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Northern Lights in the Arctic

Chiny 4 1
18 Aug 2012 8:25PM
OK... I've looked over a few of the forum posts, read the article with stunning photos... but really I am a geek and don't want to buy a monstrous DSLR for a one-off, special birthday trip at the sunspot peak to photo the Northern lights. I normally use compacts which normally gives adequate performance for me, currently this is a Lumix DMC-TZ10. I need a second (or main) camera for this trip as I have been caught before with a single camera failure in Venice.

Trip is Feb 13 to Arctic Norway, so the camera must operate in the big freeze and if I can stand it, will live in the thermal lining of a trouser pocket to keep the batteries perky. It should be operable with an inner (lightweight) glove being worn. It should have a setting to be used by a techno-hostile wife. Budget... as required.

Surely a tough compact will do ? Say an Olympus Tough TG-1 ?

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Snapster 5 141 England
18 Aug 2012 8:59PM
Hi Chiny,

I can understand why you're going down the tough camera route.
But I would be concerned about how good this compact is at low levels at night.
You need to think about a camera with tripod, and a camera with programming options, such as shutter speeds.
I'm not sure if these types of cameras will offer the above options.
If you've seen stunning photos, do you know what cameras were used?
Hiring a camera could be an option, but you're going to need time to practice and experiment.
mikehit 7 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
18 Aug 2012 9:33PM
From your description, I don't know what you are looking for. A second compact for yor wife, a DLSR for you (or your wife) or what....?
My recommendation for a compact would be a Canon S95 or S100 - shoots RAW and has the customisability of a DSLR. Above that would be Olympus EP 3 with kit lenses
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
19 Aug 2012 1:24AM
If you're going to be out at night in the cold, camera on a tripod, I presume, for longer exposures, consider a mechnical film camera. They are not susceptible to cold eating your batteries, and something like a Pentax K1000 or a Nikon FM with a short zoom. You can practice before you go learning about exposure times at night. You can lock the shutters open with a cable release for longer exposures. Most electronic cameras will only open for 30 secs, and a few of these exposures in the cold will drain the battery quickly. Just wind the film slowly, as it gets brittle in extreme cold, and can discharge static which looks like lightning on the film.

Oh yes, and they can be picked up fairly cheaply too, along with decent lenses, and they aren't that big either.

Chiny 4 1
24 Feb 2013 9:06AM
It seems only fair to update here, especially for those who provided such useful responses, which changed my selection.

Low light levels... tripod... ah yes of course. Shooting RAW... OK, although probably beyond my interest level. Mech film camera... I'm not good enough to shoot photos hoping all turns out well... shutter release... as it turned out, this would have been a nice addition for keeping hands warm.

In the end, I went for another Panasonic Lumix, this time a DMC-LX7 which performs very well in low light. I used my Joby Gorillapod to keep everything stable which had the extra advantage of not needing dismantling to be dropped in a large pocket.

Everything worked Smile I got my photos Smile It turns out the Arctic is bone dry even on a ship, so no misting problems. Temps of -5C with 25 kph wind were no problem; after 1 hour, temps of -15C caused cameras to take a partial photo (swapping camera solved this one). My wife was able to take photos with the LX7.

Best of all, the Northern Lights appeared every night Grin
saltireblue Plus
7 6.9k 33 Norway
24 Feb 2013 9:57AM

So where are the photos then?Wink None in your pfSad


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