November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Display Avatars Sort By:
Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
UL BP & DSLR on 06/06/2012 15:31:55 MDT Print View


I'm an UL hiker and love to take pictures. 5 years I'm doing it with my Nikon D80. I have two lenses: 18-70 and prime 50 f/1.4. I don't need any other lengths. Even thought to get wider Tokina 11-16 f/2.8.

So when you grab your photo bag with all the sort of gear it's HEAVY! Can't find a way to minimize it's weight. But now I'm going to switch to a full frame camera (Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark II) with some good lens for landscapes. This will be even more heavy...

But I just can't without it. Hiking without my camera is not fun for me. Am I a really UL hiker?

Heard there are new mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses. People say they perform not bad, but all the shots I saw haven't impress me much.

What do you guys think, whether there will be a full frame mirrorless camera?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: UL BP & DSLR on 06/06/2012 15:38:18 MDT Print View

Gregory, I'm not sure what the problem is. Glass weighs a lot. Fast glass weighs even more.

For ordinary scenic photography, you can get by with many types of cameras. I go after wildlife, and that tends to demand long lenses.

When I start out on a typical trip, I have about ten pounds of base weight, ten pounds of consumables, and ten pounds of camera gear.


Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: UL BP & DSLR on 06/06/2012 17:33:04 MDT Print View


Take a look at the following thread for the Sony NEX system.

Sony NEX Lens Impressions

Specifically Jacob D's photos at the end using a NEX-5N and Voigtlander 15mm/4.5. I believe he also has a 5DMk2 at home and finds the NEX quite capable as a backpacking replacement. Other NEX users at dpreview and fred miranda are finding that the Sigma 19mm/2.8 is a surprisingly sharp lens for it's price.

If you decide to go the full frame route you'll just have to get your gear to a uber-SUL stage to compensate!

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: UL BP & DSLR on 06/06/2012 18:26:12 MDT Print View

Horses for courses, as they say.

The Sony NEX 7 and the Fuji XPro1 get excellent reviews for image quality. These are APS-size sensors, so the same size as your D80, not 24x36mm ("full frame.") I've handled the Sony and it's a nice little camera. Really little, in fact, though the lenses are rather large.

My personal feeling is that micro 4/3 is the sweet spot for the tradeoff between size/weight and quality. The sensor size is slightly smaller than APS, but that size difference allows for much smaller lenses - my Panasonic GH2 with the standard zoom is easily less than half the size of my 5D Mark II with the standard zoom. There is a large selection of Micro 4/3 prime lenses, too, and many of them are excellent.

The image quality of the smaller formats is not going to be as good as a D800e or a 5D Mark III, especially at higher ISO values. But that's the tradeoff for smaller cameras and less weight. Is the image quality adequate for your purposes? If so, great! If not, carry the heavier camera.

I would expect that the images from the GH2 would surpass what you are getting now. I've been very happy with it.

As for a full frame compact, it's possible, but the sensor size would dictate fairly large lenses, so it might not be all that small overall.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: UL BP & DSLR on 06/06/2012 19:43:16 MDT Print View

Hi Ken,

You might get a kick out of this.



Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Full frame mirorrless on 06/06/2012 19:50:09 MDT Print View

Just get a Leica M9 and you are all set.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Micro 4/3 on 06/06/2012 21:50:27 MDT Print View

I'll second the recommendation on the Olympus / Panasonic micro 4/3 format.

I used to be a Leica snob, back in the film days, but now their digital offerings are in the stratosphere when it comes to pricing. I tried Canon a DSLR but couldn't get used to the bulk. When Nikon got back into the game with updated prime lenses I almost switched, but realized I'd be trading one set of heavy glass for another.

The micro 4/3 format seems to have hit the sweet spot in terms of sensor and lens quality, for a small package. The zooms are almost all slow, although Panasonic just announced a fast 12-35mm f2.8 ASPH (equivalent to 24-70mm in full frame 35mm format). The primes are the crown jewels, compact, light and reasonably priced. I have the Pana 14/2.5 and am waiting for the 25/1.4 to come off backorder. To round it off I'll probably go with the 45/1.8.

