If you're looking for a camera...

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If you're looking for a camera...

Postby Beef_Pies » Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:25 pm

If you're headed out to the playa this year and you're in the market for a new camera, I have a suggestion:
Pentax W90
It retails for about $350
It's waterproof to 50 ft.
It's shockproof

More importantly:
It's heatproof

And most importantly:
It's dustproof!!!

It has a vast array of features, including:
Completely auto picture mode, a regular picture mode (where you can change the settings, which is quick and easy), night pictures, and many more, including settings for pictures of flowers, food, children, children playing, sports, pets, a couple of panoramic settings, etc. It also shoots 720p video, which looks quite good, even at night. It has underwater settings for both stills and video. It has a heavy-duty carrying strap.

I took this camera to 2010 Metropolis, which had more than its fair share of dust storms. This camera was a trouper throughout the entire week. Whenever I get around to editing the video and posting it, I'll put a link to it here.

Obviously, a camera that does this much does make a few compromises. For one thing, the microphone it has is not too good, especially is there is music playing when you're shooting. Also, the camera is essentially and by necessity a still camera. This means that while you're shooting video, you can't zoom or change the focus. (This is no limitation at all for shooting a Burn Night video, since you're most likely not moving around while you're shooting it.) It has a time-lapse feature that is pretty cool. The shortest interval between frames is one minute, so it has its limitations. I shot one of my camp Wednesday afternoon, and it turned out really well. (Until someone who didn't know any better took it upon themself to turn off the camera...) I can't count how many times I dropped it, and it always worked fine. It eats battery. You should take at least three batteries. I took three with me. When I went out, I always had a fresh one in the camera, a fresh one in reserve, and one on the charger back at camp. Make sure you can have access to your camp's generator to power your charger.

In summation, this may look like a little point-and-shoot, but it's far, far more than that. Despite its limitations, I unreservedly recommend this camera. It's Burner tested and approved!

I won't be able to make it to BRC this year, so have a wonderful Burn!

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Postby illy dilly » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:34 pm

Beef Pies,
Thanks for the highly detailed review!
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Postby marck » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:48 pm

Thank you for your battery observations.

I picked up the W90 after doing some research for basic point and shoot pocket cameras. Mainly because I got sick and tired of lugging around a medium end digital in an underwater case.

Just one more question, about how much use were the batteries? On the average, did you ever need more than two when you were out?
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Postby Savannah » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:19 pm

What I've found in my recent camera research was that:

* a surprising number of the waterproof digital cameras also bill themselves as dustproof (etc) . . . which was awesome. Although--if any environment will truly test that claim, it's the playa.

* you can actually search by "dustproof camera" on Amazon and find stuff even though the word is usually not in the title of any cameras, just their descriptions. I hadn't really thought about that before. Handy.

I eventually went with another model, but was strongly tempted by the above Pentax, because I had a classic film Pentax with no airtight case (just a camera bag) that lasted 10 years and photographed 3 Burns successfully without a hitch, despite having a zoom. I think the construction was simply good.
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Postby Beef_Pies » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:46 pm

Marck: I tried to always be conscious about the batteries, but no, I never needed more than two on an outing, although I regularly ran out the one already in the camera. As I said, three batteries worked very well for me.
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Postby marck » Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:45 pm

Thanks for this info, I hate over buying or getting stuck without power.

What size memory card are you using?
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby ViveEnElMomento » Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:31 pm

I purchased the W90 this winter to use while snowboarding and doing other such activities. After using it twice i returned it for a refund. I wasn't happy at all with the picture or video quality.. Thinking about getting the GoPro camera for burning man/other activities that pose extreme hazards to cameras.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby marck » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:22 pm

The GoPro is mainly a Video Helmet Camera and not a Point and Shoot.
After all is said and done you will wind up spending too much(like twice) to get the built in features of any ruggedized Point and Shoot.

I'm comparing the GoPro against Contour for use on my motorcycle, but would never consider it useful for the playa.
I don't really see the need for action shots or movies in a pocket sized playa camera. Also I expect that no helmet cam will be able to give you any quality night shots.

If you really want a good camera for the playa look at getting ether the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 or the Canon PowerShot G12 and sticking them into an underwater housing.
They are very well rated for low level light.

I also have an Olympus in an underwater case with an underwater housing for the flash I use out on the playa as well. I just hate lugging that monstrosity around when I'm just going out everyday.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby portaplaya » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:37 pm

GoPro and Contour are tuned for a wide contrast range in daytime lighting. Both admit that their low-light performance is sub-optimal because of their focus on being an action camera.

