Fly-in fishing trip: Best 10-15 lb total weight photo loadout

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
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491
All,

I've gotten roped into a bucket-list-y fishing trip with the in-laws. I don't fish but they sure do, and it'll be fun to spend some time outdoors... annnnnnnnd occasionally put down my rod and see what my camera might reel in. :)

Here's the catch (and why I'm writing): we're going to one of those fall off the grid fishing locations that you have to fly into in a puddle jumper. Weight is exceptionally limited, so I'm guessing I'll only be able to bring 10-15 lbs of total gear -- including everything: straps, support, bags, batteries, filters, etc.

I'm writing you brilliant lot to ask: If you only had 10-15 total lbs of photography gear to bring -- and the principal photography tool has to be my 5D3 -- what total loadout would you bring? Presume I can't sneak any extra gear with another person in my party.

Considerations (some may impact your choices, some may not):
1) The photography focus will be capturing the people I am traveling/fishing with (multiple boats at play here) and capturing the wildlife and surroundings. I doubt I will be doing any tripod landscape work as the focus will be fishing but quicker handheld snaps of the environment are fair game. I'd wincingly consider astro (which I am a rank novice at) at the campsite at night but don't want to burn all my weight on a fast wide lens + strong support to do it. The priority is daytime handheld work from the boat and perhaps some sunset walkabout shooting around the campsite.​
2) Location = Ontario. Moose, caribou and black bears are the bigger land mammals I'd see. I'm guessing we're in eagle / owl / wolf territory as well.​
3) Time of trip = in the next 90 days​
4) Given that we'll largely be on boats each day, I was assuming (but talk me down) that I'd need one standard zoom or wide zoom for people, landscapes, etc. and one long zoom for the wildlife.​
5) I currently own:​
5D3 + Grip (which I rarely use)​
28 f/2.8 IS​
35 f/2 IS​
40 f/2.8​
50 f/1.4​
100 f/2.8L IS​
16-35 f/4L IS​
24-70 f/4L IS​
70-200 f/2.8L IS II​
2x T/C III​
...but would be willing to rent a lens.​
6) We will have power where we are staying, so presume the LP-E6 charger is coming along and I don't need to pack a boatload of batteries. (Probably will bring just two.)​
7) Presume I don't need to post-process / share shots while I'm out there. I may bring a Kindle to read with, but I will not waste weight on an iPad or laptop.​

I'm presently thinking my [5D3] + [100-400L II rental] + [either my 24-70 f/4L IS or 16-35 f/4L IS] + [2x T/C III] would be a decent overall lightweight FF setup. But that + bags + batteries + filters may consume all my weight and lock me out from other lenses, a small tripod + ball head, a monopod, etc.

Thoughts? Discuss!

- A
 
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ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
Nutty side question: since we'll be on tiny/shallow fishing boats, besides being mindful and having insurance :p, what's the best drop the gear in the drink avoidance move?

Go with a dry bag? Can you retrofit a regular camera bag to float?

- A
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
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Easy.

5D MkIII, 35 f2, 1002.8 macro. Done.

Having less really focuses doing what you can with what you have.
 
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Mar 14, 2012
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For you: 5D3 + 100-400 II + 24-70 f/4 + polarizer. I'm not sure what you're aiming with the 2x. It won't AF (f/11) with the 5D3 unless you plan on using liveview. You should look to see if the sky is dark enough when you go to warrant milky way shots. Otherwise, leave the tripod at home.

For me, I'd opt for 5D3 + 16-35 f/4 + 50 f/1.4 + 100-400 II + polarizer. I like having a low light/shallower DOF option for portraits, but most people prefer having a mid-range zoom.
 
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Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
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If it was for the fish that I seem to catch, I would recommend a good macro lens : ).

Seriously though, I would take the 24-70F4. It is a good lens, and it does have a macro mode.... the 100-400 rental would give you decent reach. Personally, I would bring along a 1.4X teleconverter as well.
 
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ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
Right, the 2X + 100-400 would push me beyond the point where the AF would work through the viewfinder on the 5D3.

Okay, that's gone. That's about the size of the 50 prime, so I could swap that in.

Keep it coming with the ideas! Any reason to rent the 70-300L over the 100-400L II in your minds? I"m pretty hung up on the 100-400L II if I'm honest. It has first party AF, no winnowing of AF points like I'd see if I 2x'd my 70-200 2.8, IS, etc. in a fairly compact package.

- A
 

jprusa

EOS RP
Apr 29, 2013
368
40
5D3 16-35 f/4L IS 100 f/2.8L IS 100 f/2.8L and tripod . I have a bag that I put my camera in when I go kayaking that is waterproof . I also have one for phone and other things that hooks on a vest or whatever.
 
