This article was originally posted on Tripwired.
In this discussion I will share some of my basic experience in Shooting from the Saddle.
First let me make a few things very clear ...
1. Shooting from the Saddle is really potentially very dangerous and it is not recomended for novice riders.
2. It is recomended that you do it with a bike that is fitted with some form of throttle control.
Ok now for some basics ...
a. Digital cameras are better suited for this because you will trash many frames on a film roll.
b. Not every camera is suitable for this.
c. The camera must have a robust neck strap system and you must be able to adjust that so that if you drop the camera it will not hit your tank. I have been forced many times to drop the camera because things happens in the road.
Right let us look at some cameras ...
I have tried a few cameras and in the end I came to the conclusion that the standard "point and shoot" pocket style cameras are not really suitable. The problem with them are that ...
a. You do not have a positive grip on them.
b. Usually the On/Off switch is not accessable with your gloves on.
I have found the cameras that follows the old style SLR body shape to be the more suitable ones and I have personal experience of two models.
1. The Fuji Finepix 9600
This camera is fairly light weight and it has a nice 28mm - 300mm Zoom lense that is not detachable. The Zoom control is mechanical and as such you can tweak that while you are riding.
The Fuji also have a very comfortable On/Off switch and the shutter button is good for use with gloves.
I have heard rumours that this model is discontinued and cannot confirm that. The Finepix 5600 is very similiar and should also work fine. You might be able to pick some second hand bargains up if you shop around. This camera use the Compact Flash cards and you can get some really big ones.
Another advantag of this camera is that it uses normal Penlight Size batteries and you can use rechargeables and buy replacements from most shops. This is handy if you are on long trips.
The camera does become heavy around your neck after 2 hours or so.
2. Kodak Easyshare Z612
I saw this camera in December 2006 and it took me less than 2 minutes to decide to buy it. It comes at a very decent price.
The camera has a lightweight metal finished body and the body offers a good grip on the righthand side. The power switch is accessable with a glove and the shutter button is also easy to operate.
The camera is fitted with a 35mm - 420mm Schneider Kreuznach lense and the optical quality is excellent.
I have one serious issue with this camera and that is that the Zoom is an electric Zoom and useless on the bike because you have no idea where the Zoom is set to. Another problem with this zoom setting is that everytime the camera powers down and is switched on again you start at the widest angle.
The Kodak uses SF cards and as such most Laptops have a built in reader for it. The camera comes with a rechargeable battery that has a very good lifespan and you could do around 300 shots without a problem. You also get a Lithium non-rechargeable battery for it. Kodak was clever in the sense that you can interchange the two types of batteries.
For a complete novice the Picassa
software available from Google is superb ... it gives you basic image manipulation features to adjust most digital flaws in you images and it has an excellent catalog management interface. The best part of this software is that it is FREE.
I personally use Picassa and Photoshop CS2.
Here is a shot of the two cameras ...
The Fuji is on the left and the Kodak on the right.
Me shooting from the saddle.
Next I will talk about about the practical issues when shooting from the saddle.
Please note that this is my personal opinion about the hardware and software and in no way whatsover do I suggest that this is the only way to do things.