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Best Cameras for Scouting

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  • Best Cameras for Scouting

    Yah, so had this topic come up recently at a camporee cracker barrel. What would yeh recommend for a good, solid camera for scoutin' activities?

    For adults?

    For scouts?

    And of course, let us know da reason why with a brief review!


  • #2
    I bought the Olympus Stylus (water/shock proofish) to take to Philmont last year. Left it home and took my daughters Canon sure shot because the battery life in the Olympus was dismal. Others at Philmont had the Olympus and were happy with it (at least when I spoke with them). Also the zoom in the Canon was noticably better. Several others in the crew had the Canon and were satisfied. I changed the battery on leaving Ponderosa Park for base on the last trail day.

    'course, I owed my daughter a camera since the Canon was never quite the same after the second fall....


    • #3
      I am looking into a Cannon D10. It is shock resistant (6') and water resistant (30'). We do quite a bit of backpacking in all weather and a great variety of canoeing and other waterborne activities. My only complaint is that it is bulkier and heavier than many of the modern "one-shot" cameras.

      I am currently using a Kodak, which does not handle weather well at all. I took it on the Suwannee River last summer and kept it in a ziplock pouch in a waterproof pouch of my PFD. The electronics went haywire after I got soaked during a rain (the camera remained completely dry) and ever since, will become eratic on most rainy days, like on our January backpack trip.

      I like Cannon products (having owned first and second gen Cannon cameras) and hope to get one of the D10s by mid summer.


      • #4
        Any Canon Stylus, SureShot, or Nikon Coolpix, that fits in your pocket, will be just fine. The newer models will have good battery life. An extra battery for back country or cold weather is a good idea.
        1- Do not get a DSLR (Detachable lens) They're too big. You won't have it with you when you need it.
        2- Do NOT waste your money on a huge sensor. You'll wind up using only part of that potential, because the files can be huge. 6 megapixels is more than enough for 8x10 prints. You can grow old waiting on 600 meg TIFFs to load and open.
        3- I buy 6 or 8 cameras a year for my work. (Present inventory is 28 various Nikons and 8 Canons)
        The best place I've found to buy is :
        The shipping offsets sales tax in my state, so B&H usually beats BestBuy and Walmart in total price.


        • #5
          Canon PowerShot D10 Digital Camera $289
          Waterproof to 33 feet
          Image Stabilization



          • #6
            You're going to laff, but when I did my Canadian canoeing expedition, as well when I was playing in the water during my trip to the UK, I used one of the waterproof, disposable Kodak cameras. Some of the pics are postcard quality, as I had people accuse me of placing postcrads among my photos.


            • #7
              Depends on the trip.

              On car camping trips, I usually take my Canon EOS Rebel, with an 18 - 55mm lens. It works great for activities during the day, and around the campfire at night. I have used this camera hard since 2004 and it is still going strong.

              For backpacking and river trips, I use a Canon PowerShot A560 in a Pelican case that looks like it was custom made for the camera. I took this camera on our NT trip, carrying it in the Pelican case attached to a belt loop. The camera and case worked very well, with no problems. There was another NT crew pulling out just ahead of us. One of the adults wanted to photo their departure, so he had to open his Day Pack (just another item to carry), open a smaller dry bag inside, pull out the camera for the pics, and then repack it all. If you can't get your hands on your camera in 5 seconds, you are going to miss a lot of pictures.

              The Canon D10 might be a good substitute for the camera/Pelican case combo.


              • #8
                I have a good eye for photography and I started buying bulk film and processing it myself in the sixth grade. I "kind of" understand mechanical things like film cameras, but not electronics!


                I didn't know anything about digital cameras so I bought a Nikon "Coolpix 775," figuring Nikon must be the best, right? Ugh! What a mistake! It took three or four seconds from the time I pressed the shutter button until the camera took the picture. That may not sound like a lot of time, but it is with active, fast-moving Scouts. After a while the camera died with the lens open. I Googled the error message and found out that a very high number of Nikon Coolpix cameras from that era died an early death from dust getting into lens gears. So much for Nikon quality.


