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Cameras tough enough for the canyons

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Alane Urban, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. Alane Urban

    Alane Urban

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    On my last trip my "tough, waterproof" camera decided it wasn't tough enough. I've done a little research and have narrowed my replacement down to two. The Olympus Tough TG-2 or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5. What is your experience with either of these. Is there something else I should consider?

    Thanks,
    Alane
  2. Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers

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    IMO, the Olympus Tough TG-2 wins because of the brighter lens. Well-suited for a canyon environment when you don't want to flash going off. Rugged (has been dropped and banged) and so far has lived up to the waterproof rating. You won't got the same results you'd get with an SLR on a waterproof box, but it's compact, light, and more than meets my expectations as a point-and-shoot.

    No have an lens cap is a bit of an annoyance. You have to buy and adaptor (which will also take a UV filter). But it the lens cover sheds water droplets well, and it is a replaceable part.

    A few samples with this camera: http://mikeshikes.wordpress.com/201...ler-sob-150-mile-matkat-and-panameta-canyons/.
    Alane Urban likes this.
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Having he TS4, I think I agree w Mike. The TS4 is suitably rugged, and for the camera it is, takes pretty good pictures. But shots I have seen from the TG-2 seem better.

    Tom
  4. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    My friend has the TG-2, I have the TS3 and both were on a trip through Illusions. IMO - We got better photos out of the TS3. However, many of the bad photos from the TG-2 are attributed to water on the lens. That being said - I think you can get good photos from either one. I will try and dig up some sise by side comparisons tonight and post.
    Dan Ransom likes this.
  5. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

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    I'd be very interested in a comparison between the two. I've been pretty impressed by the TG-2 photos thus far, and I've been a fan of the TS series for awhile now.
  6. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    Correction - I should have checked before posting. My friend's camera is the Pentax WG-2. My Ex-girlfriend had the Olympus. I loved that camera, but unfortunately is was stolen in Argentina before I could test it in the canyons.
  7. Alane Urban

    Alane Urban

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    Thanks for the feedback, all. I am thinking it is the TG-2.
  8. Tim Dowling

    Tim Dowling

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    I took my new TG-2 out to Zion this weekend. I was pretty pleased with it's performance. It got wet and suffered a few drops. I set up one of the custom functions to f/2.0, ISO 400, and Cloudy white balance. That gave me quick shutter speeds with low noise in dark-ish parts of the Bulloch (just posted a TR with pictures from my TG-2) and Pine Creek. I had to brace the camera against a rock when it got really dark. I could have upped the ISO, but I really didn't want the noise. The HDR function is really good, but doesn't allow you to change the white balance. I easily fixed that in Aperture. Like all cameras, it struggled with high contrast scenes. Pretty standard, though. I bought a camera case with a built in tether that kept the camera close that I loved. Overall, I am really happy with it. One more vote for the TG-2.
  9. Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers

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    Hey Tim--Interested in the case you used. I haven't yet found the setup that I like with the right balance between accessibility, protection, and it strapped to me so I don't drop it (it'll handle the 6' drops, but I don't want to try it at 100').
  10. Tim Dowling

    Tim Dowling

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    Mike - I bought a T-REIGN Pro Case size large. http://www.t-reignoutdoor.com/collections/shop/products/procase-with-retractable-tether

    I kept it on my hip until it came unsnapped on a downclimb and fell about 10 feet. I probably should have seen that coming. I moved it to my waist strap which was only a little annoying when I was bending over as it dug into my stomach. The large is too wide for my TG-2, but makes for a nice target when putting it away without looking. I really like the retractor and the elastic strap that keeps the lid closed. Makes for easy one handed operations.
  11. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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  12. gajslk

    gajslk

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    I had the Panasonic, whatever model the 12mp one is. It filled with water in Imlay two weeks ago. It was in my pocket, got banged underwater, and filled completely. I am looking to get the ts25 so that I can use my battery and memory card again. I'll be using a case next time. Maybe a pelican. They always leak in canyons but all I need is shock proofing.

    Gordon
  13. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Best laid plans... I'm in Canada for the month and couldn't find the Panasonic. Got an Olympus TG-320 for $100, probably on close out.

    Gordon
  14. mr.atwood

    mr.atwood

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    I'd also place my vote for the TG-2. Love mine! It has proven to be both durable and waterproof, as advertised. I even took some sweet underwater shots of fish in Shinumo Creek out in GC last month. To many of you this may be routine, but it is my first waterproof camera so I'm all stoked about it!

    My recent Trinity Creek trip report shots were all made with it. I used the HDR setting for most of 'em.

