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Cameras at Philmont
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Celeste Walz
(TravelingChick) - F
Cameras at Philmont on 03/30/2012 17:18:26 MDT Print View

I'm a former Philmont Ranger (really former - '84, '86). The ultralight thing has come on very strong since then! I'm also a very avid photographer.
For those of you who have been recently and traveled with a digital camera, did you have any trouble with battery life or running out of card space? My very heavy and expensive DSLR I know could manage the two weeks in inclement weather and getting banged around, but I'm thinking of downsizing to a smaller camera for this trip and don't have much experience with performance in the field.

Edited by TravelingChick on 03/30/2012 17:28:06 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Cameras at Philmont on 03/30/2012 18:28:28 MDT Print View

Most digital cameras, whether they are heavy or lightweight, expend a great deal of their battery power in the rear display. Some cameras are particularly bad in this respect since they have no optical viewfinder. Small cameras have another disadvantage in that the battery size is small, so they don't store as much power.

So, for now I stick with the expensive DSLR, and I don't spend much time viewing the rear display after the shot.


ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
Cameras on 04/02/2012 04:49:52 MDT Print View

My major criterion for cameras at Philmont (or anyplace with no charging facilities) is AA batteries, not a proprietary battery. Easy enough to have enough power. Yes, no optical finder and a power-hungry display are disadvantages, but not doing much review on the trail limits the power drain. It's not difficult to have plenty of chip space for a lot of pictures. My current camera - Nikon CoolPix? has an 8gb chip - enough space for over 1000 pictures at 12 mp.

camera on 04/03/2012 16:23:56 MDT Print View

Todays small compact cameras with lithium batteries are fairly power efficient. If you are worried about battery life, buy a spare on ebay and carry it too, only about ~.75oz.

With a $200 4.5 oz camera today you can take some very good pictures, as well as HD video. I just keep my camera in a ziplock in my pants pocket so I can pull it out quickly when I want it.

A full battery charge can get me ~200 pictures, or 45 minutes of video on my little Sony. I took ~50 over a 3 day trip recently. I cant imagine lugging around a huge heavy camera for just snapshot photos for memories, but then im not an afficionado either.

I can store more 16mp pictures on an 8g card than I want to take.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/03/2012 16:26:52 MDT.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Taking a big camera on 04/24/2012 09:29:12 MDT Print View

First, try everything on a shakedown. I tried a lightweight, compact camera on a shakedown and was really disappointed in the slow focusing and poor picture quality in low light. It was a good point-and-shoot for the time, a Canon SX110 IS, but it wasn't even close to my DSLR. Those cameras have tiny silicon sensors which have really high noise in low light. There isn't any way to fix that but get a bigger sensor, which means bigger glass, bigger motors, and bigger batteries.

I insist on keeping my camera ready, but on another shakedown, I learned that having a camera around your neck and shoulder for two days hurt my neck (throughout the third day of hiking).

I took my Canon EOS 50D with an EF 17-55/2.8 to Philmont. It was the heaviest single thing in my pack, but it was worth it. In fact, at 4+ pounds, it was double the weight of my pack, tent, or sleeping bag.

I used #5 S-biners to clip the camera strap to the straps that go between the backpack stays and the shoulder straps (Six Moon Designs Starlite). This is clumsy to get on and off, but good while you are hiking. When I needed to clip the camera back in, I asked another crew member to do it. There was always someone with their pack on first.

I made a "camera poncho" from silnylon with velcro dots glued on the edges. We didn't get much rain, so I did not give that a full test.

I did bring a second battery and used it. If I remember correctly, I swapped batteries on day seven. I brought a charger, thinking I might be able to beg some juice at a staffed camp, but I didn't use it. A lot of staffed camps are all-solar now, so they doubt they have spare electrons. I probably could have recharged at Cimmaroncito, I think they have power lines. I did use the charger to top off the batteries at base camp before the trek.

I have an 8Gbyte card and that was a little tight at Philmont. Next time, I'd go up a couple of steps, probably a 32 GB.

Here I am with the camera poncho deployed at Abreu. My son took the point-and-shoot, this was taken with that camera (duh).

Big camera at Philmont

Finally, here is a set of Philmont photos edited down from what I and my son took with the two cameras. Towards the end, there are some photos of the bear we saw. These are extreme crops -- I also included the full frame. I don't think I would have any of those photos with a slow-shooting point-and-shoot with a tiny, noisy sensor. To find the bear photos, look after the Mt. Phillips sunsets and before the rock climbing.

Flickr set: Troop 14 at Philmont

For comparison, here are the photos with the point-and-shoot from a three-day, 32 mile hike. There are many fewer photos per day than there were from Philmont because I threw out so man as unusable.

Flickr set: Troop 14 hikes Skyline to the Sea

Edited by wunder on 04/24/2012 09:32:50 MDT.

Celeste Walz
(TravelingChick) - F
Thanks Walter on 04/25/2012 15:27:04 MDT Print View

I have the same problem with compacts - slow and noisy. Thanks for your added insight to this problem. I am currently testing the Cotton Carrier system:

I've used it on shorter hikes with a daypack, but will be testing it with my full pack over the coming weeks. I am still working on perfecting the rain poncho for it. Usually just use a big ole ziploc but it flaps around and has to be replaced.

I plan on bringing either the 5D Mark II or 7D w/ 24-104 f/4.0 I love the 5 for its full sensor, but the 7D has that little pop-up flash, which while small and mostly useless, is good for adding a little fill; and the 7D is faster.

Thanks again - I'll look through the photos.

Larry M
(Maethros) - MLife

Locale: Mid South
Re: Cameras at Philmont on 07/09/2012 19:08:33 MDT Print View

I just got back last week and just started going through my photos. Before the trek, I came extremely close to bringing my D5100. However, I just couldn't see myself carrying the extra weight so I took my XZ-1 with three batteries instead. Looking over my photos, I'm extremely glad I did:

My son on top of Mount Phillips

Another crew member at the OK City bombing memorial on the way home

These are jpegs straight out of the XZ-1 with no post processing whatsoever. I don't think I could have gotten better captures from the D5100.

Edited by Maethros on 03/31/2014 07:24:48 MDT.