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March 22, 2012

Choosing a Digital Camera

Digital devices have forever changed fishing photography

Go-Anywhere Cameras
But the NEX can’t go underwater. Don’t fret. There are plenty of other devices that can, many of which can actually be worn on a person’s body.

Often called point-of-view cameras, this category took root among adrenaline seekers who would bungee-jump from bridges or launch snowboards from cliffs with cameras strapped to their bodies and boards, recording every pulse-pounding second.

Soon, anglers got into the act.

“We’re seeing more and more GoPro cameras being used in all types of fishing,” says Jessica Parker, communications coordinator at GoPro, the California-based company that pioneered this wearable category in 2002. “You can even mount them to places like gaffs, which allow you to get really cool shots.”

This is possible because the GoPro Hero is sold with a bevy of mounting accessories, as well as a waterproof housing that keeps the camera safe and bone dry.

And while this category was born among the ultra daring, it’s broadening its reach with each passing day.

“It’s not just for the cool guys anymore,” says John Rounds, global marketing and sales manager at Drift. “The new market has different demands and expectations. The product needs to be easy to use, more like a smartphone.”

Drift kept that in mind when it launched in 2009. Its latest product — the 9-megapixel Drift HD — is equipped with a built-in LCD screen, and comes with a handy remote control along with an optional underwater housing.

But just how mainstream have these cameras become? Even salty old skippers are getting into the game. Capt. Marlin Parker, the legendary big-game Hawaiian captain, is also the father of GoPro’s Jessica Parker. And, yes, he carries a couple of Hero cams in his boat at all times.

“It’s showed him an entirely new perspective of sport-fishing photography and video capture,” says the younger Parker. “He’s been experimenting with placing it all over the boat, on the anglers, on the deckhands and in the water.”

Social Media — The New “Braggin’ Board”
In days of old, fishermen like Marlin Parker might have tacked their best Polaroids and prints on the “braggin’ board” of the local tackle shop.

But today, the term “social media” has taken on a whole new meaning. Instead of dusty corkboards, anglers are posting and sharing their digital images and video on the Web through portals like Facebook and Google+. And the digital devices that are capturing this media are becoming more intricately connected to these outlets.

“Social media and YouTube have incredibly shaped our products,” says Marc Barros, chief ­executive and co-founder of Contour Inc. “Recognizing the importance of sharing, Contour built various ­social-­connectivity features into its cameras so users can use high-definition video, layer the video with GPS data, and easily share their epic moments.”

Most of this sharing occurs on Facebook, where GoPro commanded 1.6 million fans at press time. In fact, says Parker, “between Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, a GoPro video or photo is being uploaded every couple of minutes.”

This, no doubt, will be a major driving factor for future camera designs.

“The next big step for the industry is going to be tethering,” says Kahn. “That is to say, I’ve got my phone in the dash of my boat, and I want to upload an image to Facebook immediately from the camera rather than transferring it to my laptop first.”

Kahn says that connecting ­high-­performance cameras to smartphones will be done increasingly through Wi-Fi portals that bridge the two or transfer photos directly from the camera to the Web. In fact, Sony’s Bloggie Live camera, released earlier this year, already does this.

“It’s an amazing time to be a consumer,” Kahn says.