Changing lens on a backpacking trip

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by turtleboy133, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. turtleboy133

    turtleboy133 Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2011
    I recently got back from a backpacking trek to New Zealand with my EM5, Olympus 12-50, Panasonic 20, Samyang 7.5 fisheye and Tokina 300 mirror lens. The EM5 was attached to my backpack shoulder strap using the Peak Designs capture clip (which worked great) and I carried the lenses off of the backpack belt using some cheap padded neoprene bags I bought off of EBay. These might not be the highest-quality lenses, but the weight was perfect for a multi-day trek.

    Although the 12-50mm was my primary lens (the focal length seems to be perfect for the majority of shots you'd want while on the trail and the macro feature was extremely handy for close-ups of plants, etc), there were occasions when I wanted to switch to the fisheye or the mirror lens (e.g. for taking pictures of birds). I found this process quite clumsy and had to get my significant other to help me by holding the lenses as I swapped them. It was enough of a hassle that I preferred to keep the lens-changing to a minimum and missed out on some great shots (including an up-close of the elusive brown kiwi in broad daylight). Does anyone have suggestions or advice for how I could streamline the lens-changing process while on the trail? Is there some sort of accessory or attachment that could be used to hold the lens that's being changed in/out?

    I'm aware that carrying a second camera is an option; however, that's not my preference. When backpacking you sometimes just have to travel light (one reason I have the mirror lens rather than the Olympus 75-300).
  2. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Practice, I guess?

    I've never found it to be a huge hassle, although a camera on a wrist strap is a little more challenging. I also use (and love) the Peak Design capture while hiking.

    My method for a camera body in capture clip, which is nice and sturdy:

    - Unmount lens 1 with hand 1
    - Take lens 2 out of pocket/pouch/bag with hand 2
    - Unscrew lens 2 cap with hand 1 (which is holding lens 1 that was mounted)
    - Mount lens 2 with hand 2
    - Screw cap onto lens 1

    This also works with a camera on a neck strap, though less elegantly. With a wrist strap, I kind of just…make do.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Real Name:
    I like to have an empty slot in whatever I'm using to carry lenses. Remove the lens, drop it in its place, pull out the new lens and mount it.

    If I'm not swapping back soon, I'll put the caps on the recently swapped out lens as soon as possible. That's usually after getting the shot I needed the other lens for.

    • Like Like x 1
  4. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I don't have any of my lens caps on usually when I'm out shooting. I'll put them back on when I'm storing the lenses once I get home or finished with shooting. This way I don't fondle with any unnecessary parts. So as a first step when out and about, if I think I need more than one lens, I spend a minute and remove all the lens caps.

    Learn to trigger the lens mount button with your left thumb, use the side of the knuckle or the knuckle because that's the way it's usually facing the camera. My right hand is usually holding the camera the dominant grip of the camera. This is actually easier if you're left handed but is easily trained for those who are right handed. I do like the bodies that have the lens mount button on the right side, it makes this step easier.

    My bag is usually a shoulder type that is strapped cross from my right shoulder and hanging on my left side. My left hand can easily open the bag and fish for things in it while my right hand is gripping the camera.

    Here's what I do. Once I was able to press on the lens mount button easily with some portion of my left thumb, I basically depress the button and unmount the lens in one step. Put it in my bag and get the lens I want from the bag. Line it up and mount it.

    It's not perfect, but it works for me. I'm usually using a Gordy wrist strap. When I'm traveling I do find that the OEM neck strap is easier. So if it's a long trip, use a neck strap? Using a neck strap has its advantages since you can be hands free quickly in situations that requires you to be.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Real Name:
    Not done it myself (yet) but I saw someone who had spare rear lens caps velcro'ed back to back on his spare lenses.

    He was really quick with this I.e
    Fit front lens cap
    Remove lens from camera
    Fit to spare cap on lens in bag
    Remove twin lens pack from bag and rotate 180 degrees and return to bag
    Remove top lens from twin pack and fit to camera.
    Remove front lens cap

    Camera was always held in left hand less than 10 secs including opening the bag!!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Double back caps. Search here for instructions on how to make and use them. I have posted several times on the subject.

    Edit: Don't use Velcro!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  7. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    All excellent advice so far. The doubled up rear caps work great. Optech and maybe some other companies make them but I have glued mine. I use a glue called "-goo" It comes with different prefixes such as shoe or craft or leather but it is all the same stuff just in different packages. It has a strong smell at first but works very well.