As for bodies, the Olympus OM-D EM-5 is getting a lot of attention, but the Panasonic GH2, G3, and GX1 have all received strong reviews over the last year. All are much lighter than full frame DSLRs, and pros/pundits like Kirk Tuck, Michael Johnson and Ctein write very positively about the format. How big a print do you really need?

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
UL BP & DSLR on 06/07/2012 01:30:45 MDT Print View

Yes - Leica prices are frightening, but if you want full frame mirrorless it is the only current option.

I was pretty fanatical about photography for about 10 years, working as a semi-professional nature photographer. I used 35mm film and then later on DSLRs, I carried a full set up, along with a tripod and filters on backpacking trips and then later on I focused on photographing New Zealand's bird life (less hiking involved).

About two years ago I became pretty burnt out with the whole thing and for a variety of personal and professional reasons decided to take a few years complete sabbatical from photography. I am now just deciding to get back into it and the choice of set ups has increased dramatically. I am currently using an Oly XZ-1 with an external EVF for snaps on back packing trips. It is a joy to use and gives good results at low ISOs.

If I decide to get back into things more seriously then I will probably go down either the Sony NEX route or the micro 4/3 route. Both are capable of producing publishable images, but I would probably tend towards the NEX if the lens line up improved and the replacement for the NEX 7 is a better performer with manual focus wide angled lenses.

I found over the years that producing quality landscape images took a lot of commitment in terms of time and required that I carried a decent tripod. It wasn't easy to find the right balance between it being a backpacking trip or a photography trip. The more you swing towards the photography the more value there is to me in carrying heavier gear to maximise the quality for the time put in and at some point larger formats become tempting again.

I do agree though that for most people the micro 4/3 format offers tremendous potential in a small package and the new EM-5 looks ace. Currently though I ma just enjoying the freedom of a small point and shoot and trips that are focused on backpacking and not photography.

This thread has some good info

As for me - I am getting a Fuji X100 next week as a digital replacement for my beloved Canon QL19 and Minolta 7s thrift shop cameras and as a way to hopefully get back to the simple pleasure that photography once was.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: UL BP & DSLR on 06/07/2012 01:49:54 MDT Print View

Don't forget the Ricoh GXR system. The newer lens units use APS sensors and the quality is extremely high. It even has an M-mount lens unit designed to use Leica, Voigtlander, and other M-mount legacy lenses, and the sensor has very high dynamic range and beautiful resolution. Many people are calling it the poor-man's Leica.

I've moved on to the Oylmpus OM-D E-M5, mainly because I found the GXR's lens units difficult to make work as a single, integrated system, plus I wanted a much faster focusing camera, since I take lots of wildlife and people photos. However, I still very much prefer the Ricoh camera interface and love the colors and rendition of the Ricoh APS sensors.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: UL BP & DSLR on 06/07/2012 05:33:12 MDT Print View

"As for me - I am getting a Fuji X100 next week as a digital replacement for my beloved Canon QL19 and Minolta 7s thrift shop cameras and as a way to hopefully get back to the simple pleasure that photography once was."

I'm enjoying the X100 and finding it to be a very capable camera. What I love most is the lens, it's fast and sharp, unobtrusive, and a joy to use. There is a bit of a curve figuring out the menu system, but once you have everything set you're free to shoot manually or assisted with very little effort. I parted with my Nikon D7000 for this and don't regret my decision one bit.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Mirrorless on 06/07/2012 13:50:31 MDT Print View

Hi! Thank you all for answers. I read the entire thread Eric Lundquist pointed out. Great thread!

Overall I liked photos I saw from Sony NEX. But there were no full sized photos. Only resized ones.

Having a better resolution (both, sensor and optical) is a plus - you can crop part of image without loss of sharpness (if you just look at your photo on TV/screen, not huge prints).

Overall seems very nice option. Maybe I will end up with selling all my DSLR gear .... :D

How about external flashes for that NEX? Is there any long telephoto lenses with stabilization? Is it that comfortable to change exposure compensation? Are there dials for aperture/shutter speed change in aperture/shutter speed priority modes? Are there function buttons to which you can assign any function of your camera (I hanged Spot Mettering to mine on D80)? Is there spot mettering? Are there filters such as Graduated Neutral Density available for the lenses?

