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Author Topic: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...  (Read 15357 times)

jabbott

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #30 on: January 25, 2013, 11:36:34 AM »
+1 on this.  A recommendation, though.  The Op-tech straps are almost perfect but the clips on the end to your backpack straps can open.  I got very small carabiners that I also fasten at this end as insurance.
Glad to see there are some other Nepal trekkers on this forum.  :)  I wanted to mention that some folks have made velcro strips that fasten around the quick-disconnects for the Op/Tech straps in order to prevent them from opening inadvertently.  The manufacturer also sells this but it costs more than it should considering it's just a few velcro strips.

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #30 on: January 25, 2013, 11:36:34 AM »

jabbott

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #31 on: January 25, 2013, 11:49:58 AM »
Keep in mind that jabbott mentioned that he only carried 20 pounds.  I'm guessing half of that was photo gear and the other half was snacks, water and weather gear.  He obviously had sherpas or porters or whatever you want to call them.  That sounds like a BLAST!!  All the fun, none of the weight!!
It was a blast!  About 1/4 was camera gear and 3/4 was snacks, water, poles, iPad and weather gear.  Yes, we had porters carrying our duffel bags with changes of clothes, sleeping bag, etc.  I've done countless day hikes in the Rocky Mountains with a similar setup (without iPad and without the porters) and it works very well.  For multi-day hikes though where I would have to bring extra food, stove, etc., it would be tough to decide what to bring in terms of camera gear.  Maybe that's what Canon made the EOS M for?  :)

RustyTheGeek

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #32 on: January 25, 2013, 12:49:02 PM »
jabbott, you are obviously living the life!!   :)  And it appears you've got some experience in various types of excursions.

In terms of what the OP is faced with, forgetting photography per se for a moment, what is your opinion concerning what he should do in this situation?  As I mentally add up what he needs to take to make this a nice trip for himself and his son, the weight just keeps going up, up, up with no one to help him carry it!  I don't see much room for the camera stuff.  IMHO, his best option is to just stick with a simple P&S + the necessary batteries, etc.  I prefer the rugged D20 for no worries but I would also say that a G15 or S110 would work great as long as he could keep it clean, dry and not drop it.  Also perhaps the SX50 that is discussed in another thread although he probably doesn't need that much zoom.  I'm trying to avoid the other mini camera "systems" because they cost $1000's of dollars.  I'm attempting to suggest options that require spending less than $500 for another "hiking camera" since he is willing/able to take his 5D2 on other shorter trips anyway.  Most of the small "systems" are fragile too.

And finally, if a small P&S is taken, that leaves more room/weight allowance for some lightweight extension accessories that would make it easy to include both father & son in a lot of great portraits!

Consider both of these items to get the camera out in front of both of them and have a nice landscape shot with them in the foreground...

http://www.adorama.com/TRTPZS.html - Tamrac Zipshot,TR406,Compact, Ultra-Light Aluminum Tripod with Ball Head
http://www.adorama.com/TPXSP1.html - XShot Pocket Telescopic Camera Extender
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jrda2

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #33 on: January 25, 2013, 12:59:33 PM »
Sorry to dominate this thread but as I re-read your original post, it occurs to me that this is just you and your son, no other adults, correct?  Since your son isn't carrying a lot of weight, he must be young.  So this means everything revolves around you.  I gotta admit that this is worrisome due to safety concerns.  You are carrying a lot of weight.  How far from civilization will you be?  If you get hurt, turn an ankle or whatever, what is your emergency plan?  Will you be in cell phone range and how will they get to you if you can't walk out?  I don't want your wonderful father-son experience to become a nightmare.  Make sure someone knows your itinerary and you have check-in times.  I realize you are probably experienced enough to already know this but I'd rather say it rather than assume.  You'd be amazed at how little some people plan a trip they think will be all roses and discover the harsh reality of the outdoors later.  Don't be one of them!  Day hikes are completely different from multi-day trips.  COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!  Different gear, different planning and different mindset!

Thanks again for all the great replies in this thread....

It will be me and my 10yr old son.  The hike will be remote, but it is regularly travelled by others - we should not be completely alone.  I am a very experienced hiker (usually hike 200-300 miles per hiking season and snowshoe in the winter, and always use poles - saved my wrists on many occasions), but this will be the first time I have taken my son on an extended trip like this.  He already hikes with me, but up until now only on day hikes.  This past season he had no trouble on a 13 mile single day trip.  My main concern was controlling camera weight (while trying to preserve IQ as much as possible) since I will be carrying most of the gear.  My son will have a water pack and carry some of his own food, but I want to limit his pack weight so that he enjoys the trip.  After reading the advice, I am leaning toward taking my 5DII with one lens.  I think I will check into the Cotton Carrier too.

RustyTheGeek

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #34 on: January 25, 2013, 01:39:03 PM »
Sounds great jrda2!  I think CC also has a smaller item that attaches to the pack shoulder strap now but I haven't used it and it may not work as well for a large DSLR.  Hard to say.  It might be the greatest thing ever.

