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Old 9 Oct 2006
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Originally Posted by elgreen
I took my big Olympus on a tour, but it was rather bulky and I always worried about breakage since it is not cheap. That took the enjoyment out of having the camera available for capturing those excellent beach scenes or what have you, and I quit carrying it. have since moved to a simple point-and-shoot that will fit in a pocket (a small Samsung 5 megapixel) and which cost 1/10th of the Olympus. I miss the big zoom lens but appreciate that the small Samsung runs on ordinary AA batteries and uses ordinary SD memory cards that are available in any major city if I fill up mine. And if the camera quits working... well, I don't worry about it. I just carry it in the bubble-wrap that it came in, and when on the highway wrap it in a towel, place it in a panier, and call it good.
my sentiments exactly.. is no fun if you have to worry all the time about something very expensive, different if it is your livelyhood,
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Old 10 Oct 2006
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I used the Touratech Photographer Tankbag to carry two Nikon F100s with lenses through Africa, and later one Nikon D70 with 2 lenses through the Americas. It worked really well for me: it's padded, easy to remove and to zip back onto the bike, and you can carry it around with the included strap: http://www.touratech-usa.com/shop/sh...o?sku=055-1076

The mounting system is especially nice for a F650 bike model-year 2001 or later because it also insulates from the heat (important point on that bike since it will be sitting on the oil tank).

I would get the larger model (055-1077): it's good to have a little additional room for snacks and stuff, and it comes with the larger map-holder which is so much better than the small one.

Finally, I would never carry a camera on me while riding: too dangerous in case of fall - for me and for the camera too! (the only exception would be when crossing a river - talking by experience). I would not even consider carrying a backpack at all (too much strain on the shoulders). It's much safer to keep the camera gear in a tankbag; it also makes it very easy to pull over and take a quick snapshot on the side of the road, especially if you also have a convertible helmet (you don't even need to remove your gloves or the helmet to take a picture).


In terms of reliability regarding vibrations, I think that all the good SLR cameras are more or less the same (they fare much better than the point-and-shoot - but you should still take a P&S anyhow for the convenience). The F100, D200 and other "weatherproof" cameras are still one big step above the "prosumer" cameras but it might not make a difference for you unless you clearly intend to shoot in all conditions. My F100s survived the Vietnam moonsoon, the Vic-Falls spray and the Burning Man dust. The D200 is built the same, as a tank, but at $700 more you might want to keep the money for a second body, a P&S, a nice lens or... an additional month on the road.

Pro lenses are more reliable because they don't extend when you zoom, meaning you don't risk gripping them with dust or humidity when you retract them. Problem: they usually don't have a wide range, so if you get a more universal lens (like the beautiful but yet-impossible-to-find Nikon 18-200 VR), keep a rag handy to sweep it once in a while. Also don't pack or carry the lens around in the extended position: always retract it first. And don't buy a cheap lense whose tip wobbles around when fully extended (like some Tamron's do).

As other people said, keep one lens per body or at least avoid changing lenses in dusty locations, and get as much memory as you can, or an iPod with camera connector for backup (more on that on http://www.photobiker.com/store/electronics.html - I need to update the links on that page but the info is still valid). Burn your pictures once in a while at an internet cafe, mail the CDs back home, and you should be safe.

Wow, that was long. Hope this helps...
Happy riding, happy shooting!
Pierre - http://www.photobiker.com
Pierre Saslawsky
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Old 23 Oct 2006
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I have a Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D digital SLR with a large vertical grip/battery pack that will not fit in most cases. My solution was a Hepco & Becker Top Case for my BMW R1150R, to which I added a gel foam pad (made as a stadium seat for your fanny) which fits perfectly into the bottom of the top case. This isolates anything put on top of it. Then I got a relatively cheap Tamrac soft case, which just sits on top of the gel pad, within the top case. The top case is roomy enough for my rain gear or other soft items which I pack around the Tamrac case with my 7D inside. A top case is very easy to access and the camera was easy to grab for photos. I used this on a trip from Colorado to Canada, on asphalt roads, so cannot attest to how well this would dampen vibrations on a rougher road but I feel the gel pad adds a lot to the dampening needed to high end electronics, like a digital camera.
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Old 25 Oct 2006
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Talking cheap camera bag

Here is what I use for my trip on and off road . I bought some foam for pelican case and cut it then to fit my cameras in my tank bag .its a cheap but vey good option for your expensive camera,without getting in the way of a fast access for pictures on the road.I did some serious off road ,even fall few time and the protection was great.

my 2 cents.

Hendi Kaf


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Old 25 Oct 2006
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I think Pierre's tankbag setup is the way to go for security and easy access, if you can do that.

I'm on a DR with no tankbag and setting up to carry video and still gear, tripod, helmet cam, etc. This stuff, and what goes along with it, takes up a lot of room. Although the weight isn't that great, it's bulky and needs space.

