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I will be going on a mountaineering trip next month and want to take wide angle/panorama pictures.

Years ago, a big chain store in the US (Target) made such disposable camera. The catch was that the pictures were printed, not digital.

I am looking for something cheap ($100 max?) and simple to use so I can take pictures from a 15000 feet vista point by pushing on a button without taking off my gloves.

Is there such (digital) camera? Where can I find one?

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3 Answers 3

Yes, that was years ago. Kodak used to make a disposable camera with an APS size film which could be shot in 3 formats, one of them a 2:1 panorama. Ironically, the APS size stuck for the majority of DSLR sensors.

There are very few digital cameras for under $100 USD but none of them have a one shot panorama function or an ultra-wide lens. If you already have a camera, you can take multiple shots and stitch them into a panorama later.

Some cameras take a panorama up to 360° right in the camera. This feature is called Motion Panorama (Fuji), Sweep Panorama (Sony) and Easy Panorama (Nikon) or simply Panorama (on select Olympus models) and is available almost exclusively on CMOS based cameras which exceed your budget.

Pentax has a simplified version where you take two shots and they are blended together for you. This is called Digital Wide and is available on the Pentax RZ10 for $109.

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+1 Although if you take multiple shots and stitch them, keep in mind that you must practise this at least once before, or at least read about it. Important is that you have around 30% overlap between images. Better be safe than sorry, here. –  Unapiedra Apr 28 '12 at 12:55
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For the digital wide feature and most panorama assist modes, there are visual guides to show you the overlap area which is about 25% on most of these cameras. Some Olympus models automatically take the shot when you've moved from the previous shot to the next position too. –  Itai Apr 28 '12 at 14:40
    
Sure, that is why I specifically refered to "multiple shots and stitch"ing. If the camera has some sort of panorama modus than that's different. Although one should still practise, given the OP's constraints. –  Unapiedra Apr 28 '12 at 17:02
    
The Pentax Optio RZ10 seems like a good budget option but I think I am going to go with Go Pro. +1 for all the good comments and info. Thanks to all for your time. –  Chris May 2 '12 at 19:54
    
Was that Kodak camera really a panoramic camera? What focal length? Because, APS film format regularly supports 3:1 panoramic images: If "P" mode is selected in camera, then some information is recorded on film when the picture is taken. When printing, that information is read, and full pictures are simply cropped to make them look panoramic. Correct me if I'm wrong: I never owned an APS camera. –  feklee May 6 '13 at 12:52

I would buy a used GoPro camera. It will do stills, as well as video, and is made to be used in extreme conditions like this. If you are really only using this for one trip, you could easily buy one and sell it for less than $100 loss total. Or you might be able to find somewhere to rent them as well.

Most GoPros have around 170º of viewing angle, so they are very wide. I'm assuming if you want a cheap camera, you aren't concerned a great deal about the quality, but we do have a post that outlines the question about the quality of these cameras:

How does the GoPro camera perform for photography?

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+1. The GoPro seems like the best option. It looks like I can mount it on my pack without too much trouble. I spoke to our guide who highly recommends it. –  Chris May 2 '12 at 19:53
    
@Chris - You can mount it to just about anything! I've mounted mine to a car, bicycle, tripod, headmount, etc. It is quite nice! –  dpollitt May 3 '12 at 12:58
    
I haven't done much research on the GoPro yet. Does it run on Alkaline batteries or your typical lithium 8 hours charge? –  Chris May 3 '12 at 16:28
    
It runs on a lithium battery pack. Not sure of the full charge time, I don't think it is as long as 8 hours though. –  dpollitt May 3 '12 at 18:29

If you are happy to take the time and effort to take multiple photos of a scene, and I realise that this may be inconvenient at best and life threatening at worst, then you can use software to make extremely acceptable panoramas from multiple images. The end result can be very good even if images are not "square" to each other or evenly spaced. This has the advantage of allowing any camera that suits you best to be used.

One such program is the free and excellent "Autostitch" which requires almost zero user ability or input to operate.

Download free version from here

Note that their demo photos includes an alpine landscape made up of a horrendous jumble of pictures. Using perhaps 6 or so more usual images the results are often a seamless image where the orginal boundaries are vanishingly hard to spot without extremely careful examination (if then).

One commercial product based on autostitch is Panorama plus at 12 GBP which adds extra functionality such as export to Facebook or Flickr, PDF output etc.

Apparently Kolor also use it in their software.

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+1 although keep in mind that you must practise this at least once before, or at least read about it. Important is that you have around 30% overlap between images. Better be safe than sorry, here. –  Unapiedra Apr 28 '12 at 12:54

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