Just shaved a good chunk of weight and volume

11:11 a.m. on March 30, 2014 (EDT)
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One of my favourite outdoor pursuits has long been nature photography, and for that I thought I could never ditch my DSLR setup. Even though I have tried to make it as lightweight as I could, it has always been a bit of a beast to carry around. Not only weight wise, but also by sheer volume. Most of the time, I am willing to accept this and just deal with the hassle... but depending on the nature of my hike, I have found that sometimes its just too unreasonably big and or bulky to take with me, and I have gone without... only to regret not being able to take beautiful photos with unexpected lighting.

After looking around for a while, I decided to bite the bullet and get a scaled down setup (Fuji X20). Its still not small by most modern camera standards but I think this is about all I can sacrifice feature wise in efforts to streamline and lighten the load.

I've gone from this:


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To this:


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Overall it's 1/5 the size, and about 30% of the weight.

Hopefully I wont be disappointed by the performance. I have only played around with it a little bit, the real test will come at the end of the month on a multi-day backpack across the mountains in Scotland. Until then, I just hope I wont regret it!

Has anyone else scaled down their SLR setup to a more compact system? Were you generally happy about picture quality, or generally content with the trade-off for weight and size savings?

11:44 a.m. on March 30, 2014 (EDT)
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I have not scaled it down but compared to the OLD days of having to buy film for the 35mm camera(s) I had, it's gotten even lighter.

I use a Canon T3 DSLR with a 18-55 lens and a 55-300 lens. The 55-300 is an older used film camera lens which converts to an 88-480 in digital. I use a 64 GB card and a 32 GB card. So I can shoot 100's of shots on a daily basis and load them to my laptop at the end of the day. My laptop BTW is on 1 lb. Other than my camera and lenses I have filters. 

So my whole set up only weighs in at about 2-3 lbs?

In my outdoor gear, Tent,Sleeping bag, Pad,Stove,Cooking gear,water bottles,etc I have about 11 lbs. Add a couple days to a couple weeks of food and I am still at about 35 lbs, very light! I have been backpacking for 46 years.

12:43 p.m. on March 30, 2014 (EDT)
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Thats impressively light! I am still trying to find an ideal setup. My main issue being that back in Canada, I found the weather much more predictable.... but the constant cold, damp, and often unexpected (well you should always expect it here!) rain means I have to pack a lot differently than I used to... with a lot more waterproof stuff and thinner layers.

One of my main goals for cutting weight (and volume) has also been to get down to a 20L summit bag to carry poles, axes, extra gloves, emergency kit, insulation, rain gear, camera, food, and water. In this instance, its the space thats at a premium. I am hoping to make it work as I want to carry the summit bag inside my 60L backpack and use it for shorter day outings for when I settle into one place for a day or two.

6:20 p.m. on March 30, 2014 (EDT)
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Well TJ1984, I live only in summer like weather area's. I live in Jackson Hole Wyoming from May to September and in utah from Sept to October, then Arizona all the way to the Santa Rita Mountains 60 miles south of Tucson during the months of Nov to April, then back to Utah in April to May and back to NW Wyoming again during the summers. I have lived this way since 1980. So I have no winter gear, lightweight rainy season gear and twp pairs of shorts and two light tshirts, hiking shoes, light socks and a few hats. 99.99% of my year is spent in weather between 50-80 degree days and 30-50 degree nights. My sleeping bag is only rated to 20. 

My gear are as follows 

Tent: Golite Shangri-la Five; 5.10 lb (heaviest item I own)

Sleeping bag: Coleman unsure name 20 degree 2.5 lb

Pack: Soon to be a Arc'teryx Bora 80 5 lbs

Stove w/cook pot,spork: MSR Pocket Rocket, MSR 1 qt pot, nylon spork: approx.

1 lb stove,fuel,pot and spork

Sleeping pad: Ensolite 1 lb

Thats about 15 lbs of gear. I carry my camera described above, binoculars a water purifier and use X soda 1 liter bottles (much lighter than Nalgene, easily replaced for $0. Water weighs 2 lbs to the quart/liter.

Foodwise I eat Pasta, bagels,cheese,crackers,instant oatmeal, dry milk,tang,gatorade. I carry about 1-2 lbs total food weight per day. 

10:28 p.m. on April 2, 2014 (EDT)
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I went from a Canon T1 with two lenses and extra batteries to a Canon G12, which I loved. After a couple of years I got grit in the lens mechanism and sent it for repair but I needed a camera right away so I got a Canon G16. It's faster, sharper, and lighter. It's a sophisticated and flexible camera. The battery last forever, even in winter. It weighs 12.6 oz. / 356 g.

12:06 a.m. on April 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Yes I scaled down from a double body Practica SLR for colour and B&W to a Canon Powershot and embracing the digital age have never looked back.