For me, Photography and Hiking sort of collide.  They are two loves that tend to conflict a bit.  Photography wants IQ and heavy lenses and cameras + tons of extra stuff while Hiking wants light weight, less stuff and simplicity.  It's a hell of a balancing act!!

Only you can decide what your son will handle, tolerate and enjoy but it sounds like you should load him down with all the camera gear!!    :)  And his water+food!    ;)  And the tent!   :o  And all your snacks!!!   ???  Come on, son!!  Buck up!!  It's only another 3 miles to camp!  This is fun!!

Of course I'm kidding but I hope you share some pictures of the excursion.  It does sound like it will be a lot of great fun and memories.  Are you and your son involved with Boy Scouts at all?  Shameless Plug -> Scouts is a great experience for young men!!
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2013, 01:50:34 PM »
Depending on what pictures you want out of the 5DII, I would lean toward something like the 16-35 or 17-40 as a single lens solution.  Anything longer would be hard to use if you wanted to turn the camera around and get portraits or get big wide vistas.  The 16-35 also has the added benefit of working in lower light.  I have the version 1 of the 16-35 and it works great for me on both FF and Crop.  Next I guess would be the 24-105 but after that, you are looking at higher weight and bulk concerns.  Another idea might be a Tamron zoom with VC.  Those lenses are a bit of a compromise on IQ but they are lighter and provide a more versatile zoom range.  I have a 28-300 Tamron superzoom and it works OK for most daytime pictures that I use for scout slide shows, etc.  I've also used the 18-270 on crop bodies with similar satisfaction.  Those Tamron lenses are not weather sealed in the slightest however so keep that in mind with regard to dust and moisture.

I'm looking forward to hearing how things progress for you on this!
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TrumpetPower!

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #36 on: January 25, 2013, 02:04:26 PM »
After reading the advice, I am leaning toward taking my 5DII with one lens.

That's the route I'd lean towards as well, but with a caveat / twist.

No matter what, I'd make sure I had the Shorty McForty. If nothing else, use it as the body cap for the 5DII. And, yes -- the lens really is (almost) as small and lightweight as the body cap.

You can then also think about taking a second lens. Which lens? Your favorite, whichever that is. I'd go for the TS-E 24 II, probably, but good arguments could be made for any of the zooms. The 17-40 or 16-35 for landscapes; the 24-105 for most anything that you might stumble upon; the 70-200 f/4L if you're into critters. Or maybe even something like the 100 macro, giving you both macro ability and a short telephoto in one lens.

When making a decision which lens for a second, don't forget that you've got the normal-to-slightly-wide range perfectly covered with the Shorty McForty. That lens and camera combination is so perfect for snapshots it's not even funny. Put the camera in green square mode and turn on live view and hand it to somebody and they probably won't even realize they've got anything particularly special in their hands -- and, yet, it's arguably the reigning low light image quality champion and will give you better results around the campfire than just about anything else.

Cheers,

b&

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #36 on: January 25, 2013, 02:04:26 PM »

RustyTheGeek

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2013, 02:25:23 PM »
I think TrumpetPower is on to something and he has inspired me to use my Shorty-McForty more in the future.  For the past several years, I have used the prime 28/1.8 in the same manner as Trumpet proposes the 40 be used for.  A great go-to lens for good snapshots that is wonderful in low light and plenty wide for most things.  40mm for me is starting to get a bit long.  I prefer 35 and below for a single lens solution but that's just me.  I lean towards the wide (wild) side!   ;)
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strikerwy

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2013, 02:30:43 PM »
I tend to be a fanatic when it comes to backpacking and camera gear.  There's NO WAY I'm going into a pristine, alpine location on what may be a once in a lifetime visit, without carrying the necessary equipment to thoroughly capture the vistas with the highest quality.  I want NO REGRETS once I return home.  That mentality does come at a physical price as my personal pack is always right at #60 for a week long trip.  That usually translates into #40 for pack and hiking equipment/supplies and #20 of photo gear which includes my 7D, 24-105, 10-22, Sigma 50-500, Gitzo mountaineer carbon fiber tripod and a variety of filters, cards, remotes and filters.

I have found the Lowepro zoom AW chest packs to be the best for such an approach.  I can keep my camera with 50-500 on my chest for quick access, I can keep quite a quantity of the other gear in the same pack, I can wear it around my neck, or using the previously mentioned straps, I can attach it to the packframe for less weight on my neck.  This also provides a completely waterproof option as the AW series packs have a built in rain hood.

Many won't carry such a load, but the images I have brought home with me as a result of carrying top quality gear more then make up for the physical discomfort, and I'll continue doing such until I am physically unable.

I'd still carry the 5D III and as much lens as physically possible, especially if you are planning to use the images for anything more then viewing.

As  Cotton Carier owner, I'd recommend the Toploader AW packs above the CC for the protection and also the extra room for other equipment.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 02:35:07 PM by strikerwy »
5D III, 7D, 70-200 2.8 MkII, 24-105, 16-35, 10-22 EF, Sigma 50-500 OS, 300-800 Sigmonster, Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC and a boatload of Canon speedlights.

