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Hiking Tips for Photographers?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by tonyturley, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    For those of you that hike with your photo gear, how do you do it? I've tried various solutions through the years, but nothing has been satisfying to date - I have ended up trying a lot of different bags. For years before buying an ILC, I carried nothing but a P&S with a collapsible lens in a pocket in my cargo pants. The gear was minimalist, but the IQ just wasn't what I wanted. For some time now I've been carrying two cameras, but I'm planning to cut that back to a single camera (Fuji X-T1), and maybe one extra lens. The X-T1 is not a large camera, but a lens does add some bulk. I have been using a Lowepro waist pack, but I may go back to just slinging the camera on a strap around my shoulder and putting the extra lens in a pocket in my backpack. My hikes can be anywhere from 4 miles to 10+, and I would really like to minimize what I carry. I've stopped carrying a tripod, replacing it recently with a tiny Pedco Ultrapod II. Any other ideas for minimal gear, maximum productivity? The backpack isn't a camera pack, by the way. I use it to carry a large water bottle, snacks, first aid kit, emergency gear, etc.

    TT
     
  2. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    If you want a day pack (don't need to bring tent, cooking equipment etc), and you want something with easier access than a backpack affords, I think a waist pack (or a messenger bag with a proper waist strap, which is rare) is the best option, since it still allows you to carry the weight on your hips.

    If you don't mind a somewhat military look, Maxpedition has a range of shoulder bags with a waist strap, and lots of compartments; they're called the Versipack range, and come in various sizes. Most of them have a waist strap available.

    As for minimal gear / maximum productivity: I personally like a set-up with one high quality camera with a fast, versatile prime (28 / 35 / 50mm, depending on your preference; in my case a Fuji X100), and a compact zoom as an addition (if I had to buy one now, it'd probably be one of the 1" zoom compacts). That allows me to have the high quality and low light performance of the "good" camera in +/- 80% of my shots, and to have the zoom capability for those cases where the shot I want exceeds that prime's capabilities, without adding any significant bulk. I don't mind giving up some image quality in the focal ranges I don't use very often, if that means less weight and more mobility.
     
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  3. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
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  4. 480sparky

    480sparky SC Regular

    131
    Aug 24, 2015
    Ken
    I carry a Nikon P7100 when on extended hikes.
     
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  5. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Tony,

    You haven't said what kind of stuff you want to photograph. That will certainly influence your choice of lenses . . .

    Me, I sling a Sony HX400V crossbody in a mini-binocular bag that hangs at my hip. The knapsack with water, etc., goes over my shoulders, and I'm covered from 24-1200mm e with just about a pound of camera weight.

    The IQ will probably not be up to your standards, but you can judge for yourself in the Superzoom Salon. I shoot clouds, flowers, and wildlife, mostly.

    Cheers, Jock
     
  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I use a sling when I plan on doing a fair amount of walking, but still want my camera at the ready. I'd probably roll with the 18-135 attached to the X-T1 (or the 18-55 if you don't much at the tele end), and I'd carry my favorite prime (the 35mm f1.4 for me, but YMMV) in a bag for when I needed that last drop of performance.
     
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  7. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    Hi Jock. I mainly photograph landscapes/waterscapes/skyscapes and flowers, with the very occasional critter thrown in if I encounter one that doesn't spook or is moving slowly enough (helloooo, turtles!). I have seen many of your images, and they are quite good. However, I often find myself in deep woods situations with very low light levels, so I prefer to stick with APS-C cameras, hence my new (to me) X-T1. The trade-off with a larger sensor is it requires a bigger lens to get a long reach. I can't imagine trying to hike with an 800mm lens (1200 FOV), on my camera! That would be ghastly huge.

    My plan is to keep a short telephoto in my bag, and a smaller, "normal" FOV lens on the camera. I used to hike with loads of camera gear . . . that doesn't take long before it stops being fun.

    TT
     
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  8. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    I sold my only XF lens, so right now I only have adapted glass for it. The XF 18-135 is both too large and too expensive for my needs. I may eventually get the 35mm f/2 WR, and if it ever comes to fruition, the XF 23mm f/2.

