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Thread: Camera set up for hiking

  1. #1
    Steven Ruttenberg's Avatar
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    Camera set up for hiking

    Question,
    For those who hike to photograph, what do you bring? Weight is a consideration for sure. Especially when in the Grand Canyon.

    I use a Chamonix 45H -1, have three lenses, Nikkor 75mm f/4.5, Schneider Super Angulon 90mm f/5.6, and a 210mm. Plus at least 5 film holders, extra film small changing bag. 6x Horseman loupe, dust brush, small set of filters and my light meter.

    I an considering taking a 150 and 300 aling with 75mm instead of 90 and 210 or 90, 150 and 300.

    Of course I also thought of just taking a single lens, but that wouldn't save any real weight. And then my tripid of which I found a new one that weighs in at around 3 lbs which is significantly lighter than my gitzo and more compact.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    Well, I have taken many 7 to 11-day solo backpack trips with my 4x5 down into the Grand Canyon. Granted, this was many years ago when a 90 pound pack would only slightly kill me and collect a not-so-minor toll on the knees. Ah, to be young like that again...I'd say screw that!

    Wish I had a decent image of the Grand Canyon.

    The first 4x5 was a heavy Deardorff Special clone with a Computar Symmetrigon 210/6.3 and a major light leak. Learned my lesson, or so I thought. When the lesson was finally drilled in, I got a Gowland PocketView 4x5 and a Caltar II-N 150/5.6 (camera and lens together weighs 2.5 pounds). Plus a 7 pound Gitzo Studex (No.2 Ballhead). Six holders, changing bag, light meter, a small bag with other essentials (brush, cable release, allen wrench, etc). I wrapped some electrical tape around one of the trip legs, just in case I needed some -- came in handy when one of the Gitzo legs cracked around the threads -- don't use your tripod to hold up your backpack at night to keep it away from the various rodentia.

    Now that I am older and questionably wiser, I take shorter hikes (4 nights and not down into the Grand Canyon) with my 110 year-old 5x7, one lens, and with 6 to 10 loaded holders (no changing of film)...what I got is what I got. I usually hike in with the camera on the pod and over my shoulder, and on the way out, the camera is in the pack which now has room. The hikes are relative easy -- 1.25 miles down to Redwood Creek, then up the creek bed a few miles and basecamp. I finally got to see a good-size Catholic cathedral (Santiago, Chile) earlier this year, so now I know I prefer the ones I find along Redwood Creek.

    I hope to take another hike down there next month -- might take two lenses...or if just one, the FujiW 180/5.6. Lighter and works nicely in the confines of tall trees.

    I tried the light 4x5 with a very light carbon fiber tripod. Too light and too short -- bloody hassle to use...slightest touch, the camera was all over the place. So I still use a Gitzo -- either a Reporter Perfomance or the Studex (about a pound difference). The Gitzo is strong enough to use as a crutch is a knee fails me.

    If I were to gone for a week or I am feeling weak, I'd probably go with the 4x5 -- or if I was hiking a long distance, perhaps just the Rolleicord with that carbon fiber pod.
    Last edited by Vaughn; 13-May-2019 at 08:01.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  3. #3
    Les
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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    Hiking into the canyon (via Kaibab Trail) was a piece of cake, but coming out was really no fun....via Bright Angel Trail. It may have been little different if the heat build up in the canyon wasn't there - it was June or July. Hope you are young enough to pull this off. My buddy Rick and I, we went to the river and back to S. Rim in 14hrs *NUTS*.

    This took place in 1974 and by looking at the photos (near the tunnel & bridge) I was wearing a tshirt and had a cut off sweat shirt + 135mm lens in a plastic bag. That's it. Yes, only had the 35mm rig with me (Nikon F) + 50mm lens. No water no nada. Did I mentioned *nuts* ?

    No point dramatizing the whole experience, but we both would feel different if we were able to stay at Phantom Ranch over night. We had to return to the rim, or become AWOL at nearby Nellis AFB. It became the most phys enduring thing in my life (heat + lack of water)....and still is. Lots of memories.

    Either way, go as light as you can, take lots of water, stop often take some shots.....and hopefully enjoying cooler weather. If I went again (?), and with LF, I'd pick 2 v. light lenses from 90/100/110 or 180/210 + super light camera. There is a way of breaking the hike back in two: hike to Indian Gardens one day, and the second day hit the switchbacks early (when it's cool) to get to the rim.

    Enjoy the canyon...it's a wonderful place. Believe me, riding the raft (2008) was more pleasurable

    Les

  4. #4

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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    For 4x5, I settled many years ago on a Toho FC-45X with a complement of 4 lenses: 90mm, 135mm, 200mm, and 300mm; all lightweight lenses. For example, my 200 and 300 are Nikkor-M's. The entire pack for this outfit, sans the film holders, weighs in at about 10 pounds which is light enough to carry just about anywhere. For 8x10, I use an Intrepid for backpacking along with 3 lenses: 240mm, 360mm, and 450mm; again, all light weight lenses. I use carbon fiber tripods for both sizes which helps keep the weight down. Film holders? Not much you can do about that nowadays. In the days of yore, we had ready-loads, Mido holders, etc. Today? Is a Grafmatic with 6 sheets of film lighter than 3 standard 4x5 film holders? Dunno...never did a comparison, though I do own 6 Grafmatics and do use them on occasion.