They would probably do well in the circle around the burning fallen Man, as long as the fire was still bright, but probably no good for the dance scene, performances or time-lapse nighttime photography.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby BiNa » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:22 pm

:?:
I have a canon powershot (just a point and shoot, nothing fancy, but I love it), and i was planning on buying the waterproof case for it for use on the Playa.... I've never been before, but I feel I will be lost without my camera. Do you experienced burners think that the waterproof case will be okay?
this is the camera...
http://static.bhphotovideo.com/images/i ... 675614.jpg
and this is the case i planned on buying...
http://www.opticsplanet.net/canon-water ... 400is.html
sounds good to me, but what the hell do i know? I'm by no means a "professional photographer," so any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated before I go out and order something that won't work.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby Eric » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:54 pm

For the playa I use an old Canon A550, when it dies I'll use my A560 (which is also old, and my carry-daily camera now). Takes great pictures, decent video, and the only problem I've had is that the lens cover needs to be "flicked" open with my fingernail now. I don't put it in a bag, don't insulate it, don't even clean it when I get home. This will be it's 4th year on the playa and it's trucking along like a dream. It takes the same AA batteries as my lights so I don't have worries about special batteries and I've only ever had to change them once; I manage to capture everything I want (including some short video) on a 2gig card with room to spare.

I leave all my good equipment at home- I brought the Nikon I use for my jobs here in the city one year but I was so paranoid about using it that I barely took any pictures. Now I barely take any because I'm on vacation and I just want to capture enough to fill the gaps in my memory and no more.

Pictures never capture enough of the experience anyway, IMHO
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby marck » Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:09 pm

Bina,

I brought out my Olympus camedia 7070 for about five(?) years. It was the largest digital camera I could afford without going fully professional.
I bought the underwater case to protect it. This is a pic of me in my "tourist" outfit with the camera:
Image
It was so heavy and clumsy I found myself taking fewer pictures every year.

Looks like your camera costs between $150-$250 and the case is about the same price. The Pentax WG-1 replaces the W-90 and costs between $260-$515.

For me the W90 means a pocket sized camera for those images you just can't describe to anyone else. Eric's advise is sound, mine addendum to his is use your point and shoot until it dies and then replace it with one that might have better image quality and durability, if your digital camera is three to five years old, then you will find one that is twice as good in one or two more years for about the same price.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby Eric » Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:26 pm

marck wrote:use your point and shoot until it dies and then replace it with one that might have better image quality and durability, if your digital camera is three to five years old, then you will find one that is twice as good in one or two more years for about the same price.


Just one quick addition to this- it doesn't how much you spend on the camera if you're a shitty photographer. A camera can only take as good of a picture as the person shooting can take. Get to know your camera before you go to the playa!!

If you think you're mainly going to take people shots: practice taking shots of people. Use a friend. Go out in bright daylight, test all the settings your camera has. See what works for the look you want.

For night-time: either set up a blinky display or go somewhere with lots of good lights. Practice taking pictures to get the look you want without a flash!! A flash at night on the playa just fills your frame with dust specks.

For artowrk, practice taking pictures on sculptures/ public art/ trees/ dead cactus; basically shoot anything that looks like it could be playa art. Walk around it. Try to look at different angles. Look for creative shots.

Practice practice practice; and know your equipment no matter how much or little it cost you.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby marck » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:38 am

Very Good Point.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby Playa+Tom » Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:10 pm

Pentax has a new camera replacing the W90, the WG! it has more megapixels and a GPS. I'd get one if I did not already have a perfectly good W90. The WG1 is $350 from Adorama.
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby Kade » Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:20 pm

for the past several days i have been doing hours of research on finding the best P&S weatherproof err mainly dustproof camera for this years burn. I had a Panasonic Lumix ZS3 last year which took great everything but sadly stopped working due to dust minutes after running around the fallin man saturday night. At least it made it to that point though for not being waterproof. This year ive decided to loose that heavy 12x optical zoom and go for a dustproof camera do not have to worry about it stopping and hopefully not forcing me to buy a new one for next year or every year at that which is how it seems to be :) but after hours of youtube reviews and what not ive got it down to these two cameras -
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 or the Sony Cybershot TX10. I forgot to mention i use it for mostly video instead of pictures so am mainly seeking a HQ HD video spec on this new purchase. I am now at the point where i don't know which to pick as each as its ups and downs so figured id see if anyone has any suggestions or even first hand experience with these 2011 cameras. Also i see these both use AVCHD compared to other cameras of Motion JPEG in video and am a little confused on what to go with. Any help or guidance would be much much appreciated!
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Re: If you're looking for a camera...

Postby BBadger » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:39 am

Motion JPEG is an older video standard that is mostly used because it is less processor intensive than more sophisticated frame encoders/standards such as MPEG 1/2/4. AVCHD uses MPEG4 compression, which is superior to Motion JPEG but probably requires a dedicated chip to encode, which your camera has. You should see a benefit, at the very least memory-space wise, using AVCHD, especially when recording at HD resolutions.
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