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Thread: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

  1. #1
    WTF?! 400d's Avatar
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    Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    I bought an Omega 45D lately, and I have only 1 lens-210mm f5.6. This weighs about 8lb 9.8oz. Consider that I am a 125lbers, if I carry like 30lbs to hike, is it too much? For that 30lbs are all camera equipment: 4x5 camera, lens, 5 holders, light meter a gore-tex jacket and pants, a shower curtain, and some other camera accessories. I am using a Lowepro Photo Trekker AW I. I am also in a dilemma of taking the Manfrotto 3021B with 3030 head (8lb) or a Slik 614 Carbon Fiber with head (2lb 8.4oz), you know the stability and weight don't mix well, the 45D camera is a substantial 8lber, the Slik can kinda handle it but it's at max, the Slik looks so puny while loaded with the camera.

    My case becomes more complicated because I don't have a car (oh lovely college years), and I am thinking to take all the stuff plus a sleeping mat and food/water with me on a touring bike (for at least 20 miles one way).

    Tell me if I should consider a field camera (although I really don't want to, it costs more and less control on movement, and no $); I bought the Omega view and let go of the Graflex Crown Graphic because of the bellow length and movement. Ouch, don’t forget…I have only 1 lens, I am planning to buy 2 more lenses, so say I am taking 40+lbs to hike?!
    Share your experience if you are hauling view camera to the field like me, maybe I can be inspired by you guys.
    Last edited by 400d; 3-Jul-2006 at 08:41.

  2. #2

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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    I have hiked with a 7.5 Lb camera and a 3 Lb camera. I prefer the lighter camera, but it depends on the terrain and the physical shape you are in. Walk around for a day when you go to classes with your photoback.

    I have a 3Lb Toho, which is a wonderful camera. But try a long hike with your present camera before you decide. I did a few and my Sinar was too much for me so I got the Toho. But I am almost 50. If you are young and only going overnight, and not at high altitude you should be fine.

  3. #3

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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    There must be some compelling reason for you to shoot Large Format. You knew the tradeoffs when you got shit of the Crown Graphic. Weight, (as well as bulk), is the curse of LF; there's no way to avoid it, only to minimize it, and that takes bucks. Some of the greatest photographers use only one lens, and shoot only when they know they've got something really good (so they don't have to carry much film). 50 pounds in the pannier of a bike doesn't seem too much.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  4. #4

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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    The rule of thumb for backpacking, assuming you are fit and near your ideal weight, is that you can carry 25% to 33% of your body weight, with reasonable comfort. If you are not used to carrying heavy loads for long distances then I would stick closer to 25%. So 30 lbs. should be OK for you although you will probably feel it at the end of a full day of hiking. Terrain should also be considered. If you are hiking on flat ground on groomed trails in cool weather you can carry more than on steep, rugged trails in hot weather.

    I lead backpacking trips for a major outdoor organization and this rule of thumb has worked well over the years.

  5. #5

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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    I go on 3-4 day trips with a 60-65 lb pack (depending on how much wine I take). Half of it is photo gear & film (Quickloads only). I'm 60% heavier than you , but my knees are probably 100% older. Keep it simple (nothing wrong with just taking one lens). Take finger food and no cook stove or pots. Keep the jacket, leave the pants at home. Leave the Slik at home...it will only be frustrating and produce bad results in even the slightest wind. What's with the shower curtain? I made a dark cloth out of three layers of rip-stop nylon (2 black & one white to reflect heat). I keep it on the camera with velcro and I sewed a wire in it so I can extend it out in front as a lens shade and to protect from rain. It's water proof and 1/10th a heavy as my regular dark cloth. Get a good pair of trekking poles--you can carry a lot more weight if you feel stable on the trail.

    The other advice is find a hiking partner (with a car?) who doesn't mind acting as a sherpa. Then get far away from Newark so the scenery is well worth the pain.

  6. #6

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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    I've hiked with a Calumet monorail. IIRC that weighed something like ten pounds and change. Not for long, though, and my Tachihara cut that by six pounds or so. Perhaps as important as the weight, is the volume required to pack. My monorail needs about 3X the space as the field camera.

