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-   -   A camera that is suitable for field biology in Africa (

anet12 Feb 2, 2006 5:08 PM

I am a college student who will be researching in remote places in Africa and coastal Belize who wants camera with excellent control. With that said, there are practical restrains of cost (600$ max for everything: filters, memory and extra batteries), durabilityas I will be out in the field (I don't know if dust, heat, rain, or sea air are a problem in the digital world) probably without electricity for a up to a week at a time. A good zoom is also importantas I will be taking pictures of wildlife. I have spent a lot of time comparing the specs.

I have considered S5200 and FZ5 as possibilities, but open to suggestions. Advice about camera care in these conditions are also welcomed.

José A. Feb 2, 2006 7:23 PM

I am no expert, I've only had one digital camera (Lumix FZ10) which I am very satisfied with. So have that in mind when you read my opinions.

So many time without electricity: you will need more thanone spare battery. How many? If you want to use your camera the whole week, there should be some solution (some kind of portable electricity source to charge the batteries - otherwise you'll spend half your money just buying them!) You will also need a good amount of memory cards, or a portable bank memory - but I haven't seen those for less than $200.

A good zoom: One of your options is an FZ, I'd go for it (again, my first and last digital camera is the FZ10) or for something alike. The FZ5 does not have a hotshoe, but you would need an extra flash to make use of it(+++$) so it doesn't matter.

Using you can find the FZ5 for about $350 + shipping. You can add a couple of batteries, a couple of SD cards (not the fastest ones, though) and a camera bag (I suppose among your gear for the trip you have some sort of dry bag already). Add a lens-cleaning kit since you said "dust", and perhaps you can buy one filter also.

The problem comes with being "without electricity for a up to a week". I don't see how can that be fixed within your budget - if you want to shoot often duringthat week. Also, your memory cards will fill during that time, so you'll need to get more of them.

Perhaps buying a used camera could help you to spend less. Buy non-brand batteries as spare ones. I think cheap SD cards (not the best ones though) that fit within your budget can be found.Also, another member shows a suggestion to make / adapt a camera bag yourself here:;forum_id=18

I hope that helped...

SAJJAD Feb 3, 2006 6:50 AM

Hey if u r spending that much money then wait and save a little bit more and go for SLR Cameras. it will definately fulfill ur requirements. in ur case dust is the main prob and i thing u need Olympus E-500. i have experienced it and it has really stunning results. you can find the minutest detail. and also in you case "macro" thing is important.

E.T Feb 3, 2006 7:41 AM

Rain and water are always problems with electronics, also heat with high humidity won't make good. (when air cools extra water vapour condenses)
For power you might want to get charger which works with 12V if you have cars near. (also standard alkalines could be used in place of AAs in emergency)

Also I wouldn't keep button zoom as good control, it takes at least couple seconds to zoom to full tele with those... and in that time faster animal can be already on its way.

UV or Skylight filter would be really good for protecting camera's lens, if filter gets scratched while cleaning it's always easier and cheaper to change than camera's lens.

Changing lense is good opportunity for getting dust both inside camera and to lens' rear element.
And just about every SLR requires own lens for macrophotography. In non-SLRs that feature is built in.

José A. Feb 3, 2006 9:22 AM

If you buy a DSLR you'll need to get an extra telephoto lens, so I'm not sure you can just "save a little bit more" and go for it. Also, as E.T says, you can get dust inside your camera. About zoom control... well, all I can think about now are the FZ's, so the new FZ30 has a better zom control, but it's also more expensive (about $500 I guess) and also you'll need more memory if you use its 8 Mp.

anet12 Feb 3, 2006 4:06 PM

I appreciate the input. As the trip is next January, I can wait several several months to buy and get acquainted with the camera. The FZ7 sounds promising and a step up from the FZ5. It will be interesting to see the reviews of the camera and the street price.

Is there a difference between a UV filter and a Skylight Filter?

Again thanks.

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