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johnb

I'm New Here
Feb 24, 2013
19
3
Abergavenny, Wales
I’m a freelance journalist specialising in writing about fishing. I take a lot of pictures (rather badly) of people fishing because it’s much easier to sell articles to magazines if there are a set of images to go with them.

I’d suggest your gear choices are going to be partly determined by the kind of fishing you’re going to be doing. You talk about flying in and using boats. Does that mean you are only fishing on lakes or are the boats also going to be used on rivers? What species are you after? Are you going to be flyfishing, spinning or fishing with bait?

Fishing magazines, at least here in the UK, have very stereotypical sets of images that they want. ‘Scenics’ (landscape shots with someone fishing in them), ‘grip and grins’ (pictures of fishers showing fish they’ve caught) and images of flies or artificial baits.

‘Scenics’ are a weird mix of landscape photography and sports photography and tend to work best when something is actually happening in them. Casting to or playing or landing a fish all work. Flycasting works best and needs both a very fast shutter speed to freeze the line plus a small aperture to give depth of field front to back. Shooting someone flycasting the way you’d shoot something in a pitch sport like rugby or cricket with the background blurred out just looks odd and loses that whole outdoors feel.


I’m not much of a photographer and my gear is much more rudimentary than yours, almost everything shot on a 24-105 with a very old and battered 50D. I am usually in the same position as you will be, having to fit in with people who are there to fish, not to pose for photos. You wont have time to set things up elaborately. It’s not quite ‘f8 and be there’ but it is getting on that way.

I would completely forget about the primes. Any lens changes may well be tricky. There’s nowhere to run in a small boat when the heavens open. I’d opt for the 16-35 (you’ll probably need a wide angle in the boat unless it’s a very big boat), the 24-70 and the 70-200 with the extender. You’re on over 8 lbs just with the body and these three but you would have a lot of flexibility.

Try to avoid using the wide angle to take ‘grip and grins’. It makes the fish look much bigger but it’s a cliche that’s easily spotted because the hands look enormous as well. 50 mm or longer is far better. If you’re wanting to shoot wildlife from your boat, any telephoto stuff may well be a bit iffy, even with image stabilisation, as boats insist on moving all the time.

If everyone is flyfishing, it would be worth taking your 100 mm macro. Shots of the flies the fish are feeding on can work really well, particularly when they are perched on bankside vegetation. So can shots of artificial flies.

A polariser, obviously, is a must. I recommend you check out packs from Simms of Bozeman, Montana. If you follow this link and then select ‘waterproof’ under the ‘benefits’ options, that’ll take you to backpacks, sling packs and hip packs. If you are going fishing, you and everything with you is probably going to get wet.

https://www.simmsfishing.com/shop/gear/packs

If you are going to take any pictures in or around rivers, a monopod can be really helpful. But not as helpful as having some wading boots that have felt bottoms with studs in them. Boots with rubber bottoms tend to slip and slide underwater.

Apologies for this insanely long post. I do hope it doesn’t sound too much like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. I’d love to hear more about where you’re going and about how it all goes. And to see some pics in due course!

I’ll tack a couple of pics on. Afraid they’re river ones. I do more on salmon and sea trout fishing and, here, that mainly means rivers.





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Mar 14, 2012
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Right, the 2X + 100-400 would push me beyond the point where the AF would work through the viewfinder on the 5D3.

Okay, that's gone. That's about the size of the 50 prime, so I could swap that in.

Keep it coming with the ideas! Any reason to rent the 70-300L over the 100-400L II in your minds? I"m pretty hung up on the 100-400L II if I'm honest. It has first party AF, no winnowing of AF points like I'd see if I 2x'd my 70-200 2.8, IS, etc. in a fairly compact package.

- A
I used to have the 70-300L and I still have the 100-400L II. The only thing that the 70-300L wins at are:

  1. starts at 70mm instead of 100
  2. smaller and more compact
  3. weighs less
Technically, the 70-300L can take extenders but only at the longer focal lengths (extender will contact the rear element at shorter focal lengths so be careful), but the 100-400 II wins in IQ and gives a longer range and takes the 1.4x better. For trying to take pictures of wildlife, the 100-400 II wins. The only time when I'd consider the 70-300L is when space/weight is the primary concern.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
I used to have the 70-300L and I still have the 100-400L II. The only thing that the 70-300L wins at are:
  1. starts at 70mm instead of 100
  2. smaller and more compact
  3. weighs less
Technically, the 70-300L can take extenders but only at the longer focal lengths (extender will contact the rear element at shorter focal lengths so be careful), but the 100-400 II wins in IQ and gives a longer range and takes the 1.4x better. For trying to take pictures of wildlife, the 100-400 II wins. The only time when I'd consider the 70-300L is when space/weight is the primary concern.
I sort of figured. Thanks for the guidance.