My original plans were to have a Pelican mounted behind my gear bag on the rear that was easily accessible. There's not room for this. I'm going to induvidual soft bags for the cams and another system which will probably be changed...again...
It's like 2 different lives, if you can understand.
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Old 10 Dec 2006
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Back to your original point...the Eos5D has a full frame sensor so your 20 mm lens really is a 20mm lens. If I recall corectly the Nikon D200 has some weather sealing on the body which the canon doesn't. Either one would be pretty bloody fantastic I reckon.

Close to Antarctica and a long way from reality
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Old 11 Dec 2006
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Originally Posted by effrider
...My solution was a Hepco & Becker Top Case for my BMW R1150R, to which I added a gel foam pad (made as a stadium seat for your fanny) which fits perfectly into the bottom of the top case. ... I used this on a trip from Colorado to Canada, on asphalt roads, so cannot attest to how well this would dampen vibrations on a rougher road but I feel the gel pad adds a lot to the dampening needed to high end electronics, like a digital camera.
A top case is fine on pavement, but no way off-road. There is far too much movement at the "ends" of the bike, and therefore pounding. Centrally located is best for minimal movement, so I think the tank bag area is the best location.
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Old 20 Dec 2006
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Either I am very lucky, or my camera is very good. I have a Nikon CoolPix995 digital. I have carried it in my saddlebags, on my clothes, but more recently, I have a pouch bag on my saddlebag guard bars, much like engine guards, in front of my saddlebags of my Road King. That is where I have carried my camera for 2 summers. It still performs flawlessly. Mind you, I do prefer to carry it in my inside jacket pocket, that is if I don't already have them filled with a lot of other 'junk'.
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Old 12 Jan 2007
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Originally Posted by ArcticHarleyMan
Either I am very lucky, or my camera is very good. I have a Nikon CoolPix995 digital. I have carried it in my saddlebags, on my clothes, but more recently, I have a pouch bag on my saddlebag guard bars, much like engine guards, in front of my saddlebags of my Road King. That is where I have carried my camera for 2 summers. It still performs flawlessly. Mind you, I do prefer to carry it in my inside jacket pocket, that is if I don't already have them filled with a lot of other 'junk'.
Beware of cameras in jacket pockets... when you fall that camera will not feel so well when it stick you in a rib. Been there, done that.
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Old 12 Jan 2007
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Lowe Pro carries a pretty nice camera bag that you can strp to your chest for easy and quick access... like a bear crossing the road.
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Old 27 Jan 2007
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Hi guys,

Thanks for all your postings, really enjoyed reading this thread! And sorry for the late answer from my side! I've meanwhile decided for a Canon 5D with a f4/24-105 and a Canon 75-300 DO IS lens + 1.4 converter. This is the smallest pro-level equipment I could find. The DO-Lens is a dream, I just tried it out on my last holiday (without bike). Small, high stealth level (compared to Canon's 'white zooms') and sharp.

As for carrying it on the bike: I'll soon find out this year – and I'll probably go for a tankbag solution. Apparently zooms are fine for vibrations – the only problem I've heard about are some Canon zooms which contain fluoride. Apparently that's why the NASA for example uses Nikon glass.

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Old 10 Feb 2007
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Hard knocks are more to worry about!

Hey guys!

I am a wildlife photographer and spend a great deal of my time in some pretty unforgiving territory,admittedly in a 4x4, but i always have my camera on hand. I use both a canon eos 20d and a eos 5n for slide film, both have worked hard. I found that in a good bag or case your kit should be fine with vibes. hard knocks are another story, i have had my film camera take a realy solid hit and this resulted in a damaged miror box! So in all honosty put alot of thinking time into where you put your kit in terms of bumps and bruises.

In my experience i feel to many people do not pay attention to the treat of dust!!! Dust is absolute killer for SLR's so keep that in mind when doing your "thinking''.

Other than that, although bulky the results in image quality of an SLR, there is in my opinion no comparison.

Get to know your gear, how it operates, and keep it safe!! then it will grace you joy and happiness for many years to come


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Old 15 Mar 2007
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Hey Allz,

Thought I might chime in with a few comments here...although a bit late.

Generally speaking, a small digital camera in a tank bag or pocket is a great idea to get some of those instant record shots on the road and certainly some can take some great pictures. Also, there are times and places where using an SLR camera is too noticable buy local au-thoritahz.

The Canon 5D is a great camera and I'm sure you'll have some fun with it. I'll live and die by my Nikon D70, which is already getting a bit long in the tooth. The D70 doesn't have weather proofing either but damn is it a tank! The key thing is to make regular cleaning and attention to dust part of your routine which you can do at night before you go beddy-bye.

