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  Gear Guide
Best Adventure Cameras

Three adventure cameras

Three models show why, for adventure photography, 35mm still beats digital:

•  Yashica T4 Super Weatherproof, the pro's choice
•  Nikon N65, the expedition system
•  Pentax IQZoom 95WR, the all-conditions camera

Digital-camera sales have tripled in the past two years, but in the outdoors and on the road a 35mm camera is still your best bet.

Weather- and shock-resistant designs—almost unheard of in digital—have been perfected in 35mm. And film point-and-shoots produce better images than more expensive digital models, whose reaction times can be too slow for sports photos.

Shown here are the best adventure cameras on the market. They're all 35mm, they're all priced at $500 or under—and you can find them in stores for significantly less.

—Jonathan Hanson

All prices in U.S. dollars.

Yashica T4 Super Weatherproof, the pro's choice
Price: $380
Telephone: 800 526 0266 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.yashica.com

The fixed-lens Yashica T4 Super Weatherproof is the favorite backup camera for many professional shooters.

Eliminating the zoom in favor of a moderately wide angle 35mm lens reduces weight and improves lens speed, an advantage in dim light. It also makes it easy to shoot with one hand while hanging on to your bicycle or camel with the other.

The lens—from Carl Zeiss, the best manufacturer in the world—produces razor-sharp images, and the T4's 6.7-ounce [200-gram] body is water- and dust-resistant.
 

Nikon N65, the expedition system
Price: $360, $500 with a 28 to 80mm lens
Telephone: 800 645 6687 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.nikonusa.com

Planning a once-in-a-lifetime expedition and want to bring back perfect slides? Maybe it's time you moved from a camera to an SLR camera system.

The Nikon N65 uses the same interchangeable lenses as its stablemate, the $2,800 Nikon F5, carried by many pros, but at 13.9 ounces [0.4 kilogram] the N65 weighs a third as much.

The camera has automatic shooting modes for sports, landscapes, and portraits, and its autofocus is blisteringly quick; you can also set the camera to take three shots at successive f-stops, virtually ensuring at least one flawless exposure.
 

Pentax IQZoom 95WR, the all-conditions camera
Price: $295
Telephone: 800 877 0155 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.pentax.com

The do-everything, withstand-anything Pentax IQZoom 95WR is the star of the weatherproof point-and-shoots, able to survive even a severe splashing without sizzling noises coming from its innards.

Its 12.7-ounce [0.4-kilogram] polycarbonate body holds up to moderate whacks, so it's ready for raft trips and ski runs, and the 38 to 95mm zoom lens covers everything from a tight head shot of your river guide to a sweeping view of the Grand Canyon.

Use fast film, though—the lens is a bit slow (f/10.5) at its longest setting.


Photographs by Jim Huibregtse

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For more gear reviews, get Adventure.
 

Canon S300 Digital ELPH

The Digital Challenger

Canon S300 Digital ELPH
Price: $699
Telephone: 800 652 2666 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.usa.canon.com

The appeal of digital cameras—expense and technical shortcomings notwithstanding—is that you can use the LCD screen to edit and erase photos as you go, wasting neither pack space nor money on extra rolls of film. And it's easy to e-mail photos to friends upon your return.

At 3.7 inches [9.4 centimeters] long and 8.5 ounces [0.3 kilogram], the Canon S300 Digital ELPH may be the best digital travel camera yet. Its 5.4 to 16.2mm zoom lens is equivalent to a 35 to 105mm lens in a 35mm film camera, making it the world's smallest digital model with a 3X zoom, and it can store more than a hundred low-resolution images on one memory card.

When quality, not quantity, is the main concern, set the resolution to "superfine" to get prints that are almost as sharp as 35mm photos.

 

 

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