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  CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > What to Take > What Else? > Cameras
    What about a camera?  
    Last year I carried my 35mm manual everything Olympus with a 35mm fixed and a 28-110 zoom lenses wrapped in a ziplock bag in a small fanny pack. Worked for me.

This year, I might just forget about the 35mm fixed lens, I don't know. The short 35mm lens is easy to keep on the camera body and stuff it into my small fanny pack. In case of that fleeting picture, I would not have to spend the time to get the zoom lens on the camera body. The zoom attached to the body, does not fit in a small fanny pack. Even though the zoom is relatively small.

One of the nice things about keeping a camera handy is that you don't have to stop flying down a hill to take a picture. You can just reach for it and take a quick shot while your still moving.

Which means you need a higher speed film, ASA200 is my favorite speed film.

I take a UV / Skylight filter (permanent), 81A warming filter and a polarizing filter.

For my travel bag, I bring extra batteries, film, ziplock bags and a flash.

What not to do???? Hmm. Don't make it difficult to take pictures. Otherwise you'll miss a lot of opportunities. Make sure your camera is readily available at all times. Make sure that you can use it without changing lenses or filters or film. And especially, make sure you have extra batteries. When I'm rolling along, I don't always want to stop long to make changes to my camera setup.

Bob Mueller

In the 8 CO's I have done, I have carried several cameras: disposables, my wife's very nice compact 35mm, my daughter's "junker" 35, and my venerable Canon A-1 SLR with an extra lens.

From my point of view there are several "down side" considerations.

1. The most important consideration is keeping your camera dry and dust free on the ride. That much can be easily handled with a good waterproof, tough ziploc bag, or similar container.

2. Weight: Never again will I take a quality 35mm SLR with extra lenses. Generally added weight is not much of a concern for me, but the 5+ pounds of the A-1, extra lens, and protective cases was over the top.

3. Potential damage: I was almost paranoid about damaging the good stuff, which is why I carried it in their hard leather cases.

4. Convenience: A camera which must be protected is less accessible. Photo Ops sometimes vaporize quickly.

5. Limited opportunities to apply REAL artistic skill: Unless you plan on non-cycling side trips (certainly possible on CO XII), you simply will not have very many opportunities from your bike to make use of the flexibilities allowed by a good camera.

Get a good picture with a cheap camera, and process it to accomplish your artistic goals after it is developed.

For these reasons, in the last few CO's, I have carried disposables only. Two. One of those wide angle, panoramic throwaways, and a "regular" one with a flash built in. The nice thing about a disposable is that it is light, and if it gets damaged, all you have lost is a CHEAP camera and the pictures you have already taken. And, they really can do a good job.

I have been very pleased with the results obtained with the panoramic, as much of what you will see on any CO really benefits by such a format. Cool.

Having said all that, I received a digital camera for Christmas which has been a real kick. It is certainly heavier than the disposables, but relatively light weight. And, I have enough memory in the thing to take 184 pictures of average complexity. I have not decided to take it, but if I do, I will substitute it for the "regular" disposable.

My bottom line: Carrying a quality camera is just too much of a hassle on a long distance bike ride. FWIW

Curt Coleman

P.S. Keep in mind that the panoramic disposable is a daylight-only camera - at least the ones I have used in the past - maybe there is something else now.

There is a middle ground on camera's. One of the compact zoom camera's would work nicely, giving you a choice of focal lengths from wide angle to short telephoto which will work very well for scenic shots and people. I own an Olympus SuperZoom 300 which has been in some fairly incliment weather an with reasonable care and caution has come through in flying colors. It was made before the 'use in the rain' models came out which are even more versatile......its also basically light weight, carried on the hip its not even for thought.

Tim McCreary

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I have a different perspective on this than you do.

My Olympus OM4T, Tamron 35mm 2.0, Tamron 28-110 2.8 easily way less than 3 pounds. The zoom is an Aspherical lens type so it is very small for a zoom. For longer focal lengths, you almost need a tripod or monopod to get a good sharp picture. So I stick with the 28-110mm.

I think you need to toss that huge A-1 and get something you can take pictures with using one hand. I routinely take my camera on bike trips and constantly take pictures from the saddle without stopping. I use the 35mm lens for this purpose. I can use it as a Point and shoot camera by focusing with my right ring finger.

As I indicated to Dave, all of my camera stuff fits into a small fanny pack. I can rotate the fanny pack around to my stomach area while on the bike if I need to do any serious tinkering.

