Mahmood & Khaled rest after trekking amongst The Tents, White Desert, Egypt
This post is written for British Exploring Society’s expedition to Namibia summer 2014 but will be of interest for anyone taking a camera into a desert for a prolonged period of time. For some examples of my desert photography see these posts from Western Desert, Egypt & Wadi Rum, Jordan
Most cameras and most lenses are
better than most photographers
If you have a camera you are happy with just bring it. You don’t need a fancy camera to take great pictures. Much more important are visual thinking and composition. Film, Lomo & disposable are all fine: just bring what you enjoy using.
If you want a Point & Shoot (type of camera shown above) you can’t go wrong with the offerings from Sony, Canon, Nikon or Panasonic. Look for manual control options if you want to get creative. £70-200.
If you want to freeze action and or have good low light performance you need a SLR or Micro Four Thirds Camera. A telephoto (long) lens helps you get closer to wildlife and the landscape. Suggested budget interchangeable lens cameras:
Canon EOS 1100D with 18-55 mm lens £249.98 amazon link
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens £105.59 amazon link
Panasonic G5, 14-42 lens £288.99 amazon link
45-150 Lens £177.99 amazon link
Recommended 2nd hand retailer (with six warranty) mpbphotographic.co.uk
A camera is no use unless its accessible when the light suddenly changes, or wildlife suddenly appears. Keeping the camera accessible is more important than the type of camera you carry. Think about how you get to the camera when wearing a backpack. For most of you a Point and Shoot camera with a pouch on your backpack shoulder strap is the best option.
If you place a camera on the ground in the desert, sand and dust will enter the lens mechanism and break it. Most desert expeditions have a number of breakages in the first few days when people ignore this advice. Always put the camera back in its case when you finish actively shooting with in.
Clean the camera regularly helps prevent dust working its way into the camera. Wrap the camera in zip-lock or sandwich bag, then place in its case during dust storms.
Some means of keeping the camera steady is useful for night photography, astro photography, video, special effects and when using long lenses – and of course being in your own photos.
KEEPING IT RUNNING
Bring enough memory cards for a few hundred shots/ week more if you want to take video.
There are no charging facilities. Bring enough batteries. Get to know you camera but one or two per week should do.
A handful of 3rd party batteries are cheaper, easier and lighter than a solar charger.
If you want to try Solar look at Powermonkey Extreme amazon link but check eth voltage of your camera and if it can charge from usb or this won’t help you.
Any photography questions regarding desert photography/BES Namibia 2014 ask them below in the comments and I’ll answer them here so everybody can benefit.
Wadi Rum, Jordan