                I bought a Kodak EasyShare C913 from Amazon after reading some really glowing reviews. What I didn't realize was that digital camera technology had moved past old-fashioned viewfinders. In this camera, you compose the shot by looking at the LCD screen on the back of the camera. Ugh! In the sun I can NOT see anything on that screen. Really. All I can do is point the camera in the general direction and press the shutter. That was not acceptable to me because I like very tight in-camera composition. I bought a Delkin "Pop-Up Shade" but it did not help.

                On the plus side, the EasyShare cameras are inexpensive and take good pictures. There is very little lag after you press the shutter button. The Kodak batteries are VERY good if you can figure out which ones to buy (not easy on Amazon). I purchased four Kodak Ni-MH KAA2HR "Digital Camera Battery Packs," in case I could not recharge them at summer camp, but that was overkill. They work forever between charges.


                I still needed a digital camera with a traditional viewfinder, so I started reading the reviews for the high-end Nikon Coolpix cameras, figuring that Nikon must have solved the problems with the early Coolpix models by now, and Nikon is the best, right? I started by reading the reviews for the most expensive Coolpix, but one of the reviewers said she had to return it because she bought it to photograph her kids, and the lag after she pressed the shutter button was just too long. The kids were out of the photograph by the time the shutter actually clicked. Ugh! That sounded all too familiar, so I did not give Nikon a second chance.


                I ended up with a Canon "PowerShot SX10IS." Fantastic camera!

                Viewfinder: I needed viewfinder composition, but I did not need (or want) a true SLR (interchangeable lenses). I considered a more expensive model that takes HD videos, but the viewfinder is not as bright and I didn't think I needed HD videos for YouTube. For me it was all about the viewfinder.

                Lens: The 20X optical zoom lens is remarkable to us old timers. That is the equivalent of a 28mm to 560mm zoom in a 35mm film format! The longest lens I ever owned before was 210mm, and to use a lens that long, I always needed a tripod. Canon's "optical image stabilization" actually cancels out most of that movement after you press the shutter. BUT because 20X is such a long lens, it is hard to keep your subject in the viewfinder when taking a hand-held picture. Consider a Canon "Monopod 100" if you like to take candid long shots from the distance of a football field away. B-P "300 feet between Patrols" approved! The monopod is much easier to use in most Scouting situations than a tripod, and it makes the Scouts less self-conscious when you work from a distance.

                Video: I have ended up using the video function more than I expected. On the Troop Website I feature still portraits of each Scout, which then hyperlink to YouTube with individual videos of that Scout shooting rifles, shotgun, and archery. These videos are very popular and have helped in our recruiting efforts.

                ISO: One must-have "killer" feature is the ISO 3200 setting. Have you ever taken a photograph of Scouts sitting in the magical light of a campfire only to be disappointed in the results? 3200 ISO is so bright that even a small two-log campfire bathes the Scouts in the glow of remarkably bright firelight. This is otherwise impossible to capture, especially hand-held!

                Accessories: Because I did not know what kinds of batteries and SD cards to buy, I made the mistake of buying a package deal (a camera with accessories). Don't do that. The Zeikos battery charger stopped working after a week, and the 2700 mAh batteries only lasted a couple of months. Likewise for the 2900 mAh batteries I purchased from Amazon. Hint: Never buy batteries with the mAh rating (rather than the brand name) featured in large bold numbers on the side :-/ Unfortunately all those Kodak "Digital Camera Battery Packs" that I bought for my EasyShare camera do not fit in my Canon. I purchased Kodak 2500mAh AA batteries and I am very happy with them, even though the rating is less than the number hyped by other brands. I use two or three sets of four on a typical weekend campout or Eagle Project (but I take hundreds of photos and videos -- I actually filled an 8GB SD card this weekend!

                Pentax Optio:

                I also bought a Pentax Optio W60 underwater camera, since my Nikon had stopped working after a ocean beach campout and an inner tube float trip. It solves the camera-killing problems of sand and water, but it cost almost as much as my Canon, even though it is basically a point-and-shoot camera. A year later I haven't used it yet!

