It's not the altitude. It's the cold. In cold weather, cameras can seize uplubricants turn to glue, batteries croak, that sort of thing. But these are issues that can be dealt with. Mainly, carry extra batteries and keep them and the camera as warm as you can. When it's really coldsub-zerokeeping your equipment inside your parka generally does the trick. At Everest Base Camp, I wouldn't think you'll have any major issues.
As for the right camera, well, the film-versus-digital issue remains a tough one to resolve. Yashica's T4 Zoom ($200; www.yashica.com) is a fine little number; it will give you good service and excellent photos from your trip. Digital cameras have a slight edge in that memory sticks are lighter than equivalent film canisters. There might be some issue with batteries, as digital cameras are real power-hogs compared to film cameras. Still, a digital camera such as Canon's PowerShot A75 (about $300; www.powershot.com) is an excellent alternative. Good lens, well-made camera, easy to use.
What would I do? If you forced me to make the call, I'd probably go with the T4, but it would be a close run thing indeed. Regular readers here know I'm still sort of an analog, film-based kind of guy. But I sure see the appeal of digital cameras, and their quality just keeps getting better.
Lead Photo: courtesy, Yashica
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