If time is money and you have more time, Do you need more money?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sharing Your Cruise Begins With The First Picture

Cameras are of the utmost importance when cruising!  Period!  And they must be digital!  After all who actually turns in a roll and waits a few days for them to return anymore?  Ten thousands clicks and only one good photo?  No big deal just highlight and delete.  In 1984 that would have cost you around $3,000 and you would have cherished every one of them.  Or at least wished you did.

Over the last two years we have made some decisions both good and bad on our photography arsenal.  Below is what we have decided works for us.  From this point of view you can adjust the list to suit your own special little needs. This list is also biased to a cost perspective of a budget cruiser.

The phone:  In today's society of letting the world know your every thought and way too many of them.  Perhaps the need for social approval is just to blame or the "me generation" is so self absorbed that it really doesn't care if anyone approves as long as they just say "look at me" never waiting for a response.  The need for a camera phone for something other than "look at how drunk she got last night!" sometimes is forgotten.  We use the iPhone and have for 2 years now.  We did give our iPhone 3GS a bad rap for a while but it proved to be the Otterbox case with it's plastic lens protector deteriorating over time.  We have changed to an iPhone 4 with a LifeProof Case and glass lens protector.  You must learn to work around your phone and phone case shortcomings but a 5meg+ phone camera is a must for those "I forgot my camera" times.  Like our recent trip to the Renaissance Fair.  If you go to our post about the renaissance you can see those photos and videos taken with the iPhone 4.  We have a total of $88 into our phone camera that includes a 99 cent phone and 80 dollar LifeProof Case for iPhone 4/4S - Retail Packaging - Black.
 Indoor photos taken with iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4

iPhone 4 pic
The diver:  If you snorkel or dive the diving camera is a must!  We use the GoPro HD.  There is a steep but quick learning curve using the GoPro HD.  First it CAN NOT replace a DSLR for above water photography! PERIOD!  This should be taken into consideration especially with a limited amount in the boat kitty. Second the GoPro HD does not come complete. Just like every other good camera on the market they make more money by selling what accessories you really want!  We started life with two  GoPro HDs.  We later sold one to a fellow cruiser.  We have the 3d case still if you are interested.  Thank goodness they finally fixed the blurry underwater vision! DUH!  An underwater camera that takes blurry underwater photos is near useless for serious pictures!  You will need to buy more mounts, a spare GoPro HD case, an extra battery pack (helps when you use a lot of video time), a floaty!, personal mounts, and a case to put all this in.  Start with the top model and you will have less regret when you decide you want to add WIFI.  From there buy a floaty back door and add as you need.  If you really want to use it underwater you need to address the corrective lens issue (it needs one or use photoshop).  We have about $400 in our GoPro HD and accessories.
 GoPRO chasing the little hind with a big stick, untouched.

GoPRO hd original in all its blurry glory, water wasn't perfect either

 Never a straight line, field of view distortion from wide angle lens
The Real Camera:  This is where you can break the boat kitty.  Those of us that are lucky will have a DSLR that we bring with us to the boat resulting in a net outlay of little cash.  But those of us that are stupid, meaning me, will sell of the DSLR for fear of getting it wet.  This brings us to the compromise.  If you plan on a one season all out cruise before you return to real life then bring the best you can and hope nothing goes wrong, take thousands of photos and sort them later.  If you plan on cruising for the rest of your life, or at least want to try and you didn't have it before the boat watch for close outs!  Buy the intermediate cameras with digital zoom  like a Nikon COOLPIX L120 14.1 MP Digital Camera.  You know the 3/4 size want to be a full featured DSLR but don't have interchangeable lenses.  The Fisher King was able to score a wonderful Nikon COOLPIX L120 14.1 MP Digital Camera  in this catagory that retailed for around $300 at Sears.  He got it on close out for less than $100.  Making it a simi-disposable, wont break us too bad if it dies, boat camera.  We have now returned to above surface photos close to our full feature camera.  Actually this one has some features the 5 year old camera did not built in.  We also have the capability to take video with this camera.  Watch for those deals in the spring and before thanksgiving.  Also it was important for us that it took "AA" batteries.  Our Nikon COOLPIX L120 14.1 MP Digital Camera  and case ran us about $140.
 Wide range of digital zoom

Twilight setting on the Coolpix

 camera with color and black and white settings, add some instant age to your photos

Accessories:  Here you fall prey to the boat kitty.  One must is a case to keep things in.  It keeps it organized and off the floor of a rolling boat.  The second must are things to keep it out of the water!  Whether they be straps, tethers or water proof cases protection is a must.  

Software:  Adobe Photoshop CS6 is our number one choice but there are others that cost less (or more). A video editor is needed if you plan on making custom videos.  Of course you can't use the software with out some type of hardware (computer) but this is a secondary use of it.    
 Original and color corrected photos of a lion fish in Bimini
Contrast and sharpness not adjusted

Things I want but haven't found:  A camera staff. Take Gandalf's staff, split it into three folding legs with a brass ring that slides as a lock, a small forward facing camera mount just below the hand grip, a GoPRO mount inside a brass orb cage on top.  I could use this as a walking staff, monopod, tripod, or just because I could be a druid in the Renaissance Fair.  

All of these photos are taken on the fly, with out a tripod or any other means of stabilization.  I hope this helps on your decisions for photography,  keep the outlay of the kitty low and spend more time in paradise.


PS  We also have retained the iPhone 3 as a back up, we have the Apple iPad
 with cameras, and a spare old cheap digital floating around the insides of the boat somewhere.  Keep you old phone as a disposable camera!  If you drop it in no big deal except the lost pictures.

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