From the Kayak

Not the greatest of images I've shot, but I've been asked questions about kayaking with cameras before, so my recent trip makes this a good time to answer them as a teaching point.

First up, you really want one of the cameras designed for water use when you're only six inches off the water all day. I've tried a dozen of those waterproof compact cameras, and the only two that do well for a serious photographer, IMHO, are the Coolpix AW100 and the Olympus T-G1 (this photo was taken with a TG-1).

Pity that none of these cameras shoot raw, though. For that, you'd have to go to a bigger camera with a dedicated waterproof housing. For example, I use the Canon G1X with Canon's inexpensive housing when I need to shoot raw on the water, but that makes for a slightly bulky package on a kayak. Manageable, but barely.

However, today's main point is this: note how my partner's camera is vulnerable: handstrap not attached, holding the camera with gloves. Very easy to have the camera slip from you, and then all your images are gone to the bottom of whatever you're paddling. (Hint: download before you head out.) But you can't really have the handstrap always attached while paddling, as the camera gets in the way. My way of dealing with this potential problem is to use the AW100 or TG-1 with a "floatie strap".

Even if you don't use a waterproof camera you'll still want a floatie. First, these straps are easier to get on and off your hands when kayaking. But if you drop your camera into the water, it will float (at least enough to retrieve it and all the images you've shot so far). The downside is that they're bulkier to deal with overall, so make sure you've figured out where the camera goes while you're actually paddling and how you'll handle the awkward floating part.

My camera slips into a pocket on the front of my PFD with the floatie left hanging out. Yes, that means that I had to pick a PFD that had a pocket in which my camera would fit. A lot of kayakers instead use a clear waterproof box strapped to the deck just in front of them. They put their camera away in the box when it's not in use. There isn't a camera store at the dock where you depart, so you've got to figure all this out long before you put your bottom end down the cockpit. And yes, we're headed for that cave in the glacier ;~)
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