Try this – a waterproof camera
By Deb Miller Marschke
Our preferred 4WD adventure vehicle is a 1978 Jeep CJ. It has no top, just a vinyl cloth shade cover over our heads, and open sides. It comes with its challenges, but we love it anyway. As the years roll along, we have ruined many cameras on our trips. The main problem being the amount of dust we encounter. Cameras don’t like dust! Grit and dust get trapped into the focusing lens, and that tell tale grinding sound signals yet another camera that will need to be repaired or replaced. It happened so many times that I started reading blogs about what other people were doing about it.
Surprise! What we needed was a waterproof camera. Waterproof cameras are designed to be sealed against the elements. If the camera is sealed well enough to be taken underwater 30 feet, it would follow that the camera would not suffer the intrusion of dust. There were many pocket size cameras to choose from, but most four wheelers recommended the Nikon Coolpix.
We bought two Nikon Coolpix cameras and our lives immediately improved. It is waterproof up to 30 meters, shockproof, and has a decent zoom. We have not needed to replace them, and the cameras have been through a lot. Dust, rain, falling out of pockets onto the hard ground, so far indestructible. We took them on our trip to the Galapagos Islands and took excellent underwater photos every day we snorkeled.
Something happened this summer which lead me to be inspired to share this tip with all of you. We had been on a week long fourwheeling trip in the Sierras, camped near Florence Lake. One day, everyone went fishing. I had my Nikon in my pants pocket just in case I caught a monster trout. While I was attempting to cross the river by hopping on rocks, I slipped off a rock and fell in. I wasn’t hurt but I ripped a hole in my shoes. I was concentrating on getting safely to the opposite bank with my fishing pole. After I caught my breath, I patted my pant pocket – the camera was gone! Oh, No! Five days of vacation photos, some irreplaceable, were on that camera! I freaked out. I felt nauseous. I hurriedly went back to the river, frantically reaching under rocks, retracing my path. Now I am standing in the churning water, feeling around under everything. No camera. I was absolutely sick about it. Steve and my other friends came to see what was wrong.
Choking back tears, I admitted that the “trip photographer” had lost the camera in the San Joaquin River rapids. Everyone started searching, but it was gone. Dejected, I started making my way downstream. I could feel the meltdown building. My trip was now ruined (I don’t deal with losing things very well…) . One of my friends was standing on the river bank downstream. It was uphill from the river. Apparently he was scanning the river with binoculars. He let out a “Whoop!” He found the camera, below the rapids, sitting at the bottom of a pool. The camera is a burnt orange color, had it been black he would not have seen it. Steve went into the pool and retrieved it. It was fully intact and functional despite some new scrapes. I heard angels!
Steve and I wholeheartedly recommend this type of camera. They can be found on Amazon for $ 339.00 - $389.00. Just search for Nikon Coolpix Waterproof. The camera does not float, so when you are swimming you can buy an attachable float in case you drop it (that’s what we did in Galapagos). We no longer worry about the elements at all, the camera can take it. Rain? Ha! No problem. The quality of the photos is great, you can adjust the pixels. We just leave it on high resolution; each photo we take is 5 MB large, but can be easily reduced with computer software once the photos are offloaded. Buy the bright yellow one, it would be easily seen at the bottom of the San Joaquin River! ~ Deb