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View Full Version : Help!!! Trapped On An Island For 4 Months- What Camera!?!


04-24-2006, 23:52
I am going to be on Tern Island (http://www.hawaiianatolls.org/video/nowramp020911.php - click on the picture for a quicktime video) for FOUR MONTHS! I am going as a volunteer for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the managment agency for the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Tern Island, on the French Frigate Shoals, is a 30 some-odd acre island artificially built as a plane refueling station about 400 miles northwest of the main islands for WWII.

I leave mid-May!

To the questions:

:confused: If you were stuck on a TINY island in the middle of the Pacific for 4 months (possibly longer), what camera(s) would you bring, and why? Digital or film? Bring a tripod? Filters? Tell me of what I have not thought!

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS:

Weight is a consideration. I am only allowed to bring 40 pounds of stuff (that's it!)- which may include my laptop (~5lbs), various clothes, and who knows what else I can fit. Food and toiletries are already at the island. Would you even bother with a tripod?

Expense is a consideration. I did mention they're NOT paying me- no income! I don't have much money, but I don't want to sacrifice noticeable quality in the images I shoot.

I would like to take my new (used) Hasselblad XPan II and one, two, or all three lenses (haven't confronted that horrible decision yet, but I have all three), and my underwater point and shoot Cannon Sure Shot A1 camera, which has macro capability. Both of which are film, obviously. I believe they have refrigeration for the food, so it's theoretically possible to preserve my film there before and after exposure.

Would you ditch these for something else, and if so, what and why? Would you go for a dSLR, stick with the rangefinder genre... HELP! PLEASE!

Photography subjects that I can pre-congnize are seabirds (thousands), turtles, monk seals, underwater coral reefs, sunsets, people (summer population: 12), and whatever else I find on the island.

High humidity, heat, wind, rain, ever-present and random bird poop from the sky, and exposure to corrosive salt and gadget-jamming sand are all considerations as well. How do you propose preserving the equipment? Is it even necessary for a four month stint?

I am a beginner photographer, and have posted a few pictures that I have been able to scan-in and post to this website's galleries. I have been teaching myself photography from books and gallery critiques from this and other websites for a few months now. I don't know if you need to know that for this challenging question, but there it is anyway.

The gravity of the consequences of being limited to 40 lbs of stuff is settling in like a scorpion sting. HELP!!!

ChrisN
04-25-2006, 00:01
I assume the main purpose of the trip is work and not photography? One camera - a Nikonos V.

Edited to add my reasoning. I would like to take a good rangefinder kit for B&W, a DSLR and several lenses for colour, and something waterproof as well. With all of that I would be jumping from one kit to the other, confused and always sure I wanted the other outfit on any particular day. I'm sure I'd get better photographs if I limited myself to one camera, and concentrated on learning to use it to get the best photos that camera can possibly produce.

clarence
04-25-2006, 00:15
I must say that if this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you, you might want to bring your favourite camera setup. If this is the X-pan, so be it. The great thing is that you're on an island, so you won't be doing too much travelling, and there won't be too many chances to worry about losing or damaging your equipment. You can easily keep at your camp / accomodation whatever lenses you don't feel like using, whenever you want to carry a lighter kit.

If you're into landscapes, go for the tripod. If not, forget it.

Also, I would learn how to strip and repair my camera before I leave, and to bring whatever spare parts I might need, but this might be a little too extreme for some people.

Digital will be much lighter, unfortunately, because you won't have to carry 4 months of film (>30 rolls, for me). Sometimes debates are resolved here.

Have fun!

Clarence

04-25-2006, 00:20
I assume the main purpose of the trip is work and not photography? One camera - a Nikonos V.

Thanks for the quick response! Yes, the main purpose, for me, is to gain valuable experience with their work projects. However, the work is limited to 6 shifts of 8 hours during the week. This allows me for ample time to explore the island with my probing eye. I plan to gain valuable experience with my newfound hobby as well.

