|January 2008--Fans of Campy Only
know that we enjoy taking photos on our
Campy-equipped rides--often while we are riding. It's a great way to
record the beautiful places we ride, and helps bring back great memories
months or years later. We've been clicking away for years, using a
progression of cameras with ever-increasing image quality:
But wait, isn't it dangerous to ride and
photograph at the same time? No. Taking photos while riding can
be done safely, provided you use proper caution. It takes a little
practice, but give it a try and soon you'll be taking great shots of
your riding companions, the scenery, or whatever else strikes your
Presented below are our recommendations
for cameras and their use, based on our ten-plus years of
experience. We welcome your
suggestions or additions.
- Use a good camera, but not *too* good. I've never dropped a camera, but it could
happen, so only use a camera that you're willing to lose. Top-of-the-line Nikons, for
instance, are probably not a good choice.
- If you use a digital camera (and we're
assuming most people will), use one that doesn't have a flip-out
screen. Flipping open the screen can be annoying and difficult to do while riding.
- While flip-out screens are not good, a
large LCD screen at the back is. It is much easier
and safer to line up your shot in the screen than it is to look
through a viewfinder.
- Try to find a camera with an easy-to-use on/off
switch and a large, easy-to-find shutter button. You will appreciate this when
you have full-fingered gloves on.
- Shutter lag--that hesitation between
when you push the shutter and the photo is actually taken--will be a
problem with reasonably priced cameras. Don't worry about
that--see our suggestion below about not being too concerned with
- We recommend getting as much
resolution as you can, consistent with our general rules about not
spending too much. You'll appreciate the resolution if you want to
crop your images later.
- Stay away from cameras that need special batteries. You will appreciate this when
you're in East Nowhere and the store has AAs but not the type that your camera needs. My
current camera (a Samsung S730) uses AA cells. If you want, you can always use NiCad or
Carrying and Using a Camera While
- Rule #1: Watch where you're going!
Don't risk crashing just to get that perfect shot.
- Other basic rules: Don't take shots at
high speed (you judge what "high speed" means for you), on
technical downhills, on rough pavement, or in any situation where
you should have both hands on the handlebars.
- When in doubt, STOP and THEN take
- In my experience, lining up your shot
in an LCD screen is the best way to take pictures while on the
bike. Most digital cameras nowadays don't have optical
viewfinders--if yours does, I recommend not using it, since you will
be compromising your view of the road.
- Don't worry about getting a perfect
shot. You can straighten or crop your photos easily with simple
editing software that is either already on most computers or
available for free.
- I carry my camera in a jersey pocket. This works well, except when it's cold and you have
a vest or jacket on. Another option is to put it in a handlebar bag,
provided that you can reach into it while riding without unzipping
it. Always keep your eyes on the road.
- We always carry two items in the
jersey pocket that the camera is in--the camera itself and something
else (like a wallet or energy bar) between our body and the camera.
This will act as a vapor barrier to help keep the lens from fogging.
It will also help keep perspiration out of the camera (we ruined one
on a particularly hot ride when too much sweat got into it).
- In inclement weather, putting a vest
or jacket over the pocket that has your camera in it will almost
always be enough to keep it dry. If in doubt, put the camera
in a ziplock bag (keeping in mind that this will make it harder to
get it out to take pictures).
If you're into documenting with video, the same recommendations for cameras apply. The
most bike-friendly video camera I have found so far is the Flip Video (http://www.theflip.com). It's cheap, easy to use,
and takes pretty good videos. Wind noise is always an issue when filming from the bike,
but the Flip seems to suffer less from this problem. (Some of my on-the-bike videos can
be seen at my blog: http://wheelsnorth.blogspot.com)
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