Also: 'be mindful to not smash your glass elements together' is the same thing as 'never ever try this' to me. Zero chance I'd extend that 70-300L what that proviso in play. That's a non-starter right there.

Another question: if I rented a 100-400L + 1.4x, would I be nuts to just leave the TC attached the whole time? People often speak of the IQ with the 1.4x attached, but how snappy/reliable is the AF with it attached?

- A
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
7,950
1,336
Canada
As far as waterproofing goes, Pelican cases are the gold standard for protection.... but they tend to be bulky and awkward.

You can get waterproof lens cases (beta shells) that provide great protection without the bulk.

You can get waterproof packs....

You can get drybags.... not as much protection from bumps, but will save your bacon for a drop into the water….. just make sure you get it out reasonably quickly.
 
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ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
I’m a freelance journalist specialising in writing about fishing. I take a lot of pictures (rather badly) of people fishing because it’s much easier to sell articles to magazines if there are a set of images to go with them.

This is a spectacularly helpful and appreciated post. Thank you!

A few answers to go with that guidance:

1) The presumption is that 90%+ of the fishing will be in fishing boats like these.

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2) I'm totally conflating fly fishing with wading into streams, but I was told to not bring boots, waders, etc. We will be fishing from the boats (or, I suppose, from shore at times) with rod and reel and we'll principally be gunning for Walleye, Northern and Lake Trout.

3) "I am usually in the same position as you will be, having to fit in with people who are there to fish, not to pose for photos." = sure, but this is actually my wheelhouse -- I'm very comfortable with this form of shooting. My family never stops moving and I simply have to keep up. So this fact + we're stuck on boats (i.e. moving our feet is often not an option) = zooms will be king on this trip. I briefly thought about a 300 f/4L IS or 400 f/5.6L and I think with just one body I'll be constantly handcuffed for shorter FLs / wider framing.

4) As for nailing wildlife from the boat, I've done very little but have had some luck before with a 2x 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, so I'm cautiously optimistic I'll be ready when some varmint visits:

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5) CPL for sure. This was not in doubt. But what's the bigger polarizing priority in fishing photography, though? Taming a bright sky or taming water reflections?

6) My (681B Manfrotto) monopod is a likely bring, but it's a mess to use on a boat from my experience. I learned that the hard way trying to get the eagle above. I'd save it for shoreline or lower light shooting on this trip as I likely won't bring a tripod.

7) I don't see myself buying another camera bag for this, but I might rent a dry bag from an outfitter. Few are meant for photography, so can anyone recommend one about big enough for a gripped 5D3 + 100-400? But on the topic of bags, I checked out that Simms' link you posted, and how on earth are they not getting sued over this one design? Looks like a dead ringer for the Mindshift/ThinkTank Rotation 180 bags!

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Keep the thoughts coming!

- A
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
Great thread, gang, please keep it coming!

Current loadout in my mind (keep talking, I can be swayed :)):

5D3 (certain)
100-400L II rental (almost certainly)

1.4x T/C rental (likely)
24-70 f/4L IS (likely -- I just don't expect that many 16-23mm vistas on such a flat landscape to justify the 16-35 f/4L IS instead)
Bag 1 (transport and storage only) = Kiboko 22L is the only thing I have that will conveniently manage the longer lens
Bag 2 (for going out fishing) = Dry bag that will fit a 5D3 + 100-400L II -- references/pointers appreciated, thanks
Monopod or possibly a super light CF tripod (my Gitzo 1542T is awesome, but is still 2+ pounds even before a ball head comes into the equation)
BR Strap
Rain cover (I know I'm using sealed gear, but covers are light and easy to pack)
Filters / cards / etc.

Nutty idea: empty sandbag I can fill when I get there -- I could rest the camera off the side of the boat if the waters are still
Nutty idea #2: maybe a lightweight tarp to lay out gear on the boat or shore (instant dry ground)?

- A
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
And as a man who designs medical devices for a living, I am laughing out loud at reading that fishermen use 'hemos' for various tasks with lines, hooks, etc.

Fishermen use hemostats. I had no flipping idea.

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- A
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
As far as waterproofing goes, Pelican cases are the gold standard for protection.... but they tend to be bulky and awkward.

You can get waterproof lens cases (beta shells) that provide great protection without the bulk.

You can get waterproof packs....

You can get drybags.... not as much protection from bumps, but will save your bacon for a drop into the water….. just make sure you get it out reasonably quickly.

