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[at-l] AT Camera - Staring from Scratch

Jan:  Don't  take this as gospel, but if I were starting from scratch, I'd stick
with  an  old  fashioned  film camera. The guy who ran the camera workshop, both
digital  and  film,  at  the  ATC conference last year, strongly advised against
digital for a thru hike.

Things  change rapidly in the digital field so I don't know what he would advise
now.  But film has been around for about a century. With minimal effort most can
get good film shots.

Pixels  are  the key to good digital. Most experts recommend four megapixels for
presentation  quality  prints  or  slides. A digital slide projector runs around
$3000  to $4000 the last time I checked. A quality film slide projector sells in
the $100s.

My  current  camera  is  an  Olympus  Stylus  Zoom  140.  It's an almost totally
automatic  point  and shoot. It has a zoom lens which means it takes every thing
from Wide angle pictures (zoom 38) to long focus (zoom 140)(telephoto), which is
handy for animals at a distance and close ups of flowers and small things. (Yah.
It's  counter-intuitive,  but  closeups  require the telephoto setting.) All the
basic  instructions  are  contained in a 3 by 4 inch booklet that comes with the
camera.  My  camera currently sells for around $250 at discount shops. It weighs
11  ounces.  I hiked the trail with a similar camera in 1993 and it worked until
years  afterwards.  It  died when a grandchild spilled coke on it. Coke eats the
electronics.  Identical cameras except for a shorter long distance focal lengths
can be had for $100 or so.

Similar  digital  cameras  or  equal  attributes sell for at least half again as
much, and best quality up to four times as much. But you save on film costs.

Print  film  is  okay  if  you  just want albums, but a thousand or two thousand
prints  in an album makes for pretty boring viewing by all but the most diligent
long distance hiker. It takes more will power than I have to create a "for show"
album of just the best.

Slides  force  you to to select only the best. My slide show uses three 80-slide
trays for a total 240 shots (out of around 1,800 that I took). I can pop through
them  in  30-40  minutes  if I resist giving all the details of all the pictures
that  almost  nobody  wants to hear anyway. Questions that people really want to
know about fill the presentation out to an hour.

Print  film  is available everywhere. Slides take planning. You pretty much have
to  buy  in  advance  and  have  someone  ship  you the rolls as needed. Walmart
occasionally  has good film prices, but the cheapest tends to be mail order from
the  numerous  places  that advertise in Shutterbug Magazine, available at every
magazine stand.

I  worked  out  a  film  and  processing deal with a local photo lab, mostly for
convenience   sake,   though   they  gave  excellent  service  and  were  pretty