Like many fisherman, I
enjoy using a camera to document trips. This includes the
obligatory picture of friends in front of a fishing lodge or
a buddy holding an over-sized fish.
But with a little
imagination, today’s digital cameras can do so much more.
Below is a sequence of three pictures that tell a different kind
of fishing story. Perhaps no words are even needed. But I
will tell you that these pictures were taken in the summer
of 2004 in the Mt. Washington area of New Hampshire. This
river is regularly stocked with rainbows, but I am told that
the brookies are wild. Because the streams in this area are
not particularly rich, a 6” brookie is a “nice” size.
The bigger one pictured
here was the “catch of the day”.
My fishing camera of
choice is the Pentax Optio 33WR. The “33” is for 3.3
megapixels, a measure of the maximum size of the digital
image (2048 x 1536 pixels). The “WR” stands for
water-resistant – my favorite (a must-have!) feature.
With 3.3 megapixels, the
picture size is perfectly ample for email and Web site use
and makes nice 4”x 6” snapshots (I haven’t tried anything
bigger). In fact, the largest images shown here are
only 500 pixels wide, which means I reduced the image
substantially from the original 2048 pixel width. (Because
color prints have more dots per inch than your computer
screen, you would use the full 2048 pixel width to make a
4"x 6" print.)
Zooms and Macros
In addition to the zoom
lens, a required feature for me is the macro capability.
This allows close-up pictures to be taken of flowers,
insects, and fishing flies. Back in the days of 35mm
cameras, macro pictures required the purchase of an
additional and expensive lens. And of course such a 35mm camera
with interchangeable lenses might require the additional
expense of hiring a fishing sherpa!
This wild iris stood alone among marsh
grass on the banks of one of my favorite fishing rivers.
This image was captured using the macro mode with center
Like most digital
cameras, this one can fit in your fishing vest, in a small
And because you don’t need to protect it from the elements
in multiple zip lock bags, it can be easily and effortlessly
accessed when needed.
attached a short lanyard of old fly line.
It makes holding
the camera in your teeth easier, if you need two hands to
position a fish.
and Default Settings
Use the camera monitor
and menu options to set the camera defaults. The "memory"
feature available in the set-up menu allows you to lock-in
your preferences. My camera defaults to
(1) macro mode, (2) center-focusing and (3) no flash. All I need to do when taking a
close-up picture is
center the object in the monitor and depress
the shutter release button. In this mode the
camera should focus on the centered subject (e.g. fish) and
not on the background (e.g. rocky river bottom). But take
plenty of pictures just in case. The included 16MB memory card
is woefully inadequate if you like to take a lot of
pictures, so I replaced it with a 256MB SD memory
card. With the larger card I am able to take 123
pictures using the best image quality and the maximum (3.3 megapixel)
The 33WR is rated as
"Class 7 Water Resistant." This means that water will
not (should not?) enter the enclosure for 30 minutes at a
depth of 1 meter.
I have dropped this
camera into the water only once, in heavy current just last
month. Fortunately, the 33WR did not float away. Instead,
it sank quickly to the bottom in about three feet of water.
I got a bit wet over the top of my waders as I reached down
to get it (my arm is long, but not that long). Thankfully,
with its silver body it was easy to locate on the dark-stone
riverbed! Bottom line: all the photos were intact
(including the 18+ inch brookie shown below that I released
just before dropping the camera) and the camera is still
Focus could be better, but I was shaking
with excitement! (For perspective, that's a size 4 bugger)
Like all digital
cameras, this one comes with software for uploading your
photos to your computer. I cannot comment on its power or
friendliness, as I have not used it. Instead, I use
Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 (Album 2.0) for both brands of digital cameras I own.
What I especially like
about Album 2.0 is that it allows you to use self-created
categories, sub-categories and tags for all your pictures.
This means that if I click on the tag “Brook Trout” within
the category of “Fish”, I will see a catalog of thumbnails
of all my brookie pictures. You can
also add comments and audio clips. I have another category
for “Rivers”. So, if I click on “Millers River” and click
“Brook Trout” together, I will get all my pictures of brook
trout on the Millers River.
You can get a free trial
package from the Adobe Web site, the maker of a long line of
Photoshop products. If you like it, buy it. The retail
cost is about $50.
Like most image
uploading software, Album 2.0 also does simple photo
editing. I have not used the editing feature because I use
Photoshop Elements for that purpose. I do however, use
Album 2.0 for emailing pictures, creating CDs and
developing slide shows.
Update on the
Pentax Optio 33WR
(below left) was new to
the market when I bought mine in December of 2003. In the 1
½ years since then, Pentax has introduced two new WR
models: the Optio 43WR (middle) and the Optio WR
(bottom right). As of this date,
information on all three is available on the
Pentax USA Web
site. The 43WR has 4.3 megapixels and retains the body
shape of the 33WR. The newest model, the Optio WR has 5
megapixels, but in my view it is unfortunate that Pentax
abandoned the unique body design of the earlier models in
favor of a slimmer design. In my opinion the original
“square” design makes it easier for large hands to hold the
camera steady in the field (and on the water.)
images are from the
Pentax USA Web site
...you'll be happy you did
I urge you to consider
buying one of the Pentax water resistant cameras. When the
next fishing photo opportunity comes
your way, you’ll be happy you did.