If you fish in kayak tournaments, Catch, Photo and Release (CPR) is not a new concept. It’s also not such an easy task. The taking of the picture can often be the hardest part of the day. Choosing the right camera can help ease that burden.
Some tournaments allow cell phone pictures but you have to provide a cable, have to have battery left over after eight hours on the water (who gets that?) and it has to be high enough quality. When $1,000 or more is on the line, I don’t want to risk it.
The things I like in a camera are simple but often not thought about. Look them over and see what you might be missing.
Night Portrait Mode
Probably the most often overlooked, night portrait mode is made for shooting close shots when it’s dark. Have you ever caught a fish before first light or during a night tournament only to have the picture be whited out or too dark to qualify? Night Portrait mode will fix that. Giving just enough light to show the fish and the board, it controls the light emitted from the flash and gets the picture you need.
I like a two inch or bigger screen on the back of the camera. This allows me to see the pictures well and quickly without a ton of zooming so I can verify if the shot is good or I need a retake. It also serves as a big viewfinder for lining up the shot.
A wider lens means an easier time getting the whole fish in the frame and less having to raise the camera way above your head and get a shot. Look for something in the 20-22mm lens rather than the traditional 28mm.
Fish move. You need a good picture. A fast shutter and capturing 6 pictures per second will help get a clear shot of a moving target.
Most computers are equipped to take an SD card. Find a camera that is too. Worst case scenario you can get a MicroSD card and an adapter. The last thing you want to do is carry a bunch of cables and disks around with you so you can weigh in. Ease your mind and get a camera that uses SD.
This one is often overlooked and can work either way but needs to be planned for. Cameras that take AA or AAA batteries will burn through them fairly quickly, especially if you are using the LCD screen. Carry spare batteries with you at all times.
The other option is a camera that uses Lithium Ion batteries. These will run a lot longer than AA but often spares are very expensive. If you make a pre-tourney checklist and charge your camera the night before, you’ll be good. Just make sure you charge it. You will almost always catch that kicker fish right after the battery runs out.
Waterproof, Resistant or Dry Pack
You can buy cameras that can get a little wet or even some that you can submerge but you will pay more. A more price friendly option is to put your camera in a clear dry pack. If you do this option, make sure to take a few test photos to check quality before tourney day.
Pro Tip: Add Flotation
Add some form of flotation to the camera. Fish flop, cameras drop. Don’t lose your win because of it.
I don’t sell cameras but have owned quite a few. These are some cameras that have performed well for me or someone I know spread across some different price ranges. Also, don’t forget to check clearance aisles, EBAY, and pawn shops for even better pricing.
Sony - DSC-W800
Manufacturer's Statement: This incredibly easy-to-use camera slips right in your pocket, ready to capture a memory at a moment's notice. Get close to faraway subjects with 5x optical zoom, then snap gorgeous 20.1MP photos or record beautifully detailed HD video. Your pictures will come out crisp and clear thanks to the professional-grade Sony lens with Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization. For even more fun, enhance your stills and video with built-in creative effects like Toy Camera and Pop Color. Or try Beauty Effects to adjust skin tones, remove blemishes and even whiten teeth-it's perfect for portraits.
Canon PowerShot ELPH150 IS
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-850 16.0 MP Digital camera - Silver
Manufacturer's Statement: Outdoor adventures spice up the lives, and the TG-850 is the perfect camera for preserving the memories. A super-wide lens takes in more of the beauty. A sophisticated sensor/image processor combo ensures vivid image quality. And features like a 180 degree flip LCD, time interval shooting and pro-quality video make the TG-850 as refined as it is rugged. Whether you're heading to the ends of the earth or just the end of the hiking trail, the TG-850 is up for the journey. Water doesn't affect it. Falling out of your pocket won't faze it. Cold? No problem. You know how sometimes you can't decide whether to bring your camera? With the TG-850, you don't have to think twice.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
Manufacturer's Statement: The rugged, waterproof and WiFi-enabled LUMIX TS5 compact adventure camera delivers go-anywhere flexibility with state-of-the-art imaging performance. Unwire your creativity with WiFi technology that allows you to share your pictures instantly from your smartphone. The LUMIX TS5 is the ultimate tough camera, so no matter where you find yourself... diving with sea life, hanging from a mountain, or exploring the winding alleys of a foreign market... you will take the best shot possible without worrying about your camera. Waterproof to 43 feet, shockproof from 6.5 feet, freezeproof from 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and pressure resistant to 220 lbs, the LUMIX TS5 really is the tough-man of the compact camera market.