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Author Topic: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...  (Read 14335 times)

jrda2

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A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« on: January 24, 2013, 02:41:35 PM »
On my past day hikes (up to 15 miles with elevation change) I have taken my 5D mark II with 2 lenses and ND filters to capture landscapes.  This year I am excited to take my young son on a multi-day backing trip to cover 30-35 miles.  Because of his age,  I will be carrying most of the camping gear, food, etc.  I do not think I will have room for my current set up, so I am looking for advice for the best next-best option to my dSLR.  My budget is about $1500, and I have looked into the Canon G1X, Fuji X-E1 with 18-55mm kit lens, Sony RX100, Sony Nex with ? lens, etc.  I have also considered taking my 5D mark II with only the 50mm f/1.4 attached, but I am worried about only having one focal length.  My priority is high image quality for stills/ landscapes.

I would appreciate any advice or experience from a similar situation.  I have attached one of my pics, so you can see what i like to shoot.

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A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« on: January 24, 2013, 02:41:35 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2013, 03:56:55 PM »
I'd take your 5D MK II and a 40mm f/2.8.  That combination is small and reasonably light.  Save your $$$ for a future camera upgrade.  Small format sensors will lack the detail you want for landscapes. 

JPAZ

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2013, 04:30:43 PM »
I know it is not FF, but my wife caries a Sony NEX-7 and an 18-55 + 55-210.  She fits her whole "kit" into a small fanny type pack.  It is remarkably light and the IQ is awfully good.  The downside is how quickly it can goe through a battery.  With "chimping turned off" and care, she got through a 14 day trek up to 14K feet with temps below freezing at nite on 3 batteries. 

This is not a replacement for your DSLR but it is really lightweight, small and reasonable.

JP
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jrda2

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2013, 04:32:54 PM »
Sorry, I will try the attachment again.  Thanks for the replies so far.

How does the quality of the 40mm compare to the 50mm f/1.4?

Halfrack

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2013, 05:14:32 PM »
You may be overlooking a major idea.  Since you're carrying everything in a traditional backpack, utilize your kid as the camera carrier.  That way the camera is in front of you with easy access (easier to get into his pack than into yours).  Age, weight and height all matter so this idea may not work.  Camera, water bottle and a few snacks and all your precious cargo is in one place.
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1982chris911

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2013, 05:14:40 PM »
I would either get a 17-40mm f4 L or a 24-70mm F4 IS for your trip as only lens, depending on what focal range you prefer. These both are not too large and give you a wider range of possible applications than only taking a 50mm lens with you . if you need f2.8 also you should consider the 40mm f2.8 which is about the same size as a lenscap only a bit thicker.     
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Lloyd

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2013, 06:22:43 PM »
For backpacking I have gone the ultralight route and picked up the Gossamer Gear 2012 Mariposa backpack.  What led me to this pack is that it has a large volume for an ultralight pack and most importantly, the hip belt slides through a sleeve so that it can be replaced with a Think Tank Pro Speed Belt.  (I also attached some Velcro to the belt so that it attaches better to the Velcro inside the sleeve of the pack) The Pro Speed Belt is padded and comfortable and it allows you to use the Think Tank holsters, including their lighter weight Skin series holsters and pouches, to hold your camera and accessories.  The light weight pack and my other light weight items help offset the weight of the camera. While you will spend money on backpacking gear, you could outfit yourself and your boy with a lot of ultralight camping gear for much less than your $1,500.00 budget.  The only other issue with this approach is whether a Mariposa is large enough for the both of you.  Whether it is big enough may depend on where you are going.  If it is cold you will need a lot more clothes and heavier sleeping bags.

One significant caveat to this approach is that all you may really need is a very small inexpensive portable camera, with video and extra batteries, that you can stick in your shirt pocket and pull out at a moment’s notice.  As an older guy, I have come to realize that the countryside is likely to be there for a long time, but the experience of traveling with your family is fleeting.   My suggestion is to not worry too much about capturing the surroundings in all the glory your dslr can provide, but to focus on getting a bunch of shots of your son and the both of you together.  I am willing to bet that 15 years from now you would much rather have a lot of shots of your son than the landscape.  A compact camera of a lesser quality than your dslr will likely meet these needs just as well and may be more readily available to capture the moment.

You may be an experienced backpacker so this will not be news to you, but if you are not, don’t weigh yourself down too much.  You don’t want to feel like a pack mule and not enjoy these fleeting moments. However, if you are willing to accept the weight of your dslr, the Think Tank holster system allows you to access your camera almost as quick as pulling out a compact camera.  Plus, you don't have to accept the limitations of a compact.

There is also a whole forum section devoted to backpacking with kids which can be found at http://forums.backpacker.com/cgi-bin/forums/ikonboard.cgi?act=SF;f=993107219

Have a great trip.
 
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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2013, 06:22:43 PM »

TrumpetPower!

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2013, 06:55:53 PM »
I'd take your 5D MK II and a 40mm f/2.8.  That combination is small and reasonably light.  Save your $$$ for a future camera upgrade.  Small format sensors will lack the detail you want for landscapes.

This. Thread over.

The 5DII with the Shorty McForty is barely larger than a high-end P&S. Image quality is superlative...there might only be one or two lenses at that focal length that offer better image quality -- though, of course, there are many that are faster. And if you can't do good landscape photography with a normal lens, you can't do good landscape photography.

