Fly Fishing & Photography (Digital SLR camera management?)

Discussion in 'Photography / Video' started by Chris Puma, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. Chris Puma hates waking up early

    Posts: 966
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    I recently aquired a Digital SLR. Seems criminal not to use it on river. I asked someone who was into photography (not fly fishing) about taking it on river with me and he instructed me to leave it at home. Of course, I'm persistent and his advice is only a small deterent.

    I wade 90% of the time so I'm much more concerned than if I were prodomently in a boat.

    Anyone have experience with bringing photography equipment on river? (especially SLR's, ie not point and shoot)

    Any suggestions, tips, equipment, lenses?

    Any advice on camera management, setting up shots, etc...?

  2. LT Member

    Posts: 528
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    I'd find the best waterproof carrying system to meet your needs. Is the camera small enough to fit in a carrier that can be attached to a belt? If so maybe that is the way to go. Or maybe a waterproof camera carrier that has a neck strap, or one that will fit in a pack. Then once you pull the camera out of it's pack make sure it has a wrist / neck strap to keep it from taking a dip when in use. Anyway, you get my drift.
  3. 05tacoma Member

    Posts: 246
    Auburn, WA
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    Simms has a camera dry bag that looks really nice. My feeling is that if you are just taking shots to record your catches there are plenty of good, cheap compacts that will work great and are much easier to stow than a DSLR. The only way I'd take my DSLR out fishing is if I was specifically looking to shoot some stock or hoped to make an enlargement bigger than 11x14.

    If you really need quality, why not get a good used film SLR off of ebay to tote around? You can get a decent camera and standard lens for around $75. And my guess is regardless of brand it will be far more bullet-proof than the DSLR. I picked up a couple of mint AE-1's with 50 1.8's for about $75 each.
  4. jackchinook Member

    Posts: 312
    Winthrop, WA
    Ratings: +9 / 0
    The guys that recommend not using your DSLR (or SLR) just don't get it. When you know what you can get using a DSLR, a point & shoot simply won't suffice, and you'll just find yourself wishing you had it.

    Here's a low budget solution that I'm happy with.
    Get a REAL drybag from REI or NRS or another whitewater rafting supplier-type outfitter (around $20). Find one lens that'll suit your needs and something like a fleece or heavy shirt to wrap it in inside the drybag. When I fish off the beaten path, I use a daypack with the drybag and camera inside. If I take a swim, the camera will be fine.

    The other option, of course, is a dedicated underwater housing, which costs more than the DSLR itself.
  5. kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    Posts: 946
    Muskie country!
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Exactly. I've got an SLR, and I gave up wading with it long ago. I will use it from a boat. The only time I've used it "on foot" was fishing lakes on Kodiak for salmon, where you can stand in one spot and catch fish all day long. I'd set it on a tripod in knee deep water and do the same as when I'm in a boat. Shot composed, focused and ready. I just stand there in front of the timer.

    So giving up on the SLR wading, I'm now with an Olympus 720 which is submersible. I'm not sure about the above comment about not using my SLR so I "don't get it." I fish alone. So if I'm taking a picture of myself with a fish, I'm going to have at least one hand on the fish, the other on the camera. I can't manage an SLR with one hand, and I'm not going to lug a tripod up and down the river, and try to set it all up and compose the shot for each fish I catch. It's not fair to the fish for me to hang on to it while I'm jacking with my camera. Now if I fished with someone, and they could compose the shot, and was willing to carry the camera, then yeah, it'd be the way to go.

    But for me, SLR's are too cumbersome to wade with, and just not conducive to wading alone.

  6. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,135
    Not sure
    Ratings: +1,224 / 0
    Hmmm . . . let's do the math.

    Nikon D50 or Canon Digital Rebel with kit lens and 1gb card: about $950 give or take.

    Nikon D200 body without lens: about $1800

    Canon Eos 1Ds Mk II body without lens: about $2700

    That sinking feeling when you realize that you've just dunked your new digital SLR without buying a dedicated underwater housing: Priceless

    Maybe you're made out of money but I'm certainly not. I leave my Nikon D100 and D200 at home when I go fishing.

