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Thread: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

  1. #61
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    I hitch-hiked/backpacked around NZ with a heavy 4x5 for 3 months, and bicycled around the same for 5 months with a lighter 4x5. Five or six holders and a standard changing bag...easily doable. Success is not determined by the number of sheets exposed, or how easy it is, or even how many negs one ends up worth printing. It is the experience of seeing in a different way, in a different place, under different circumstances, and loving it. I certainly did...even when on the 3-month trip my 4x5 had a massive light leak (a learning opportunity that made the 6-month trip incredible).

    You can't say "I'll never do that again" if you never give it a try. Exciting!

    Tripod. Perhaps concentrate on hand-holding, and occasionally use a bag to fill with dirt/sand to use as a camera support for longer exposures...or a heavy-duty form of a small table-top tripod? Hiking stick with a threaded top to use as a monopod for a little extra support for hand-held shots (or the monopole lashed to a tree)?
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  2. #62
    Foamer
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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    I would really take a look at Fuji GSW690iii. Takes 6x9 on 120 film, quick to use, compact, rugged, works without batteries. Has either a semi wide 65mm or normal 90mm lens. I just don't see 4x5 working for what you want. The 120 roll film is perfect.


    Kent in SD
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    miserere nobis.

  3. #63

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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Beasley View Post
    I would think along the lines of this if it were fully mechanical and find a Weston or similar selenium cell meter so the need for batteries is nonexistent. The 645 format gives you 15 shots on a roll, optimizing film use but still big enough for really good quality.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/283887644775
    Yes, a Sekonic L28c2 or L398 (incident light, selenium) with a Graflex Century Graphic or a Mamiya 23 with back movement and two rollfilm backs, and also a light weight Gitzo Sport Performance: that would be a reliable combination for hiking, IMHO.

  4. #64

    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    Fuji gsw6x7iii (more shots per roll than 6x9) yellow/green filter and a polariser, lots of asa 400 film a light tripod or even a Gorilla pod and a Sekonic L308 light meter. Carry it in a chest pack except when you need to place your feet on tricky terrain.

  5. #65
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    I haven't read the whole thread so this may be redundant.

    Inmy youth I did some long-trek backpacking. On that kind of trip weight is a paramount consideration. Shaving ounces everywhere is the rule. LF gear is by nature heavy as everything is big.

    In terms of a 4x5 camera, look for a Gowland "Pocket View". This is a minimalist 4x5 rail camera. It is very light (don't have a figure) and collapses down to a small package. For lenses that are ultra light, think about the Schneider 90m f/6.8 Angulon. Another might be the little 127mm f/4.7 Yashinon lenses from the Polaroid 110 cameras. There are other, optically r "better" lenses, but these are pretty good and are relative featherweights.

    I no longer backpack. My 4x5 kit is built around a little Wista made Zone VI. I carry a 90mm Nikkor, a 150 Fujinon and a 210mm Caltar IIN alontg with 6-8 film holders, meter, loupe, hood etc. The tripos is an older Velbon CF tripod with a magnesium alloy ball head. Altogether, this kit is packed into a LowePro Magnum 35 shoulder bag and it weigh TWENTY-FOUR POUNDS. I work out of the trunk of our ar and move it all around on a set of luggage .
    Last edited by Drew Bedo; 28-May-2020 at 19:52.
    Drew Bedo
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  6. #66

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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    Quote Originally Posted by superman9 View Post
    Hi all. I'm pretty new to large format photography but very quickly falling in love am looking to explore options for a camera to bring with me backpacking and need some guidance. The hike I'm planning is going to be a couple thousand miles and I want to try to bring a large format camera (or medium, i would also take recommendations on that front but I'm primarily interested in learning about LF options right now) so I'll need it to be pretty durable. On my last hike of this kind I saw sand, rain, and severe winter storms in the mountains, so I'm expecting to see more of the same—the camera needs to be durable if not bombproof. Weight is not a huge concern of mine as my pack's baseweight is ultralight in order to accommodate camera equipment. Durability is a primary concern. I'd like to find something that could be shot handheld if I choose but I'll also have a tripod with me. Thanks in advance folks.

    -Josh
    After reading every post here, and after hiking hundreds of miles with a 4 by 5 in remote areas, my suggestion is DO NOT bring a 4 by 5 on the trip you are planning, given your objectives (stated elsewhere). As many have said here, keep it simple and light. Roll film is the way to go, and if you want an "interesting" camera that people may warm up to, anything that is not a cellphone will work, and anything with a bellows will make you look like Indiana Jones.

