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13.5.2009 Photographs tells the story

Picture tells1
Picture tells2
One target for the expedition has been and will be to document the trip by still photographs. In doing this we are supported by Olympus, who has provided the expedition with digital cameras. We have already shot more than 5000 photographs, only some of them have been able to be shown in he diary. The cameras in use are two Olympus E-3 DSLR bodies with Zuiko Digital 50-200mm and 14-54mm lenses. One of these is always in the basecamp where we spend most of our time. The other one has been carried to camp3 at 7100mto be ready for the summit attempt. Since there are so many things to carry to higher camps and DSLR with lenses weigh a lot it is not possible to be carried along all of the time. Therefore every member has also mju 1030SW compact camera with him.

Photographing in mountain environment brings along some special requirements that are not necessarily present in normal conditions. Freezing cold, condensation of water due to big changes in the temperature, blowing snow and dust are things that need to be handled by the camera. Usually the conditions drive the equipment into their limits and beyond. The cold (up to -40 Celsius) affects the battery life so there needs to be enough of them at hand. The storage needs to be arranged in warm place, like inner pockets of clothing. The charging of the batteries can be done only by solar power in the basecamp. The BLM-1 battery used in E-3 allows, even in the higher camps, shooting of around 300 photographs. The LI-50B battery used in mju 1030SW works also fine but is maybe slightly more affected by the cold and therefore should be warmed in the pocket or glove after a cold night.

The used zoom lenses reduce the need to change them too often, thus preventing dust and dirt entering the camera. The cleaning equipment has proved to be useful since it is very difficult to escape from all flying dirt. The lenses are protected by UV filters, mainly due to the dirt and ease the cleaning. Also the UV rays are strong at these altitudes and the filters bring more clarity into the photographs.

Real high the usability is the key. In the basecamp it is easy and nice to take photographs but when moving higher and the feeling of the photographer is miserable, tired, hungry, cold etc. it depends how easily the camera is ready to take a photograph whether the picture is taken or not. You need to be able to use the camera with thick gloves or mittens. The camera need to be able to withstand rough handling including hits during the climb to be able keep it available all the time. The compact camera can be stored in a breast pocket where it also stays warm, but condensed water do not enter the lens. With a strap long enough you can ensure that the camera do not drop accidentally. The DSLR is carried in a specific bag attahed to the front of the climber to protect it from snow and hits and have it available whenever needed.

The Olympus cameras we have been using have fulfilled the requirements above very well. We are waiting for to get really good photographs during the summit attempt from the really rugged and exposed terrain above camp4, from both Nepal and Tibetan side. Hopefully these photographs are soon available, not only for us but also for you via our diary. Here are some shots from the journey so far.

All is well!