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SLR users, confess
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Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: SLR users, confess on 03/26/2008 07:57:56 MDT Print View

Robert and Dirk have some great thoughts on looking for a new camera; many, many DSLR's out there inherit the high-end features of the top pro models but are pretty small and very light, comparatively speaking; the Nikon D40 and D50, and the Canon Digital Rebel XTI/400D (and now the new XSI/450D, as yet unreleased) are all pretty lightweight as far as DSLR's go. Get to handle some in person; best idea is to bring a CF card with you and ask to try it with different lenses. Heck, RENTING a DSLR is really quite affordable. has, IMHO, the most exhaustive reviews of such cameras.

But in any event, you'll quickly see that the DSLR class of camera is an ever-widening market with a lot of options and pricepoints.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Excellent point about the rentals on 03/26/2008 21:43:44 MDT Print View

Nathan -

Great point about the rentals! You are absolutely correct, you can rent dSLRs and cameras in big cities. In Portland, Oregon, for instance there is a shop that will rent you just about anything you could possibly want.

Their rental rates, while not cheap, would provide a great opportunity to rent a camera, a lens or two, and head out for the hills and find out if you are willing to carry the load (both in terms of weight and financial burden) of all that DSLR sweetness. I sure wish I had! It would have probably steered me to the conclusion that I would be better off investing in other equipment.

Your point about the high-end features trickling down to lower-end cameras is excellent. Take a look at the latest Rebel announced and it's amazing what is being offered for the money. A few years ago the features were only on the highest-end cameras.


Edited by dirk9827 on 03/27/2008 10:09:18 MDT.

Miguel Marcos
(miguelmarcos) - F

Locale: Middle Iberia
My alternative on 04/10/2008 08:09:59 MDT Print View

I have a Canon 400D but I would never take it hiking except on a single day hike maybe. I bought a G9 for longer hikes (among other reasons). It gives me a decent lens range (about 35-210mm) and raw. The lens is not the most amazing thing, I have to say, and the optical viewfinder is rather poor (but at least it's got one!). Still, for an all-in-one package, I am not complaining.

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Stay with a DSLR on 04/10/2008 09:42:25 MDT Print View

I use Nikon D40X with standard 18-55ml lens, weight 495g (body ex battery) I always recommend a light DSLR. I put it in a small dry sack (zip lock bag and protected by clothing) and store it in my rucksack till use, saving weight on a heavy camera bag and take a mini tripod. I had a point and shoot but would not go back.

You will find that as your backpacking skills grow your trips will take you to more and more wonderful locations. Don’t short change your memories of these trips by not having the options a DSLR offers in terms of capturing those moments.

Kyle Hetzer
(Ghost93) - F

Locale: Western MD
Re: Re: Re: Re: SLR users, confess on 04/29/2008 19:13:26 MDT Print View

Ah at last Were out of the closet. First It was the ounce counters, then the gram counters, now the new taboo is the heavy DSLR. Yep I lug a DSLR on most of my trips. I have a Olyumpus E-500. I generally only use a 14-45 mm (2x factor for a 4/3 sensor). But sometimes carry a 40-150 mm. I now only carry a Circular polaizer and a few ND filters, but I just got a Cokin Grad ND filter and plan to lug it along too. I guess Im a stickler about getting it right in the field as much as possiable than try to make a medicore shot better in post processing. I would love to upgrade to a EOS 5D, but alas Im poor. Although my E-500 does okay.

Although I dont always carry my DSLR. It depends on the trip. On a section hike of the AT in PA in say...summer Ill go for a super zoom as oppose to my DSLR. But when I go out west, Ill probly carry both.I recently bought a Olumpus SP-570 UZ. It will shoot in RAW, Its 10.0 mp and the real reason I went with the super zoom over a Canon G-9 was the lens. 35mm equ. it is 26mm to 520mm. I want a nice wide angle over 2 mp anyday.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: SLR users, confess on 04/29/2008 20:25:10 MDT Print View

Well I bit the bullet, and ordered the new Canon 450D (Rebel XSI).

I'll start off with the kit lens, an image stabilized 18-55mm, then pick up a nicer lens when I figure out what focal length I want: 10-20, 17-70, telephoto, whatever.

Thanks everybody for the input, now I'll have to find other ways to cut pack weight to make up for the thing.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
DSLR Confession on 04/29/2008 22:11:55 MDT Print View


I stumbled onto this thread and have to say "me too".

Not on all my trips, but an increasing number -- I'm carrying a DSLR.

My poison is not the body, but the lens: A Zuiko 12-60mm beast that is heavy. Mate it to my favorite body, an Olympus E-510, and we're looking at 2.5# of camera.

Kyle Hetzer
(Ghost93) - F

Locale: Western MD
Re: DSLR Confession on 04/30/2008 20:25:41 MDT Print View

Horay, another is converted to the DSLR relem. And Olumpus at that. Anyone out there go Light or UltraLight just so they can carry their SLR. I have to say, that being able to carry my SLR with a lighter pack moviated me to go to the light side.