    TT
     
  9. bassman

    bassman SC Rookie

    20
    Feb 12, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    I use two methods to attach a camera to my backpack (I usually use an Osprey for day hikes).

    - attach a Peak Design Capture Clip to one of the shoulder straps. This should handle the weight of your Fuji + a prime nicely. I've seen people carrying DLSRs with zooms this way, but that's too big and heavy for my taste. The plate on the camera is A/S compatible, if that matters to you.

    - attach a Spider Black Widow to one of the waist straps. I find this carries more weight comfortably. While I don't do it while hiking, I carry an E-M1 plus a long zoom this way. The BW can't easily attach to most waist straps because the buckles don't fit through its slots, but I rigged up something with Velcro and webbing that works.

    Obviously these methods don't work if the weather is wet. But then, I don't usually plan to hike when the weather is wet. If I get surprised, the camera goes inside the pack.
     
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  10. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    I decided to pick up a Lowepro Passport Sling. It is smaller than the Lowepro Messenger 250 that I was using, and more comfortable, too. We'll see how that works out.

    TT
     
  11. Susan Sande

    Susan Sande SC Veteran

    296
    Aug 3, 2011
    Upper left USA
    I used my Marmot waist pack to carry my XT-1 hiking in Spain in April. I'd tried the backpack strappy things and the chest suspender camera holder thingies for training hikes before I left but my gait is not smooth and I disliked the clunk clunk clunk of the camera against me.
     
  12. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    My gait when hiking isn't fluid, either. The times I've just had a camera on my neck, it bounced around a lot if it wasn't a small camera. I don't think I would find those Cotton Carrier type rigs very comfortable.

    TT
     
  13. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    I generally use a sling strap with the camera on it ready to go.. Tripod in the backpack for the waterfalls etc. Camera swings a bit. If I have to ford a stream or do something a little more strenuous or climbing, I throw it in the back pack. I typically do 5 or 6 mile hikes, so only other thing I carry is water and power button bars.
     
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  14. bluzcity

    bluzcity SC Veteran

    313
    Jul 30, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Brent
    I don't hike trails rated more than moderate difficulty, so no rock climbing. I carry a Domke F2 with a Fuji XE 2 w/18-55 and an Olympus OMD EM5 with 45 2.8 macro lens. And a few filters and such. If I think I'll need zoom more than macro I'll leave the Oly behind and carry a Canon SL1 w/ 55-250 which is very lightweight with decent IQ. And I have an ultra-light graphite walking pole.
     
  15. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    Mine are also usually in the 5-6 mile range, although 6-10 isn't unusual, and I've done a few this spring that were 10-16 miles. Biggest issue on those lengths isn't my camera gear, but tired & sore feet. I've bought 3 different pairs of boots over the past 2 years, and they all seem to work about the same.

    TT
     
  16. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    I don't rock climb, but I've done a few trails that were rated difficult due to long climbs up steep, rocky terrain. I also have a couple of collapsible trekking poles for the more difficult hikes. Hiking gear and camera gear - we are all so different with different preferences.

    TT
     
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  17. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    I have a sling bag that I used for day trips. On a hike in Morocco that unexpectedly involved some serious scrambling, as I was bending over to reach a hand grip, the bag swung around and the weight transfer nearly threw me off the mountain. So while I haven't purchased my next pack yet, you can be sure that it will have a waist strap to ensure that it stays in place no matter how I contort my body (even if I don't face such situations all that often, living in a country that's flatter than a pancake (the Netherlands)).
     
  18. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    The Lowepro AW waist pack I have been using has a waist strap, but the pack seems bulky and cumbersome clinched against my hip, even though I bought the smaller version. I guess I'll see this weekend how the sling bag works for me in the woods. It works fine as a daily carry bag.
     
  19. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    Do you wear the waist pack to your front or to your side? I think for walking, wearing it in your back would be best, whereas for picture taking, the front would be ideal. Side carry of any kind of bag doesn't make sense to me...
     
  20. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC Veteran

    385
    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    Side carry is the only thing that works for me, although sliding the bag around to about my 7:30 position helps. I carry a small backpack when I'm hiking, so I have to consider that. I have never liked front carrying . . . it just bugs me. To each his own, I guess.