Both I bought as they can be operated with double gloves and at low temperatures. The only minus is the AA batteries have a shortened life at low temperatures in the Canon

8:53 a.m. on April 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Try Energizer Lithium batteries. I spend a lot of time in the cold and these batteries last many times longer than others. Well worth the expense, and they weigh less.

8:22 a.m. on April 8, 2014 (EDT)
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I also love the Canon G series and recommend it to others who want a small but worthy camera to carry outdoors.

I originally had a G9 and for several years have been using a G12. Unfortunately, Mentalfloss just tipped me off to the G16, inciting some camera envy... 

10:37 a.m. on April 9, 2014 (EDT)
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Alicia, thr G12 has some features that I love that the 16 doesn't have. The 16 is faster and supposedly records better images, but who can tell? I gave up the landscape setting, hinged screen, and a couple of other useful features. I am thinking of trading with my daughter so I can have the G12 back. Handle one before you buy.

9:50 a.m. on April 15, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks, Mentalfloss. I definitely can't justify a new camera right now, but it's good to know what's new, and changed, with the G series. If/when I need a new one, I'll check it out in person.

5:20 a.m. on April 20, 2014 (EDT)
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Had a chance to finally take the camera out as it was intended; a fast and light walk/run up these mountains (see below). Overall I think its quite nice. It is certainly not a match for my SLR setup (with an L series lens), but I would say it is on par with an average SLR with kit lens, so for all the weight and volume I saved, I cannot complain.
Brecon-Beacons---Cribyn.jpg
Brecon-Beacons---Pen-Y-Fan.jpg

10:44 p.m. on April 21, 2014 (EDT)
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I'm uncertain about how to post photos in the forums so I'm trying two different ways of posting a couple of photos taken with my old Canon G12. If none appear I will delete the posting.

.... Later on .... Well, that didn't work. Anyone have any info on how to post pics in the forum? Thanks.

I will leave the links here.


P3125-SceneGuardhouse_zpsabc108bd.jpg

10:06 a.m. on April 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice shots, TJ!

Mentalfloss, if you click the photo icon (small tree) at the top of the post you're creating, you should be able to select and insert images from your Trailspace photo albums.

I hope that helps.

11:36 a.m. on April 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Dont forget you can cut your toothbrush handle off,shorten your spoon, exetra. I dont do it but know many that do to save weight, yeah, right! My pack weight is about 15 lbs with tent,pack,sleeping bag,pad,stove/cook pot. My tent sleeps 5 nice an roomy for me 5.10 lbs, pack is 80 liters 5 lbs , sleeping bag synthetic rated to 20 degrees 3 lbs, stove Pocket Rocket with a MSR 1 quart pot,nylon spork 1/2 lb(?),pad Ensolite 1 lb.

12:52 p.m. on April 22, 2014 (EDT)
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I'm using an iPad. I see no tree icon. All I see is a Formatting Options. Oh well.

1:04 p.m. on April 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Mentalfloss1 said:

I'm using an iPad. I see no tree icon. All I see is a Formatting Options. Oh well.

 Sounds like you are on the "text" tab.  Do you see another tab labeled "visual" ?  That is the one that has icons.

7:42 p.m. on April 22, 2014 (EDT)
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The tree icon is right above the area where you type theres a B (for bold),a Italic slant I, ABC with a strike through it, Insert Numbered list, insert bullet list,the tree icon, then a film strip to post video and a Insert/edit link icon.

5:37 a.m. on April 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Re Alicia: Thank you, I was fortunate to have good lighting, and the proprietary Fuji software is not too bad (I shoot in Raw by the way), so I was able to get some decent shots out of them.


Re Gary: With regards to weight issues. I'm more of a mountaineer/hiker than a backpacker, so for scrambling and reaching summits (often in a short time period that I have available), I have to not only keep weight, but also volume down... otherwise I would gladly always take my SLR setup, especially with the L-series lens.

8:30 a.m. on April 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Mentalfloss1 said:

I'm using an iPad. I see no tree icon. All I see is a Formatting Options. Oh well.

Ah ha. You're right. You can't use the visual or text editor from the iPad. I added your image above in your post.

On the iPad, you can still insert images using the formatting options though (basic HTML):

  1. Control click on the image you want to post and copy its image url, for ex: http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj301/Mentalfloss64/Machu%20Picchu%20with%20REI%20April%202013/P3108-WallsTerraces_zps835a208c.jpg
  2. Type the following, including your url (full url with http://..)
    <img src="http://.........YOURURL.jpg">
    and you should be all set.

I'll do it in text mode using your url above.

P3108-WallsTerraces_zps835a208c.jpg

10:17 a.m. on April 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Ah ha ... So HTML works. That's what I will do from now on. Everyone ... Thank you for your help! Outdoor people are among the best.