One thing about suggesting cameras- IT'S A NEW LANGUAGE TO ME, so please have pity on me and explain why you choose a particular make/model that I do not currently own, and how expensive you think it is. This will cut down my research incredibly!

Thanks again!!!

sf
04-25-2006, 00:26
Something waterproof. Nikonos is a good idea, ChrisN.

Of course, something 100% mechanical would be a good idea.

clarence
04-25-2006, 00:30
Here's another idea that just popped in my head:

How about bringing 2 cameras: 1 for 'serious' photography, and one for snapshots to document your time there?

The snapshot camera could either be a simple half-frame camera or a digital point-and-shoot or any other similarly sized camera. You can carry this everywhere, even when you're working, and use it for when you want to just take pictures of vaguely interesting things. For the times when you will be able to focus completely on photography, you can take out the Xpan instead. You can save a lot of film this way, and you will find that your exposures on the Xpan will be of a much more consistent quality.

That's how I divide my film and equipment use. I hope this helps!

Clarence

Jocko
04-25-2006, 00:32
Xpan, the best advice has already been given: take your favourite camera/s.

But in the abstract this situation points to one of the advantages of the RF camera. A Bessa R with 3 or 4 lenses would weigh very little, take up next to no space and produce absolutely excellent results. And - if the camera was damaged - it would not exactly be a financial disaster!

As for beig trapped on an island... some of us have been for years! :D

Cheers, Ian

trev2401
04-25-2006, 00:39
Nikon FM2 and tons of rolls of film...

04-25-2006, 00:41
Here's another idea that just popped in my head:

How about bringing 2 cameras: 1 for 'serious' photography, and one for snapshots to document your time there?

The snapshot camera could either be a simple half-frame camera or a digital point-and-shoot or any other similarly sized camera. You can carry this everywhere, even when you're working, and use it for when you want to just take pictures of vaguely interesting things. For the times when you will be able to focus completely on photography, you can take out the Xpan instead. You can save a lot of film this way, and you will find that your exposures on the Xpan will be of a much more consistent quality.

That's how I divide my film and equipment use. I hope this helps!

Clarence

Clarence,

That is a very good point. Even if I don't bring my laptop, I could still download my shots to computers they have, upload them to an email address or some other system (they have a dedicated NOAA satellite dish that provides internet). If I got a point and shoot, which one would you recommend for size, durability, and megapixels (keeping in mind I'm talking a few hundred dollars at most)?

This does, however, present me with a further problem if I want to be able to take underwater shots. I count three cameras with this system. Anybody know of a point and shoot underwater digital camera that doesn't cost an arm and a leg (I'll need the arm and leg for the work and the pointing and clicking). I am all for multifunctionality, which is one good reason for taking the XPan, since it has standard AND panoramic from which to choose.

zuikologist
04-25-2006, 00:56
Perhaps a rangefinder outfit for land and a waterproof digital for underwater (Pentax make one I think), which you could also use as a snapshot camera and a back up in case of accidents. Lots memory cards, film and batteries or a charger.

clarence
04-25-2006, 00:57
Clarence,

That is a very good point. Even if I don't bring my laptop, I could still download my shots to computers they have, upload them to an email address or some other system (they have a dedicated NOAA satellite dish that provides internet). If I got a point and shoot, which one would you recommend for size, durability, and megapixels (keeping in mind I'm talking a few hundred dollars at most)?

This does, however, present me with a further problem if I want to be able to take underwater shots. I count three cameras with this system. Anybody know of a point and shoot underwater digital camera that doesn't cost an arm and a leg (I'll need the arm and leg for the work and the pointing and clicking). I am all for multifunctionality, which is one good reason for taking the XPan, since it has standard AND panoramic from which to choose.

I'm sorry but I'm quite ignorant about digital cameras. I'm sure there are other RFF members who will have much to offer you in terms of advice, though.

As for your underwater needs, if you do intend to take plenty of underwater photos, then I would concur with the suggestion to bring a Nikonos. There's another thread in this sub-forum that might be useful:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22420

Another option is to purchase an underwater case or bag for your digital camera. The last time I checked, they were in the range of about 50USD and above for digital point-and-shoots. These bags fit over your camera and allow you to use them underwater.

