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Author Topic: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking  (Read 17879 times)

HSakols

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Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« on: March 25, 2015, 09:53:32 am »

This summer I plan on backpacking for 30 + days in northern Yosemite.  This is a once in a lifetime adventure, that I want to do while I'm still physically capable.  We will have friends help resupply our food and supplies and hopefully we will get some pack animals to deliver our beer.  I keep going back and forth regarding what camera to bring a Nikon D800 or an Olympus micro four thirds.  I never print larger than A2 and rarely at that.  Still I find that the files are easier to work with in Lightroom, especially correcting highlights and I prefer the light meter.  I definitely see the difference in better dynamic range when shooting in low light.  Right now I'm looking at bringing a Nikon D800, the 16-35 zoom, a 50mm 1.8, and the 70-200 f4. I also will carry a carbon fiber tripod. I am working hard to save weight in other areas so I can carry my gear.  I know only I can answer this question and if it weren't for the weight question the decision would be easy.
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Colorado David

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2015, 10:02:21 am »

On two occasions recently I took smaller, less capable cameras with me on backpacking trips where I was shooting video.  I got paid to shoot the video and the still camera was just for myself.  Unfortunately you never know what you might find when you might want greater dynamic range and larger files.  I have regretted my decision on both of those trips.  I can't advise you on what to do. I can only say I wished I had made a different choice and carried the heavier weight.

PeterAit

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2015, 10:13:23 am »

As you say, only you can decide - as I had to recently when I went to Japan. I had to balance the little bit of extra resolution and DR I would get with my D600 kit against the greater freedom and enjoyment of the non-photographic aspects that the E-M1 gear would provide. I ended up taking the latter, with the 12-60 and 50-200mm zooms. I have never regretted the decision and I am printing up to 18 x 24 inches. Of course the D800 offers more of a resolution edge over M4/3 than does the D600. Anyway, sounds like a great trip!
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NancyP

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2015, 10:39:25 am »

How leisurely is your pace? I assume you are training with your expected pack weight or a bit more.  If you are going to take time outs for photography and 10 minute rest stops every 2 hours to change socks, wolf down some trail calories, and hydrate, you may be fine taking that weight. If by the time you go, you haven't trained up to carrying the full pack weight all day with some elevation, you probably should trim the weight some.
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Herbc

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2015, 10:43:32 am »

You don't say how old or in what shape you are in.  If you are young enough and fit enough, take the Nikon, although I would forget the zooms and take a few primes.  The telephoto is for what?  Animals?
 That said, I have some shots done with an Oly m4/3 that are widely accepted in gallery exhibitions at 13x19 print size, and you would probably shoot more with the smaller camera.
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armand

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2015, 11:02:06 am »

If you can carry it why not?

You could replace the 16-35 with a 18-35 ( I just bought one after weeks of going back and forth) or a 20 F1.8. Half the weight with similar quality for the 18-35. You will lose some weather resistance but won't miss the VR if you'll have a tripod anyway.

Come to think of with a D800 and 18-35/20, 50, 70-200 F4 you could be only 2-3 pounds ahead of a more rugged m43 kit, I'm thinking EM-1/GH-4 with 12-40 F2.8, 25 F1.4 or F1.8, 35-100 F2.8 or 40-150 F2.8 (add a pound for the latter in return for more range). You'll need more batteries for m43 also but you'll also gain some extra weather resistance if don't care for a waterproof sleeve.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 11:29:54 am by armand »
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Peter McLennan

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2015, 12:23:04 pm »

You had me at "this is a once in a lifetime adventure"

Take the D800.  And the long zoom. The 70-200 f4 is one of the best lenses I own.
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Ken Bennett

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2015, 12:55:24 pm »

This is a tough question. I'm a hiker, which is my passion outside of photography (which is work). I prefer to go as light as possible, mostly because at my age I need that. So for me, a P+S is fine, and a mirrorless is a luxury. But I am not hiking to take photos.

So here's my question: what is the primary purpose of this trip? If it's photography, then by all means take the D800 and the tripod and the lenses. (That 70-200 would be key for a lot of landscapes, at least the way I like to shoot.) If the purpose is the hiking part, and the photos are just to document that, then I would take a smaller camera.

Making good photos -- good enough to justify carrying the gear -- is a time consuming project, *and* you need to be in the right spot at the right light. That may mean stopping very early in the day if you find a good photo opportunity but need to wait for evening light. It may mean spending several hours in one place shooting wildflowers, or waiting for the sun to illuminate the peak reflected in the small glacial lake. All of those things are wonderful, but if you have to make miles for any reason, they will prevent you from doing so.

There is no one right answer. I hope you have an amazing trip. (Also, having pack animals bring you beer is the greatest idea ever.)
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Equipment: a camera and some lenses. https://www.instagram.com/wakeforestphoto/

Jack Hogan

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2015, 04:32:15 pm »

Hiking is my thing: go for the better IQ.  By the time you put in your backpack a change of shirts, sweater, shell, lunch, beverage, tripod and a couple of lenses the difference in the weight of the bodies is really immaterial.  My approach is to mount a zoom while moving (24-120/4) and to bring out appropriate primes once there. YMMV.

Enjoy the trip.
Jack
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 04:37:54 pm by Jack Hogan »
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2015, 05:52:08 pm »

Nothing has changed since the old days, take along the best camera you can carry (and a pano head if quality is really important to you).

There are many other items, starting with yourself (no idea if this applies to you of course), your pack and shoes, whose weight can be optimized without real negative impact on your hiking experience.

