Hello all, I am new here, as well as to backpacking, and looking for some expert help. I searched the forums all the way back to 2009 and didn't see anything about this, so I apologize if this is a repeat or I just missed the OP. I am wondering if you have suggestions for the best case to carry my DSLR with me? I am an amateur photographer (always hoping to become a pro) so I carry a DSLR, several lenses, flash, tripod, etc while I am backpacking, and have been struggling to find the best case that is compatible with my NorthFace Terra 45. I only need the camera and maybe one extra lens accessible while I'm hiking, the rest can go in/on my pack, so the case doesn't need to be huge. I was thinking either some sort of waist pack or chest holder. Advice, tips, help? Thanks in advance!!
There are a zillion variables to consider, and it helps to remember there is no good way to light-backpack with a dslr kit.
Camera and lens(s)? e.g., a 5D and an E-420 are worlds apart and present very different challenges. Fast access? Do you want to alway be able to retrieve and shoot on the fly, or do you shoot under carefully planned conditions? Support? Do you carry a monopod or tripod? Anticipated conditions? Chronic rain and snow? Blowing dust and 110 degrees? Other gear carried? How much backpacking base weight and supplies? What is the backpack's overall design? Trekking poles? Using these affects some camera carry options.
I generally only carry a dslr on day hikes because I can't seem to accommodate a lot of bulky, heavy gear on longer trips. I'll probably build a mirrorless system and revisit the whole question.
Thanks for the reply Rick... I'll do my best to answer your questions...
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II with vertical grip attached Lenses: EF 24-70mm f/2.8 (attached to the body) and EF 70-200mm f/4.0 (needs to be accessible on the fly) other lenses will vary and can be carried in my pack and will be used in pre-planned scenarios Support: I carry a tripod strapped to my pack and my trekking poles can act as a monopod on the fly Conditions: vary greatly, I go everywhere from desert to freezing snow capped mountains, to muggy rain forest (and sometimes if I'm lucky a nice sunny, peaceful day by the lake ) Other gear: I carry a NorthFace Terra 45 usually, and shoot for between 25-35 lbs for a week trip depending on what conditions dictate
In the past I have left my SLR/DSLRs at home too because of the weight and bulk, but as I am pursuing a career (at least I'd like to hope) in photography, I can't just take a point and shoot. Although I do generally keep one in a pants pocket for general scrapbook type shots.
There is no one size fits all solution. I have wrestled with this for some time having tried chest harnesses and slides with not much success. I have also found that if I can't reach my DSLR with my pack on, I will forgo taking a number of pictures.
For backpacking, I carry my Sony A55 with an 18-200mm lens, polarizer filter and memory cards. I will sometimes carry a DSLR Gorillapod. The 17-50 f2.8 and 70-210 f4 stay home as the weight benefit ratio doesn't work for me.
Right now I am using a Tamrac case that works very well with the way I have connected it to my pack. But each case and pack are different. A picture of my pack with a prior case (in red) that worked pretty well is below.
It sounds like you want to put quite a bit of weight in camera equipment on a 45L bag. I am not sure how this will work, especially if you want access to your camera (which is much bigger than mine) and an additional lens.
ndsol, thanks for the response... I agree, and know from experience, that if my camera is not within reach, I also will forgo taking pictures. That is why I am hoping to find a solution to be able to carry the body with standard lens and an additional zoom in a way that they would be accessible while I'm hiking. The majority of my pictures are taken in pre-planned scenarios, so the rest of my equipment can be packed away until I know I need it. It sounds like I am carrying a whole photo store when I say it like that, but generally it is only 1 additional lens (EF 16-35mm f/2.8), a tripod, a flash, 2 extra batteries, and an intervalometer. All that weighs only a few pounds, and doesn't really take up much space since I use spare socks/shirts to pack them and not something like a pelican case, plus the tripod is strapped to the outside. I'm sure you know that there are always going to be those shots that could potentially be amazing if only you had stopped to take them. Up to now, I haven't always stopped to take them because that entails removing my pack, digging out the equipment, getting the shot, then packing up, and readjusting everything to be comfortable again. The whole process can end up taking 10 or 15 minutes for just a few pictures. That makes planning mileages and timelines very difficult since there is no way to know how much time will be spent unpacking and repacking during the day. Anywho, I ramble... I do like the idea of trading in 2 lenses for one that covers most of the standard ranges, ie: an 18-200mm lens, and I have been looking at getting one. Thanks again for the help!
Hooboy, that's some load. I guess step 1 is decding how you prefer to carry it--across the shoulder, clipped to the hip belt, strapped in front of the chest. Load control-wise, only the last makes much sense to me for several pounds of camera+lens kept at the ready. A chest pack should include a raincover that can be deployed for conditions or dripping sweat. But it will be really bulky for a FF DSLR. A simple chest harness would avoid the bulk, but would leave it open to the elements.
I don't know that backpack but if the hip belt is quite stout, you might be able to use something like a Keyhole system.
When I was young and had much more energy I once carried a Hasselblad kit backpacking. It was necessarily stowed in the pack on the trail, and I only used it in camp and while day-tripping. The shots were nice but never again.
If I were a truly gung ho landscapist, I'd get a seco... no, third mortgage and an M9, or go mid-format. A simple belt pouch and Bob's your uncle. The NEX7 seems to be a reasonable M9 substitute at a fraction of the price, and is even smaller. The running review at Luminous Landscape has been a real eye-opener. I'm of the view that the digital market has matured to the point big dslrs only make sense for sports and wildlife. Everything else can be done as well or better with gear much smaller and lighter. (But that's a different conversation.)
I have a Keyhole device. I highley recomend it, works great! I put a gallon ziplock bag over camera in light rain coupled to device with o ring at bottom to keep out moisture. I take only one lens backpacking and it is on camera! Might want to look into some sea to summit waterproof gear bags for lens protection. Stuffed in sleeping bag for extra padded protection? Good luck!
Rick, I know it is a pretty hefty load to carry, but since photography is the main reason I am heading out to the wilderness (aside from the obvious peace and quiet and enjoying nature), I have resigned myself to the fact that a large percentage of the weight I will be carrying will be from my equipment. I'm leaning towards a chest bag mostly because it seems that it will not only be the most comfortable, but will also be accessible and the most balanced overall. Kind of like the military style of carrying the majority of their gear in a large pack on their back and then a smaller backpack on their chest. (I guess it's not really a backpack if your wearing it on your chest huh? ) While the M9 and Nex7 both look like really nice cameras, especially the M9, using one would require a complete system change which would end up being very costly.
Kent, what keyhole system do you use? Where did you buy it? Do you know if it can be fitted to fit most backpacks? I do have several waterproof bags that I use to pack all my gear in, I separate it into categories like clothes, food, first aid/survival, etc so that I can easily identify which bag I need and snatch it out instead of unpacking everything just to get one item out that was stuffed somewhere in the middle. And I also wrap my lenses/flash in socks and shirts to protect them. Since I usually only have 2 lenses I need to have accessible while hiking, the rest gets packed away until I get to a pre-planned destination for photography.
Hey all, just in case you are curious, I ordered a ThinkTank Digital 40. I will be testing it in the next week or two. I will post a follow up after I have taken it for a test run to let you guys know if it is all I am hoping it will be, or if I just wasted $80! Thanks again for all your input. I am still interested in the keyhole, I just need to figure out if it is compatible with my bag, and how I would carry an extra lens within reach.