What type of camera should I bring?

By Marie • September 10, 2018

When you’re going on a “once in a lifetime” trip, it makes sense that you want to take pictures to commemorate the event! There are several camera options with pros and cons to each choice.

Here are some general things to keep in mind.

  • Water, fine sand and sun are everywhere and whatever camera you bring, you’ll need to actively protect it from these damaging elements. If you drop it into the river, there’s no retrieving it so consider insuring it. Many travel insurance policies include personal gear in their package.
  • Always listen to your guide! Many rapids can pack a punch and when the guide tells you to hang on with two hands, they mean hang onto the raft and not your camera!
  • We do have a way you can charge your batteries occasionally. Pack your charger (USB and standard 110V wall plugs work) and your guides will be able to charge your battery at least once during the trip. Spare batteries are still recommended.

Note: Drones are prohibited in all national parks including Grand Canyon National Park. Please do not bring them, even if you’re a licensed drone pilot.


looking at cell phone over Colorado River

Cell Phones

Pros:

  • Small and accessible
  • Waterproof cases are readily available
  • You probably already own one


Cons:

  • Don’t forget to backup all your contacts, photos, etc. – your phone is much more than a camera
  • Limited ability to zoom in – for example, you may see bighorn sheep on a far away slope
  • Some types are more prone to shatter and the heat can be hard on your device


How to Protect:

Options are numerous. Waterproof pouches with lanyards are nice so you can keep your phone readily available and attached to your person. Recent guests have recommended waterproof phone pouches by MPOW and Seawag. Be sure to put your phone in airplane mode and turn off wifi. You can also select “low power mode” if that’s an option on your phone. There is no service in the canyon and your battery will drain rapidly if it’s searching.

 


Point and Shoot Cameras

Pros:

  • Small and accessible
  • Waterproof cases are readily available or you can simply buy a waterproof camera


Cons:

  • You might not own one already or the one you have isn’t waterproof
  • Lower resolution than some other options


How to Protect:

Soft-sided and hard-sided cases are available. Some prefer a hard-sided case (like Pelican
) for additional protections. Others prefer a soft-sided case with a window to take photos through. Regardless of which case you choose, use a carabiner and clip it to the raft instead of putting it in the dry bag. This simple solution keeps your camera nearby.

 


GoPro

Pros:

  • Great for recording the action through the rapids. Be sure to get a strap for your camera so you can hang on to the raft and still get great whitewater footage.
  • Waterproof cases often come with the camera package. They’re pretty much made for this kind of activity.
  • Typically high resolution


Cons:

  • Some don’t have viewfinders. It can be hard to know what you are filming.
  • It’s tempting to film every rapid and every hike, but battery life can be an issue. Try to be selective and do short, frequent shots.


How to Protect:

You’ll want a waterproof case and a strap for sure! Helmets are not used on Grand Canyon trips, so keep that in mind when selecting your accessory.

 

smile_small

 


DSLR

Pros:

  • High resolution
  • Ability to take some specialty shots


Cons:

  • These cameras tend to be even more sensitive to water and sand. Protecting your camera will be a full time job in the canyon.
  • When protected well, they can be bulky and less accessible.


How to Protect:

Most prefer hard-sided, waterproof cases, but you’ll be adding considerable bulk with this size of camera. You’ll also need to bring a strap and some extra carabiners to secure it to the raft. People are often crawling around the raft during the day, so a soft-sided case won’t protect your camera from getting smashed, but it does keep it more accessible. 

 

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when deciding how to document your epic adventure. At the end of the day, it’s your decision to make because your gear is your responsibility. Our best advice – don’t leave home without a camera! Even a single-use, waterproof camera is better than nothing. As always, if you have additional questions, feel free to contact our office. We’re here to help!