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Camping, Cold, Oly Cameras, Remotes & Night Shooting, 3rd Party Batt. Life

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by tradesmith45, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Hi all,

    Did a magical trip to the N. Yukon 1st week of Sept to backpack in the Tombstone Territorial Pk. to see the amazing mountains & the aurora. Big time success on both counts.

    Am transitioning from use of Apple Aperture to LR/PS CC so haven't gotten all the connections made to post anything yet. And am having a hard time w/ some of the post work using PS on underexposed hi ISO images.

    But thought I'd pass on some experiences that some of you may find helpful. Was lucky to have warmer than expected temps - got below 25ºF only a few nights. Shot aurora for several hours on 6 of the 10 nights we were out!!!! Unfortunately it also meant that peak fall colors had already passed early.

    My pack started @ 41lbs including 13.5 lbs of camera gear.

    First topic - remotes & intervalometer. I took both a Promaster remote & a Hannel intervalometer for redundancy. Unfortunately they both seemed to fail on both my EM5 & EM1. I thought the USB connectors on both camera had worn out because no forcing or wiggling the jacks would make them work. When I got home I learned that wasn't the problem.

    All the remotes I've owned for Oly have a small soft plastic collar at the base of the USB jack that goes into the camera socket. Turned out what was really going on was that shoulder becomes too stiff when cold to allow the plug to fully seat in the camera socket. And you can't push it hard enough to get it in. At home - arggggggg!- after figuring this out, I took an Xacto knife & carefully carved a small bit of the sides off the plastic shoulders.

    Couple lessons here. When you have a problem in the field, really do a McKeiver to solve it. W/o the remotes, I was unable to do really long exposures for foregrounds at night. Secondly, put your gear in a fridge before a cold trip to test for problems like the.

    Regarding batteries, I bought additional Green & Watson batteries so I could have 12 for what I expected to be at least 9 days w/o power. In 10 nights-11 days only used up 8 batteries, w/ 2 more still going in the cameras at the end. During night shoots in the modest cold, I easily got 250 long exposure captures w/ Noise Reduction turned on out of the 3rd party batteries. Had as many things on the cameras as possible turned off to conserve power. Still this impressed me. I feel relatively safe now carrying 1 battery per day for a backpack trip that will have lots of hiking and a few days of bad weather+ photography but w/o lots of wildlife or flowers.

    Last but not least - gloves. After years of trying many brands of insulated glomitts, finally found some that are actually warm. Every brand I've tried regardless of price have been too tight around the fingers & cut off my southern boy circulation. At the end of last hunting season, saw these by Huntworth in size XL in a store I frequent: http://www.amazon.com/Hunting-Oaktr...d=1446177490&sr=1-9&keywords=huntworth+gloves

    These are unique in that the finger & thumb sections are loose enough to really work. They do have a pocket for chem hand warmers but haven't needed that yet. You can expose thumbs as well as fingers. & they are cheap.

    All for now,
     
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  2. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Helpful post - thanks!
     
  3. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    Sounds like you had a blast. Can't wait to see the images, and the time lapses! I would be interested in a detailed breakout of what camera gear you took, and what you decided to leave at home.

    Good tip on the gloves. I bought a pair of scentlock glommits last year that are similar, but they are unraveling, and the sizing was a little too small for my big hands. I'll try a pair of those instead. I like that they have pockets for warmers. I already carry those in my pack, along with rubber bands, to ward off fog on lenses during night time time lapse shooting.
     
  4. polarpix

    polarpix Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks tradesmith you've brought back some great memories for me of our trips on the Dempster Highway. The Tombstones are beautiful and accessible.
     
  5. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
  6. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Thanks much Bill. Met some amazing people doing various adventures around the Dempster. Definitely want to go back.

    Have you packed into the Tombstones? The Park folks are considering a new route to Divide Lk starting at the Grizzly trail head but going over Axman Pass to avoid Grizzly Lk. As you know the rock gardens up high can be huge & time consuming to cross. I'm wondering what Axman is like.

     
  7. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I picked them up after I acquired Reynaud's Syndrome in my hands from chemotherapy. I searched quite extensively for something that would allow me to shoot in cold weather, and these seemed like a good choice. I like that they can hold disposable hand warmers near the wrists, and that you could also shove additional warmers between the mitt and glove. They also allow you to slip a liner underneath for additional protection. I am not sure if the link that I posted is for an updated model, but they are worth consideration.

    --Ken
     
  9. Imjinman

    Imjinman Mu-43 Regular

    54
    Sep 22, 2011
    Sydney
    Worthwhile looking at is www.goalzero.com. specialise in backpacking solar powered gear. Maybe more flexible than packing 1 battery per day. Eg they have a small solar panel for mounting on a back pack.
     
  10. polarpix

    polarpix Mu-43 Regular

    Hi tradesmith. We didn't venture too far from the Dempster, only dayhikes, as grizzly bear activity ramps up in the fall as they gorge before hibernation. These pics were taken about early September and show the Tombstones as snow capped and the amazing colour change to rust/red/orange of the bearberries which blanket the mountain sides.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Thanks Imjinman,

    I've looked at those but unless you know something I don't, the 12 volt GoalZero models are needed to charge the 8+ volt camera batteries. So their smallest Nomad 7 & battery charger will weigh almost 600g. That's the same weight as a dozen batteries.

    An even bigger issue would be the time required to manage recharging your batteries during the day. That's time taken away from photography. Now that I often photography at night during backpack trips, I really don't want another thing to have to do with my limited time.

    For a long stay - more than 10 days - in the backcountry, solar might make sense however. But that would depend on day time temps. Not supposed to charge lithiums below freezing.

