First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!
brand new to Nikon, and i thought, why not start out right, so I got a D3!! I only have the 24-120/3.5 "knock around" lens until I figure out what Nikon will be offering in the new year, when I will make my "serious" glass decisions....
I have signed up for a 7 day photo tour of Southern Utah/Grand Staircase, Capital Reef NP, with Rod Planck, in April.
I have been to this area many times, but never hiking. the tour consists of 2 to 3 hour hikes each day into the back country to the best photographic sites in the area to shoot both wildlife and landscapes. I have never gone on an extended hike/photo excursion before and am looking for advice:
1. tripod or mono? I have an old Bogen, HEAVY, tripod and will be upgrading, probably to a Gitzo carbon fiber with an offset ballhead. I'm wondering if I should opt for the lighter weight/easier to manage mono instead of a tri-pod for this excursion. opinions?
2. I have been thinking about the new Tamrac Adventure series backpacks, with the lower portion for camera gear and the upper portion for a light jacket/water/food...anyone have a great solution for this that works well for you?
thanks very much for sharing your experience!
#1. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 0Spectric Registered since 04th Nov 2004Mon 15-Dec-08 10:43 AM
Use a proper tripod, that will hold the camera & lense rock solid.
I have found that this has helped with my composition & allowed total freedom in exposure, ie stop the lens right down and have long shutter speeds for your choice of DOF.
Wildlife is a different ballgame, you need good fast glass with reach.
I also do a lot of hiking, and I have found photographic backpacks are no good. I now use a proper hiking backpack that is comfortable even after a long days hike with a waterproof sack in this, don't rely on the rucksack ! I put my camera, lenses & batterys etc into a camera bag made by Katu, and spare lenses into Lowepro lense cases which are then put into waterproof bags. At the bottom of my rucksack I carry my spare clothing which gives the camera gear added protection. My tripod is attached onto the outside of the sack, the legs sit in a mesh pocket and is strapped on at the top. The rucksack lid goes over the top as well.
all the best
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#2. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 1Mon 15-Dec-08 11:58 AM
do you have any suggestions for a light, compact tripod/head combination that would hold the weight of the D3 and a long lens(like a 70-200 Nikkor)
also, what hiking backpack has worked well for you? I would like to check it out.
#3. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 0
Hey Jeff, welcome to Nikonians!
I am an avid hiker, and am thankful that I live in Colroado! I have some suggestions for consideration.
One thing to consider first may be to rent a lens or two. As mentioned, for wildlife you are probably going to want a lens with more reach and speed. This way you can utilize pro glass while balancing cost and anticipation of the up and coming glass.
When I am doing a day-hike (4 - 8 miles, up to 10.5K), I sometimes take the tripod (landscape), and other times my monopod (general use, and wildlife). When I purchased a new tripod last year, I went with a Gitzo 3540LS and RRS BH55 as my general use tripod. Very happy with both. I LOVE my monostat monopod! The unique foot design does remarkably well on moss, snow, sand, etc. Since it sounds like you will be doing day hikes, guided, consider taking both (if you have them) and then following the advice of your guide.
I am also seriously looking at the Tamrac Adventure packs for day-hikes. I am somewhat of a minimalist when I do day hikes,..habit from the military,.. so this type of pack may do the trick.
Pueblo Colorado Nikonian
#4. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 3Spectric Registered since 04th Nov 2004Tue 16-Dec-08 10:38 AM
I tried loads of different rucksacks & backpacks before finding the one i liked. There are many that are really good but not for carrying a tripod. I ended up with a rucksack made by POD, a very simple design with just a single main compartment. It is ideal for long one day hikes, and you can attach an extra pack to increase capacity for sleeping bag etc. These are designed by climbers, who know what they want and are tough.
I use a Gitzo G2220 tripod, with a shortened centre columb so that it can get really low and a Foba ball head and Arca Swiss type plate. Not the best ball head, but certainly not the worst. It is compact, light and locks solid.
all the best
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#6. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 4BushidoJS Nikonian since 21st Nov 2007Wed 17-Dec-08 02:40 AM
>I tried loads of different rucksacks & backpacks before
>finding the one i liked. There are many that are really good
>but not for carrying a tripod. I ended up with a rucksack
>made by POD, a very simple design with just a single main
>compartment. It is ideal for long one day hikes, and you can
>attach an extra pack to increase capacity for sleeping bag
>etc. These are designed by climbers, who know what they want
>and are tough.
Nice rucksack! I am going to check it out, particularly since I too am in the market. Thanks for including the link.
Pueblo Colorado Nikonian
#5. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 0
I too have the 3540LS and love it. It's light but will handle the heavy long lenses you'll eventually buy later. Get a Markins, RSS, or Kirk ballhead and, if you have the chance, an L-bracket. You may consider renting or borrowing a 24-70 2.8 and 70-200VR 2.8 with a TC14 or 17. That will give you some great versatility and you can demo some Nikon masterpieces for your buying consideration. Have fun!
#7. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 5Arleyal Registered since 17th Dec 2008Sat 20-Dec-08 01:47 PM
Hi.I Have a Tamrac Adventure 6.It's well made,though not big enough.Also,I have a Naneu Pro K3L.This is well made but far too big. What I'm implying is..size is critical to your equipment and it must have a waterproof cover,as K3L but not Adventure 6.Somewhere between is Nirvana.Regards AL
#8. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 0
I am Nikon fan and I have made some extensive hicking carrying a lot of gear. My approach is a bit non standard but it is what works for me. Hope it helps.
