Equipment Use in Antarctica 2005

Anthony Hobbs and Steve Johnson above Neko Harbor with the 4x5 Cambo-Wide and the BetterLight Scanning Camera. Photo by Michael Reichmann.

My most frequently used camera on the Antarctica trip was the Canon 1Ds Mark II. It performed beautifully in the cold and during frequent low light conditions. The battery charge lasted more than a day, with gigabytes of photographs being recorded. Although my inclinations are toward my large-format work, the moving ship and full itinerary often necessitated hand-held work. I chose the Canon not only as the highest resolution 35mm format DSLR on the market, but also because of Canon's continued innovation in the medium.

I was able to use my BetterLight Scanning Back on more than one occasion, which, as usual, pulled off it's magnificent resolution and held the strange color with ease. Most of the BetterLight images were panoramics as I have been making since 1995, in the 1.5 to 2.5 gigabyte range. One photograph was even made from the ship's deck!

The air temperature did not seem to be much of a problem, but it we were rarely much below the high 20°sF. Battery charges held reasonably well, but mechanical devices seemed to struggle a bit. A deeper trip into Antarctica would no doubt be much more challenging.

Special thanks go to Calumet for the loan of a fine new Cambo-Wide DS. The Cambo-Wide provided me with the 4x5 format in a portable form that worked splendidly in this challenging situation and in the Galapagos last spring. Thanks to Bogen Photo for my wonderful Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod and Lexar for supplying lots of 4 gig cards.

My good friend and long-time compatriot Anthony Hobbs (co-instructor on next summer's Ireland workshop) helped carry gear and keep my spirits high.

-Stephen Johnson

Steve working on Half Moon Island. Photos by Jeff Schewe.


BetterLight Super 6-K2 HS Calumet Cambo-Wide Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Field Computer

Apple PowerBook G4 12

Adobe Photoshop CS2

Color Management

GretagMacbeth Eye-One


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Last updated on January 3, 2006. Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2006, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved.