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Paul S

Cameras and RIB landings in Antarctica

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DW and I are booked on a Hurtigruten Antarctic expedition where we will be doing landings via polarcirckel RIBs. We each propose to carry two weather sealed Fuji cameras and lenses on a double harness. Can anybody with experience of such landings advise on the practicality of this, especially when getting in and out of the boats into and from water, and also the risk of splashing as they are weather sealed but not waterproof. Alternatives are to use a rain jacket, or carry the cameras ashore in a rucksack but that would mean not being able to take photos during the trip ashore.


I am also considering the practicality of using one of the cameras during the ride for video on a gimbal.

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I did a S Georgia Island trip where all of our landings were water landings and we also did zodiac cruises where we did not land.  Lots of people used their cameras on the zodiac cruises although some of them kept them in dry bags when they were not using them.  


I would worry about using the camera when doing an actual landing.  You will be getting out of the zodiac into the water.  There will be waves and you might slip or trip.  In this case I would keep the camera inside a dry bag inside my backpack and take it out when I got on land.  


Have you thought about a GoPro camera for the ride videos.



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Thanks for the reply Don.


I already have a camera with advanced video capabilities and have invested in an external mic and deadcat, plus intend to buy the gimbal as soon as the stocks reach the shops, it’s only just been released,  so the photo budget is spent.


I’m not so bothered about filming the actual landing from the boat but was concerned about climbing in and out of the RIB with the cameras even if not shooting. They are fairly chunky mirrorless with battery grips.


I would like to shoot the approach and also ashore, even if not the landing itself. We have bought dry bags, and can unclip the cameras if necessary whilst leaving the harness on, but it’s still a bit fiddly. 

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I have traveled to Antarctica with Lindblad/Nat Geo, and thus also have been in zodiacs with my camera gear.  Depending on the conditions and where you are sitting in the zodiac, you can get pretty splashed.  I was using a DSLR at the time, and would keep it at the top of my dry bag at my feet in the zodiac.  If conditions were okay, I had no problem taking it out to shoot, and keeping it out as was appropriate for the weather.  It stayed in the dry bag when I was getting into and out of the zodiacs. 


Also, we were required to have water-activated life vests on while we were in the zodiacs.  I don't know Hurtigruten's rules (I would hope they are the same), nor whether these vests would get in the way of your harness.  In any event, keep in mind that you'll be wearing a big parka and will be pretty "bulked up."


I think the larger issue is getting in and out of the zodiacs, especially on a wet landing, as donaldsc noted above.  You really need to have both of your arms free for this process, and you don't want any gear in your way or affecting your balance.  For these reasons, the crew would take anything people were carrying, like dry bags, from them before they got into or out of the zodiacs.   


(And, depending on your height, there might even be an occasion where the water is deep enough that a short person trying to get back into the zodiac after a landing [you need to do this by jumping up backwards] would not be able to do it and would find herself unceremoniously picked up and dumped in.  Let's see now, who did this happen to...  🤣   ....  Actually, it was great fun, and I wasn't the only one who needed that help.)


I'll add one caveat: I have no experience with Polarcirkel boats, so I'm not certain the on and off process would be as "unwieldy" if you will.  I would suggest you also ask your question over in the Antarctica forum.




Have a great adventure!

Edited by Turtles06

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I went to Antarctica with Hurtigruten on the Midnatsol in 2016. I left my DSLRs at home and took a Sony RX10 do-it-all camera with (I believe) 24-600mm equivalent lens, and never regretted it. I put it in a standard dry bag that I kept unsealed, but held closed with my hand most of the time so that I could quickly pull the camera out if I wanted to. I never got truly soaked, though talked to people on other landing boats who did. I also kept a tiny cheap sacrificial 28-300 or something similar camera in a jacket pocket to pull out and use when I didn’t want to chance using the Rx10. I always left a third camera (I believe a Sony rx100) in the cabin, so in case of some catastrophe I would have some sort of decent camera for the rest of the cruise.


i know nothing of Fuji cameras, but I know for Canon rain sealed lenses, to be fully sealed you have to have a UV or similar filter on the lens.


I believe your landing craft will be different than ours, but for all our landings, there was a swarm of crew around to give a hand as you disembarked, especially on wet landings. Usually you had one crew person supporting you on each arm as you stepped into the water or onto the shore. For wet And dry landings they would have a chain of crew people if the shore was rocky, and many of the landing sites were covered with bowling ball or slightly smaller sized rocks. Would have been very treacherous to walk around unsupported. You will be wearing thick and heavy boots provided by Hurtigruten that give solid protection against twisted ankles, and fabulous protection against heat loss to the ground, but made me feel a bit clumsy like Herman Munster!


If I do it right, I’m going to post a pic of one of our landings. The people outside the boat on the shoreline are all crew members there to help passengers stay upright.


Edited by Mike B Landlubber

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Thanks for the advice Mike.


I have a Fuji X-H1 (my main one) plus Fuji X-T1 (previously my main one but still works well), each with a battery grip. Both cameras are fully weather sealed, but only certain lenses are fully weather sealed. Fortunately most of my lenses are. I have UV and polarizing filters on each lens in any case.


My pocket camera, which is also my emergency backup, is a Sony RX 100 III.


I was hoping that by taking 2 cameras I wouldn’t need to change lenses ashore. The X-H1 has good video capabilities and I can set the two card slots to be one for stills and one for video.


in light of the replies I am minded to put both cameras in dry bags in my daypack. I can then take out the X-H1 and video gimbal during the crossing if not too wet and put them away for the actual landing.

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