    Yes a dry bag will keep the camera dry when you're not using it, but you've got to take it out of the bag to take pictures with it. Then, it's not a question of IF you're gonna dunk it, but WHEN.

    If you're dead set on taking fish porn, get one of the new waterproof P&S digitals. IMHO, it'll be money well spent, especailly the peace of mind in knowing that your 'good' camer is safe and dry at home.

  7. kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    Posts: 946
    Muskie country!
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Also exactly! My 720 P&S is 7.1 mp, and will take a frame worthy photograph, is submersible, and is the size of a deck of cards. I've got it on a zinger like I do my forceps. The size, peace of mind and ruggedness are priceless to me as well.

  8. Kevin J. Burnham Active Member

    Posts: 2,146
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    All that has been said is good info. I was late to the digital game and for years carried my 35 mm's with me all the time. I like Jeff still take my big camera and use it in the boat only with my W20 when wading. If you do carry it I found something that worked for me. I use Ortlieb packs. The one I use for my large 35 is one that goes around the neck and chest and worked well for me.
  9. gt Active Member

    Posts: 2,616
    sequim, WA
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    the nikon d70 with a single lenses goes in the boat all the time. i have a roll top dry bag for those soaker days. the bag and camera survived tropic rain storms in CR, no problem at all. of course it really helps to have a second set of hands along to actually operate the camera while one or the other of you is fighting a fish. the pacific sail was photographed with that d70 set on rapid fire. so about 20 exposures were there from which the one in the album was selected as a keeper :) that would never have happened with a point and shoot camera.

    if you have equipment, use it.
  10. Matt Smith On the river Noyb

    Posts: 906
    Monroe, WA
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Well I have also faced this problem. I solved it this way. I use my digital point and shoot when I am fishing alone. When I bring a friend i designate them photographer with my Nikon DSLR in a dry bag. That way i don't have to juggle fish landing and photo taking. I enjoy using my DSLR on the river because the quality of nature shots is just priceless. Get a dry bag and just be carefull.
  11. yuhina Tropical member

    Posts: 2,320
    Ratings: +43 / 0
    Depends how crazy you are regarding to phtography. Kevin's dry bag is what I would suggest. But between take out and put in are the most risky moment to wet your camera. There are several benefits that the P&S can not replace. like the control depth of field, the aperture effect, lens types... etc... again, all depends how serious (nuts) you are. They are heavier than P&S too. While other people enjoy the rhythm and you will carrying a bulky big bag... photos come from a Japanese friend...
    and a professional FF photographer website

  12. mrpunkin Bryan Corey

    Posts: 152
    Battle Ground, WA
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    My feeling is this... if you really are feeling like you want the shot, and think you can pull off more than just a "check out my catch" shot but maybe an artistically composed shot then it's worth the risk. I bought my SLR and then my DSLR to travel with, to go places that get me out of my normal surroundings and get me inspired. I find myself wishing I had it often while fishing and have even packed it in and out of some of the spots we go... but without any dry bag or hard waterproof case I just don't take it as much as I wished.

    I put it in just as much risk away from the river as I would taking it out of the drybag on the river with some of the places I have shot... it's definitely more the wading across the river, getting around boulders, etc while its in my pack that worries me, which a dry bag would fix.

    Point is, if you bought your camera but it just sits at home during the times you wish you had it, then its not making the purchase worth it in my mind.
  13. Chris Puma hates waking up early

    Posts: 966
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    Is there a way to get his site in English? I'd like to read his blog.

    This might be the absolute safest way to go about it. I definitely agree that juggling a fish and photo taking is an accident waiting to occur.

    I'd definitely agree the most dangerous time for the camera is preparing it for shooting. I'll rule out getting my camera out of the dry bag while concentrating on not stressing out my fish.

