Tropical Photography Gear

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Nshepard
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Tropical Photography Gear

Post by Nshepard » September 5th, 2013, 2:29 pm

So, I looks like I'll be venturing into the Amazon once again, and this time I'm heading to Colombia. I don't leave until October 10th but I'm trying to have all my gear purchased and ready well before that date approaches any further. My basic camera equipment (body, lenses, flashes, soft boxes, etc) is taken care of - aka I don't have the $$ to upgrade at this point, so I'm just trying to make due, and make it through, with what I have. However, I want to drastically improve how I carry my camera in the field (e.g. bags, rain gear).

Last time I headed down to the Amazon (Ecuador, 2008) I didn't really know what I was getting myself into as far as rain + humidity + night hikes, so there were a lot of nights I didn't bring my camera with me out of fear of a heavy rain. I do no want to repeat this. For my standard night hike I'm carrying two lenses, two flash units, and my camera body. Also, for about 7 of the days we'll be backpacking so I need to consolidate my gear, clothes, hammock, and food into one bag. I'm thinking of getting a smaller bag, perhaps a belt bag or sling bag for this trip so that I backpack with it folded up in the pack and need night hike with it. And, I'd like something were I can just throw my gear (camera, etc) into the bag and not have to worry about rain. At first I was thinking about getting a heavy duty dry bag, something like this (http://www.amazon.com/Outdoor-Products- ... ds=dry+bag). But then, I was thinking how about something more comfortable with padding etc. and I starting looking at belt bags / shoulder bags:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/5 ... tpack.html (with rain over!)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/5 ... tpack.html

Some of the reviews state that they are not comfortable, which to me is a secondary concern - I just want something safe for my equipment.

I've also been curious if any of you have tried these rain sleeves. Thoughts?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/4 ... et_of.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/8 ... r_for.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/5 ... ck_of.html

Anyway, I was wondering how y'all gear up for night hikes in the neotropics. What you've tried, what has failed, and what to stay away from. Thanks!

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Stohlgren
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by Stohlgren » September 5th, 2013, 2:56 pm

I don't have any ideas for a bag, though I would feel perfectly comfortable taking my f-stop loka down there. The internal ICU (if you don't get the largest size) leaves room for hiking/backpacking gear.

I have used those rain sleeves. To be honest, they are a big hassle. But I don't know of any better options. I would probably bring one or two as they don't take up any space.

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CCarille
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by CCarille » September 5th, 2013, 3:20 pm

I've also used rain sleeves before... good if the lens has a long hood on it, otherwise rain will still get on the front lens.

I would suggest bringing bags of rice... like a homemade desiccant packet. Just get a few bags of rice in plastic baggies and poke a few holes in one as a reusable bag. It'll help keep moisture out of the body (put the rice bag in your camera bag).

I have a backpack that has a waterproof bottom for a camera and lenses, but I won't recommend it if you plan on backpacking with a tent, sleeping bag, etc. If you're still interested I'll go take a look and get an exact model for you.

I'd suggest a pop-up light tent. Andrew (Snyder) has some great photos from Guyana using one.

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chrish
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by chrish » September 5th, 2013, 8:58 pm

I would actually suggest getting a relatively inexpensive waterproof point and shoot camera. We have an Olympus TG-2, but there are number of good models available. They would be useful to have if you want to go out when it is simply raining too hard to trust your expensive gear. They aren't cheap, but a great fall back and better than missing that once in a lifetime photo op.

When I was down in the Amazon and Cloud forests of Ecuador, I used my LowePro Naturetrecker backpack which has a built in rainfly. However, I also purchased an inexpensive backpack cover (sort of like this but smaller - http://www.basspro.com/Ascend-Backpack- ... /10219203/). I carried my camera backpack a lot in the rain with this on it.

I also have a drybag which will hold my DSLR with my 100-400 lens attached. I basically carried my camera like that when out on canoes, etc.. It doesn't take a second to pull it out and grab a photo. Drybags are pretty cheap at Academy and the like so you could get a few to hold your lenses, flash, etc.

One thing we found very useful for keeping our binoculars dry during rain were cheap plastic showercaps. They easily fit in a pocket and can quickly be pulled over binocs in a second and they stay on because of the elastic. You can probably get one or more free at any hotel if you are too cheap to buy one. I also covered my camera with my macro lens with them on occasion. We just bought about a dozen each at Walmart and replaced them if/when they got too worn.

Cheap walmart plastic ponchos are great as well. They fit in a pocket and can be pulled on over you and your backpack at the same time. At around $1 each, they don't have to last. I usually have half a dozen of them in my gear when I go somewhere like that.

We also carried lots of different sizes of ziploc bags (including the biggest ones) and a bunch of silica dessicant packs for drying stuff out if need be. I would put my camera in a ziplock or drybag with dessicant every night after coming in from the rainforest or cloudforest.