RustyTheGeek

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #39 on: January 25, 2013, 03:20:08 PM »
Great post strikerwy!  Man, why didn't I pose this question a year ago?  :D  So much good info and responses!!

Anyway, I think a fundamental consideration with regard to the gear carried is what type of group you are with, what is appropriate and acceptable to impose on that group.  In my case, I am with Boy Scouts and Adult Scouters.  I'm never on a photography trip or surrounded by other photographers.  I have a mixed set of obligations and responsibilities and most of the people around me are either less experienced hikers or tasked with other priorities so my photography is all up to me.  Plus, I need to set a good example for others by making safe and sane choices with my gear and think of the group.  I don't feel comfortable asking for assistance and no one around me really relates to the photography addiction I am afflicted with.  In fact, some probably think I'm nuts.  And a select few are even irritated by it if it ever causes any problems or distractions.  Fortunately I've been doing it for years so most everyone is glad I do it and they are supportive.  But if I ever end up needing help with shedding weight on a hike because I don't feel well, pull a muscle or something, I don't want others judging me based on the fact that I am carrying 10+ extra pounds of needless (to them) camera gear that now they are having to help carry.  Plus, I feel like I am imposing regardless of what the weight consists of.  A group of photographer hikers would understand but a group of "normal" adults focused on surviving the hike themselves and supporting the boys might find it a bit selfish on my part.

This comment post is a bit off topic but my point is that no one should ever hike alone and when you hike with others, it's a team effort and so even if you plan to carry a bunch of photo weight on your own, it still impacts the group because that's weight you can't carry for others to help even out the group load of food, water, etc.  Make sure the group is on board with what you decide to carry if you are carrying extra non-essentials.  Nobody will question a P&S but when you carry a DSLR with a big lens, another lens, batteries, misc other stuff etc then others may start to have an opinion or object, if not to others at least to themselves.  And they have a right to feel that way because all individual choices do impact the group as a whole.

Okay, the Hiking Etiquette PSA is now concluded.   :D

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RustyTheGeek

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #40 on: January 25, 2013, 03:23:22 PM »
Part of the justification for my purchase of the 6D was to have a lighter FF DSLR to perhaps take on hikes.  Time will tell.  But it was a nice justification to have on the list to buy the 6D and we all know how important those justifications are when we are trying to decide about purchasing more camera equipment!!
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 03:51:08 PM by RustyTheGeek »
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jabbott

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #41 on: January 25, 2013, 06:41:45 PM »
Thanks again for all the great replies in this thread....

It will be me and my 10yr old son.  The hike will be remote, but it is regularly travelled by others - we should not be completely alone.  I am a very experienced hiker (usually hike 200-300 miles per hiking season and snowshoe in the winter, and always use poles - saved my wrists on many occasions), but this will be the first time I have taken my son on an extended trip like this.  He already hikes with me, but up until now only on day hikes.  This past season he had no trouble on a 13 mile single day trip.  My main concern was controlling camera weight (while trying to preserve IQ as much as possible) since I will be carrying most of the gear.  My son will have a water pack and carry some of his own food, but I want to limit his pack weight so that he enjoys the trip.  After reading the advice, I am leaning toward taking my 5DII with one lens.  I think I will check into the Cotton Carrier too.

Will you be hiking near water sources?  If so, bringing a water filter such as the Katadyn Pocket or the Exstream would allow you to significantly reduce your pack weight and not have to worry as much about camera weight.  Considering that one gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, that's a lot of other stuff you can bring.  I've heard bad things about cheapy plastic filters but the Katadyn Pocket is used by humanitarian aid agencies and U.S. Army troops for reliable drinking water in remote places.  There's also the Lifestraw which is an even lighter-weight option, and it seems to be highly regarded.  I use the Katadyn Pocket but haven't tried the Lifestraw or Exstream personally.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #42 on: January 25, 2013, 08:40:39 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.
I have the G1X and its a good camera, but I would not want to use it for landscapes when I have a 5D and 40mm lens.  The lens on the G1X is just OK, and not cloose to the quality of the 40mm f/2.8.
A FF sensor makes a huge difference too.

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #42 on: January 25, 2013, 08:40:39 PM »

strikerwy

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #43 on: January 25, 2013, 10:57:15 PM »
For a variety of reasons including 10mm, the images attached here would not have been possible using anything less than a DSLR and good optics.  I cannot imagine coming home having seen these views and having nothing to show for them, or only having cropped views of the same.  It all makes it worth it to see these in print and on my walls!

The first image was shot at 500mm of a very distant peak just as a shaft of sun hit below a thunderstorm
The second image is wide open at 10mm
The 3rd image also touches 10mm
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jrda2

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2013, 03:43:44 PM »
Nice pics Tim.  Is the second picture of Iceberg Lk, and what 500mm lens do you use?

Jabbott- I agree with your water filter rec.

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Re: A camera for backpacking into the wilderness...
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2013, 03:43:44 PM »