Edited by Ghost93 on 04/30/2008 20:28:03 MDT.

Greg Gosdin
(highguy) - F

Locale: Ozark Mts. southern MO
Packing with a Canon 5D on 05/09/2008 16:26:18 MDT Print View

While I recently purchased a Canon G9 with a filter adapter (works great for the polarizer) to cut back on weight, I still take my 5D out with me when I'm with photographer friends and we make time to shoot.
I have a Kenisis chest pack that attaches to the shoulder pads of any backpack for easy access. Like Nathan I find it to be a good balance with the weight on my back. I stuck a little piece of velcro on the top of the lid, and added a mating piece to the back of a small map holder for hands free looking.

I usually take out a 24-105mm zoom lens. I also have a 16-35 and a 70-200, but don't usually carry them as they are both pretty heavy.
I carry a Gitzo 1028 lightweight tripod, but have just tried a Gorilla pod and liked it, so I may use it more often. It holds up pretty well, even with heavy lenses on.

Floris van Breugel
(floris) - F
UL for the sake of camera gear.. on 05/12/2008 16:57:12 MDT Print View

Pretty new to the forums here.. and thought I'd confess to my ridiculous mentality..

I love photography, that's what I do. Some day I'd love to make a living off it somehow... So there's now way I go anywhere without my 5D, 17-40L, 24-105L, and either 70-200 f/4 or 100-400L (latter if I'm hoping to shoot some wildlife). Add the CF tripod + head, filters, batteries, pano bracket.. I try not to think about how much it all weighs, but I'd put my guess in the 10-15lb range.

Now, that certainly doesn't make me an 'ultralighter', but I've gotten into the UL bug to minimize any 'unnecessary' weight I carry.. with the aim of getting my total base pack weight to ~20/25 total.. which is perfect for me.. So if you see some guy with tons of camera gear somewhere on the west coast (WA and Glacier this summer), but sleeping under a GG tarp with a BMW quilt and alcohol stove.. it's quite possible it's me :)

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Re: UL for the sake of camera gear.. on 05/12/2008 17:28:20 MDT Print View


That is a lot of camera but I bet you get good results. Any bit of kit we take has to have a purpose to us. It may be comfort or protection, and your camera equipment fulfils your passion, doesn’t matter if its 15lb, what is important is the journey and what you learn for the next time you go.

Shahrin Bin Shariff
(zzmelayu) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Table Mountain
To carry or not to carry... on 05/13/2008 00:34:26 MDT Print View

I stopped using an SLR in 1980 (Nikon FM) because the inconvenience. I toyed around with various P&S but never satisfied with the results. Last year. my wife bought a cheap DSLR Nikon D40 with a VR18-200mm (2.5# yikes) but WOW! what a difference in the QUALITY of images. With a TSO of 10#, I think I can afford this ONE luxury on my "big" trips.

Robb Rice
(robbaggio) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Canon EOS 40D on 05/28/2008 10:48:38 MDT Print View

Well I think I'm going to take the plunge into the DSLR market pretty soon here (so I have time to get used to it before my JMT hike in September).

Right now I am leaning towards getting the Canon EOS 40D. Since getting two lenses probably isnt in my budget for this year, I'm thinking I will start out with the 'Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM'. Next year I might add in a second lens in the 70-200mm range.

Has anyone had any experience with the 17-55 lens? I generally shoot nature/landscape pictures, so I think it will be sufficient for that. Reviews on it seem to be pretty good. Will probably be somewhat limited on wildlife photos, but that can wait for now, until I can afford a second zoom lens that will complement the first.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Canon EOS 40D on 05/28/2008 16:47:51 MDT Print View


Check out's recent review of the Canon XSi/Rebel 450D. It states that the 450D is clearly pushing itself above the entry-level DSLR market of its predecessor, incorporating much of the 40D's internals. Plus there are features the 450D has that the 40D doesn't. Here's what they say abut the new sensor:

"The new sensor is superb, and from a resolution point of view puts the EOS 40D to shame without losing any of the high ISO performance that has been Canon's trump card for so long."

Of course there are other reasons to get the 40D, but the 450D is close enough to the performance of the 40D that you could get the 450D and save half a pound from your camera body and a few hundred $$.

Also, Nikon should be announcing the D90 in June, the successor to the D80 and competitor to the Canon 40D. My understanding is that Nikon has some really great kit lenses compared to Canon (check reviews from According to Ken, the Nikkor 18-200 zoom lens has replaced almost all of his other lenses, including his 50mm f1.4! Canon does not have any lenses that cover such a range with such good quality at that price, so you might get a lighter setup with a Nikon D60/D90 and the 18-200mm lens, rather than the Canon 40D with two or more lenses.

Ken also mentions the Nikkor 18-55 and 55-200 are just as excellent, so since you are on a budget, you could get the D60/D90 with kit lens and add the 55-200 later ($230).