Lastly, remember your camera gear is just gear. It is meant to be used. I camera that is too fragile to be used in real world field conditions is like a car without an engine.

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justinm
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by justinm » September 6th, 2013, 8:05 am

I agree with what Chris is saying. I like Sealine brand dry bags. I usually get the marine grade as they are sturdy and don't rip. The cheaper sacks I've used for canoeing when there's little chance of them getting snagged. People on Naturescapes.net use the rain sleeves a lot and seem to be happy with how they work.

Also like Chris said there are decent P&S shoots that are rugged made and waterproof. I have an older molder Olympus Stylus and have snorkeled rivers with it in my pocket. The only downside with it is that is has limited zoom. Otherwise it's a good camera for what it is.

I'm sure you know but a big bag of rice works wonders for Camera gear and phones. I've had it save me a few times.

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jason folt
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by jason folt » September 6th, 2013, 2:09 pm

What I tend to do is have a dry bag like your first images with my camera and gear that fits in my comfortable backpack. This works very well to a point. Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution.

The problem with water tight bags and dry bags is once moisture gets in, they are impossible to dry out. Dessicant packs are helpful. Honestly, no matter how good your dry bag is though, if you try to pull your gear out in a rain storm, everything, including your camera will get wet. It will be impossible to dry your camera off in the field, and you will be putting a soaking wet camera back into a dry bag.

The perils of tropical herping. I toasted my old Nikon D200 in Costa Rica in a torrential downpour. But it was for a once in a lifetime frog - totally worth it if you ask me. I missed out on pics of other more common stuff we saw later. Luckily, it was the last night.

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Jason

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Antonsrkn
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by Antonsrkn » September 6th, 2013, 2:37 pm

I just spent a few months in Borneo, there were times where I was unavoidably caught out in the rain. I always carried a pack cover which definitely helped but didn't keep my pack 100% dry after a torrential downpour. The other thing I did which was very helpful was put all my lenses, gear, electronics in individual appropriately sized ziplock baggies within the backpack. So I had a pack cover protecting my camera backpack and 5-6 ziplock baggies inside protecting the camera and lenses. The ziplock baggies were the ones that seal with a slider so they wouldn't pop open on their own. I would also toss individual silica packs into each ziplock and periodically replace them, the main bag of silica packs was triple bagged in ziplocks to keep it dry. Is it the perfect solution? No, but its cheap and was effective for me.

AsydaBass
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by AsydaBass » September 7th, 2013, 11:08 am

I use a 30L Sealline Baja dry bag that fits perfectly inside my top-loading 58L Osprey Exos pack. There is a "normal" sized ziplock in the dry bag that I fill with silica which absorbs any moisture that finds its way into the dry bag. I then cover the pack with an Osprey rainfly. I've never had any problems with this setup. The rainfly does a pretty good job on its own and the dry bag seals the deal.

-Don
www.RainforestDon.com

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justinm
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by justinm » September 10th, 2013, 6:06 am

Don,

I'm using an Osprey bag, along with sea line dry bags as well. I think some of us tried the cheaper stuff and decided it's not worth it at some point. I love my Osprey bag.

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Nshepard
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by Nshepard » September 12th, 2013, 9:30 pm

Thanks for all the replies! Sorry, I couldn't reply sooner, was out of town and didn't have great internet access.
Stohlgren wrote:I don't have any ideas for a bag, though I would feel perfectly comfortable taking my f-stop loka down there. The internal ICU (if you don't get the largest size) leaves room for hiking/backpacking gear.

I have used those rain sleeves. To be honest, they are a big hassle. But I don't know of any better options. I would probably bring one or two as they don't take up any space.
Those bags are awesome but are a fair amount above my pay grade. That is pretty much what I was thinking with those rain sleeves.
CCarille wrote:I've also used rain sleeves before... good if the lens has a long hood on it, otherwise rain will still get on the front lens.

I would suggest bringing bags of rice... like a homemade desiccant packet. Just get a few bags of rice in plastic baggies and poke a few holes in one as a reusable bag. It'll help keep moisture out of the body (put the rice bag in your camera bag).

I have a backpack that has a waterproof bottom for a camera and lenses, but I won't recommend it if you plan on backpacking with a tent, sleeping bag, etc. If you're still interested I'll go take a look and get an exact model for you.