    *Disclaimer: I by no means consider myself a photographer... still learning the in's and out's! :)
  15. Benjamin Pelletier

    Benjamin Pelletier

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    I've been using a Canon D10 (the funny-shaped one; not the newer D20) for a while and like it a lot -- especially when you can get one for well under $200 on eBay. If you get one of those, just make sure you get the small cone-shaped piece that attaches to one of the four corners and allows wrist strap attachment. Otherwise, attaching a wrist strap is impossible and getting a replacement part is either expensive or impossible.

    I recently bought a TG-2 and took it on Imlay, Das Boot/Subway, and a canyon in the Columbia River Gorge. It's good, but it's certainly not twice as good as the D10 even though it costs twice as much. The HDR feature is cool, but the max resolution is 1920x1080 and the HDR it produces only expands the exposure range slightly -- it won't produce anything like the beautifully surrealistic HDRs that you may have seen. The iAuto setting didn't yield great pictures in (dark) Imlay or Das Boot -- a bunch were blurred (probably unavoidable), and most of the rest were extremely desaturated and lacked detail. In overcast conditions in Oregon, the trees all appeared desaturated whenever the overcast sky was in the picture. The pictures weren't actually bad, they just weren't any better than my D10 (disappointing for +$330).

    The TG-2 does have a night scene mode that will do exposures up to 4 seconds, so that's a big benefit if you have a mini tripod. On the other hand, the D10 will do 30-second delay, triple-shot timer pictures and the TG-2 will only do a 12-second delay.

    Here's Imlay with a D10
    Here's Imlay with a TG-2
  16. Amanda

    Amanda

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    If you're looking for a more economical camera, I'd recommend the Nikon CoolPix AW100 16MP. Shock proof, water proof up to 33ft and takes great photos quickly. I was looking at the TG-2 as well, but went with this one as I saw another canyoneer using one and it was less expensive. I was able to get it from Amazon for $199. Very happy with my camera. Also it has the same water repellent cover on the lens. I was using it in Pine Creek last weekend and if I did see a water droplet on the view finder, I would dip it back in the water and the drop would be gone. :)
  17. Benjamin Pelletier

    Benjamin Pelletier

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    Here's some more anecdotal data: both mine and my friend's TG-2's broke on Jump Trip (a very wet Sierras canyon). His had the LCD screen cracked (puncture wound from a rock) and mine was filled with water when the battery compartment came unlocked and opened. I also brought my two D10's as backup, and they came through unscathed (again).
  18. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Here's DPreview's 2013 roundup on rugged/waterproof P&S:

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/2013-waterproof-roundup/18

    Basically, they gave awards to two cameras: The Nikon Coolpix AW110 and the Olympus Tough TG-2, with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 as runner-up.

    The Nikon Coolpix AW110 doesn't have fantastic image quality (though, to be fair, none of these cameras do), nor will its battery last all day. Its OLED display isn't the greatest outdoors, either. That said, it's an incredible value, offering a wide feature set for much less than the competition. For under $280 / £263 you get a camera with a 28-140mm zoom, a fully ruggedized body, and a GPS with a compass, pressure gauge, compass, landmarks, and maps. Add in a 1080p movie mode and Wi-Fi and you end up with a lot of camera for the money.

    The Olympus Tough TG-2 is a camera that we'd never hesitate to take diving, snowboarding, or mountain climbing. It can take more of a beating than any other camera in the group, an impression that becomes clear as soon as you pick it up. The TG-2 has a faster-than-average F2.0-4.9, 25-100mm lens that brings in more light (at wide-angle) than every other camera except for the Pentax. Its photo quality is better than the Nikon, but not wondrous, mainly due to strong chromatic aberrations. It was the only waterproof camera that we tested that had accurate color while snorkeling, as well. Other things we liked are its responsiveness, tap control (great for when you're wearing gloves), battery life, and support for conversion lenses and filters. Its major flaw is the same as the Nikon's: the display is difficult to see outdoors.

    One camera that we really liked that fell just short of earning an award was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 (FT5 in some countries). It has a rugged design similar to that of the Olympus, a 28-140mm lens, the best LCD in the bunch, manual exposure control, and a 1080/60p movie mode. The GPS feature is well-implemented, as well. What held it back from an award was its lens, which is the slowest in the group, meaning that the ISO sensitivity will quickly rise as light levels drop. When you combine that with a weak flash, you'll have pretty noisy portraits. We were also disappointed with the heavily marketed Wi-Fi/NFC feature, which we never got working properly. Despite those issues, the TS5 is definitely work checking out.
  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I'm not sure multiple cases of user error are much evidence of general un-ruggedness.

    Though some designs are more inductive of user error, of course.

    Tom
  20. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    True dat.

    +1 for the Olympus TG-1/2

    Mine has a full season of climbing, skiing, and wet canyons on it; including Heaps, full Imlay, and Kolob. It has come through no worse for the wear.
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