     
  12. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Nice shots polarpix, thanks. Sadly, fall colors came early this year so the tomato red tundra was gone when we were there. Typically 1st week of Sept. is the best time for the colors but not this year.

    Didn't see a grizzly only a black. Did see 1 grizzly scat near one of the routes we hiked.

     
  13. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Agreed. Extra batteries is the best way unless you'll be gone a week or more. Plus with batteries you keep one or two warm in your pocket.

    And FWIW I am not impressed with the quality of GZ products nor the price. Better and cheaper alternatives IMO

    waiting_80_anim_. ...waiting on the photos...
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  14. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Glad to hear your succeeding knocking down an aging problem - that's inspiring. We'll all get there sooner or later.

    These are maybe the gold standard for very cold weather photography though real spendy. I haven't tried them & am reluctant to get something w/ the complication of a battery heating system. Though you can use'm w/ chem warmers too, you're still paying for the electric heaters. But if its really cold, it may be the best choice: https://www.photolife.com/2014/10/cool-gadget-heat-3-smart-gloves/

     
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  15. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Plus just packing something big & flat along w/ bear canisters, pods & camera gear + the usual gear & maintaining a balanced load is no small challenge.

    Spent hours crossing big rock gardens in the exceptionally rocky Tombstones. I found that my usual approach to hiking w/ camera gear did not work. I usually carry camera stuff in a fanny pack strapped in front. However this inhibits leg lifting some. Found I was stumbling frequently in the big rocks - definitely not a good thing. Putting the fanny pack into the top of the pack or strapping it to the outside unbalanced things. Eventually pulled other stuff out, put the camera gear in middle of the pack worked best but lost accessibility. Will have to work out a better approach for next time.

     
  16. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I know there are some motorcycle gloves that are electrically powered, but I passed on researching them. These look interesting, and it would be great if there was a place that carried them where I could actually try them on. Reynauds can often numb my hands in mild weather, and once they are numb, the only way that I have effectively regained circulation in them is lots of warm running water.

    The first year that I bought a number of gloves, I found that some were too insulated and ended up isolating my fingers from each other and not allowing them to regain circulation. So, while I have the Simms, I also have two USB-chargeable hand warmers that I keep with me in the winter. And, I have found that very thin wool liner gloves are effective at letting my fingers get adequate circulation. I am not sure if I could survive extensive periods of time in the frigid cold, but at least I have a fighting chance if I am out and about for an afternoon and want to photograph during the winter months. Ironically, last winter was among the warmest on record, and required little to no extra efforts to keep my hands functioning. We'll see how this winter shapes up.

    --Ken
     
  17. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Yeah, at first I thought that might help balance the load...but you gotta be able to see your feet! And just for the record, 13.5lbs is just nuts! To each their own.
     
  18. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    You're right, I'm nuts! & I wouldn't carry all this for a close to home trip w/ no aurora. But this was maybe something I'll never do again & it took lots just to get there. So I carried 2 bodies to have backup.

    I was surprised too to have gotten to 13.5 lbs. 12 batteries alone are 1.3 lbs. So spare cam+ batts almost 2 lbs. Took 4 lenses which included the Kowa 8.5 mm f2.8 (almost all of my aurora shots were with this gem), M.Z 12-40, the little 40-150mm & M.Z 17mm for night stars capes if no aurora. The 1st 2 of those lenses alone are 2.2 lbs. Had the tiny Slik 634CF & Giottos head are 2.75 lbs - not much that's lighter. Took a 15 oz pano head & used it lots. Then had the usual filters, 1 extension tube, releases, SD cards etc.

    But if I live long enough & can get back to the Tombstones, I can see a lb or 2 I can cut - leave the M.Z12-40 & take the 12mm f2 (mine was in the shop for repair) & take fewer batteries. For trips w/o aurora, I'd take the M.Z 9-18mm instead of the Kowa.

    But significant weight savings might better be accomplished by doing the trip differently. This was my initial plan & on reflection what we should have done: I'd cut the backpacking into 2x 4-5 day segments -1 segment on the S. side & the other North. I'd leave the spare camera body in the car at the trailhead. That would also allow using a single bear canister for 2 people. The hiking is really tough because of the extensive rock gardens + you're staying up at night. There's a difficult pass between the 2 sides of the range so trying to do it all in a single trip is extra challenging.

    The relatively compact Tenba fanny bag + little LowaPro padded bag for the spare body alone came to another 1.8 lbs. And that's the biggest opportunity for cutting weight by making my own. The off the shelf bags are over kill w/ padding, big straps & zippers all over them. I've made a couple of my own bags before that worked for film gear but are too small for this amount of gear. Too my knowledge, there are no UL camera bags made like UL backpacks are made today w/ light fabric, small zippers & straps and minimal padding.

    BTW the most worthless thing I brought was a book thinking I might need it to help get to sleep during the day. But who could sleep in the middle of such splendor!


     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  19. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Oregon
    Thanks much Dan!

    I put this part of the story up here because I know so many of us have chosen m43 for its light weight so we can hike & pack with it. I learned a lot about the consequences of that choice & hope others might benefit from the experience. Besides the huge challenges of learning LR & PS, the post work is making me wonder if the ISO performance of m43 is good enough for an aurora focused adventure. When I'm done w/ post & have printed something, I'll know. I am certain the ISO performance of m43 is plenty good enough for aurora for web display.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
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  20. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    My LowePro (AW130 or 170 iirc) is grossly over-padded, bulky, and heavy.
    However my ThinkTank Mirrorless Mover 10 is about perfect, imho.

    Barry