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Joshua Thomas
(Jdthomas)

Locale: SE Michigan
Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/09/2011 20:47:52 MST Print View

Hello Everyone,
This is my first time here on the photo side of this forum ; So a big hello to you guys. The reason being is that I have never done really any photography of any kind and I recently bought a Canon S95. I went to India this last fall and tried it out and I mostly just used the auto settings due to my extreme lack of experience. All that being said I need some helpful tips as I am going to be thru-hiking the PCT coming up here two months from now. The real questions that I have are about what settings you recommend for outdoor landscape pictures like the mountains I will be around. Also how to capture good low light pictures for the sunrise and big sky's I will be seeing. There are several modes and from what I have read the P settings is the most popular. If you are willing give me some help on how to setup my camera for this trip.
Also, I am going to be taking Ti goat poles witch have the option of a camera mount. On the other side of the coin I have been looking at the Gorilla-pod; Any recommendations between the two?
Last but not least I need some wisdom on how do you guys pack your S95? Do you use a case? Bubble wrap ( I have heard) do you have some kinda dry bag? Also what size memory card and how many spare batteries?
I currently have the Lowepro - Santiago 20 Camera Case / 2 batteries total and a 8G memory card. I am looking forward to your help. I want to capture the best pictures I can while im out there with my limited experience. Thanks again! Bless you.

Edited by Jdthomas on 03/09/2011 20:49:05 MST.

Landon Schrock
(lschrock) - F

Locale: The plain states
S95 cases on 03/09/2011 21:31:12 MST Print View

Two options I have tried for my S95 as far a case..

1) aLoksak makes a small bag that weighs next to nothing and will keep the camera completely dry in any inclement weather. It will protect it from scratches, but won't protect from impact.

2) Joe over at zpacks makes cuben stuffsacks that are made to fit that size of camera, but are not totally waterproof, due to the seams and the drawcord.

I personally just use the Loksak, but I'm pretty gentle with my gear, and don't generally worry about it getting banged around.

Hope this helps.

Edited by lschrock on 03/09/2011 21:31:51 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/09/2011 21:44:04 MST Print View

If you need an ultralightweight case, then get some thin Bubble Wrap and some cardboard. Make a tiny bag out of the Bubble Wrap that fits the camera. Then fold some cardboard over that. Then put another layer of Bubble Wrap over that and stick it into a nylon stuff sack that you can firmly attach to your shoulder strap. You do not want it bouncing around, because it will bounce loose and fall.

A camera mount on top of a trekking pole would not be stupid. But you want to figure out some way to rig it so that you can take a photo of yourself standing eight feet from the camera with scenery behind you. I have a tripod that weighs 17 ounces, but I'm guessing that is heavier than what you want. Gorilla-pods are too short except if you have a tree branch handy all of the time.

--B.G.--

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Re: Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/09/2011 21:49:39 MST Print View

gorilla pod+trekking pole tho=better tripod...

or

http://www.thestickpic.com/

Mark Hyams
(markhyams) - F
my two cents on 03/10/2011 19:57:52 MST Print View

I would recommend shooting RAW to take full advantage of what that great sensor can do. If you don't want to buy Lightroom or Aperture, then it is probably best to shoot jpegs. Try out the Vivid setting. One option is to shoot RAW+JPEG, so if you decide to get into the whole RAW processing thing later, you'll have all the RAW files. Photographers think of RAW files as being the "digital negative", i.e. something NEVER to throw out. Check out http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/s95.htm for a ton of info on shooting with this camera (although I disagree with his view of shooting RAW).

Here is my two cents: Shooting in P (Program) mode is what I did, and then I used the control wheel on the back to adjust exposure. Set it up so you get the live histogram view, and make sure you are not clipping the highlights or crushing the blacks. Rotate the wheel so the data not crushed against either end of the graph, and then snap! Set up the camera so you get the view after you take the picture where the clipped portions of the picture flash (sometimes called blinkies), then you'll know if you over or underexposed. Sometimes scenes are too contrasty (like pointing the camera at a setting sun, in order not to blow out the sky, the mountains below will be silhouetted and near black), so you'll have to accept dark shadows. In general it is better to underexpose shadows in order not to get overexposed highlights. The control ring around the lens is best set to control ISO. Always shoot the lowest ISO you can, without getting the camera shake warning (usually shutter speed below 1/30). If you get a camera shake warning, bump up the ISO until it goes away. In P mode the camera will pick a faster shutter speed as you increase the ISO. You can also just put the ISO on Auto. This is all basically digital photography 101 and applies to any camera. Check out some articles about understanding exposure on photo.net.

I used an S90 (almost identical to the S95) on the JMT last year, and I just put it in my back pocket, and it was fine. Cameras in general are more durable that we care to realize. It got a few scuffs here and there, but who cares? One thing is these cameras have short battery life. Expect no more than 250 shots per charge, and don't review your images in camp every night. Not sure if you'll be able to upload photos during your trip, but 8Gb cards are about $8 now and weigh nothing. Load up on them!

Of course none of this addresses WHAT to point the camera at. Have a great trip!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: my two cents on 03/10/2011 20:20:52 MST Print View

"If you don't want to buy Lightroom or Aperture, then it is probably best to shoot jpegs."

Actually, it is best to shoot RAW files and then convert using Canon's own utility, Digital Photo Professional. No need to buy anything special.

--B.G.--

Peter Scherpelz
(kpscherpelz) - MLife

Locale: The Mountainless Midwest...
Re: Re: Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/10/2011 20:25:18 MST Print View

Hey Bob,

Not to hijack the thread, but I was curious what your 17 ounce tripod was - I've been searching for a small, but bigger than tabletop tripod for a Canon rebel, and the lightest I've found is the Slik Sprint mini @ 1.7 pounds.

