High Altitude Mountaineering and D200
I've read some related posts (thanks Trekman and others).
I'm going to Aconcagua (22,834ft) on January 19th and hope to bring up a D200 (if I can find one in time!). I'll be happy to share my experience when I get back.
Like Trekman, I am converting from an F100. I have carried an F5 to 20,000ft summits. Film has always been the best for mountaineering, but the post-processing advantages and convenience of digital can't be beat. It is time for me to change over!
Any advice on:
1. Storing 2.5 weeks of RAW shots? Should I just buy a bunch of Extreme III's and edit off the viewfinder? I need to carry everything up to the high camp (~20,000 ft). The hard drive units such as the Epson P-2000 and PhotoChute seem to have a limited charge. I plan to bring several batteries and solar charge off a Brunton Solar Roll.
2. I know batteries that are WARM will shoot for longer, but will they lose their charge if they are stored in the cold and not used?
3. Does the EN-EL3e have a 12V car charger (this is the most efficient (and only?) way to solar charge batteries from what I heard)?
#1. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 0AndyMac Nikonian since 08th Dec 2003Tue 20-Dec-05 01:16 PM
>1. Storing 2.5 weeks of RAW shots? Should I just buy a
>bunch of Extreme III's and edit off the viewfinder? I need
>to carry everything up to the high camp (~20,000 ft). The
>hard drive units such as the Epson P-2000 and PhotoChute
>seem to have a limited charge. I plan to bring several
>batteries and solar charge off a Brunton Solar Roll.
The limited charge isn't what is going to get you. It will be the altitude. Hard drives can't work about about 10,000 feet because there isn't enough air to create the cushion that the heads ride on.
So you are pretty much stuck with solid state CF cards (no microdrives). I would suggest buying as many as you think you might need and then selling the excess on eBay when you get back. Consider the difference between purchase and eBay your "rental fee".
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#2. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 0Tue 20-Dec-05 01:42 PM
1st off...good luck on the climb. What route are you taking?
From my very preliminary testing I would say that the D200 will have no problems other than batteries of course. Your daytime temps should not be that bad, but protecting the camera is critical. Since you have experiance above 20,000 feet I don't need to explain the conditions.
I would use Sandisk Extreme III's. You will be on the mountain for up to 3-weeks so you have the opportunity to take lots of images. Plus Mendoza or wherever you start from. I would bring four (4) 2-gig cards. That would give you approximately 360 images without downloading, comparible to 10-rolls with your F5/F100. I would also bring at least four (4) batteries, possibly more. On summit day I would make sure you have at least 1 battery with a full charge. It would be quite the drag to hit 22,830 and not have a photo memory
Pack light, the D200 is a load....2 pounds with the battery.
I would not store the batteries cold, I would make sure they are in your sleeping bag or parka, a warm battery is a happy battery.
What lenses are you bringing?
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#3. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 2GLOBETROTTER Registered since 11th Aug 2003Tue 20-Dec-05 04:11 PM
I will be very interested to know how the D200 copes during your trip, especially battery power etc.
I still have some doubts that the D200 will 100% cope if the weather really gets bad...
Best of luck on your trip.
#4. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 3
#5. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 3NYkonian Registered since 07th Nov 2005Tue 20-Dec-05 04:46 PM
I'd be very interested in hearing about how the D200 performs on an extended stay in an extreme environment. I will be part of an expedition in Asia starting at the end of January, talking my D200 along.
I'd like to hear about how you're dealing with dust which I'm sure will be as equally annoying as the cold. Cleaning the sensor might be an issue at 20,000 feet.
As far as mobile storage goes, I'd planned to bring along an Epson P-4000 and a number of SanDisk Extreme IIIs. 1 and 2 GB varieties.
CompactDrive.com in SIngapore is putting out an interesting-looking portable hard drive called the PD70X. It uses 4 AA batteries--NiMHs, Lithium and Alkaline are all OK. The company claims up to 50GB data tranferred on one set of 4 batteries. Does anyone here have any experience with this device?
#6. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 2Tue 20-Dec-05 09:03 PM
I'm doing the Upper Vacas route (supposed to be way better than the Standard and Normal routes, and still not considered technical).
Thanks for the recommendations of CF cards - I'm starting to see that's the way for 2-3 week climbs. If there is a designated base camp (ie. another trip), I could play around with hard drives and DVD burners.
Lens - ideally a 12-24 and a 50 f1.8 (what do you think). Alternatively, I would bring my 17-35 f2.8 (same one you had!) to avoid having to buy the expensive 12-24 (wouldn't be as wide, would be heavier, optics better). I Nikon going to make a nice wide prime lens in the DX format?