                Yours in the Old School,



                • #9
                  Canon PowerShot for a pocket camera. The pocket cameras let you take a lot of nice pictures, but there are limitations in speed and quality.

                  Canon Rebel for quality shots. The high quality DSLR cameras give you a faster FPS (frames per second), so that you can capture that quality shot of the Scout's face when something ... happens.


                  • #10
                    I love my Panasonic LC43 with a Leica lense. It's been a very, very durable digital camera. World traveler; its been camping across the USA, Korea, Europe, Afghanistan. It's jumped out of airplanes during day and night parachute operations, been dropped on camping trips, gone white water rafting in a pelican case, some rock climbing. Small, compact camera, fits easily in old army ammo pouch and the army first aid case. Unfortunately it's getting old, case is showing more wear and hairline cracks so I may have to replace it soon. It's also only a 4 MGpix, compared to the Canon Powershot I just bought my in-laws for $100 that is a 12.1MGpix....It works great, feels great int he hand, built in finger rest that helps grip the camera when you are cold or wet...Now the family and Philmont crew may dislike me cause I was "that camera guy" always snapping pictures of the crew and event.....


                    • #11
                      A good informative discussion.

                      But it also serves as a commentary on means. I come from a completely different financial world than many members on this board. Not a complaint just a comment.

                      I could not afford some of the cameras discussed here. I use a $39 dollar olympus that I picked up a few years ago on black friday.

                      Most scouts have cellphones and game systems with cameras. They use those


                      • #12
                        Best is so subjective.

                        For car camping, or weekends, I have a Digital SLR. I have a heavy lens on it that is 17mm to 55mm focal length and f2.8 all the way through. Focal length is of course your zoom and the smaller the fx.x you can go, the more light it can let in.

                        The 17mm allows me to capture the whole campsite, full group shots or large landscape shots. I found with so many campouts starting on Friday evening evening, that the f2.8 lens allows me to take more quality shots at dusk/dawn of the Scouts doing their jobs, plus it allows a faster shutter on action shots during the day.

                        This allows me to take a variety of shots that are well exposed. Downside is that you need a large/heavy piece of glass, mounted on a heavy body, to do all that.

                        For other uses, there are companies that make quality waterproof containers for point and shoot cameras. Get a decent point and shoot camera that has a waterproof container ready for it. That way, you are ready for water outings, and you have a lighter point and shoot for backpacking. After just looking at point and shoots for my daughter, to me, so many of them seem to be so similar, you really have a lot of options.

                        Regarding megapixels, someone commented that 6 is fine. Most cameras today are larger than that, and if you can go higher why not? I have had pictures I've taken used on magazine covers as part of my real job. The magazines require 300 dots per inch. At 6 megapixels, you are just below the what you need (about 3000 pixels by 2000 pixels depending on model). At a minimum, you should have 3000 pixels for an 8x10 picture. Having a camera with more megapixels gives you more flexibility for cropping the image.


                        • #13
                          I am looking for a camera that is durable and water Resistant. I am a scuba diver so I want one that fits in a camera case for diving. I am heading to northern tier this summer and thats what I am buying it for. I appreciate the comments on this thread, I am going to search for a cannon diving camera case. That way even if I drop in the water it will live. I have heard olympus makes some good cameras too.


                          • #14
                            I took these photographs about a week ago with a Canon S90 in an Ikelite underwater case:


                            The S90 is an amazing camera.

                            The Canon brand underwater case is less expensive, but I went with an Ikelite because I can in the future add a wide angle attachment for even clearer photographs.

                            Note the photographs have been reduced from 2,000 - 3,000 KB to around 600 KB for the Websites.

                            More photos (mostly using the same setup) at Life After Scuba Diving Merit Badge:


                            Yours at 300 feet,



                            • #15
                              wow those cannon photos are sooo vivid, i'm interested in the cannon box.