    As far as carrying I use a sling type shoulde bag. My preferred brand is Tamrac and I currently use a Velocity 7. I pick which lenses I want to take and fit them into the case with no lens on the camera{well maybe my BCL but it is serving more as a cap at that point}. Then before I start my hike I mount my most common lens{in your case the 12-50mm} and then leave the others in their slots in the bag with the slot that the common lens had left open{best if it is the center slot}. Then you switch lenses as others have suggested - it works great. Another advantage I have found is that I can slip the camera with lens attached into the bag{it the empty slot is the center one!}. This comes in handy if it starts to rain or I have to hike up rougher terrain.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    Peak Design shows a lens swap on their site somewhere by placing the camera back into the clip. This holds it firmly enough to swap lenses. Of course this is dependant on having the clip in a position that you can reach with each hand.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. beanedsprout

    beanedsprout Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 13, 2013
    north central Ohio
    wow what a great idea!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Yes. I can't take credit, though. I first saw double back caps OEM from Leica for the original Leicaflex, many moons ago. I have no idea why everyone doesn't use them. Certainly if there was a patent it has long since expired. There is one company making them that doesn't even know what they are for. The company pushes them as a way to store two lenses together in a bag. Dumb.

    To the OP, here is another trick that can save you a few seconds: Set up as many lenses as possible to take the same filter size/lens cap. Then when you swap lenses you just move the cap from one lens to the next. No juggling two caps. My 12, 20,45, and 9-18 are all set up for 52mm filters. This also means I can carry one spare cap when traveling and it will cover four out of the six lenses in my kit.
    • Like Like x 3
  11. aukirk

    aukirk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    I am also a big fan of the Peak Design Capture Pro. I find the use of backpacks difficult, because you can't get to the lenses, (but it sounds like you have a solution for that problem). I tend to use it with the ThinkTank Turn Style 20 sling bag, which you can swing around to your front. It then acts as a bit of a surface/table to work on while changing lenses.

    One of the great things about m43 and the small size of the lenses is how much it has increased my speed of changing lenses. My entire process changed after viewing the youtube video below:

    With the small lenses, you can easily hold two lenses in your right hand (either front-to-front or in the L-shape he describes) and the camera in your left. I usually put the back cap in my mouth, grip the lenses, make the fluid switch of lenses and then put the cap back on the one I removed.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Real Name:
    Mike Aubrey
    Buy lots of extra lens caps (check ebay for five packs). Glue two caps together for every lens. Then when you're putting a cap on the lens you're taking off, you can then immediately take uncap the new lens without putting anything down or picking anything up. Assuming your camera is around your neck or wrist, all you need is two hands: one for each lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    • Like Like x 2
  14. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Real Name:
    Ciaran Reilly
    Usually bring small lenses hiking, pancake primes or legacy, and find it easy enough to one hand swap - hold camera in left, release lens with right and turn slightly. Grab new lens, take off cap with camera hand, flip lens hand over and take off old lens. Turn hand over again and fit new lens. Fit back cap on old and take front cap off new. Job done :) This is harder with zooms though as they obviously turn when twisted from the main body
    • Like Like x 1
  15. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Real Name:
    Ciaran Reilly
    Oh, and a separate camera bag is invaluable. I use Olympus Street Case (small), with some plastic baggies in the bottom in case it starts raining. I usually just pack the camera gear away at that stage and give up on shooting any more
    • Like Like x 1
  16. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Real Name:
    One of the great things about m43 is that the stuff is so light, I can use a small waist bag for lenses even when I have a backpack on, and reach everything I need for most shots without removing the pack. Old lens goes in a pocket or in the waist bag, new lens comes out and goes on the camera. Or I'll wear a Columbia fishing vest when I'm hiking and use the pockets for lenses and filters.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. turtleboy133

    turtleboy133 Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2011
    These are some great suggestions, thanks! Sorry for not responding sooner, I never got a notification that there were posts on this thread. It seems the trick is to just practice my technique and get some extra caps so I can make a back to back cap.
  18. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    This is what I've been doing for years... shoulder bag.

    * I leave both front and rear caps at home
    * Bag always has one slot open with camera in hand w/ lens.
    * I use bags that have flaps and individual compartments for the lenses.

    1) Unmount lens
    2) drop into slot
    3) pickup next lens
    4) mount the next lens.

    Its that simple.
  19. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    I backpack a ton and I love using different system is simple: Know how to align your lenses blindfolded!!

    Once you master that, it's a breeze.

    I basically line up the lens that's about to go on in the perfect position (red dot to red dot) in the air, hit the release button, twist the lens mounted, do a quick switch, lock on the new lens, and pocket the one that just came off. Whenever I'm with people, they always offer to help, hold lenses, etc...quite frankly, at this point, I'm more afraid of a lens being dropped while I hand it over/they hand it back to me, than if I do the whole thing on my own. :)
  20. Harvey Melvin Richards

    Harvey Melvin Richards Photo Posting Junkie

    Feb 15, 2014
    Southwest Utah
    I don't backpack anymore, but I mountain bike with my camera and a pack. Usually my E-M10 is in a Think Tank Digital Holster 10 V2, but I also have a Peak Design Capture Clip Pro on my pack strap. I turn the camera 90° in the capture clip, I have the new lens with the rear cap loosened in the Digital Holster and then I swap the lenses. I keep caps on both ends of everything, because stuff happens.

    [​IMG]Pack by
    Harvey Richards
    , on Flickr​