EDIT: just saw you were referring to the Canon f2.8 lens. That lens is in another league (and price point) by itself, and you obviously know more than me about what you are looking for! To answer your actual question, Ken doesn't give the lens the best review, but then again he's partial to the Nikon camp:

Edited by jcarter1 on 05/28/2008 17:01:08 MDT.

Jan Stiff
( - F
SLR users, confess on 05/29/2008 07:35:48 MDT Print View

My camera equipment usually includes:

Canon 1ds Mk III body
Canon EF 17-40mm f4L zoom lens
Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L zoom lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L zoom lens
UV filter and Polarizer for each lens
cable release (remote control)
Manfroto aluminum tripod with Bogen 3-way head
Sekonic 558 Light Meter
Spare CF memory cards in card wallet
Canon 580EX Speedlight flash (if needed for the shot)
other odds & ends as needed

weight? I don't know. If it's needed for the job, I find a way to get it there.

In exchange, I try to keep my backpacking gear at or below around 15 lbs. That's for 7 days and that includes food & water.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
SLR for backpacking on 05/29/2008 10:58:53 MDT Print View

As I need pictures for publication in books and magazines I've always carried an SLR and selections of lenses. For years I used lightweight film SLRs and lenses and found these fine. Now I use a DSLR, currently a Canon EOS 350D (chosen for its light weight). I have three lenses - Tamron 11-18, Canon EF-S 18-55 IS, Canon EF-S 55-250 IS. Usually I carry all three lenses along with a lightweight Cullman tripod (I've just taken all of this across Scotland on the TGO Challenge)but if weight is really tight I just take the 18-55. None of this gear is defined as "professional" but it produces images suitable for publication and doesn't weigh that much. Of course I don't produce huge prints or posters, nothing bigger than a magazine double spread - though I reckon my images would look fine much larger. What I do to get good results is shoot raw and take care over exposure and any post processing. I still take pictures as if I was using transparency film, which means getting the best result possible in camera and not relying on computer processing to "improve" a poor image.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: SLR for backpacking on 05/29/2008 13:01:09 MDT Print View

I still use an analog SLR, the Minolta Dynax/Maxxum 5. I chose it because of its low weight while still offering a wide range of features. I only use the kit lense (28-105 mm) but I have been considering a wide angle. I'm probably gonna wait with that one untill it's more clear how full frame digital camera's will develop, both in weight and in price, so that I would not be limited in choice by the lenses I would already have.

I carry my camera in a Zing neoprene case, carried around my waist with the camera strap attached to the chest strap of my pack. This works surprisingly well and doesn't interfere with walking while still having the camera ready to shoot. Weatherprotection isn't guaranteed but I'm considering a light rainproof cover by Optec.

Robb Rice
(robbaggio) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Re: Canon EOS 40D on 05/29/2008 14:35:42 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info John. I didn't know that the Nikon D90 will be coming out soon, so I might at least wait until there is some reviews on that.

Yeah part of the reason I was going for the canon f2.8 lens was because the canon kits ones supposedly are pretty sub par. If the Nikon kit ones are better, and the D90 comparable to the 40D, then I could potentially save a lot of money. The higher quality canon lenses are by no means cheap.

I've always been partial to the Canon camp, but thats mainly because thats what my previous two cameras have been, and I've never actually tried a Nikon.

I'll take a look at the 450D again too. 1/2 pound savings is quite a bit.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Canon Kit Lens on 05/29/2008 15:16:04 MDT Print View

I don't think Canon kit lenses are necessarily sub standard. I got the original 18-55mm kit lens with a 300D and kept it for use with the 350D. I've been happy with this lens and hundreds of photographs taken with it have appeared in print, including double page spreads. I recently replaced it with the new 18-55 IS lens and find this okay too. The advantage of both lenses is that they are very light and compact.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: New SLR user on 05/29/2008 18:06:51 MDT Print View

As I mentioned before, after exaustive study, I picked the Canon 450D with the kit 18-55 IS and the 50 1.8 prime to get me started.

I am very impressed with the 450D, but I can already immediatly tell the difference between the kit lens and nicer glass, even the $80 50mm.

The difference became glaring when I borrowed a 70-200 2.8 IS L from work.

And speaking of which, Jan, I am in awe of your kit. Is there a reason you picked the 17-40 F4 over the 16-35 F2.8?

And Chris, as someone just starting with a limited budget, it's encouraging that you are getting good results with the kit 18-55 and 55-250. I now my stuff is good enough for newsprint at work, but the fact that you can get magazine quality is cool.

As long as we are talking lenses, I'm thinking of an ultra-wide (for a crop sensor) Sigma 10-20, and a telephoto, which I'm less sure of.
The 55-250 seems the most economical way to go, but now that I've tasted L glass, I'm thinking of waiting longer and saving more pennies.

Thanks again for everybody's thoughts, this has been a hugely helpfull thread.