I never use a dedicated back pack for photo gear.
First I could never find one with enough room to carry both the photo and hiking/climbing gear. (I sometimes do more than one day trips and this is more relevant at those times but even on a day trip, I find it hard to get worm cloths, water, food and the foto gear all together in one pack)
Second I realized that if the gear is in the back pack I end up not taking photos (or at least not as many) so I divided the problem in two parts:
How to carry while walking so that I can shoot fast and how to store and protect in case of bad weather:
To carry I just made a loop of thin climbing string on the left strap metal pin and use to hang the camera from a carabiner attached to the front of the backpack strap. I normally pass the camera strap around my head and right arm to keep it from swinging but the weight of the camera is on the carabiner and distributed throug the back pack harness. For me this is much better then just using the camera strap because after some time it is a lot of weight on your neck and it is always swinging and knocking on things. With the carabiner it is always at hand (I can even shoot without removing it from the hook if I am in a hurry). The weight is never a problem because it is well distibuted and because the camera is at chest level it is normally safe and not in the way of the other gear.
Some people have given me the bad eye when they see me carrying a D3 in this way. It does look a bit odd for a camera this price to be hanging loose on some strings
I carry the lenses on LowePro bags around a belt in my waist.
In case of bad weather I use a big ziplock bag and store the camera in my regular back pack on top of the clothes and then use a rain cover for the all backpack. This not a fast access- two or three drops of rain kind of thing. I find the D2X and D3 solid enough to carry outside (eventually protected under the rain coat) even in not so good conditions. I just try to keep them out as long as possible because I know the best photo opportunity is going to appear as soon as I store them.
I use a tripod. The D3 is good enough for me not to need a monopod. If it really needs to be steady the tripod is the way. I use a carbon fiber Gitzo with a NovaFlex ball head because it is very small and light. If I am on a small hike I sometimes take a Gitzo head that is sturdier but heavier.
This is what works for me and it is the result of some experience and experiments. Hope it helps.
Here are some of the results:
#9. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 8Sun 21-Dec-08 12:00 PM
excellent info. I have been concerned about the D3 swinging around my neck. I have a neoprene camera strap which does help with the weight as it acts like a shock absorber as a I walk, but a big camera can weight on you after awhile.....
I really like the carabiner idea...
one question: How do you carry your Gitzo while hiking?
#10. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 9EpicDan Charter MemberSun 21-Dec-08 02:32 PM
Jeff, I use the same concept as Alex except I attach to the loop that is often sewn between the shoulder straps. It keeps the weight off my neck. The longer strap gives me more movement than something shorter up front. I keep one hand on the camera. A second carabineer up front is useful if I need to clip in short and go hands-free for a section of the trail.
A second option is a long camera strap slung bandoleer style over one shoulder and across the body. It doesn’t work as well with the back pack except that a strap long enough for bandoleer slinging will be correct for clipping to the center loop (paragraph above). I use the cross-body sling when I drop the pack.
It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. Know your camera. RTFM – Read the Fu . . . Ah, I mean "Read The Furnished Manual." Play with every menu option and figure out which ones you will never use. Know which ones are your favorites. Have less to futz with when you are there. Not knowing the equipment is the one thing that holds students back most in photo classes.
Enjoy your trip!
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#11. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 9alexfernandes Registered since 21st Sep 2007Sun 21-Dec-08 03:51 PM
I strap the tripod to the side of the back pack. I have it linked to a carabiner on the back pack to make shure it will not get lost even it it falls out of the straps (probably not needed since it never happened). Normally when I use the tripod I have the time to do it right so I never worried too much on a fast strap system.
#12. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 11Sun 21-Dec-08 05:24 PM
thanks alex for your follow up. good point Dan regarding the camera operation. between now and then, i will be making numerous local treks out and about to perform many experiments to, as you say, find out which options I need and where they are, for quick access and settings in the field before the moment and/or light is gone!
Part of my issue is right brain/left brain. remembering that this is NOT a Canon system.....I could operate my 1D in my sleep....
#13. "RE: First extended hiking photo excursion-looking for advice!" | In response to Reply # 0
I have done extensive backpacking and climbing and have also hiked throughout the Escalante and Paria areas you mention. A two to three hour hike is really not that long.
The reason I say this is you face a compromise. Get a top notch pack from Osprey, Gregory, Arc Teryx or one of the top brands and you will have to carefully pack your camera and may not be able to take it all if you have lots of equipment. Some packs do not have the capabilities to attach a tripod but if you get a pack that is specialized for climbing or sking then you can attach a tripod where the crampons or skies would normally go.
I use an Osprey pack for day climbs. I use either a Dana, Osprey, or McHale for long trips. But I use none of these for day trips that are not real long when I want to take all my photographic equipment.
I use and highly recommend a LowePro Pro Trekker. This pack is the best. It has an Alpine style hip belt and harness system. The Pro Trekker system is comparable to the best backpack suspension systems and the pack will carry lots of gear. Look at John Shaws list on his website.
In addition you can carry, lunch, a water bottle, first aid stuff and a tripod attaches very easily to the outside.
And yes, you should always use a tripod