My OM4T has been on backpacking, road biking, mountain biking, mountain climbing and rock climbing adventures. It needed a tune up last year after 8 years of service. I consider that pretty good since I occasionally bang it on rock and things.

1. Of course, keeping it clean is somewhat difficult, but with a quality A-1, I'm sure the inside important stuff stays clean.

2. Weight is not a problem with my system.

3. My camera is a tool. I use it where every I go and take the appropriate precautions. I don't use the hard leather cases for either the camera or the lenses. I just toss them in my fanny pack in side a plastic ziploc.

4. I use mine as point and shoot camera when necessary.

5. I'm with you on the limited chances to apply Artistic measures. I don't have any anyway so I just don't bother trying. I do try to get the exposure right.

My beef with the disposables is they usually use 400ASA film. You really can't do much with this film. It is okay for 4x7 pictures, but beyond that it starts to look like a web page graphic.

You do have a point about the panorama cameras. Best I can do is take multiple pictures.

Perhaps you should consider different tools that an active photographer would use.

Bob Mueller

Well, opinions draw other opinions. In this case two very good and different points of view:

Bob Mueller -

The OM4T, 35mm/2.0 & 28-110mm/2.8 sounds like a very nice system, and not too heavy. As to tossing the A-1, YIKES! Surely you jest! The thing at least has value as an antique. BUT it definitely is not the right camera for CO.

I acquired the A-1 after its predecessor and accessories were stolen in 1978. At that time, it was a good replacement for what I lost. Now, with all the advances in cameras in the last 21 years and when the budget permits, I may opt for a new one.

Tim McCreary -

The middle ground concept is a good one. The A-1 is overkill, and not well suited for a CO kind of setting; The disposables are on the other end of the scale, for sure. Coincidentally, my wife has a camera which is similar to yours - Olympus Superzoom 3000 DLX. That is certainly a compromise between the A-1 and a disposable. But, I am reluctant to expose it to the elements that CO runs in. As indicated above, perhaps I will shop for an alternative that can handle a little more rough treatment.

The digital I have is a so-called "mega-pixel" with no zoom, and lots-o-memory. It has reasonable resolution, but pales when compared to a similarly priced film camera. It's just different, and has different applications. It is approximately the same weight as the Olympus.

For my purposes, I will still go for the panoramic disposable - and - possibly, the digi - or maybe the Olympus - or - or - . . .

Curt Coleman

Two years ago next month I bicycled from Astoria to Brookings, in full sun, partial sun, no sun, scattered clouds and downpours. Took eight rolls of 24 exposure film with a nearly feather weight Olympus Zoom 2000, which I kept in a Ziploc bag in my handlebar bag. I shot nothing but ASA 200, good enough for me Kirkland film. Much to my surprise, every picture turned out acceptable and sometimes the lighting left a lot to be desired. Of course some of the pictures are postcard quality and some are not . . .but I was not unhappy. Very small, compact, light weight tripods are available at camera stores which will quite easily fit in a fanny pack or handlebar bag or even in a windbreaker pocket. They usually will only extend to a height of about 6" but almost always you can find something upon which to situate them to get decent pictures. In New England last fall (Leaf Peeper Time) I took another eight rolls of film with a new Minolta Vectis 30 APS camera and had equally good results. This is a bit heavier than the Olympus but will probably be the one I take on the CO tour this year.

Penny Overdier

On CO XI, I used disposable regular and panoramic 35 mm cameras, both of the CVS (cheapie) variety. To my disappointment, the quality of the panoramic photos was very poor. The texture was grainy and the color was inferior and unacceptable. (I lost those beautiful rainbows in Elkton on Day 6). The regular photos were just fine. I guess that's what I get for going cheap. For this year's ride, I will just go with the regular disposable camera.


I bought a Minolta Vectis 300 (Advantix system) about a year ago, and carried it on two bike tours so far w/no problems. Adveantix is that new cartridge type film. easy to load, and you can print the pictures in 3 different formats! You also get a little contact sheet of the whole roll, which makes it easier to pick which ones you want reprints of The Minolta is stainless steel, and seems to be rugged in the extreme. Canon also makes a similar camera, but I haven't used that one.

Debi Toews

For any of you taking a camera, put your name and address on it and any and all lenses you take. I use those mailing labels on everything, including my rolls of film. It is no fun losing anything on such a trip! Been there! ;-)

I now just stop and log in the shot as to where I am, etc. I also number my rolls of film so that I will know in which order they were taken. Sometimes it has been hard to remember!

Donald Lockridge

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
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