I think I'll go have some read OL...

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Mirrorless on 06/07/2012 15:07:21 MDT Print View

The following response is a result of my own experience with the Sony NEX-5 (Not the newer NEX-5N).

How about external flashes for that NEX?
The NEX comes with a propriety flash connector and flash. Sony makes an additional OEM flash which is higher powered. I find that the low light performance of the camera allows me to not use a flash.

Is there any long telephoto lenses with stabilization?
For native E-Mount there are only a few telephoto zooms available. Sony makes the 55-210/f4.5-6.3, 18-200/f3.5-6.3, and 18-200/f3.5-5.6. Tamron also makes the AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Lens for Sony E Mount.

Is it that comfortable to change exposure compensation?
Once familiar with the dial on the back of the camera if it is very easy.

Are there dials for aperture/shutter speed change in aperture/shutter speed priority modes?
There is a digital PASM/P Tv Av M dial for accessing the different modes.

Are there function buttons to which you can assign any function of your camera (I hanged Spot Metering to mine on D80)?
With recent firmware updates you can specify a few custom buttons. I have mine set for ISO but I imagine Spot Metering may be an option.

Is there spot metering?

Are there filters such as Graduated Neutral Density available for the lenses?
Yes, just as any other DSLR lens you can purchase ND/GND/UV/CPL/etc filters. The 16mm and kit 18-55mm have a 49mm filter size. I've feel like a step up filter ring may be a better option if you already have several lens filters.

Paul S
(flexabull) - F

Locale: State of Jefferson
D90 to Mirrorless? on 06/11/2012 15:53:36 MDT Print View

I've been really debating making the switch from my Nikon D90 to a mirrorless camera as well. I just find myself often skipping putting the D90 in my backpack because of the space and weight that it takes up. I've been looking at the Sony NEX-5n, it appears that it should have image quality that is comparable to my D90, would any of you agree with that? I handled the camera in the store the other day, and besides the somewhat large kit lens, I really liked the way it felt.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: D90 to Mirrorless? on 06/11/2012 19:52:44 MDT Print View

IMHO lenses first, camera second. Whatever system gives you the optics you need either has or will have the camera you desire, so rapid is the turnover of camera models.

The good news is that mirrorless can replace dslrs in 90% of shooting situations at a fraction of the weight and bulk. It's the way to go for backpacking.



Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: D90 to Mirrorless? on 06/11/2012 20:59:22 MDT Print View

Hey Paul. I'm going to guess you might be the same "Paul" that left a comment on my blog post regarding D90 vs. 5N. Not sure if you saw my reply there (just a few days ago)... in any event D7000 = 5N in terms of the sensor (same sensor). Handling will be totally different.

100% samples can be found around the web (or if that's too much work, go ask at Fred Miranda). Not everyone pixel peeps, but I do. I determine if a lens is 'good enough' by looking at a properly focused 100% crop. If I don't get the sense that I'm looking at an enlargement, then it's good enough. This is very doable with the 5N.

I have the Sigma 19... but I haven't used it much. This could be a problem. I just don't like the build quality of the lens, although amazingly it seems to perform quite well, with the Siggy 30 being even better in that regard. I really prefer my MF Cosina Voigtlander lenses for the way they feel, the small size, and direct manual operation. I have not decided what route to take there. I wish Sony would introduce a high end 12-24 zoom!

All that said, the Oly OM-D looks to have an excellent sensor in a nice package. I didn't care for the cramped controls though (NEX-7 feels better to me with the finder and control dials as far apart as possible) which is something that won't come into play with the 5N unless you add a viewfinder. Still a very nice camera and definitely worth checking out.

Samsung should be releasing a couple of new mirrorless bodies this year too, and I'd want to know how those perform before making any purchases.

GL with your decision, let us know what you do!

oh, almost forgot - I recently updated the gallery of images on my 5N blog post. I have a better selection of photos there now (for the curious).