Thanks,
Peter

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Canon S95 users/trip advice on 03/10/2011 20:38:16 MST Print View

I had an s90 and now have an s95. Carrying. A Nylon shirt with a left zipper pocket like a Columbia GTX works well. Hard case and waterproofing are conditional issues. Commit to ALWAYS using a wrist strap. Underexpose by one to two notches. Highlights can blow out. The Macro can wander . Select Macro. The top of a trekking pole is a monopod. In my experience not worth it , but in this case if you are carrying it anyway OK. The Joby seems to me to be not great at anything despite the reviews. Use the self timer. Batteries are cheap and light at Amazon. 3 of us are using the s90 and s95. and we are all SLR Pentax people from way back. I'm a Coolpix die-hard but gave up for the s90. Limitations, No Speedlight . No remote trigger. No real tele. limited wide angle. But if you want to have it with you the camera to beat.Good price too. Your best aftermarketcase is a sunglass sleeve. If you want a rundown on other cases. Ask.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/10/2011 20:41:53 MST Print View

The 17-ounce tripod is a cheap gadget that I purchased at Target. It stands a maximum of 50" high and has a QR. I would use it only for a camera with a short lens.

I have others for medium-duty service and for heavy-duty service.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Canon S95 users/trip advice on 03/10/2011 20:50:46 MST Print View

One weakness of the S95 is that the rear display uses a lot of battery power, yet you are stuck into using the rear display. So, well in advance of the trip, learn how to use the camera and try to halfway memorize the user manual. In advance, shoot enough with it that you know what your mistakes are, as the shooter, and try to learn the methods to work around those. Then, when you actually start the trip, you should not have to stare at the display for minutes at a time trying to figure out if you captured anything good or not. Just keep shooting, and wait until you get off the trail or to a power source for recharging before you try to study your results. If you don't, then you will run all of your batteries flat by day five or something, and then you are in trouble.

--B.G.--

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
tripod on 03/10/2011 20:58:27 MST Print View

Never underestimate any light tripod that gets you to a human eye level. Your response to the shot is psychological after all. Just as the Pentax standard SLR Lens used to approximate the Human Eye.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Bob Right on on 03/10/2011 21:01:14 MST Print View

No camera manual or none at all now in the field and those menus eat you alive. Well said. Thanks, John

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: tripod on 03/10/2011 21:04:52 MST Print View

A truly lightweight tripod can still tip over in a breeze. If you have ever watched an expensive camera toppling over that way from a mountain peak, you know that it makes your heart sink.

Some tripods have a hook underneath the center column, and you can hang a bag of rocks from it. Alternatively, just pile up some rocks around each tripod foot.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Bob Right on on 03/10/2011 21:12:57 MST Print View

"No camera manual or none at all now in the field and those menus eat you alive."

That was easy to say by those of us who have been shooting one brand of camera for 15 years. Whenever I buy a new camera, I sit down and read through each and every page in the user manual, and I compare the tiny illustrations to the actual controls on the new camera. I go through every page in the menu system so that I sort of know where every menu function is likely to be. Then, if the camera is brand new, I will carry only the quick reference guide with me out onto the trail. Once the camera is three months old and I have thousands of shots on it, I won't need the quick reference anymore.

One weakness of a compact camera like the S95 is that there isn't much room on the case for a bunch of external controls. Therefore, you have to do a lot via menus, and that uses the rear display which uses up your battery power. A big DSLR is a lot more weight to lug around, but it has quite a number of external controls. Those tend to be quicker and use no battery power.

--B.G.--

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/10/2011 21:19:40 MST Print View

Right on about a bag hook or better yet just a 1/4 female mount. that will let you use a bit of male 1/4 thread cut down from a bolt or screw to mount. A
ball-head upside down to shoot macros and details. Mounting a bag for weight and upside down ball-head positioning are winners in the field and at home if you shoot a lot or understand the need.

Mark Hyams
(markhyams) - F
Re: Re: Bob Right on on 03/10/2011 21:29:37 MST Print View

"One weakness of a compact camera like the S95 is that there isn't much room on the case for a bunch of external controls. Therefore, you have to do a lot via menus, and that uses the rear display which uses up your battery power."

Actually the S95 has a lot of external controls, on par with a DSLR. It is very different than most compacts. That is what is so amazing about this little camera. It has TWO control dials, and most entry level DSLRs only have one. It has a custom setting on the control knob as well. You can set up the "S" button for auto exposure lock (AEL). Set up your camera how you like it for a couple different situations (say one for "C" and one for "P"), and you won't be delving into those menus very much at all.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/10/2011 21:29:48 MST Print View

In my opinion, a ball head is overkill for a new user with an S95 compact camera.

Most of the lightweight tripods use a pan-tilt head for low weight and low cost.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Bob Right on on 03/10/2011 21:42:20 MST Print View

"Actually the S95 has a lot of external controls, on par with a DSLR."

Mark, not really.

The S95 here has two-thirds of the external controls of my DSLR here.

--B.G.--

Derek Cox
(derekcox) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Bob Right on on 03/11/2011 11:19:37 MST Print View

of course 2/3 the external controls compared to your dslr.... but way more than other compact cameras. and it fits in your pocket. just depends on how much you value weight vs. performance. price as well, i suppose. The s95 is the best compromise I would say between all those. it doesnt compare performance-wise to a dslr but to other point and shoots it's pretty far ahead.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Canon S95 Users / Trip Advice on 03/11/2011 11:38:51 MST Print View

I have this camera and like it. However, it pales in comparison to my DSLR in terms of manual control and especially low light photos. The ISO control is only marginal. But for a point and shoot, it is probably the best overall out there.