It looks like the A540 model he's using is a little old now so you should be able to get a good deal if you hunt around. Here's one place selling it for 140 pounds.

    http://www.egears.co.uk/pd_canon_powershot_a540.cfm
     
  14. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe

    An A610 was my first digital compact - nice optics, and the flip out/swivel screen can be good for self portraits and awkward angles (you can also rotate the screen so the delicate LCD surface isn't facing out). They aren't as good as the Fuji in low light without flash, and they're fairly heavy & bulky (they take 4xAA batteries - the upside of that is that they can shoot for ages before new batteries are needed). Optically, the Canon lens is pretty nice.
     
  15. P.H

    P.H Über Member

    When I made the transition from SLR to compact digital I was looking for something that still allowed me control. At the time the Olympus range was streets ahead in this regard, I bought a C7000, full manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, choice of focus, choice of metering as well as the point and shoot modes. It’s also the only compact I’ve seen that has a remote control, far better than a timer and great for long exposures. This was a couple of years ago, so I don’t know what the current equivalent is, IMO worth looking.