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What to bring to Grand Canyon 6-day backpacking trip?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by budeny, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. EM1 + Pany 12-35/f2.8

    16 vote(s)
    53.3%
  2. GM1 + Pany 12-32/f3.5-5.6

    16 vote(s)
    53.3%
  3. Pany 7-14/f4

    10 vote(s)
    33.3%
  4. Sigma 60/f2.8

    4 vote(s)
    13.3%
  5. Pany 35-100/f2.8

    8 vote(s)
    26.7%
  6. Small tabletop tripod

    18 vote(s)
    60.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Hello!

    In the end of September I'm going to Grand Canyon backpacking trip for 6 days.
    Since weight is quite important, I'm having hard time to decide what body to bring and what lenses. All my gear is in my signature, but I added to the poll only items that I'm considering (except 7.5 fish that goes for sure).
    Will appreciate if you were on similar trips and can share your experience and insight!



    More trip information in Backpacker magazine



     
  2. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    350
    Dec 8, 2012
    Stay light and nimble.

    GM1, 7.5, 12-32, 60, small tripod (gorillapod style would be my preference). Done.
     
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  3. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    What about taking your wife or partner to act as a Sherpa ;) that way you can take all your gear, including a tripod.
     
  4. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Too risky, may end up hauling all my gear and Sherpa on top of it!
     
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  5. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    I took a four day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon (main corridor trails) in April of this year. It was a great trip. You'll love it. The GM1 and 12-32 worked just fine for me (until my 12-32 came apart in the middle of the trip). I took the P45-150 and only used it on a few shots--didn't see any wildlife of significance. I wouldn't take it again. I didn't have my O60 but sorely missed it. The flowers were blooming and a macro would have been great. I also took my Slik Compact II tripod. It only weighs a pound and was worth it. I have since gotten the 7.5mm fisheye and would definitely take that. My ideal backpacking list if I could do it again? GM1/12-32/7.5/O60...and maybe a small sharp wide angle prime--something like a O12 or P15. Don't forget a polarizing filter. I would take the tripod again.

    It's a long way down and a long way back up. Obviously what matters is the combined weight of your photography gear and your backpacking gear. I have some ultralight stuff that made it relatively easy--25 lbs fully loaded. Just to state the obvious, less weight = more fun. Just my $0.02 worth. It's a fantastic trip and you'll have a great time.

    20150426-P1950760-X2.jpg
     
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  6. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    @TwoWheels@TwoWheels thank you for sharing your experience!
    Would you take lens wider than 12mm to there, e.g. 7-14mm?
    Also what was usage for the tripod? I have the same one Slik C2, but looking to bring tabletop Manfrotto 209 with extension column.
     
  7. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 Veteran

    430
    Apr 29, 2014
    California
    I have backpacked there. Take as few things as possible. Do you really need f/2.8 during day? A GM1+ 12-32 is more than enough for almost everything, except maybe wildlife shots. For that, you can take the light non-pro 40-150 if you have it. For morning/evening shots, a small tripod would be definitely handy. For milky way or night sky the 7.5 could be used.
     
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  8. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    I'm not sure I would take the 7-14 and the fisheye. To some extent I think it just depends on your shooting style and what you like to use. There were occasions when I thought the fisheye would be nice to have. I can't think of any instances where I wanted something wider than the 12mm. But someone else more used to shooting that wide may have thought it essential.

    The tripod I used for longer water exposures and a few HDRs. I can't say that it resulted in any of my best shots but to some extent that was a function of timing. The way our schedule worked out, I wasn't generally at the best tripod locations in right hours of the day. But I would probably take it again. I've personally never had much luck with finding a rock, log or table at the right place/height to use the table top tripods. But the extension looks interesting and may be enough to make a difference...and it is lighter.

    I puzzled over my kit for weeks. You'll probably never have exactly what you want, but as @Kalifornier@Kalifornier says, the 12-32 will likely cover a very large percentage of your shots. I used it for probably 85-90% of mine. I think what else you take just comes down to what you enjoy shooting most. I took my P45-150 because several people said I should have a telephoto. So I took it and reluctantly left my O60 (my favourite lens) at home. In hindsight, I should have just done what I really wanted to do. Don't let us talk you into anything--take a minimalist kit with two or maybe three (if you can afford the weight) lenses you enjoy using and you'll have the right ones. :)

    P.S. Be sure to give us a trip report and post pictures when you get back. I'm hoping to return in the next year or so and that looks like an interesting area.
     
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  9. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    I like GM1+12-32 light weight and compactness, but EM1 is so much more fun to use.., great IBIS for darker canyon corners and paired with 12-35 it's producing really good IQ. I've took it to 4 days trip over "4 Passes Loop" and never regretted the weight. What I easily could left behind were 7-14 (fisheye would fit better for those couple shots), 40-150 non-pro (it's really good only up to 100-120mm), tripod and set of ND filters (there were plenty of streams, but nothing that would really benefit from long exposure and I personally like water motion freeze better).

    yeah, decisions, decisions.. I think the ultimate judgement will be made after figuring my pack final weight..
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  10. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    It sounds to me like you know what kit you want to take--EM1/12-35/fisheye. Ditching the tripod probably covers the weight difference between the two cameras/zooms. One other big advantage of the EM1 is the viewfinder. Much of your trip will be fully exposed to sun. One source of frustration for me with the GM1 (which I didn't think about earlier) was having to sometimes guess about the composition of my shots as the sunlight overwhelmed the display. I also had to take a pile of batteries for the GM1 (five or six as I recall). I'm guessing you would need fewer batteries for the EM1 but they are probably heavier per battery.