    Yes, you want a field camera, and no you won't miss any of the movements while shooting landscapes (which I assume although I don't know where you go backpacking.) For now, get a larger pack and have fun. IMO you're still too young to feel pain and fatigue (lovely college years!) and remember: that which doesn't kill you will make you stronger!

  7. #7
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    As one who used to ride a bicycle everywhere (and weigh 135, too lean to float in fresh water), and who hasn't done since getting his driver's license some 30 years ago (and now weighs just under 200), I'd say if you're in good enough condition to consider riding a bicycle 20 miles each way, hiking with 1/4 of your body weight in a decent backpack shouldn't be any big deal. When I was 17 (hadn't got too badly out of shape yet after learning to drive), I carried a 60 lb pack, much more than 1/3 my weight, for several miles without excessive fatigue.

    Don't forget to factor in the weight of drinking water -- you should plan on about a liter for every two miles you walk in summer weather, more to much more if it's exceptionally hot or humid (you'll sweat more), and each liter will weigh about 2.5 lbs including container.
    Last edited by Donald Qualls; 3-Jul-2006 at 10:27.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  8. #8
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    You should be fine with that much weight. You are young - use that youth!

    One of the cheapest things you could do to get weight off your back is probably to switch to a lighter weight pack. Weigh the LowePro empty and see -- I remember the LowePro packs being surprisingly heavy (but then I'm old and my memory isn't what it used to be ;-). My Osprey pack is very comfortable, has way more room than I need, and can be snugged down to hold everything tightly and close to my spine so I can climb easily. All at around 3 lbs., and about $120 (four years ago). And, it has a pocket for a water bladder that can hold up to four liters. Very, very nice.

    As you buy lenses, make weight a consideration. Kerry Thalmann has done us all a great service by discussing light weight lens options here.

    Like Ron, I have a Toho. Very nice. Very light, and it has full movements on both standards. There have been only a couple of times that I wanted more movements, but at that stage I needed more coverage from my lenses too. When that happens, you really need to back off and question what you are doing!

    Good luck and enjoy. There something wonderfully freeing about taking the camera out for a hike.

    Bruce Watson

  9. #9

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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    If you are going for a ride I'd strongly suggest against carrying your equipment on your back. Especially if you will be off road. I've done a 5 mile, easy, off road ride/camp on a single-speed rigid with a 70lbs pack which included camera equipment, tripod, sleeping bag, jacket, and... A lot of beer... Which is beside the point. Anyways, it's not terrible, but I had some issues with the weight and the tripod that would not make me do it again (and I'm about your age).

    First... The tripod... I had a huge 10lbs Bogen that is a great tripod, but doesn't close up well. With it centered on my pack, it was perfectly long enough to smash into the back of my head everytime I went over a bump... Kinda painful...

    The weight though was the biggest thing... I'm fairly skilled at mountain biking with a rigid singlespeed, however having all that extra weight so high was risky at best. I had trouble stopping as there was considerably more weight for the brakes, and when I did stop, I had trouble staying on the bike as that extra weight wanted to keep me going while the bike underneath me stopped... Also, any sort of leaning was sketchy as I couldn't react as quickly as normal, and the weight again wanted to take me right off the bike.

    I also had problems with the size. The pack was large enough that everytime I went to get on or off the bike, the pack would snag the seat.

    Made for some interesting riding for sure... But the beer cured all...

    If you are going to be doing any sort of riding with that much equipment, I'd seriously suggest looking at paniers. I'm fairly certain that I could pack a monorail, with some effort into a good set of panniers. And my now smaller tripod could probably be tied to one of the tubes that make the front triangle, or one of the racks. This option would probably run in the $200 range depending on the quality and type of panniers/racks you bought. Make sure your bike has the mounts for them though

    Better yet, you could get a bike trailer. The obvious and sexy solution would be one of the Bob Trailers. But they start at $300, and sell for around $200 on eBay. I've been looking to get one of these for off-road travel where I would be on single track. However, if you will only be on the road (or forest road), there are some cheaper alternatives. If you look long enough on eBay, you will probably be able to find a 2 wheel trailer that can hold a ton for about $80. It will be heavier, and harder to control (2 wheels without any tilt makes the bike behave rather sketchely in the corners), but functional. If you found a baby carrier for super cheap, you could probably modify it easily to hold a water-tight plastic trunk type of thing that they sell at Target that could hold everything.