If you do have internet access, then you should seriously consider at least bringing one digital camera. If your Xpan breaks, you can take photos of it and send them to the forum to ask for help!

Clarence

04-26-2006, 22:10
This thread was copied here from the General Discussion original, which is getting more comments, so if you want, you can switch to that one. http://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...ead.php?t=22510

Gabriel M.A.
04-27-2006, 06:29
I'd say any camera that has a mechanical shutter. Or, rather, one that doesn't depend on batteries for its operation (unless it's only and only for a light meter, without which you can still take pictures).

BTW, the URL you posted above is invalid.

Perhaps you'd like to bring a tripod; who knows, perhaps you'd like to do some long-exposure shots of star trails (there's an idea). Don't forget a timer, cord, etc.

Sounds exciting. I'd be nervous myself. Bring a GameBoy and an iPod...just in case ;)

ch1
05-05-2006, 19:54
Isn't this about the third or fourth version of the same thread? :confused:

Trius
05-30-2006, 15:43
People, people... there is NO need for a camera on a tropical island. Snapping photos only subtracts from time with nubile young island maidens. Sheesh... get a grip!

ikiru
05-30-2006, 16:05
Having just returned from a three month trip with a 38L bag (aka quite small) Which all told was 20lb(including camera gear). I'll put in my two cents. I brought with me.

Leica M2 + 50mm f1.5 + 15mm + 90mm f4
Olympus Stylus Epic
small tripod for the epic
ziplock to fill with beans/sand to make a tripod
Gossen Light Meter

I was in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I spent a lot of time on the beach surfing etc in costa rica, and hauling around the whole kit, which I didn't use except the epic for a few "look how amazing this beach is" type shots. So a ended up leaving the leica a safe place in Costa Rica before a left for Nicaragua. The rest of the trip was pure stylus epic (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/ikiru/ for the results). I like the epic but actually wished I had a middle sized Digital with some manual controls for the trip (the right one isn't made yet). The uncertaintly of using a point and shoot combinded with a 3 month waiting period is a little too much. When I use the leica, I have a good idea of what the results are going to be, which isn't always the case with my film P&S. It also would have been nice to email friends photos etc during the trip.

Basically I realized that I'm not much of a travel type photographer, I like to focus on the trip and the experience, not my camera. So a good digital camera would have been just the ticket even though all in all I prefer film when I'm at home. My other thoughts were that I should have left the leica at home and bought a Hexar AF. Basically you need to ask your self, is the trip about photography or the experience?

sf
05-30-2006, 16:31
Xpan + 45 or 30. Not both. Just one lens. If you're on an island, the panoramic format just makes alot of sense.

remembering "Castaway" . . .

Iskra 2
06-22-2006, 19:54
I'd take an Iskra 2 and much film. They are inexpensive, have no batteries, good glass, accurate rangefinder, medium format for big prints, relatively small for an MF camera, almost indestructible, simple repairs if broken, etc, etc. :) Regards.

MacDaddy
06-26-2006, 04:40
Since I have this kit—Nikon D200 Digital SLR (Sorry guys—getting the photos is important!) w/ 18-200 VRII Zoom, 105 VR II Macro, 4-8GB CF cards, 15" Macbook Pro w/120GB HD, solar charger, LaCie 320GB external USB-powered HD, Lowepro backpack; Zeiss Ikon, CV 25/4, ZM 50/2, 50 rolls of film — total weight; 28.5 pounds. That leaves me 11.5 pounds for an underwater housing and/or tripod.

vodid
06-26-2006, 04:51
Given your 40 pound weight limit, and the heat of the tropics, it makes film less desirable. Plus, you are already toting your laptop, to which you can transfer your digital images. If it was my choice, I'd use a digital underwater camera. There are quite a few from which to choose, and they are not overly expensive. This will allow you the relief of not worrying about sand and water penetrating your expensive film camera. And since this sounds like a one-time-only experience, I'd take two of these digital underwater cameras in case one of them fails. Also, I'd pack some CD's so you can back up your digital files in case you have a hard drive crash on your laptop. I guess I'm a paranoid guy, eh?

narsuitus
07-15-2006, 15:41
If I were stuck on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific for 4 months, I would take my Nikonos III underwater camera with the 35mm and 80mm lenses that can be used underwater or on the surface. Since the camera is completely manual/mechanical it does not require batteries. It is also well sealed against sand and moisture.