The weight of the camera body is all but negligible in the grand scheme of things when doing multi-hiking.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: March 26, 2015, 12:28:47 am by BernardLanguillier »
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HSakols

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2015, 06:09:15 pm »

Quote
Take the D800.  And the long zoom. The 70-200 f4 is one of the best lenses I own.

I concur and I use this focal length quite a bit. Thanks for all your thoughts. 
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Steve House

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2015, 06:49:57 pm »

To put it in perspective, consider packing in the weight of a 4x5, 2 or 3 lenses in boards, a wooden tripod strong enough to support the camera, and a dozen loaded film holders.  That's what our Adams, Weston, et  al predecessors felt was the reasonable price to pay to make the images they wanted.  Do you want to make the best images you can make or do you want to make the best images you can with the equipment you have with you?
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HSakols

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2015, 08:07:14 pm »

Yes, Weston and Adams had some solid mountaineering skills as well as stamina.  The early Sierra Club Trips today would be considered brutal, yet these trips were not short of participants.  Before digital I would backpack with a Bronica Sqa, 3 lenses, and could go for six days. This included the bulky bear can that everyone is required to store food in. Sorry I ended my sentence in a preposition.  On this trip I will have to carry two bear cans, a 1.5lb voltaic solar charger, and my D800.  We will obviously have to base camp early on to allow us time to lighten the load (eat). I just replaced a down sleeping bag I have used since 1986 with a 2 lb down bag that compresses into nothing.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 08:32:09 pm by HSakols »
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johnswen

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2015, 09:20:35 pm »

This is a great question. You'll get all kinds of replies. But I don't think the answer is really related to your equipment -- it's much more related to how young and fit you are!

When I was in my 20s and in the prime of life, I was able to run a marathon under 3 hours and would have thought nothing of hauling a camera as heavy as the D800 with a few big lenses on a long backpacking trip. No big deal.

At age 56, well, let's just say I bought a Nikon D5200 last year for hiking and haven't regretted it at all. I carry with it just one lens -- the Nikon 18-140 -- on backpacking trips and long day hikes. Weight does matter when you are hiking all day in the mountains at age 50-something. It matters a lot.

One point that doesn't get discussed enough is the hassle of changing lenses while hiking in the wilderness. That really slows you down when you pause to take a shot on the trail. And it annoys your hiking partners if they have to wait very often while you fiddle with lenses. When you're on the trail, you want to keep moving.

I have a D800 and 2 of the 3 lenses you mention. I don't take them backpacking. That's OK. The D5200 and my travel zoom do a good enough job. Just get out there and put on the miles! Don't worry too much about your equipment.

John Swenson
Bend, OR


 

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NancyP

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2015, 11:27:20 pm »

Steve, just as there are big 135 format cameras and small 135 format cameras, there are lightweight 4 x 5 cameras and lenses, and heavyweight 4 x 5 cameras and lenses. There are 4 x 5 field folders and 150mm ("normal") lenses that weigh less than 2 kg in all. A popular lens, with shutter, weighs 4 oz/ 130 grams. The real weight is in carrying the film holders.
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PhotoGap

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2015, 11:59:12 pm »

With failing health, and two brutal surgeries in the past year, many "once in a lifetime" trips are beyond me now. So from my perspective, take the best camera you own, train like heck to be in peak physical shape, and don't look back!!!

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Tony Ventouris Photography

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2015, 09:28:33 am »

Lets put things into a perspective.  Years ago when the 5D (mkI) came out I would haul that with big lenses on my trips.  That was an excellent camera.  I didn't think twice.  That was my "D800" back then.  Now a days my E-M1 blows it away, and also matches my 5DmkII easily.  In the last few years ive traveled on some amazing trips with just an X100 and a Leica M8 and made amazing images.  I've also traveled with a P45 when I wanted "extreme quality."  In reality, I found my best images were not gear specific at all.  It was all timing and being in the right places.  Any of my cameras would have made the exact same image were I in the same place at the same time.  A little bit of extra resolution would have made no difference, as would any extra dynamic range.  (bracketing anybody...?)  I have a 150" x 24" panorama in my living room that came from the X100.  Its detail up close is astounding.  Yes there is a difference in certain situations between the cameras...but most situations don't take advantage of that is what I have found. 

I much prefer my E-M1 in most situations with the 12-40 and the 40-150 than carry extra weight.  It allows me to work more efficiently than my Canon DSLRs too. 

You won't be losing anything in the end.  Its just perceived.  And if you know how to upres a file properly and edit it for the size of the print, you can still print decently large with 12mp.  I have 30" prints made from the E-M1 that nobody would think twice about.  The sensor size drove me nuts for a long time since I am a large sensor fan...but once I saw that I could easily make large prints if the effort from beginning to end was there...the E-m1 won the battle. 

Take what you love to work with and enjoy using the most.  Bottom line.  I love medium format...but when im not working, I leave those bricks at home.

John Koerner

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2015, 10:39:11 am »

It is better to have something extra and not need it ... than to need something extra and not have it ...

Always and without exception.
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Chairman Bill

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2015, 10:58:21 am »

This would be a once in a lifetime trip for me, and I'd want the best I could get in terms of quality, so I'd take my D800. The trick when it comes to carrying extra weight, is to keep your own weight down (ensure you're not carrying a beer-belly), and make sure that you're hill-fit. If it were me, I'd also carry my X100s as a back-up.

PeterAit

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Re: Am I crazy to take a Nikon D800 Backpacking
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2015, 11:25:30 am »

It is better to have something extra and not need it ... than to need something extra and not have it ...

Always and without exception.

Geez, you sound like my wife  :D!
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