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    Les...your tune might be different if you had stayed a week down in the Canyon -- hiking down is the hard part...hard on the knees with a heavy pack. On two of my trips in with the heavy pack, my first day was 14 miles of downhill. Both times I had to spend an extra night at my first camp because of knee problems, with careful hiking for the next 9 days. One of the reasons I do not have great images. Hiking up did not make my knee hurt.

    I usually hiked during the last two weeks of April -- starting to warm up some, but the flowers were blooming and water was usually available in the side canyons. I worked a summer (May thru Sept 1977). Took a lot of day hikes and over-nights...a different place in the summer!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6

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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    Are you going into the canyon? An experience I was working my way up to until I blew out my knee, and then ended up with a total knee replacement. Another dream flushed due to my body-by-bad-decision lifestyle.

  7. #7
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    Since everybody is talking about the hike...

    1975 I was 24 and healthy.

    Stopped at South Rim for 2 days. Hiked in without a permit, but stopped at the 1/2 way warning sign. It was getting hot and we obviously did not have enough water. I wanted to go back. My buddy wanted to go on down.

    Then 2 women our age from Ohio were doing the same thing we were. No permit.

    I convinced everybody to walk back out. We didn't have enough water for 4 people. Ohio had no water.

    I had no camera as I was on a 'NO CAMERA' buy postcards vacation. I now regret that.

    I don't regret the night with the 2 women.
    sin eater

  8. #8

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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    I've written about my hiking kit(s) before, but will again in an attempt to enrich this thread.

    My basic day-hiking kit consists of a Wista DX and four lightweight lenses plus accessories. I carry a Nikkor 90mm f/8, a 135mm Plasmat of some brand, a 203mm f/7.7 Ektar (really light and compact!) and a Nikkor M 300mm f/9. Often I'll add a fifth lens, usually a Fujinon A 240mm (also really light and compact. I carry a Pentax digital spot meter and six 4x5 filmholders in a separate pouch. I've got six filters in a filter wallet and have step-up rings on all my lenses so I can use them on every lens. Tripod is a Manfrotto 3205 with a 3025 compact three-way head. For "wide-angle" situations (say I'm hiking in the slot canyons or whatever), I'll replace the 300mm with a 75mm Fujinon SW f/5.6

    If I need to be really light, I'll replace the 90mm with a 100mm Wide-Field Ektar and the 203 with a Fujinon A 180mm, ending up with 100mm, 135mm, 180mm and 240mm plus accessories. And, I have a set of Mido holders that allows me to carry 20+ exposures worth of film for about the weight of 5 regular filmholders. These are fiddly and a PITA to load and have to be babied when shooting but are really worth it in terms of weight.

    For day hiking, I carry the camera, lenses and filters in a lumbar pack. My lightweight GoreTex darkcloth usually is strapped on the back. Meter and accessories go either in a fly-fishing vest or in my coat pockets. Filmholders go in a small pouch, usually over my shoulder and the tripod gets carried in a hand (and can be strapped onto the pack if I need both hands for scrambling. I like my lumbar pack since it carries well and has a shoulder strap that allows me to unbuckle the belt and work out of it as a shoulder bag; nothing ever has to touch the ground except for the tripod feet.

    I just got back from 35 days camping and hiking in the SW. I carried a version of this kit practically every day on hikes from 4 to 12+ miles. It worked just great.

    Best,

    Doremus

  9. #9

    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Ruttenberg View Post
    but that wouldn't save any real weight.
    Good question, but what I would be interested in is what the gram-weenies among us "splurge on" in terms of weight/cubes. For myself, it's a sling pack that I don when working around the camera--a place to tuck a film holder, GG, lens caps etc. so they won't get lost/dirty/wet. (FWIW, as time erodes my pain threshold, I'll admit to packing a set of Arc'teryx knee caps if a lot of streamside "rhodo crawling" is on the agenda.)

  10. #10
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Camera set up for hiking

    Doremus made a good point. Rather than a separate pack for the camera gear I use to carry, I have the holders in a shoulder bag just big enough for 5 holders and light meter (cable release, notebook, etc in its zippered pocket.). That way, when I am out photographing from my camp for the day, I carry the camera on the pod and the small bag over my shoulder. Minimum extra weight (one need some type of bag to hold the holders anyway) and I can work without setting anything on the ground.
    This small bag also gets packed last in my main top-loading backpack and can be accessed without removing it from the main pack -- so if I see something while I am hiking with my main pack on, I can set the camera up, put the main pack down and quickly access the meter and holders.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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