A polarizing filter, a graduated neutral density filter, a tabletop tripod, and a battery-free hand-held light meter are additional items that I might carry.

MP Guy
08-09-2006, 14:30
Nikon FM2 with a short zoom or 2 primes.

raid
08-09-2006, 15:57
I would take along a woman.

Raid

triplefinger
08-09-2006, 16:02
It's hard to find a 40 pound woman, much less one that fits in a backpack.

I'd take a yashica t4 and the rest in film and a change of batteries.

see attached pic.

I like the nikonos idea too



I would take along a woman.

Raid

Magus
08-10-2006, 02:56
Post deleted by posters request

jaapv
08-10-2006, 04:02
I would forget about the clothes and concentrate on what model...

Nachkebia
08-10-2006, 04:28
4 month!? common! you have to take all of em :)

stephen_lumsden
08-10-2006, 05:58
MF: Rolleiflex-T
or
P&S: Rollei afm35

rgds

Stephen

freeranger
08-10-2006, 13:23
Are you flying from the UK? If so, you should pack your lomo in your checked luggage.

David Goldfarb
08-10-2006, 14:11
Sounds like a great trip! I'd take what you're comfortable with. You want some sort of underwater camera for the Northwest islands, and the longest lens you have for birds, which will still not be long enough except maybe for albatrosses, which are fairly approachable.

I've been spending two months on Moloka'i, and I brought my Linhof Tech V 4x5" kit, because it's the most versatile camera I have. If I had a 40 lb. weight limit, I'd probably take my Gowland 4x5" PocketView and some lightweight lenses, and a folding medium format rangefinder for handheld shots. On the other hand, since it would be such a fantastic birding opportunity, I'd probably figure some way to get my birding kit on the plane--600/4.5, Canon F-1N, and the Gowland with two lenses for landscapes and macros.

T_om
08-13-2006, 09:40
Forget film. This is a DSLR job if ever there was one.

Especially as you mention computer and upload capacity.

If weight were paramount, I would take a Canon 5D, a 28-105 IS zoom, a 300mm fixed tele (the f-stop being adjusted to whatever your budget and size limits are) and all the 8gb CF cards I could afford.

This is not rangefinder photography. It feeds into about every weakness in the RF system while emphasizing none of the strengths except light weight.

Film is a non-starter for too many reasons to enumerate. A REALLY bad idea.

Tom

ampguy
08-13-2006, 13:16
A pentax *ist. There is no doubt that when you find the natives, they will have knowledge with K-mount lens making ;)

Magus
08-14-2006, 02:56
Post deleted by posters request

shutterbug
08-26-2006, 16:00
If trapped on an island...I would go the Magnum member Philip Jones Griffiths route, and use a single Leica camera with a 50mm lens and 10 rolls of Tri-x.
With that set up, you should be able to come off the island with enough photographs to clearly document your time spent there.

Magus
08-27-2006, 03:43
Post deleted by posters request

BillBingham2
12-11-2006, 20:30
A lot depends upon the Island. Governors Island, Staten Island, Long Island, Ireland, Cuba, Faulkland Islands, New Zealand, which one? Well, lets say the Island has less people and less facilities.

Crown Graphic with a 6x9 back and say 30 rolls of 220 Tri-X and a tripod. Digital light meter and batteries. Nikonos III with a 35/2.5, 15/4.5, 40/1.4, 105/2.5 and my Leica M6 and about 60 rolls of 36 exp. Minolta table top tripod, cable release (2 of them), GGBs (30 or so, Green Garbage Bages, contractor grade) and some duck tape.

B2 (;->