As far as packing goes, it depends on how much gear you want to take and where you're travling. Do you expect lots of wild-life? Then you'll need a longer (and heavier) lens. Like others, I'd recommend packing lens-down in a bag that takes up as much space in the trunk as possible. LowePro's Reporter (various sizes) top loading bags work great and they can be used off motorcycle very nicely.

In my trunk I've got.
-D70 attached to
-Sigma 18-50/2.8 (highly recommended and not expensive)
-Sigma 105 Macro/2.8 (very sharp, fast and light)
-Sigma 80-400 OS/4.5-5.6 (big, ugly and heavy but best for critters and shy people
-Sigma 10-20
-Kenko 1.4xTC
-4-5 Batteries
-Cleaning stuff
-6GB cf cards and GMINI 400

Also, don't be affraid to use a nice fast prime and although some zooms can give you great reach with IS, it's hard to beat a good 2.8 that's sharp wide open. Currently I'm considering the Sigma70mm Macro/2.8 (for my Nikon that's a 105) but for your Canon a 105 macro would be fun!

Whelp, good luck on your travels and lets see some pics!

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Old 24 Apr 2007
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The quality you can get from some compact digital cameras these days does not justify using SLR's for photography when on a bike especially if your work is not getting published and I don't mean the web as any good jpeg will do for this.
I like the old Canon G5, just got hold of a second hand one in reasonable shape. This camera shoot RAW 5 mega pixel images allowing me to use my shots for publishing as tiff files. I can really recommend the new G7 from Canon even though it can't shoot RAW anymore.
This camera will offer everything and more than what any traveler will need and really free you up from the hassle of dust on the sensor and make the load small and lightweight to stow and carry.
This camera shoots 10megapixel jpeg files.
My only real complaint here besides not shooting RAW is the fact that the G7 uses rechargeable and not normal AA penlights. Charging batteries when travelling can be a real pain.
If SLR is the way you must go I would say that the good old celluloid camera is still the most reliable. Nikon F3p with 24mm, 35mm and 105mm Macro will be the most perfect setup. all lenses in manual focus except for the 105 mm Macro as this lens was never brought out in a manual focus.
With the money you save on the digital body and big zoom lenses you can fill ten panniers with film.
But beside the cost major problems with digital is that it need lots of battery power, it can't handle dust on the sensor, digital information is much easier lost or damaged than film.
The advantages of digital is vast though as one must consider that memory cards take a lot less space than film but is frighteningly expensive compared to film and if you have no way to down load you will have to carry as much cards as spools of film. If you say you shoot lot's of frames on jpeg's then I say you are fooling yourself carrying all this expensive gear to make jpeg images because this is the lowest quality digital images you can produce. RAW takes up loads of memory space but you have an image the same as a neg with all the information and you can make adjustments and process to what ever format you need after.
To be able to review your work immediately is priceless and if I would take along a digital camera I would also want to have a powerbook and external hardrive to be able to download and review the work as I go along and keep a backup.
This mean more stuff that need protecting from vibrations and more power needed to keep everything alive.

As far as lenses is concerned it is real simple. Buy prime lenses in fixed focal lengths. At first this sound stupid but once you start using fixed lenses you will get intoxicated by the simple operation and the compact lightweight. Fixed focal lenses will stand up better to any abuse and vibration but besides this it produces much better quality than zooms, you have a much brighter viewfinder and can normally open up 1 or 2 stops more than on zooms and you save on weight and cost.
The secret here is to go with a small selection and do not try and pack every focal length you can find.
Break it up in three categories and choose your favorite out of each category.
Ultra wide 15mm to 24 mm.
Standard to wide from 28mm to 60mm.
Long lenses from 85mm to 300mm.
I like the 24mm because it give a certain amount of distortion that can help the viewer get the impression that you are near your subject without getting to distorted like the 20's and wider which is good sometimes but I find I get tired of these egg shape heads of people real quick. The 24mm is also a great focal length for landscapes.
The next and one of my favorites is the 35mm. This lens to me is my standard as it is wide without allowing any distortion and I almost never use a 50mm as I find this lens too normal, (same angle of view as the human eye).
For the long lens I really like the 85mm and also 100mm and at this focal length you also get many macro lenses allowing close focusing. These lenses are really great for shooting people and portraits and perform at their best when focusing a little closer.
longer than this become bulky and I find little use for really long lenses unless if you are doing wildlife or sport and I don't think a bike is the right platform to use shooting any of those. Besides here you often need lenses of 600mm and longer to get close enough.
With these three lenses you will cover everything you will come across on a journey and it will also make you get of the bike to compose your images properly. This is real important because most pictures shot from the back of a bike looks real lame and is a wast of time.
a Fixed lens will make you start thinking about your choice of lens and you will have to move around to find the best angle but I can promise you your images will improve using this approach.
For the guys out there shooting on small sensor cameras you will have to convert the info but I guess if you are happy with anything less than a full frame sensor you would not care to get so technical about lens choice as well.
Full frame sensors is at this time only available in the Canon 5D and Canon 1Ds Mark II.
Although the 5D is considered a prosumer camera it has become very popular with professional photographers and some even claim the quality to be better than that of a Mark II. Nothing can beat the Mark II for build quality though as it is completely environmentally sealed and really well constructed. This camera come at the price of a average bike though but if you have the cash why not, it will sure be one of the best to withstand vibration and abuse.
Nikon does not feature in the professional arena anymore as every photographer except for the odd one here or there is still using the Nikon D2X.
a Pity though as I still believe the best camera ever produced was the Nikon F3 and with that the press version with bigger dials and rubber seals to keep out the elements.
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Old 11 May 2007
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Nice post, gsworkshop! I see where you're coming from, but I'd just like to add my 2 cents worth...