Dry bags are pretty cheap and I'd get more mileage out of them than just this trip. We recently moved to a very lake-y part of the country, so this is surely not the last time I'll be facing this hurdle. But I was thinking about bumps before you said it -- I'd probably have to carry it on my back or in my lap whenever we'd be traveling at speed from place to place.

But if there are properly well sealed + buoyant/floating purpose built photography bags, lay 'em on me. I'm just worried about weight -- the LowePro Dryzone 200 is something like 7 pounds by itself! The membranes / outers are usually quite thick and heavy.

- A
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
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As an addendum to my earlier comment. I wasn't being glib it is something I have actually done for several big trips, 1DX MkII, 35 f2 IS and 100 IS Macro, it forced me to be much more mindful as a photographer, and I think that is something to weigh up while appreciating johnb's very mindful input. He is primarily a writer using a camera to illustrate his writing, I presume you are looking to primarily be making stand alone images from a much more image-centric background.
 
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ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,961
491
As an addendum to my earlier comment. I wasn't being glib it is something I have actually done for several big trips, 1DX MkII, 35 f2 IS and 100 IS Macro, it forced me to be much more mindful as a photographer, and I think that is something to weigh up while appreciating johnb's very mindful input. He is primarily a writer using a camera to illustrate his writing, I presume you are looking to primarily be making stand alone images from a much more image-centric background.

Point taken. Primes demand mindfulness, certainly. I have used the 35 IS + 100L and 28 IS + 100L on hikes before. It's a strong combo, no doubt.

I just feel that the [wildlife ask] + [some of us will be on other boats at some distance] + [I can't move my feet out there] + [it's a bucket list trip for one of us and I need to capture it in depth for his family] = this just screams having a long zoom to call upon. As I trust third party AF like I trust Lucy with the football, the Sigma/Tamron 150-600s are out. So I think the 100-400 is a near hammerlock, and it is so almost by default (the 200-400 is simply setting money on fire in my rookie supertele hands, and it probably also crushes my weight budget).

On the 'non-reach needed' moments -- around the campsite, on the shoreline, even on the boat shooting my boat partner -- a prime absolutely could work. I could be talked into a prime there.

- A
 

ethanz

1DX II
Apr 12, 2016
983
243
ethanzentz.com
Hi Adam, good to see you again.

Don't bring the monopod, why would you need it?

5D3 + 16-35 f4 + 70-200 f2.8. They share the same filter size, so you would save on that. It will provide a great portrait lens for snapping other people and getting nature shots. The wide will be good for up close action and landscapes.

Not that I'm a fisher or am around water a lot, but don't worry about the water. Just bring a bag that can help protect against splash or puddles.

Keep it simple mate. and have fun. I want to see some pictures when you return.
 

jd7

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 3, 2013
712
86
Great thread, gang, please keep it coming!

Current loadout in my mind (keep talking, I can be swayed :)):

5D3 (certain)
100-400L II rental (almost certainly)

1.4x T/C rental (likely)
24-70 f/4L IS (likely -- I just don't expect that many 16-23mm vistas on such a flat landscape to justify the 16-35 f/4L IS instead)
Bag 1 (transport and storage only) = Kiboko 22L is the only thing I have that will conveniently manage the longer lens
Bag 2 (for going out fishing) = Dry bag that will fit a 5D3 + 100-400L II -- references/pointers appreciated, thanks
Monopod or possibly a super light CF tripod (my Gitzo 1542T is awesome, but is still 2+ pounds even before a ball head comes into the equation)
BR Strap
Rain cover (I know I'm using sealed gear, but covers are light and easy to pack)
Filters / cards / etc.

Nutty idea: empty sandbag I can fill when I get there -- I could rest the camera off the side of the boat if the waters are still
Nutty idea #2: maybe a lightweight tarp to lay out gear on the boat or shore (instant dry ground)?

- A
Sounds like a pretty good plan to me. I'd definitely take the 24-70 over the 16-35 for the trip you are doing, if it was going.

My only other comments are:

1. one of your subjects will be people photos, so I'd throw in your 35 (or maybe your 50 - I'd go with 35 myself) as well, if you can. Gives you options for lower light shooting in the early morning and evenings, and some subject separation if you want it

2. I can understand the temptation to take a 100-400, but I wonder how much use you will actually make of the reach - and whether you'd get more use out of the wider aperture of your 70-200 (particularly for shooting in lower light). I guess it depends on how far away you expect the boats to be from each other, and how often you expect to want to zoom in on subjects on shore when you are out in a boat.

Have a good trip, and post a few photos when you get back!
 
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