I'd suggest a pop-up light tent. Andrew (Snyder) has some great photos from Guyana using one.
Huh, I didn't think of that with the rain sleeves, as I never use (or even own) a lens hood. I was planning on getting several silica packets - seeing how cheap you can get them online...~50 for 10 bucks. I'll be using a hammock - small, lightweight, and I sleep great in them!
chrish wrote:I would actually suggest getting a relatively inexpensive waterproof point and shoot camera. We have an Olympus TG-2, but there are number of good models available. They would be useful to have if you want to go out when it is simply raining too hard to trust your expensive gear. They aren't cheap, but a great fall back and better than missing that once in a lifetime photo op.
Would not be a bad idea but I don't really have the extra $$ to go that route seeing how I'm so invested in my DSLR. A friend of mine actually has that camera and loves it.
chrish wrote:When I was down in the Amazon and Cloud forests of Ecuador, I used my LowePro Naturetrecker backpack which has a built in rainfly. However, I also purchased an inexpensive backpack cover (sort of like this but smaller - http://www.basspro.com/Ascend-Backpack- ... /10219203/). I carried my camera backpack a lot in the rain with this on it.
Dang, that ain't a bad price. And, I have the same camera pack.
chrish wrote:We also carried lots of different sizes of ziploc bags (including the biggest ones) and a bunch of silica dessicant packs for drying stuff out if need be. I would put my camera in a ziplock or drybag with dessicant every night after coming in from the rainforest or cloudforest.

Lastly, remember your camera gear is just gear. It is meant to be used. I camera that is too fragile to be used in real world field conditions is like a car without an engine.
That is exactly what I did on my last trip and what I am planning to do on this one. When my camera equipment is not in use it'll be in a ziplock bag with silica packs. Very true! You don't have to tell me about used camera gear...it still has mud on it from Ecuador.
jason folt wrote:What I tend to do is have a dry bag like your first images with my camera and gear that fits in my comfortable backpack. This works very well to a point. Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution.

The problem with water tight bags and dry bags is once moisture gets in, they are impossible to dry out. Dessicant packs are helpful. Honestly, no matter how good your dry bag is though, if you try to pull your gear out in a rain storm, everything, including your camera will get wet. It will be impossible to dry your camera off in the field, and you will be putting a soaking wet camera back into a dry bag.

The perils of tropical herping. I toasted my old Nikon D200 in Costa Rica in a torrential downpour. But it was for a once in a lifetime frog - totally worth it if you ask me. I missed out on pics of other more common stuff we saw later. Luckily, it was the last night.
I'm going to keep my camera gear in ziplocks while it is in my pack but at night (or when otherwise not using it) it will be in a zip lock with silica packets. I'm just going to have to careful in rainy situations, and honestly from my time in Ecuador I didn't find much during rain events other than occasionally calling frogs.
AsydaBass wrote:I use a 30L Sealline Baja dry bag that fits perfectly inside my top-loading 58L Osprey Exos pack. There is a "normal" sized ziplock in the dry bag that I fill with silica which absorbs any moisture that finds its way into the dry bag. I then cover the pack with an Osprey rainfly. I've never had any problems with this setup. The rainfly does a pretty good job on its own and the dry bag seals the deal.
So, I'm pretty much going this route but at night I'm going to be suspending my pack up like a hammock with its own rainfly.



So, I am using this pack (http://www.amazon.co.uk/ORTLIEB-MOUNTAI ... B007CNL9KS) during the 7 day backpacking portion. Its basically a dry bag meets backpack. Plus, I'm getting to use it for free just for this trip. Inside this main bag I'll break down everything in 3-4 smaller dry bags. I'm still leaning on getting that belt camera bag for night hiking, as it can fit just about all the gear I need for in-situ, etc photos that I would take on a night hike (2 lenses, 2 flashes, 1 body, 2 small soft boxes, 1 flash bracket, etc.).

Erik Williams
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by Erik Williams » September 24th, 2013, 9:42 pm

I highly recommend not having time for that BS.

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » September 25th, 2013, 2:45 am

It's been said before, but I'll just flog that dead donkey a little more: To make very damn sure, get a backpack you're comfortable with (that Ortlieb thing looks good!), and which has a rain sleeve, then stuff it with dry bags that have silica/rice bags inside. Tons of them. Never leave home without them. Huge ones for the camera gear, tiny ones for the wallet etc. Buy five or six in different sizes. Can't ever have enough. But make sure to dry their insides out after every rainy outing, or they'll get mildewy inside!

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Nshepard
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Re: Tropical Photography Gear

Post by Nshepard » September 25th, 2013, 10:32 pm

Erik Williams wrote:I highly recommend not having time for that BS.
That is pretty awesome.
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:It's been said before, but I'll just flog that dead donkey a little more: To make very damn sure, get a backpack you're comfortable with (that Ortlieb thing looks good!), and which has a rain sleeve, then stuff it with dry bags that have silica/rice bags inside. Tons of them. Never leave home without them. Huge ones for the camera gear, tiny ones for the wallet etc. Buy five or six in different sizes. Can't ever have enough. But make sure to dry their insides out after every rainy outing, or they'll get mildewy inside!
The Ortlieb is pretty nice. I'm gear testing it, so fortunately I didn't have to pay the price in the link, but I have to give it back when I return. I got a 25 count bag of silica gel packets, I think that should cover me for 15 days. The only two things that are still on my list (besides stuff I'm still waiting on coming in the mail) are more eneloops / energizer lithium AAs and a bison belt.

I'll try and post a final gear list with an all the gear photo.

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