As far as RAW format goes (and I'm absolutely addicted to RAW), try a Fuji E900. It's 9 megapixels RAW for a price next to nothing. Not the same build quality as a G5 or G7, but at 100-200 ASA it's fab for up to A3 publishing quality.
Two of the best things about RAW: I don't need to worry about nailing the exposure, as I've got at least +- 1 stop latitude. That's a lot if you're used to shooting slide film. I've been on a trip with a mate who's an enthusiast photographer and he kept bracketing his exposures as he had to shoot JPG. Not good, if your subject moves and the light is a bit tricky.
The other thing about RAW: You can very easily warm up the images (evening shots, shots in the shade, shots on a dull day) in a very natural way by just sliding the color temperature in the RAW converter.
I've used the G7 and it's great – but by not including RAW, Canon pissed me off big time.

About charging batteries: Has anyone got any experience with small inverters fitted to their bike? I've just bought an F650 Dakar. It might be a bit of a mission, but I hope to find an inverter that fits into the little compartment behind the seat. Doesn't have to be fixed – I could take it out and attach it to the 12V connector.
Other solution: Get a few spare batteries from 3rd party suppliers. I bought 2 spare batteries in the US for my 5D for $12 each. Bargain – they work well and are 30% more powerful than Canon's orginals.

About your choice of lenses: there is actually a 105 Nikkor manual focus. I think it was f3.5 or f2.8. Picked mine up for £70 second hand and had it converted to AI for £10. Lots of old-school camera repair shops will do it in 10 minutes. Very nice lens and pin sharp!

>But beside the cost major problems with digital is that it need lots of
>battery power, it can't handle dust on the sensor, digital information is
>much easier lost or damaged than film.

I agree dust is a big issue. But then again, digital is easily backed up. And film can be damaged by extreme heat, and: I once had 2 rolls processed in Vietnam and the extreme humidity at the time made the film stick to the sleeves and leave nasty residue from the plastic sleeves...

>The advantages of digital is vast though as one must consider that
>memory cards take a lot less space than film but is frighteningly
>expensive compared to film and if you have no way to down load you will
>have to carry as much cards as spools of film.

A 4GB Sandisk Extreme III cost me £80 from amazon. On my 5D this takes about 250 frames RAW, which translates to £11.50 for 36 exposures. Film, including processing is not much cheaper.

As far as lenses go, I think I've got my travel setup sorted now. I agree, prime lenses are better quality. And especially for less experienced people, they make you think about angles, distances and composition. I learnt to photograph on an FE2 with a 24, a 50 and a 105.
For biking though, I'll take the following:

f4/24-105 IS
f3.5-5.6/70-300 IS DO (very compact lens!)
1.4x converter
100mm Macro (or, possibly, extension rings to use with the small zoom)

I might swap the small zoom for a 24 and a 50 prime. But the long DO is fantastic. It's just about 5 inches long, image stabilized and works a treat for some wildlife stuff with the converter.
Shooting digitally, f5.6 or f8 is perfectly fine. 800 ASA on a 5D is just as grainy as 100 ASA on film I reckon.

I work professionally in digital imaging, and I reckon Nikon is still in the game with the D2x. Even more so for wildlife, due to the sensor crop factor. For long exposures/night time photography, the 5D is a dream. As far as resolution goes, the 1DS MkII is visibly better than anything else on the market – especially when using primes.

On a last note:
I'm sorry if this posting turned a bit too 'professional'. As gsworkshop said in his post: the high end cameras are as much as a bike. One step 'down' from the full-frame Canons and high-end Nikons, I would probably get a 10 megapixel DSLR, with 2 zooms. One for wide-angle, one for tele-photo. Or, as far as Nikon goes, a 18-200. Pricey but small and versatile. I'm sure anything like that would make most people happy up to A3 print size if not more.
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