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Film or Digital
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Scott Robertson
(SRPhotographic) - F
Film or Digital on 01/03/2007 22:02:51 MST Print View

I'm not here to say either medium is better (they both have their advantages and disadvantages) but for a longer trip of 1-2 months on the AT I cannot help but wonder which set to bring. It will either be a film or a digital SLR with 3 lenses.

Digital Advantages: Well, first off I can instantly review my photos. I can instantly delete those photos which I decide to not keep. This means more memorable and higher-quality photos. Also, four 2GB cards will get me 2000 photos but weigh the same as a 36exp. roll of film. Lastly, I will have a range of choice of ISO settings to choose from which will allow me to adapt to changing light conditions.

Digital Disadvantages: My digital camera weighs more than any other camera I own. The problem of batteries also comes into play. Because I have the grip for my DSLR, I can use AA's which makes resupply a viable option. However, enough AA's to last me 5 or 6 days (somewhere around 12 to 16) takes up space and a lot of weight. Lastly, my DSLR cost a lot of money and is an important investment to me, so losing it or damaging it is not an option.

Film Advantages: The camera weight is less. If I lost or broke my film SLR, it could be replaced easily. It provides high quality photos, especially in b&w film. As far as batteries go, two of them would easily last me the entire trip. No worries about battery weight or resupply.

Film Disadvantages: The weight of the film is HEAVY compared to a memory card. Also, my ISOs will be limited to that of my film. Lastly, I wont see any of my images until well after I am off the trail. There is the option of 1Hour at a grocery store- but I don't trust my film to grocery stores anymore.

At the moment it looks as if I will be bringing the digital. I will have to take extra precaution to prevent water damage (it WILL rain sometime while I'm on the trail). Any thoughts or ideas are appreciated. (Note: I WILL be bringing an SLR system so that I may get the quality and control that I am accustomed to)

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Film or Digital on 01/04/2007 13:41:28 MST Print View

Scott, can you describe what you're anticipating as a typical trail day, i.e., how many hours do you plan on hiking and how much distance will you be covering daily?

It's possible you might be walking more and shooting less than you anticipate, which would change the selection criteria some.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Re:Film or Digital on 01/04/2007 14:27:43 MST Print View

Do you need the grip for your DSLR? The one for mine weighs so much with AA batteries I didn't even buy it. For trips of a month or more I carry three or four of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries my DSLR takes. If was using a bounce box I would put the charger in this so I can recharge the camera in towns (I haven't done this yet but a friend did so on a PCT thru-hike with success).

As to rain, a good waterproof padded camera case is my answer to this. I live in the Scottish Highlands, a very wet area, and carry my camera in such a case slung across my body. Only in the heaviest most continuous rain do I put my camera in the pack.

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Film or Digital on 01/04/2007 14:37:53 MST Print View

There is another problem to consider about film.......heat.

What, my I ask, brand of SLR are you taking with you? I ask because if you are using anything besides a full frame DSLR you will have to deal with a lack of wide angle lens on your trip. If you are shooting more than a roll of film a week the weight vs battery weight argument is lost.

With my DSLR I get 700+ frames per charge on the batteries. For longer trips I place a battery (or batteries) in a bounce box.

For myself (since I have used film for some 25+ years) I would not bother with film. I normally carry a small 6mp nikon camera in a hippocket of the pack.

If I was really serious about bringing a camera (and had the extra money) I would look into one of the newer "superzoom" digitals. Some have up to a 15x lens. You would not need to worry about dust on the sensor and not have to carry 2 extra lens. Maybe bring along a minipod.

Also about weather. Many companies are now offering small lightweight bags that wraparound your camera and allow shooting in not so nice weather.

just a little worthless advice, Randy

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Superzooms cont'd on 01/04/2007 14:51:10 MST Print View

I was online at some of the photo website that I frequent and found some of the superzooms up to 15X (most at 12X) and some with the equivalent angle of view for 35mm film for 28 mm lens to start at the short end.


Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Film or digital on 01/04/2007 14:57:34 MST Print View

There are wide angle lenses for APS-sensor DSLRs. I have a Tamron 11-18 that is excellent. It's quite heavy though at 355 grams. That's equivalent to 12 rolls a film, which I used to shoot in 4-5 days.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: Film or Digital on 01/04/2007 16:17:53 MST Print View

I take a digital SLR on long trips, no problem.

Batteries: Does yours only use AAs? The proprietary batteries last a lot longer (1 week for one of mine), and are much lighter. Just get a couple of those and carry the charger (if you expect mail is slower than you), or mail it ahead (if mail will be faster than you). Recharge in towns.

