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  1. #1
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    Default Backpacking with a DSLR?

    My phone does not take good photos. I've had point-and-shoot cameras in the past and they perform pretty well, but haven't lasted. I have a smaller DSLR (Nikon DX cropped sensor) that I'm considering bringing on a short section of the AT, but it's heavier, bulkier, and not as easily accessible as something smaller that fits in the waistband pockets. I brought it to Porcupine Mountains and to Isle Royal on 5 day trips, but it always seemed to end up in the top of my pack and only used for longer breaks or campsites. I kept feeling like there would be a moose or other Kodak moment and I'd be empty-handed.

    Just wondering if I'm crazy to consider it, or if others have found a decent way to bring one along.

  2. #2
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    Look into a Cotton Carrier. I would not want to thru hike with a DSLR. They are heavy! But I have used one on a multi-day backpacking trip to Peru and it worked wonderfully. If photography is a priority, it doesn't get any easier. I found one on sale, but they aren't cheap.

  3. #3

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    I don't think you are crazy at all!

    I use a DSLR camera a lot and prefer the quality of the photographs I can get with it and the ability to change lenses and filters to capture scenes and nuances. There are times when I will use a cell phone or point 'n shoot type camera, however I still prefer the DSLR when I can bring it.

    Convenience of getting the DSLR camera out to use was a problem until I figured out how to attach a fanny pack to my pack(s) using it's waist strap and carabiners so it is stable. Set up this way, the DSLR is easily reached with my left hand, the convenience issue was overcome. The fanny pack is a deep pocket type and is attached to the pack so it can remain open without the camera falling out. The camera goes in and comes out the same way, with my left hand on the grip so I can get the DSLR camera out and be taking pictures usually faster than a cell phone or a point 'n shoot camera from a shoulder or belt mounted case.

  4. #4
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    I just replaced my 18-140mm with an 18-300mm that is almost the same size. It's still sort of heavy, and I've considered buying just a 35mm prime lens that is much lighter and compact, but I'm not sure I would like a fixed focal length. It will probably be just the camera and a spare battery, no extra lenses or tripod.

    I have a LowePro top-loading holster type bag that I might be able to attach to the waistband of the pack. I've also seen some kind of quick release mount that goes on one of the shoulder straps, but then the camera is just completely out and un-protected. I will have plenty of time before we take off in early May to try and tweak some different options.

    When I think about how I look at and compare other gear and their weight, I feel like an idiot to even consider bringing a clunky heavy camera, but I know it will drive me nuts if I don't.

  5. #5

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    I have seen several folks sew up a pouch and attach the pouch to the shoulder straps. Heck I have run into thru hikers carrying 35MM cameras in a padded pouch that clipped into both shoulder straps. They could get at the camera quick and take a shot but required a bit more time and effort when the put the pack on and off. Kind of sucked if they tripped and fell forward.

  6. #6
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    I checked out the Cotton Carrier. Looks like a really nice setup, but I'm big and I seriously doubt I would find it comfortable, especially when hot and sweaty.

    My LowePro is pretty old and I don't use it much anymore, so it may be a padded pouch that I can somehow modify to attach someplace.

  7. #7

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    As to whether it's worth carrying, that depends on the section your doing. Some sections simply aren't very photogenic. Looking back at (what few) photos I took through PA, the cell phone camera was good enough. I rarely pulled out my "good" camera in that state.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  8. #8
    Registered User Maineiac64's Avatar
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    I have been very impressed with quality of sony rx100 iv, very compact. To me it isa good compromise.

  9. #9

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    My backpacking tent weighs 8 lbs 10 oz and my pack alone weighs around 8 lbs. So what's the problem in carrying a heavy camera?????

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bighammer View Post
    I have a smaller DSLR (Nikon DX cropped sensor) that I'm considering bringing on a short section of the AT . . . I kept feeling like there would be a moose or other Kodak moment and I'd be empty-handed.
    A moose on the AT? I've seen Rocky many times, no Bullwinkle.

    If photography is your motivation to hike, take it. I carried a Nikon FM on my first Grand Canyon rim to rim, and my D300 (and a gorillapod) on my second rim to rim, and spent a very enjoyable early morning photographing the Milky Way from the bottom.

  11. #11
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    Has anyone used the cotton carrier under their backpack? It looks great for easy access to my camera! I'm just curious about how it would feel after miles with pack straps over the cotton carrier straps.

    The altered fanny pack idea seems worth looking into as well.

  12. #12
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    Wait, I may have found my own answer. I just found a cotton carrier that just fastens to the pack strap, so no need for the harness straps.
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...BI%3A514&smp=Y

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bighammer View Post
    My phone does not take good photos. I've had point-and-shoot cameras in the past and they perform pretty well, but haven't lasted. I have a smaller DSLR (Nikon DX cropped sensor) that I'm considering bringing on a short section of the AT, but it's heavier, bulkier, and not as easily accessible as something smaller that fits in the waistband pockets. I brought it to Porcupine Mountains and to Isle Royal on 5 day trips, but it always seemed to end up in the top of my pack and only used for longer breaks or campsites. I kept feeling like there would be a moose or other Kodak moment and I'd be empty-handed.