By the way - why 4 x 2GB cards --> why not 2 x 4GB cards? Price similar or cheaper.
Also, Trekman, is the charger 12V compatible (for solar charging). I've seen a Nikon MH-19 charger at BH Photo which does 12V, but is it EN-EL3e compatible?
We'll get this digital thing figured out yet for all us mountaineers!
So - you're not going up the Stone Sentinel until next season?
#7. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 6Tue 20-Dec-05 11:00 PM
"Alternatively, I would bring my 17-35 f2.8 (same one you had!)"
Correction please (as Charlie Chan would say), Have. I do not have the heart to sell it...I never will
As far as the cards are concerned, horse apiece. I prefer redundancy if possible, having ½ of my eggs in one basket would be scary, but I suppose the reality is that it would work fine. I plan on the negative and hope for the best, usually works out quite nicely.
The 17-35 would be great but it does weigh quite a bit and has limited range. I have a 24-120 also and maybe that would be my choice if I could only bring one. That is a tough, tough call. Once in a life-time trip, what do you do. If money was not a factor I would maybe buy the 12-24 and use the 24-120 as the primary. Another option would be to purchase a 18-35, much lighter, smaller, than the 17-35 and much cheaper than the 12-24. You would be giving up 9mm vs the 12-24 but that should be just fine on the route you are doing. You could buy a 18-35 and a 24-120 for less money than the 12-24.
For the most part you will be in wide open space so having a "net" 17-18 mm lens should not be a big factor. Your call, and a tough one. The perfect world would have you and a buddy on the same trip sharing equipment, that is what I plan on doing, knock on wood. One dude with the 12-24 and the other with the 24-120 or something like that.
I know nothing about the charger.
My Aconcagua trip is tied very closely to my son's vacation schedule. He only has two (2) weeks vacation currently and thus would need to do a December/January trip yet his NEW wife (damn him!) has put the kaboshes to that idea. Worst case scenerio has me heading out in 2010, four years from now. Regardless, I will get to that mountain come hell or high water. I am jealous of you and wish you the best.
The batteries really do concern me, that will be a tough nut to crack. Keep me posted.
Are you forming your own team or did you hire a guide service?
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#8. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 7Wed 21-Dec-05 12:17 AM
Great ideas - thanks.
I'm going guided, even though it is not a very technically challenging route - it's nice having a lot of the logistics taken care of. The people at that link I sent you are phenomenal, and have the best route on the mountain. I've dealt with them many times before - Denali/Foraker.
It would be awesome if you could go with your son, but if he's on the leash --> consider going "alone" with a guided team. Don't wait until 2010!
Batteries - I'm pretty confident in a combination of multiple batteries (maybe four) and a solar charger. Great one from Brunton, and I believe the MH-19 charger (will have to confirm this) will charge up two batteries at the same from its 12V adapter. This solar roll (super light) will also charge up your iPod (suggest nano for mountaineering) and your satellite phone.
Thanks for all the dialogue guys!
#9. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 8Kalock Registered since 17th Dec 2005Wed 21-Dec-05 07:17 AM
In regards to 4x2 CF cards versus 2x4. If you lose, damage, drop, chuck in anger, or otherwise obliterate a 2 gig card you will still have 3 others. Its a bit more painful if you kill one of two 4 gig cards. Personally I think I would take more cards. Other than expense the little guys don't weigh much. And the more you have the less likely you are to sacrifice quality (NEF) for quantity (JPG) when you find yourself running low in a situation where you cannot take the time to edit off bad images to save space.
Not to bring up something obvious but you might want to take a really wide lens (gisheye) to counter the 1.5 magnification. Its hard to back away frim the scene to get another peak in when you are on a peak Sorry if this has already been mentioned. Its really late/early here
Also did anyone else notice the battery conditions chart for the ENL-3e battery? 20 degrees F+ for a minimum operating temp?!?!?!?!
#11. "RE: High Altitude Mountaineering and D200" | In response to Reply # 10Alex_86 Registered since 19th Aug 2003Wed 21-Dec-05 04:05 PM
In response to what glass to bring,
My personal choice is the 12-24 f/4 with a 50mm prime.
I am thinking of searching down a used 50-135 f/3.5 or 75-150 f/3.5 to cover the long end for mountaineering trips.
I am vary excited about taking the D200 out into the hills. I think it is the perfect DSLR for such adventures.
Sure seems like a lot of you are jumping on the Aconcagua bandwagon.
I have always wanted to go to South America and climb Alpamayo.
Maybe once my father retires in the next few years we will make it out that way.
Best of luck,