Waterproofing: Isn't this an issue with any camera? I like to make my own dry bags for cameras. Get the dry bag fabric that you can heat-seal with an iron (I get it from Seattle Fabrics). Make a bag the appropriate size with a roll-top drybag closure. Line it with foam. Add neck strap.


jason hamblin
(Jason_H) - F

Locale: In Photo : Kaktovik
Digital SLR on 01/09/2007 13:41:49 MST Print View


I was recently away on a long trip, the first summer I shot film the second digital, both SLR's. Going digital was one of the best decisions equipment wise of the trip, it was so liberating, cost effective and allowed me to be sure I had the right shot at the right exposure. The other bonus was peace of mind, I backed everything up on to a cd burner - one copy sent home and one copy with me. I shot ultra wide with a 10-22mm, equivalent to 16mm at the wide end. My kit list was as follows:

Canon Rebel XT
70-200 F4 L Series
1.4x teleconvertor - gave me 448mm equivalent at F5.6
Circular polarisers and UV filters
Portable cd burner - not for while hiking
2 batteries
2 x 1GB Sandisk Ultra II's

I carried a lightweight Velbon Maxi F Tripod - 32 ounces

All kit was carried in a Lowpro Orion, this hangs around your waist over your packs hip belt and with its front flap it’s very fast to access your camera. Alosacks will keep everything waterproof or for convenience line the camera bag with a compactor bag put all your kit in, cut the bag leaving say 8" sticking out the top and use a freezer clip to seal the bag - great for rain. I believe some of the Lowpros now have waterproof covers. Erins idea sounds neat, lighter and probably cheaper too.

As for losing it or damaging the camera - insure it with specialist camera insurance. I waterlogged my 70-200 in a canoeing accident and got the lens replaced.

As for batteries, reliable copies can be had on ebay for a fraction of the branded price - check photo forums for the reliable ones and carry a few.

+instant feedback on exposure
+Increase shutter speeds with ISO change on the fly
+Delete unwanted pics
+Shoot large numbers of photos on small light cards
+Easy ability to backup on cd/dvd even in small towns
+Only print what you want to print

-Bulky heavy film
-No feedback on exposure
-ISO change only with film change (if you have it) and pushing/pulling film limited to whole roll
-Film can affected by heat
-possible to have it scanned for backup as you go but most Wal-Mart/chain photo stores produced quite low res scans for me - I would not want to have relied on these scans for my memories.

Do I sound biased? ;-)

I hope this helps

Edited by Jason_H on 01/09/2007 13:43:50 MST.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Digital Gear on 01/09/2007 14:50:01 MST Print View

Here's the digital gear I use:

11.85 oz - Panasonic FZ3 (35mm-420mm equiv)
13.00 oz - Kodak Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 0.7 Wide Angle (25mm equiv)
05.50 oz - Olympus B-Macro (2.5 diopter)
33.00 oz - Slik Sprint Pro tripod
04.00 oz - 3 x Lithium rechargeable batteries
00.50 oz - 2 x 512M King Max SD cards
00.40 oz - cleaning cloth
01.65 oz - Polarizing filter

Total: 70 oz (4lb 6oz)

This is what you can get with a 3MP camera w/o a macro lens or tripod:

Adding an Olympus TCON17 teleconverter (10.9 oz) takes you to 670mm and still gives acceptable quality:

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Scott Digital SLR on 01/09/2007 21:04:18 MST Print View


I was looking over your D-SLR list and wondering what/who's 10-22 lens you were using and what you thought of it?


Edited by FastWalker on 01/09/2007 21:11:36 MST.

jason hamblin
(Jason_H) - F

Locale: In Photo : Kaktovik
10-22mm on 01/10/2007 09:43:56 MST Print View


Was it my 10-22mm you where interested in?.


Scott Robertson
(SRPhotographic) - F
Re: Re: Scott Digital SLR on 01/13/2007 10:45:47 MST Print View

Hey Roger, I don't own a 10-22mm lens. I believe that you are thinking of Jason who replied above.

I wouldn't buy a 10-22mm lens because I intend to upgrade to a Full-Frame sensor camera before the end of the year. I also use my film camera often. 10-22mm would be too wide and too soft and dark at the edges.

What I do have is a Canon 17-40mm f4L lens. I LOVE this lens, it is amazingly sharp and contrasty. I can also use it when I go to a full-frame sensor camera.

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: 10-22mm on 01/13/2007 13:43:16 MST Print View

Yes I apologize for the confusion Scott. Jason whose 10-22mm are you using and how is it working for you.

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Re: Re: 10-22mm on 01/13/2007 14:04:36 MST Print View

Hadn't seen this thread ... but would add a thought. The disposable cameras, film, are an option depending on how many pictures you take and the reasons.

Having a am-pro set up ... I never take it because of the value or weight and we went with a small digital. The batteries in it last a long time if it is kept off, and turned on to take pictures (making sure the flash doesn't go off).

Otherwise, a lens set is good and a camera body to go with for flexibility. My choice would be an old Nikon FM3 if I was worried about batteries and wanted to use film. It is manual with light metering, but then you are talking lenses as well and the weight becomes kind of absurd.

If I was going digital and wanted pro level pics then I would take a Nikon or Canon pro, or am-pro like the Nikon D50, with lenses, which means you have to have the batteries and the lenses. There is a great Nikon auto lens at something like 28 - 200 mm. and it is not that heavy.

That all said, there are lightweight digitals with lenses -- and a 10 - 22 would be great for panoramas and close-up foregrounds with broad backgrounds ... and that is what we are actually using.

Other than that, film is sensitive to abuse and temps, I would chose the throw away disposables with 36 frames or as many as I could get in one camera package. bd