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Photography Question 
Mark Henspeter

Wisdom needed - bring expensive camera to Baja?

My husband and I need some advice from some photographers who have had experience traveling to hot, sandy, seaside climates with an expensive camera. Our 16 year old son is going on a 2-week study trip (marine bio/ecology) to an island off Baja in the Sea of Cortez. There will be adequate supervision by teachers; the students will be kayaking and camping for 9 days/nights and will stay in La Paz for a few days. Our son has his heart set on purchasing a new Canon 30D and bringing this on the trip. We are hesitant to send such an expensive camera with him on this type of trip. We would appreciate any advice from seasoned photographers who have traveled under similar conditions. Thank you!

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3/29/2006 10:56:16 PM

Angela K. Wittmer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2003
  If it were me I would say no.... as careful as he may be it is still very easy to get sand inside of it & it sounds like he is going to be very busy! I would find something less expensive than the 30D to take along. I went to Jamaica & was super careful but I still ended up having to have my camera cleaned afterwards... just my opinion but I would recommend finding something a little cheaper to take along

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3/30/2006 6:58:08 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  I'd recommend sending him with a film camera. I wouldn't expect the 30D's battery to have enough charge to power the camera for a full week of use, and spending 9 days camping he's not going to have access to electricty to recharge the battery.

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3/30/2006 8:32:32 AM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/7/2004
  I agree with Angela
I would try to bring a lesser digital camera so that if for some unforseen reason the camera either gets wet or sandy you would not have ruined an expensive camera. I found that when I take my expensive camera on a trip, I have made a decision to focus on the camera, where it is, what I am doing etc at all times. I would only take the expensive camera if the photography is the prime reason for the trip and your son is willing to be aware of the camera at ALL TIMES both its location and environmental conditions present. This is just my opinion. Justin baer

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3/30/2006 8:33:23 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Well, I think the most significant issue to contend with here is whether to take a brand new piece of equipment on a significant trip where photos will apparently be quite important. In that sense, the question becomes whether your son will have adequate time to become really familiar with the new equipment, learn its bells and whistles, determine whether it's really operating properly and consistently, and knows how to handle it in case something doesn't seem to operate correctly.

So, in my view, forget sand, dust, salt spray, etc., loss, theft. Instead, I'd think about potential for mechanical failure of new equipment and the ole unfamiliarity as to how to use it properly. That's a receipe for disaster. Quite frankly, I've never gone out to shoot an assignment with a new piece of gear that I wasn't thoroughly familiar with and that hadn't been tested for awhile before leaving. Even then, I made sure I had a back-up for the new equipment, no matter what it was, just in case.


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3/30/2006 10:44:45 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Why does a 16-year old need a $1400 camera in the first place?

And, in the second place - will all the attendees be taking photographs - and looking to have show and tell at night? If not, I'd definitely send him with a film camera - like the old reliable Pentax K1000.

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3/30/2006 1:09:04 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  I agree with Mark. Unless he has a couple months before the trip to REALLY get familiar with the new camera, then I wouldn't chance it.

Assuming that he already has a camera that he's familiar with, then I would suggest he take that one.

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3/30/2006 1:42:19 PM

Wing Wong   If this is eco/biology, what does he intend on shooting?

Ie, is it indoors or outside kind of stuff?

If dust/sand/water is a major concern, perhaps he should buy a digital camera that is water resistant/waterprood for this particular trip, then get the 30D for later trips, once he has mastered it. Check with Olympus for rugged waterproof cameras.

There are underwater enclosures for the SLR type cameras you can buy, check out B&H Photo for the enclosures for Canon DLSRs, if he is set on getting the 30D.

Insurance. Regardless of what camera he ends up getting, get insurance for it. That way, if it gets lost, damaged, or stolen... you can get a replacement.

As for a response above regarding why a 16 year old would need a $1400 camera.. why not? If the family can afford it, it's perfectly fine for someone to start off with a high end camera.

Granted, I started shooting with a $4 keychain camera film on vacations and eventually got an "expensive" $75 fully automatic film P&S camera, but then again, something in the $1400 range was well beyond my means at the time. Were that not beyond my means, I would have gotten something like the 30D. :) Still, that was some time ago...

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4/3/2006 7:51:40 AM

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