    One of the 2 by 3 press cameras is a good option - simple, light, rugged, compact, not too expensive. Bring a normal lens and use scale focusing, or a cammed rangefinder. Maybe bring a wide angle for scenics and use the ground glass for that if you need to. And you won't really need a tripod, just focus it, then put the roll film back on again (look for a camera with a graflok back). A bit awkward and slow, but saves the weight and hassle of a tripod. You could put a tiny ball head on the top of a hiking pole and use it as a mono-pod for the slow-shutter-speed shots -- this is marginal of course. A small exposure meter will come in handy. Add in a bunch of film, a filter or two, and your good to go for good going.

    Unless you really think you'll be making huge enlargements, or need the advantages of individual sheets, movements, etc. of LF cameras, don't bring one. An LF camera is a great tool, until you have to use it, especially when it's the wrong tool for the job.

    As an aside, I have been printing 620-format Panatomic-X negatives taken 80 years ago in the Teton Range, on Chicago Mountaineering Club trips (my friend's dad, who took the pictures, was a notable pioneer mountaineer). Many are people pictures and environmental portraits. They are amazing images, and I never wished he had used a 4 by 5. For many of his images, there would not be an image if he had a 4 by 5.

    People often regret what they did not do, and if you do this trip with a smaller camera, you may be regretting not bringing a 4 by 5. To avoid this, borrow a 4 by 5 kit, go on a ten-day backpack in rugged county, and get it out of your system. Better than taking a 4 by 5 for 2000 miles and regretting not taking a smaller, simpler system.

    Maybe I am wrong, and you'll relish plodding along with a huge pack, and fiddling around with a clunky, complicated camera system. If that is so, then really go for it and bring an 8 by 10.

    Good luck and have fun!!

  7. #67
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    Quote Originally Posted by superman9 View Post
    Corran,
    my plan is to attempt to document the experience of thruhiking one of america's scenic trails—not so much create a work of landscape photographs though of course I'll make some along the way—but moreso to try and capture the human experience of the trail. Lot's of portraits, environmental and otherwise.
    A large format is the wrong camera for your needs especially since you're hiking 2000 miles.

  8. #68

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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    The Maymiya C series TLR cameras might be an option for you. They're 120 film, 6x6, solidly built, with interchangeable lenses available, and they're still relatively inexpensive, as they've never been "collectible".

  9. #69

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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    To pull back from gear, what's important is how the individual hiking and carrying "life support" interfaces with what they envision, and how well the photog can "translate" through a process to create meaningful results... This will determine what "gear" is used...

    At one time, early photographers had little choice but to bring a caravan of stuff just to be able to shoot the medium of the day, but there's so many choices now, so the "best" would be what is most practical...

    What are you using now that translates your vision??? This comes down to what you prefer to shoot now, and remember you will be also carrying everything needed to support continued shooting along your trek...

    The more involved it is to grab shots upon demand, the less you will ultimately shoot and successfully bring home...

    Meanwhile the weight will be on your shoulders...

    Be smart...

    Steve K

  10. #70
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Help me choose a camera to hike 2000+ miles

    Filmholders etc are going to be appreciable weight by themselves. If you want to take 4x5, trimming the weight of the camera itself down will allow you to take a decent tripod for no more cumulative weight than a something metal handheld. I can't imagine being without a tripod and expecting to get many good shots. But if you step down to MF, the Fuji 6x9 and 6x7 rangefinders are wonderful and affordable, and handhold exceptionally well, but have a fixed non-interchangeable lens. I personally prefer the 6x9 version with the 90mm lens, not the 65mm superwide. Frankly, last minute decisions are not a great idea. One needs to be already comfortable with their equipment and use it intuitively in harsh or stormy conditions, and hopefully, not get it promptly ruined. Being unfamiliar with gear or getting blemished shots can be quite a disappointment after a lot of strenuous effort. Keeping sheet film and filmholders clean in wilderness conditions is an acquired skill too. Roll film cameras are easier. Gosh, I've sure done it all. I have no idea of how many thousands of miles I've traveled in harsh terrain with view cameras. I passed 10,000 miles about 30 years ago, but now over 70, find myself using medium format gear more often than before when it is appropriate.

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