Paul S
(flexabull) - F

Locale: State of Jefferson
Re: Re: D90 to Mirrorless? on 06/12/2012 11:33:08 MDT Print View

Yep, that was me. Your name/site kept popping up as I did my research about mirrorless cameras and backpacking.

I do like "pixel peeping" to get a gauge of what a camera can produce. And you have some nice pics on your blog post, are the "Trinity Alps" photos from Stuart Fork/Emerald Lake?

I originally began looking at the lower end Olympus cameras (mainly the EPM-1) to not replace my D90, but just to be my backpacking/light travel camera. But my wife shot that down, and said I didn't need another camera, and that the Nikon would probably just gather dust. And there is actually a lot of truth to that. When I backpack or travel via airplane, I often leave the Nikon at home because of it's bulk, and with a new mirrorless camera it would see even less use. So I started to think of getting a higher end mirrorless camera and to sell my Nikon. I've taken a bunch of great photos with the Nikon, and I'll sure I'll miss it at times, but I think I'll take a lot more photos, and find myself brings along my camera on trips if I get something like the NEX-5N. (which I am seriously leaning towards right now)

Thanks for your input!

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Re: D90 to Mirrorless? on 06/12/2012 13:00:56 MDT Print View

Good eye Paul; those Trinity Alps photos were indeed from the Stuart Fork area. That trip was last year with a great group of BPL members, I plan to return this fall.

The lake was either Emerald or Sapphire, I visited both. At that time I had only owned my 5N for about a week. That was the first trip out with it and I took the 18-55 kit lens and a CV 40/1.4 (not a bad combination, as it turns out).

Handling will be your biggest concern I think, I wouldn't worry about the image quality. You might consider purchasing a gently used 5N if you go that route to see what you think. On the other hand, if you happen to use Nikon legacy glass, or any ZF lenses, I think you may really like the MF capability of the 5N. Downsides are: In bright light using the "sunny" setting for the LCD is mandatory. Using polarized sunglasses makes the screen more difficult to see.

I've taken a ton of photos since owning the 5N, not because I point and shoot more, but because I have it with me more often. My 5D would stay at home quite a bit due to size/weight. I recently picked up a ZE 35/1.4... that combination is a tank, especially after handling the NEX :)

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Handle the Camera with lens on 06/12/2012 13:01:42 MDT Print View

I made the decision to go with the EPM-1 over the sony's because after you put glass on it the Olys handle much better than the Sony's and the lens selection matched what I wanted. You definately give up about 1.5 stops of iso but I think that is balanced out by the lens selection.

My hiking kit consists of the epm-1, and the 14,20, and 45mm primes depending on how much weight I want to hall. Sometimes I also add some reach and leave the 20 behind and bring the 40-150.

Daniel Goldenberg
(DanG) - M
Re: UL BP & DSLR on 06/12/2012 13:27:55 MDT Print View

"But I just can't without it. Hiking without my camera is not fun for me. Am I a really UL hiker?"

Hi Gregory,
Yes, when it comes to photography you get a free "get out of jail" card, so to speak. Photographic equipment is exempt from UL criticisms. It's perfectly fine to carry 18 lbs of heavy large format camera bodies, lenses, light meters, gitzmo tripods and other camera gear. Nobody will question it or suggest to you that you don't need all the heavy equipment and to just "use your cell phone camera"

Just be glad you are not a knife guy. If you enjoy whittling, bushcraft or making things out of wood and take a nice but light 6 oz knife into the backcountry (can you think of a single object that is more at home in the backcountry than a knife?) you will be admonished and scolded and told that you only need a razor blade.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Handle the Camera with lens on 06/12/2012 13:57:04 MDT Print View

Hey Greg. Keep in mind that handling is subjective. A bit like: backpack X fits better than backpack Y. Also the handling of 4/3 lenses v. SLR lenses v. Rangefinder lenses are all a bit different.

I agree though that lens selection is a valid point regarding mount specific lenses.

LOL Daniel... I just tell the anti-knife folks that I bushwhack with UL handguns. Shooting poison oak into pieces is tons of fun ;)

Edited by JacobD on 06/12/2012 14:00:48 MDT.