(No, I wouldn't voluntarily give up my TS-E 24 II, but any place where there's a great shot to be had with that lens, there's also something worth shooting with a normal lens.)

Cheers,

b&

RustyTheGeek

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2013, 06:56:31 PM »
Lloyd makes some very good points.  I hike with scouts on both short trips and long expeditions.  Weight is always a concern.  Being comfortable, safe and well hydrated is more important than camera equipment, esp if you are with your family.  I really wanted to take my DSLR + 16-35/2.8L, etc to last summer's 10 day trek to Philmont.  I opted instead for my small P&S Canon rugged D20.  I hung it off my shoulder strap with a super magnet and took over 1000 pictures with three batteries.  The pictures were not DSLR quality but I had a great time and I didn't have to spend a lot of mental and physical energy managing all the photo equipment.

I can't stress enough that unless you are a seasoned veteran hiker and you know exactly what you are doing and what to expect, I would NOT take a lot of photo gear on your trip.  You run the risk of being miserable.  And since I am not a landscape photographer, I really have to question the need for a lot of landscape pictures.  Take pictures of your family and all your activities together.  As Lloyd says, the landscape isn't going anywhere but these moments only happen once and then they are gone!

Have you considered the Cotton Carrier?
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

DianeK

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2013, 07:45:42 PM »
Sony RX100
Diane

bholliman

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2013, 08:35:14 PM »
I agree with Lloyd and Rusty's comments about the quality of time spent with your son being the top priority.  Be sure to take plenty of shots of him and the two of you together.

My son and I (occasionally my wife as well) have done a lot of extended day-hikes in the National Parks as well as some some 2 and 3 day hikes.  My son is old enough (14 now) to haul his share of the gear however.

Personally, I'm spoiled enough to always want my DLSR with me these days, even if it means extra weight.  On one 2-day hike last summer, I just took my Canon S100 P&S.  While I appreciated the lack of weight, the quality of the landscape pictures was definitely underwhelming.  I ended up with dozen or so good pictures of my son in various locations and a few with both of us, but most of the pure landscape shorts were disappointing.

So, I've decided to stick with one of my DSLR's when hiking somewhere with great scenery going forward.  Last summer/fall it was my 7D and EF-S 15-85mm.  Now that I have a 6D and 50 1.4 (acquired in December/January) I'll be tempted to try that combination.  Although, as the OP pointed out, there will be times when not having more flexibility in focal lengths will be limiting.  If I owned a 40mm that would be very tempting as a light weight option as well, as others have suggested (with the same single focal length caveat).

Last November, I made the mistake of taking my 7D, 15-85mm, 35mm 1.4 and 70-200 2.8 II in a backpack on a long day hike with lots of elevation change in Big Bend N.P.  I got some great shots from the 70-200, but it felt like it weighed 40 lbs by the time we got back to the trailhead!  :-[  Not sure why I brought the 35mm, I only used it a few times and its not a small lens either.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 08:44:46 PM by bholliman »
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bholliman

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2013, 08:45:48 PM »
Sorry, I will try the attachment again.  Thanks for the replies so far.

Nice shot!  Where was it taken?
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TrumpetPower!

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 08:53:42 PM »
Lloyd, Rusty, bholliman...that's why the recommendation for the 5DII + Shorty McForty. You get all the IQ awesomeness you're used to from a top-end full-frame DSLR and L glass* in a package a few cc bigger and a few grams heavier than a P&S.

Plus, jrda2 already has the 5DII and the Shorty McForty is cheaper than any of the P&S cameras being recommended.

Cheers,

b&

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* No, the Shorty McForty doesn't have the red ring, but it's optically in the same class as any of the L zooms, including the latest-and-greatest.

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 08:53:42 PM »

jrda2

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2013, 10:12:13 PM »
The picture was taken in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia - a beautiful range extending down into northern Idaho.

Thanks for all the great advice - It sounds like the 40mm will be a good option....and do not worry, my son will be in plenty of the pics.  I can just hear him now...."oh come on Dad, do I have to be in another picture?!"

Just curious - no one out there thinks the G1X is a good option compared to the 5DII with a 40mm - the main benefit being you get some different focal lengths with the zoom lens of the G1X.  I have read that the IQ of the G1X is comparable to the 7D.

TrumpetPower!

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2013, 10:26:48 PM »
The picture was taken in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia - a beautiful range extending down into northern Idaho.

Thanks for all the great advice - It sounds like the 40mm will be a good option....and do not worry, my son will be in plenty of the pics.  I can just hear him now...."oh come on Dad, do I have to be in another picture?!"

Just curious - no one out there thinks the G1X is a good option compared to the 5DII with a 40mm - the main benefit being you get some different focal lengths with the zoom lens of the G1X.  I have read that the IQ of the G1X is comparable to the 7D.

The G1X should be a good camera and a reasonable option for you. As you note, you have a range of focal lengths with it, and it might or might not be something easier to hand to the family. You might or might not worry so much about it being abused or lost.

Personally, I'd reach for the 5DII with the Shorty McForty, but that's just me. You should be able to do good stuff with either.

One thing's for sure: even though I'm sure the G1X is an excellent camera with superlative image quality, the 5DII with the Shorty McForty will have significantly superior image quality. However, unless your printer doesn't fit on a desktop, that's largely a moot point.

b&

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2013, 10:26:48 PM »