New camera

Before kayaking, I was an pretty avid photographer. That involved lugging and loving  a DSLR, with all the clunky, heavy and bulky lenses wherever I went. After all I could fit everything into a backpack! Thats not much ? Or is it?

The first summer of sea kayaking I faithfully lugged my DSLR with a couple lenses wherever I paddled. All was packed under deck in a waterproof Ortlieb camerabag.  For on the deck, on the water action I had a small Olympus waterproof PHD camera (Press Here Dummy). All performed sort-of-nicely. The PHD camera worked when wet.. but it was sloooooow to do anything other than use up the battery! The DSLR was great but I daren’t use it on the water. So while things were great on paper, things were’nt really working on the water.

“Ahhh what fun!” that first summer of lugging everything! I had waken up to the realization that a DSLR just wasn’t very practical when seakayaking. Sad but true.

I decided to minimize.. rely solely on the small PHD camera. Soon I learned that action photography was out. Taking pictures of the grass growing, rocks resting and when things got really wild: The sun going down was the best I could manage with the PHD!  And since I had no choice, I suppose I was happy, kinda like a average marriage?

Many years passed with this sad, passive existence, one camera followed the other. I went thru two Olympus waterproof PHD cameras in 7 years. All of them performed somehow. Low light image quality wasn’t that great.. actually piss-poor. Fine for FB postings and general documentation.  Camera start-up/Focusing speeds were low. Only enough time to get a quick snap shot of grass growing on a cloudy day! Batteries drained fast until one learned to switch off most redundant “helpful” settings! The only thing that these Olympus PHD cameras excelled in was that they remained functional in adverse wet conditions and careless handling!!  And they took better pictures than what I could draw.. so I was satisfied!

A separate camera carrier is available for the camera, this can be strapped onto a backpack strap, PFD, whatever. The carrier seems solid yet the camera can be picked out reasonably quickly for picture taking! The plastic/spiral  safety leash however isn’t very convincing!


On preparation for this years kayaking trip I realized that my semi-crappy-yet working olympus tough model…?? something something was getting slow and some of its buttons were getting a bit sticky, so I went out asking my trusty camera dealer if they had something to sell?

Shure enough, just like the previous two times, they sold me a demo model of a camera that was being discontinued! Wuhuu!  I bought a 12 month old, discontinued camera model, that had had limited demo handling and for a cheap price!

The camera in its “carrier” . The bungee cord is out of the way of the lense so the camera could be recording video while on the carrier!

Like the previous two times, this was a Olympus. Model Tough 860.  An added bonus was that it works with the same battery model as the previous model!  Size was about the same. Startup speed was quite a bit better than anything I had used uptil now, also it had a nifty “selfie” button and a tilt preview screen, which can be nifty in certain cramped photo situations. Whats best it has a “ULTRAwide angle” lense which is perfect for on the water photos!

As the model is a discontinued model, I won’t use more time to go through the characteristics, other than its:

A.) waterproof and pretty robust
B.) Takes pictures…
C.) Reasonably small
D.) Came be remotely controlled via smartphone
E.) ULTRAwide angle lense
F.)  Has a  nifty camera holder (sold separately) from which it can be taken out faster than a pocket..

These are the features I appreciate in this particular model.

What could be improved on? Well, startup speed could be yet faster . as well as focusing speed. But what REALLY REALLY bums me, is that during the 12+ years I’ve used Olympus cameras, they have been unable to do anything to clearly improve the lowlight image quality, ie. NOISE! Using ISO  settings above 400 is reminiscent of film times! Image is Noisy / grainy!  I don’t know if Olympus does this as a “retro” thing or what?

These are minor gripes because at the end of the day, the most important feature that I appreciate in a camera for seakayaking is that the darn thing keeps working, taking pictures even if its been wind and waves for 2 weeks in a row!

Camera carrier installed onto my PFD. Now I more room in my pockets for Snickers bars!!

Downside for the moment is: NO RAW capability.. but for the moment I can live with that…

Time will tell how long lasting this one will be?



A new toy..

I’ve never been too excited about live picture/video capturing. Have always considered myself a “still image” type of guy. Looks like that may change…

Marko had recently acquired a GoPro Hero4 Session camera and attached Ram Mount hardpoints where to install the camera on his kayak.

The GoPro Hero4 Session is a camera produces to my uneducated eye actually pretty decent net worthy video! Also it is pretty darn small!! In addition it has only TWO buttons to operate!! This is borderline limit for my feeble mind to comprehend.  Sounds like something I may learn to use?

The kit is pretty small. From left to right: GoPro remote, RamMount 6" Mount, GoPro Hero 4 session camera, Holder for the GoPro Hero 4 session camera with Ram Mount adapter ball for the Go Pro.
The kit is pretty small. From left to right: GoPro remote, RamMount 6″ Mount, GoPro Hero 4 session camera, Holder for the GoPro Hero 4 session camera with Ram Mount adapter ball for the Go Pro.

Also the Camera can be  operated with a separately sold remote control, OR a smart phone app. So if the camera is further away from the operator, one can still start and stop the filming!  This can be handy on a kayak!

I have the understanding that these GoPro Devices are reasonably robust and actually may operate successfully in marine conditions.. so this might be  working formula!

1" Ram mount ball on bow of the Beaufort
1″ Ram mount ball on bow of the Beaufort

The 1 inch ram mount B- size balls are reasonably low in profile, yet sturdy for intended use , particularly this small camera and has a large selection of adapters, gadgets etc available and whats best these were all  available from Finland without complicated, unsure, expensive “order from abroad and pay taxes” spiel!

1" Ball on the stern
1″ Ball on the stern

I acquired the necessary parts from local company nearby with excellent service and which pretty much covers the whole Ram Mount catalog of parts available: Yepnet. Whats best, the whole package was under 100€!! This hardly ever happens in Finland anymore!

Camera installed on the stern hardpoint. The white line is the DIY safety line for the camera. It will be attached onto the deckline.
Camera installed on the stern hardpoint. The white line is the DIY safety line for the camera. It will be attached onto the deckline.

Installation of the hardpoints was easy/hard. I used SS M4 Hardware + White SikaFlex 291i to attach the Ram Mount balls on the bow and stern. Evereything  else was easy apart from holding back the nuts while tightening the screws. Here and additional pair of hands was necessary.

So.. now I have another toy to play around with.. and if all goes well I might actually have some videos to post at a later date.. Ofcourse before that I will have to try to learn the complex world of digtalvideo editing! 😉