Noticed this post over on the camera forum on dpreview.com. Don recently visited Zion with his Nikon D700 with 14-24mm f2.8 lens in tow. I love it when photographers bravely tote their expensive glass into despicable canyon conditions to get the goods.
Don’s post highlights the importance of both 1) good water protection for electronic equipment, and 2) the high cost of NOT preparing with such equipment. As you can see from his images, however, a little preparedness, combined with photography skill, can create some beautiful canyoneering images. Thanks to Don for the inspiration.
I just got back from Zion National Park where a couple of friends and I did a bit of canyoneering for a few days. For photo gear, I took only the D700 with 14-24mm f2.8 lens. I really didn’t want to carry my tripod and ballhead since we would be swimming in sandy water and I didn’t have a drybag big enough to hold the tripod. We were also weighed down with a lot of climbing gear, drysuits, water, food, etc.
I kept my gear in a double drybag, pulling it out to shoot, then putting it away for the next rappel or swim—a lot of work for a shot or two. One person in our group didn’t get his Canon 5DII double bagged and it got submerged on one of the rappels into a pool of water—looks like a total write-off.
I would love to have a more compact setup for this kind of photography, but it’s really (really) dark in many of the canyons and the D700 high-ISO is wonderful. Several of my shots were in the 1/15th to 1/40th of a sec at f/2.8, 6400 ISO. The dynamic range in these canyons is also extreme. Even with a tripod, at lower ISO, people would tend to be blurry with the longer shutter speed.