10:32 a.m. on April 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Practicing

P2360-SaltMines_zpsf3b4dcfd.jpg

 

12:02 p.m. on April 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Since I am planning for an AT thru-hike next year I have been trying out some options to lighten up. I hated the thought of laving my Nikon D5100 with my favorite 18-200 lens at home but it is too heavy and too bulky. I tried and returned a Panasonic superzoom because the picture quality was not to my liking. I found a Sony NEX 3N on sale and decided to take the leap and try out a mirrorless camera. I am only using the stock lens and carry a spare battery. Battery life is great. The lack of viewfinder can be a challenge, but even in bright sun you can up the screen brightness enough to see. So far I am thrilled with image quality. In fact I recently realized that I headed out to Tahoe and didn't even think about the DSLR, just grabbed the Sony. I guess I have made the switch. Here is a photo from Tahoe


Lake-of-the-Sky-by-Barbara-Matthews.jpg
 

12:19 p.m. on April 23, 2014 (EDT)
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That's a really nice pic Barbara.  

I don't think I can go anywhere outdoors without my D5100 and Sigma 10-20 lens with my 18-105 being a close second choice.  I will carry the extra weight.  I always want to carry more lenses but ultimately go with 1 lens and choose my battles on long backpacking trips.  

3:37 p.m. on April 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow, beautiful picture, Barbara! Thanks for sharing it.

Mentalfloss, I'm glad I could clear that up for you. Feel free to practice away sharing some images.

10:04 p.m. on June 16, 2014 (EDT)
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I decided a long time ago, to do photo trips separate from other hikes.  I no longer shoot pictures like I used to, but being unsteady I always required a good tripod to get a great shot.  The cost of a really compact tripod is prohibitive, but my regular one was just too bulky and heavy.  I now use a Panasonic DMC-ZS5 Lumix, which takes really good pictures, and weighs only 212 grams.  I use a Ultra Pod II tripod which although has no height, you can set it on a rock and get nice steady shots.  It comes in at only 113 grams.   

9:09 a.m. on June 18, 2014 (EDT)
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Update:


So far so good with the Fuji:

recent photos from Grouse Mountain, British Columbia


Grouse-Mountain-summit-view4.jpg


Grouse-Mountain-summit-view.jpg

I am taking a quick trip to Switzerland this weekend to hike The Moleson. Still at odds as to which camera to take. I think I may end up taking both.... the DSLR for shots in the valley, and Fuji for the hike to the top.

11:11 a.m. on June 18, 2014 (EDT)
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Sometimes for summit shots, I do as a professional photographer friend told me some years ago (Galen Rowell, unfortunately died in a plane crash) - I take the camera(s) appropriate to the situation. Sometimes that means a GoPro, sometimes a Nikon S01 (a tiny "mirrorless" P&S), sometimes my Nikon D800 (sometimes a single lens, which can be a macro, extended range zoom, super telephoto, or a combination of these). Yes, that means a lot of weight sometimes. But the quality, versatility, and dependability of the D800 is more than worth it, even when sometimes it means taking a number of accessories, such as a Solmeta geotagger (vital for the upcoming Peru expedition where it is vital to have the exact location as part of the image file), remote flash unit, tripod, monopod/hiking pole, etc. The GoPro and P&S Nikon give very good images, as long as you don't enlarge them too much. But sometimes they are completely inadequate. The GoPro and a dedicated underwater camera, of course, are necessary when I go snorkeling.

If "memory" photos are sufficient, then the P&S are just fine. If you want to get those photos slaloming through the trees on your skis at high speed, then the GoPro is the only thing. But if you want a close-up of that lion making a kill in Africa, or the leopard sitting in a tree, or the rattlesnake crossing the trail, you better use that long telephoto, if you value your safety.

The discussion that Galen and I were having, sitting in the comfort of the American Alpine Club library, was how did he get some of those spectacular climbing shots up on one of the Big Walls in Yosemite or the Karakoram. The answer was that he borrowed his wife's tiny P&S, and did not make an overly large blow-up. But he sometimes did carry a heavy SLR (most of his photography was before digital cameras were of acceptable quality, so virtually all were film - which is still better than digital for some applications).

Biggest problem with digital cameras, though, is the usual thing with electronic widgets - by the time you go to the store, select the camera, go through the checkout line, and walk out the door to your car, there are 2 new "improved" versions, plus you can't sell your old, obsolete DSLR for more than a few pennies.

1:04 p.m. on June 27, 2014 (EDT)
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great photos!

seems to me this is a good choice.  i know some people who have opted for something like the Canon G series point/shoots so they still have a full-featured camera but save some weight.  Being lazy and not terribly capable of taking great photos anyway, i have gone in the less expensive point & shoot direction. 

3:00 p.m. on June 28, 2014 (EDT)
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Some talented people on this thread. I have a pro photographer on my facebook page and it has really livened up the site.

9:05 a.m. on June 29, 2014 (EDT)
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I currently shoot a Canon T3 DSLR. They are rather bulky but I like the quality of the pictures from which my trip report photos have been since last summer when I bought the Canon I have now.


Canon-T3.jpg

And I use a photoshop like app called PicMonkey to edit my shots: http://www.picmonkey.com/ 

November 25, 2014
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