    For the price of underwater housing, you could just buy a back up camera! I'd love to get an underwater set up. It'd be great for fishing in the salt. Definitely not going to happen though.
  14. alpinetrout Banned or Parked

    Posts: 3,891
    Hiding in your closet
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    For wading, just keep it in a dry bag, and if you're really worried, buy camera insurance. Always use the neck strap. In a boat it's tough to beat a Pelican case. There's a certain inherent risk with cameras and water in close proximity to each other, but leaving the SLR at home for fear of getting it wet is just way over the top paranoia. The P&S cameras will give you decent shots, but they'll never compare to what you can do with your SLR, so I say use the SLR as much as possible.

    Housings are good if you want to dive and take lots of underwater shots, otherwise they're just an expensive, bulky alternative to a Pelican case that you'll find you leave at home because it's not worth the trouble. They're great for P&S cameras, but way overboard for simple dunk protection for an SLR. Insurance is way cheaper.
  15. Snake tryin' not to get too comfortable

    Posts: 621
    between the mountains and the sound
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    If you don't have a camera to document it, you'll always catch big fish! :ray1:

    Taking solo photos of fish-in-the-hand is a pain in the ass, but I always love photos that capture the essence of the trip (steak on the grill, rain in the sunlight, close-ups of dead salmon, self-timers of wading deep and throwing long), but it's the reward vs. hassle factor. As much work as it is, I love the memories photos give me (that can't be "contrived" or "forgotten" in my own mind, with the passing of time). The veracity of captured pixels is incontravertible and permanent.

    Good ideas offered here. Figure out a good way to safely carry your recording device, while maintaining accessibility, use it often, and enjoy the images. The technology is crazy. Just try not to let it become the whole sum reason for your ramblings (unless you're a commercial photographer). Plain memories are okay, too.
  16. Mike Active Member

    Posts: 239
    Someplace between here and there
    Ratings: +39 / 0
    I use a digital SLR when fishing. How and where I plan on fishing dictates how I carry the camera. In small waters I put the camera on a belt and carry it in a small Ortlieb waterproof bag. If I am fishing deeper water or flats, I keep the camera in a small waterproof bag and carry it in a back pack (Camelback Cloudwalker). The pack allows me to wade deeper and should I take a spill, the camera is still (mostly) protected. When it is raining, I use a compact digital.

    You can throw monopod in the pack or a light tripod in the pack if you are fishing alone. Both will allow much better shots n low light conditions when contrast and fishing are the best. My Canon has a remote trip so I don’t need to worry about using a timer. The Nikon should offer the same option.

    You have the camera, use it and enjoy it. It may take a swim one day, but at least you will have gotten something out of it. Not using it is like have a nice fly rod that sits at home coz you are afraid it will break. All both of them will do is depreciate. That is unless you have one of Kent’s bamboo rods.

  17. kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    Posts: 946
    Muskie country!
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    So you for those of you who fish alone with an SLR, you carry a tripod, catch a fish, and then set up the tripod, compose the shot-zoom, frame, focus- and then use a remote or timer?

    You do all of that all the while hanging onto a fish you just caught? If I'm hearing you right, that's just too much hassle for me. It's not wether I want I to get my camera wet, it's the bulk of carrying it, time and hassle, and time spent handling the fish that makes it not worth it for me. In a boat, or on a beach where I'll be fishing one spot, and I set up a tripod, then yeah, I use an SLR too, but I can't imagine the hassle of composing a shot with an SLR with one hand on the camera/tripod, and the other on a large wild steelhead.

    I use my SLR plenty. But I use it where I've got two hands and the ability to set up the shot and make it worth it.

  18. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,135
    Not sure
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    IMHO, Jeff hits the nail square on the head here.

    The real question is: what is it you're trying to do? Be a quasi-professional photographer taking artsy fishing shots? Or be a fisherman making the most of his day on the water.

    For my money, you won't do either well if you try to do both at the same time.

  19. yuhina Tropical member

    Posts: 2,320
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  20. agent montana This Must be a sickness!! MARINATE!!!

    Posts: 562
    Groove City!
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    Yeah I am with Alpine! Insurance is way cheaper and when they do go dunk you simply get it fixed or get a new one! Your point & shoot will never compare to the comparison..A pelican box in the boat is almost a requirement. A dry bag with a strp thrown to the back is essential when out...