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Thread: Cameras for polar bears, help.

  1. #1
    gplatt
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    Cameras for polar bears, help.

    Been asked to advise on a camera to buy for a kayaking trip in the Arctic circle above Finland to see polar bears. This is way outside of my area of expertise (I shoot people and kids with a 35 / 50mm lens and there are no polar bears in Africa), so thought I'd pass on the question to the forum.

    The camera must be small enough to fit into a waterproof bag on the kayak. No full frame or other DSLRs.

    I presume the kayaks will be at a pretty safe distance from the polar bears (at least when photographing them), so a long lens desirable.

    It is summer but of course it will likely be cold.

    It is not a photography trip, the camera is just to document what he sees. No printing likely.

    He likes the idea of a Nikon V1 (reasons unknown but I think the small size and two lens tele kit).

    He will NOT have a chance to really try anything before the trip, just time to order it.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Cameras for polar bears, help.

    Oly OM-D, and the el cheapo but good Panny 100–300—polar bears look cuddly (in photos) but keeping your distance is good advice! OM-D is weather-proof, too.

  3. #3
    Super Duper
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    Re: Cameras for polar bears, help.

    I would look at some of the waterproof compact cameras. Some have GPS as well. It should be simple to use. And if it takes a dunk, he will be all set. It will take other harsh conditions and long periods of humidity. I am sure there are better cameras, but that is not what this guy needs. I would get lots of spare batteries.

    Something like this:

    Group test: Waterproof Compact Cameras: Digital Photography Review

  4. #4
    gplatt
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    Re: Cameras for polar bears, help.

    Thanks Kit and Shashin for the replies.

    I have an OM-D and also have suggested it due to the weather-proofing, and I'll read the waterproof camera link. We'll see what he ends up with.

    regards
    Guy

  5. #5
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    Re: Cameras for polar bears, help.

    Polar bears in Finland? The only ones we have are in the zoo's!

    The nearest to us are in Russia or Svarlbard Norway. Been to Svalbard
    twice. Photographing from a ship. I think kayaking there might mean that
    you also need have a rifle with you. When going outside from city you
    have to have a firearm with you!

    Polar bears are good swimmers and can be found in th every open sea also.

    Really near to Finland? Where are you going?

    Kirmo

  6. #6
    gplatt
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    Re: Cameras for polar bears, help.

    You are right - it is Norway. I couldn't have been listening.

    Here's the link to the trip although I believe my friend is kayaking with a guide in the front of the kayak with a rifle.

    Realm of the Polar Bear in Arctic, Arctic - G Adventures
    Last edited by gplatt; 1st July 2012 at 02:16. Reason: Added text

  7. #7
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    Re: Cameras for polar bears, help.

    ok, just what I thought. Makes sense now.

    Just be aware that polar bears can be everywhere. Some have been
    spotted in the city of Longyearbyn!

    Then some times very hard to see. The not so nice thing is that these
    animals are marked. Some kind of things put into the ears and some have
    numbers painted onto the furs. Guess making it easier for the science
    people. For us photographers this means photoshopping if we want to show
    them "natural".

    The best area to see very many is more in the eastern part. This means
    going there late summer, august. The summer is short and sun is shining
    24 hours! Weather is not so bad, not so cold, but can change very quickly.

    Beatiful place, wish I had a chance to spend one whole year there!

    Happy journey and just enjoy.

    Kirmo

  8. #8
    Member GaryAyala's Avatar
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    Re: Cameras for polar bears, help.

    I've shot in the Arctic way back in the film-only days. Back then the liquid lubricants (grease) was removed from cameras and lenses and replaced with solid lubricants (graphite)

    I couple lessons I learned was to take beaucoup batteries as cold will lessen their efficiency. I kept spares near my armpits, when the batteries died I'd switch them with warm batteries. When the cold expended batteries warmed up ... they became usable again. When you return from the Arctic, toss the batteries.

    When going from cold to warm or warm to cold there will be a condensation problem. Use zip lock bags (or equal) for your camera and lenses and allow some time for the equipment to temperature adjust in the new environment.

    It seems you won't hit Winter conditions if you do remember:
    In sub-zero environments never put the viewfinder to your eye, it won't come off until Spring.

    Don't sweat in sub-zero conditions, sweating can kill you.

    Don't eat the yellow snow.

    Gary

    PS- OM-D EM-5 w/grip
    G

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