Monday, December 13, 2010

planning, and a camera

We are in the early process of roughing out the spring trip.  (I need to talk about spring right now as it has been snowing all day here, I need something to look forward to.)  Bruce and I agreed on sailing the middle part of Chesapeake Bay from Tangier Sound in the south to Tilghman Island in the north (or possibly higher on the bay).  
This would be some of the same area that we covered on the Crab House 150, and also some of the same area I visited on a solo sail last September on the Bay Days 220.  On the Crab House we were on a tight schedule heading up the bay and just sailed north on open water, bypassing a lot of interesting creeks, rivers and bays.  This time we'll meander up the coast, checking out those places along the way.
Starting places could be either Onancock (in Virginia) or Rumbley (in Maryland).  Possible ending points could be Cambridge, St. Michaels or, if the wind favors us, as far north as Chestertown on the Chester River.  All three of those possible stopping places have what we need to complete the trip - a nearby car rental spot so we can rent a car to retrieve my jeep and trailer for the drive home.

I came across an interesting camera the other day that I briefly considered as a replacement camera.  It is the GoPro HD Hero, a camera designed for adventure photography (both stills and video).  It is a video/still camera that comes in a housing with a variety of mounts.  They are available to mount on cars, surfboards, bikes and helmets.  The one I looked at, without mounting attachments, is called the "Naked" version.

Pluses of the camera are....

  • designed for the wear and tear of the outdoors
  • impact resistant housing good to 180 feet
  • 170 degree view (and from their sample photos there is little distortion)
  • presets for interval shooting of still images
  • hd video

Minus are....
  • that very wide angle lens is a fixed lens, no zooming
  • no preview window
  • very few controls
  • no flash
  • no close-up feature 

It is a pretty cool camera, take a look at this clip. (Keep in mind that is a low-rez stream, go to their home page for higher resolution.)  It might be perfect for adventure racing (I wonder what the EC crowd would think of this - maybe mounted on the nose of a kayak or a multihull sailboat??).  And it might be nice to have one of these as a second camera to mount somewhere - on the mast, on the end of the boom, on the bow - and forget about.  But I don't think it has the flexibility that I would like for a primary camera on cruises.  So right now the Pentax Optio W90 is the frontrunner, but I'm still doing some research.



DancesWithSandyBottom said...


Thanks for sharing your thoughts about cameras for sailing adventures. Much appreciated!

For the Dawn Patrol, I think I'm more interested in time-lapse than video, but some experimentation with both is probably needed.

The wide angle as on the GoPro may be essential.

With the camera mounted on the boat somewhere: Whereas the longest between-shot interval setting on the GoPro is 60seconds, the Pentax allows various choices of intervals ranging from a seconds up to 99 minutes.

The Pentax can (per specs) take 250 photos on one battery charge. I would be interested in spacing those over a whole day of daylight hours, which means a photo every 2-4 minutes. It also means a new battery (or new charge) would be needed every day on a multi-day adventure.

The video clips on the GoPro website are spectacular. I notice one skier was wearing a GoPro mounted on a chest strap. Some sort of chest-mount / PFD-mount could work ok on a boat.


Steve said...

If I had my choice (meaning if I had the money) I would have one of each camera. The Pentax Optio as the main camera and the GoPro to mount somewhere (top of the mast looking down, mizzen looking forward, end of the boom, etc), set on an interval and forget about. But the reality is I can afford just one and I think the Optio will be the one.
I'm more interested in still images, but there are certain days (i.e. sailing north to Mouse Harbor on the Octoberfest trip) where video could be pretty compelling.

Hope you and Dawn have a great holiday.