    Of course, if you are living in the dorms, you might have trouble storing the thing away from idiots... In this case, you could probably find someone who is renting a storage box somewhere that will let you share it.

    I'm still working on the bike solution, but if you start thinking about what you "really" need, I bet you can cut out a lot of what you have for backpacking. Also, the gym doesn't hurt, most colleges have a free one, take advantage of it

  10. #10
    WTF?! 400d's Avatar
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    Re: Hiking with a 8lb view 4x5?

    Just FYI, I am 23, asian, 125lb (pretty darn underweight lol). Two years ago I went to a 16 miles round late August hike with about 2000ft vertical rise, I can't forget that painful 50lb+ (ok, I really don't know how much it weighs, but it's so heavy) pack would have killed me easily because every step I made on the way back (downhill), my leg would "bounce" (like a spring) because everything just weighed too much, I knew if I tripped I will be one good human ball and roll down the hill.

    But, that was the good years back in Wyoming. Now I am in Jersey, nasty looking flat Jersey (LOL don't yell at me; good lord it's not as flat as Iowa). within 60 miles radius from where I live, the highest point is < 1500ft. So definitely no hardcore hiking involved.

    Yes, the Lowepro pack is heavy like 4 or 5 lbs. But the design is good. I am having trouble of buying a good backpack because:
    a) I don't see myself buying a 7000cu backpack since it's so big (how can I stick that thing in the back of my bike?!)
    b) I may use it as a school pack (oh I am being greedy, asking for a super duper pack?!)
    Right now I am looking at this pack:
    http://www.copsplus.com/prodnum2617.php
    It's designed for special op people, and it has good rep. for quality. The lowest I can find is $115. Kinda pricy. I may change my mind if you guys have better ideas.
    I have seen pictures like the one from below in the book Large Format Nature Photography and from another website:


    I am amazed how they can organize their equipment. You know, they can pack those lenses so neatly into the comparments. But for me? No, doesn't look like the case. If I put the 45D into the Phototrekker, it takes up 2/3 space. And let's not forget the painfully long standard rail I have to stick into the backpack..Geez, "one lens works" is a good thing to keep in mind though. Honestly, I am kinda spoiled on the wide side (thanks to 35mm, hehehe), of course tha's not an excuse for a good photographer to buy another lens.
    Say if I have two lenses, damn those lensboard are big, they measure like 14cmx14cm! I can barley fit one lens to my backpack (mounted on the body), and the pack is not even loaded with food or water. For the food part I am sticking with MRE entrees ($1.89 each), pretty pricy but less hassle.

    The Toho seems like a pretty neat camera. I like the small lensaboard. Maybe I am just continuouesly making bad choices? It's like I am so busy with getting my equippment together rather than out there shooting. And for the tripod, I love the steadiness. it's awesome. I should get a ballhead eh? I like the tilt and pan but it's too cumbersome; I once had a Manfrotto 486RC2 ballhead, but I hated it because in winter if it's in 90 degree tilt, it's harder to lock tight, it kinda "shifts", from that point I sold it and stick with pan and tilt. But currently I am looking at ballhead again, I have heard about the speed of getting a ballhead setup and it weighs like 50% less; I prefer a good quick release system though. Another problem with the tripod is that it's so long, it measures 32", I don't know how can I tie it to the basket (those dairy product basket from grocery store) which I tied it to the back rack of my bike. If I tie it horizontally, the car passed by can easily knock me off the road Hmm...seems like I have to stick to vertical position then.

    And, so far I wouldn't think of doing off road bike. I have enough good times worrying about flats on my touring bike. The ideal should always be bike than walk my s off. I am in good belief that spots with nice view should be somewhere can't be accessed easily by public (of course, not all of them are).

    Anyway, to conclude, I feel that I should change the backpack. Switching to a Toho or a field will be a good idea but $ is always the priority, I can't keep a view and field at the same time for sure. My ideal is to get a 90mm/75mm and a 135mm/150mm. Three are ideal while two are sufficient, and if I can bring only one I bring the 90mm :P.

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