    As an aside, I'm thinking the new EM10ii might be the perfect compromise for a backpacking/adventure camera. It is only 3-4 oz heavier than the GM1 (and a little larger) but in exchange you get a viewfinder, longer battery life (I think), live composite, focus stacking, etc. And I'm guessing it splits the difference between the GM1 and the E-M1 in feeling like a real camera and being fun to use. The only thing it's missing (that matters significantly to me) compared to the EM1 is the C-AF ability.

    This is getting me fired up for an adventure. I need to start planning another trip... :laugh:
     
  11. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    EM10ii is actually almost twice the weight of GM1 and just 100g less than EM1.. I see GM5 as better compromise for its EVF and better control wheel, but still compromise - camera that I take to places I visited before or will easily visit again.
     
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  12. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    678
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Scott
    For my shooting style:

    - E-M1 over GM1 for the EVF, if nothing else.
    - 12-35/2.8 for most of my shots
    - 40-150 variable for the small number of long shots, plus it's longer than the 35-100
    - Manfrotto 709B with ball-head tabletop tripod - weighs very little; will give you selfies and group portraits including you, night sky, and water
     
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  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    Just came yesterday from a two day mountain trip:
    - EVF was a must most of the time
    - while I walk I do not swap lenses, put on filter, set up tripod, etc. Stop, compose and move on. So most of the shots were with one lens (the 12-40 for me). Here you have plenty of light.
    - at the camp I played with the Oly 60, tripod (ultrapod II), etc. I had an ND filter but never used it (I could get a little motion blur in the rivers by stopping down at ISO 100).
    - I made one three shot panorama at 12mm (will stitch with hugin)
    - I had the 40-150 R and never used it. I spotted a fox, very close, but as soon as I thought "get the..." it was already jumping into the forest.

    I came to the conclusion that travels are not the ideal place to try new things: if I never used a lens in the last year I wont be using it in those 6 days.

    How much physically demanding is this route for you? It could be easy or quite hard depending on your training. Do you already have a lot of weight? If you already have 8+ kg of stuff there is not much point in saving 100 grams IMO.

    12-32 vs 12-35: the big one is just 300 grams. If I'm going to get 90% of the shots with this lens maybe it's worth the extra weight (if the IQ difference is relevant for you, forum opinions and reviews do not count).

    The huge advantage of GM-1 + 12-32 could be how you carry the camera. I had it around the neck with one arm inside to avoid it bouncing around. Not bad but not very comfortable for walking as the lens almost blocked some movements with one arm.

    And then: is this trip more about walking and being there or about pictures? How much time and occasions will you actually have? Another recent grain of (personal) wisdom: do not try to do two things at the same time: make a choice and enjoy that.
     
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  14. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    A very good point and something that I have found challenging at times. Some traveling/hiking/cycling companions enjoy a leisurely pace and are patient when I stop to shoot, change lenses, set up a tripod, etc. Others are more focused on the journey and, in the interest of not being irritating, I tend to take quick shots, stop less frequently and avoid lens changes. That will likely have an impact on the amount and type of photo gear that's best for the trip.
     
  15. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    yep. I was able to make up without EVF with EPL3(5) cameras, but as soon as I got my hands on VF4 it was always on the camera.
    The only demanding part is 5k feet up exiting of the canyon. We will have couple days for layover/leisure hikes around at the bottom.
    Peak Design clip is the best thing that I found so far for EM1. Attached to the pack strap on chest level. GM1 usually goes into Lowepro Dashpoint 20 case and attaches to a strap too.

    Looks like I'll take EM1, 7.5(fun/art lens) 12-35(main lens) and 60(just in case).
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  16. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 Veteran

    430
    Apr 29, 2014
    California
    Regardless of what you end up taking, enjoy! I must have been there 10 times now and every time my jaw is still on the floor. One of the unique places on this planet.
     
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  17. Edmunds

    Edmunds Mu-43 Regular

    158
    Oct 16, 2012
    I have been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon 3 times, all three on overnight trips for several days.

    I would say neither a wide angle, nor a zoom are really that useful. There is hardly any wildlife to zoom in to, and the expanses are rather out there, which makes wide angles not very useful, as they make the background look too small. There is also not much need for low light performance, as little light shines in to the bottom of the canyon in morning/evening hours.

    If I had to do it now, I would take either the GM1 + 12-32mm. I have gone hiking with the EM5 + 12-32mm, and while the EM5 is much nicer and more interesting to use, I don't really see any substantial difference in quality of pictures. If weight is super important, I hike with the GM1, otherwise I take the EM5 because I just like it better.
     
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  18. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Jim
    Bring the EM1 and 12-35 f/2.8, not just because they are the best combo, but also because they are both weather sealed. And so is the 60mm. Late summer monsoon rains/T-storms are still a possibility in late September. They happened a week ago and are forecasted for Sunday and early next week at GC Village.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
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  19. RichDesmond

    RichDesmond Mu-43 Veteran

    356
    Nov 18, 2011
    This is the crucial point IMO. I've done a lot of hiking and backpacking, and a lot of photography, and it really pays to choose a focus.

    I've been up and down Bright Angel, and really think a GM5 and the 12-32 would be the perfect combo. (or even just an LX100) Bring a close up adapter for the lens in case you find anything that warrants it. Keep it light, and don't let the photography get in the way of the experience.

    Colin Fletcher was a hiker and writer and had a great quote on picture taking in the canyon. He was in a remote area, one he almost certainly never revisit, and his camera broke. He wrote (and I'm paraphrasing from memory) "At first I was very angry, knowing that I would likely never see these sights again. But as time went on I realized that I had been freed from the tyranny of film, and left to preserve the images in the more perfect emulsion of my memory."
     
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  20. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Backpacking? GM1 or 5, P12-32 and the P15.