    Just wondering if I'm crazy to consider it, or if others have found a decent way to bring one along.
    I think you have clearly expressed the problem with carrying the DSLR when backpacking. It is unbeatable when you are in dedicated photographer mode but, for a backpacker who wants to capture moments on the trail it is not the best option. Small point an shoot cameras are providing higher quality images and even video than ever before. Most importantly, they will be within reach when you want to capture a fleeting moment.

    Keep the DSLR for dedicated photography but get something smaller for a hiking accessory.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    My backpacking tent weighs 8 lbs 10 oz and my pack alone weighs around 8 lbs. So what's the problem in carrying a heavy camera?????
    I have an 8' x 8' dome tent that I do like, but that's a car camping only tent for me. I guess whatever floats your boat. (may sink mine)


    Quote Originally Posted by Maineiac64 View Post
    I have been very impressed with quality of Sony rx100 iv, very compact. To me it is a good compromise.
    I have considered buying another more compact camera, but I don't think I'm at the ~$700 level. I have also thrown around the idea of upgrading my phone, but I sort of like my prepaid service and that $200 lasts for almost a year sometimes.


    Quote Originally Posted by johnacraft View Post
    A moose on the AT? I've seen Rocky many times, no Bullwinkle.
    HA! That was in reference to the Isle Royal and Porcupine Mountains trips here in Michigan. Lots of poop and giant hoof prints in the mud, but never saw one on those trips. I had 2 previous very close encounters (like almost within arm's reach close) in Idaho and Montana with a mama moose and a calf. Had I been "wearing" rather than "packing" a camera, I might have some amazing photos. The ID moose was clearly charging me, but I didn't see her until the last seconds, so it wouldn't have made any difference either way. I was just damn lucky.
    Last edited by bighammer; 03-06-2019 at 13:38.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by OCDave View Post
    I think you have clearly expressed the problem with carrying the DSLR when backpacking. It is unbeatable when you are in dedicated photographer mode but, for a backpacker who wants to capture moments on the trail it is not the best option. Small point an shoot cameras are providing higher quality images and even video than ever before. Most importantly, they will be within reach when you want to capture a fleeting moment.

    Keep the DSLR for dedicated photography but get something smaller for a hiking accessory.

    So can I give you my wife's number so you can explain this to her?

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by bighammer View Post
    I have an 8' x 8' dome tent that I do like, but that's a car camping only tent for me. I guess whatever floats your boat. (may sink mine)
    It's funny how people are so different. While I don't mind humping a heavy pack---I would never consider bringing a bulky heavy camera on any of my trips. My little pocket point and shoot works well enough. And I don't own a smartphone of any kind---but then I wouldn't buy one just to take pics. Or even consider carrying such a phone---as I NEVER want to get online when I'm out. See, we're all very different from each other.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    It's funny how people are so different. While I don't mind humping a heavy pack---I would never consider bringing a bulky heavy camera on any of my trips. My little pocket point and shoot works well enough. And I don't own a smartphone of any kind---but then I wouldn't buy one just to take pics. Or even consider carrying such a phone---as I NEVER want to get online when I'm out. See, we're all very different from each other.
    It is sort of funny. I love my big tent and the space/height it provides, but when thinking about carrying it, the small, tight, spartan home shines. Most of the time, I'm fine with a heavier pack on flatter trails, but when there is some elevation change, I want to minimize as much as possible. (I should lose some weight, first)

  18. #18
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    Two options:
    1. Use the camera you have with one travel lens (wide to moderate telephoto), attached to you pack with a cheap carabiner. My Olympus mirrorless is weather sealed, which helps, as does the cropped format.
    2. Get an older "ultra zoom" advanced point and shoot with a sharp lens for really cheap used. Same attachment. P1010042.JPG I took this with an Olympus SP 500 that would cost about $50 today. Weight is around 12 Oz.


    Also, scenic vistas and popular animals are not the only photo subjects out there. Go after those flowers, rocks, and other close is stuff.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  19. #19
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    Cool shot! Yea, I saw a lot of interesting tiny stuff on my Michigan trips, but didn't shoot a lot of it just because it was not convenient. Isle Royal was tough on my feet, ankles and knees; I was hurtin' and photography was not high on my list. In the Porkies, the weather was a bit on the damp and chilly side. Stopping became uncomfortable pretty quickly, but some of the wild 'shrooms and fungi were just amazing to look at. Pretty sure I saw some of the "magic mushrooms" but didn't get a photo to confirm. We were about a week early for decent fall colors. Just missed it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bighammer View Post
    Cool shot! Yea, I saw a lot of interesting tiny stuff on my Michigan trips, but didn't shoot a lot of it just because it was not convenient. Isle Royal was tough on my feet, ankles and knees; I was hurtin' and photography was not high on my list. In the Porkies, the weather was a bit on the damp and chilly side. Stopping became uncomfortable pretty quickly, but some of the wild 'shrooms and fungi were just amazing to look at. Pretty sure I saw some of the "magic mushrooms" but didn't get a photo to confirm. We were about a week early for decent fall colors. Just missed it.
    Any camera that's right at hand is a good thing. Sturdy or disposable gets you that.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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