If you’ve ever gone on an extended hike or backpacking trip, you know that every single ounce of weight counts. An extra strip of beef jerky may not seem like a lot sitting in your pocket at home, but you WILL notice and feel every single gram of it as the sun-scorched miles move beneath your boots. So when you're packing for such a trip, weight and consideration and bare essentials are a constantly compromised necessity, and, obviously, for photographers, food and clean socks come in a distant second to camera gear. Lucky for us photographers, the new breed of mirrorless systems has changed EVERYTHING. Gone are the days of having to trudge 10-15 pounds of DSLR gear and lenses to get solid professional high-quality images. Now you can make top-shelf images AND pack an entire bag of beef jerky. As I prepared to pack for a 5-day, 45-mile backpacking excursion into the Sierras, I was absolutely thrilled at how much lighter my pack already was since last year’s adventures through 3 National Parks, and especially the year before that, when I lugged around that same full Nikon D7000 kit through 22, 104-degree Grand Canyon miles on the way into Havasupai, Arizona. Ouch. Ouch. OUCH! While, unfortunately, this month's Sierra backpacking trip got cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances in the group, I still thought it’d be valuable to share what I had already packed and was prepared to take.
First, here’s the bulk of the Nikon D7000 kit that I had with me both for the Havasupai trip and for the National Park trip. Basically, the kit I’ve been used to traveling with:
Nikon D7000 Body (APSC CMOS Sensor): 1 lb, 8 oz.
Nikkor 18-200 Lens: 1 lb, 4 oz.
Nikkor 35mm Lens: 7 oz.
Tokina 11-16mm Lens: 1.2 lbs
Filters, Filter Holders, Extra batteries, USB charging brick: 1 pound
TOTAL: 10.5 LBS.
Now, for comparison's sakes, here’s what I had packed this time:
Samsung NX30 Body (APSC CMOS Sensor): .8 pound
Samsung NX3000 Body (APSC CMOS Sensor): .5 pound
Samsung 18-200mm lens: 1.27 pounds
Samsung 12-24mm lens: 7.3 oz
Dolica TX570B150SL Travel Tripod: 2.5 pounds
Filters, filter holders, extra batteries, USB charging brick: 10 oz.
TOTAL: 6.1 LBS.
And here they are side by side, with the respective lenses mirroring each other. Look at the size differences alone in the Samsung kit on the bottom row versus the Nikon kit on the top row, especially in the lenses and the bodies:
So as you can see, that is not only literally a savings of almost half the weight, but it also includes AN EXTRA CAMERA BODY. Heck, both camera bodies together weighed less than the single DSLR. Granted, the tripod alone also saved me 2.5 pounds on it's own. So yeah, needless to say, between this revelation, and my recent mirrorless-only trip to the Pacific Northwest, my DSLR traveling days are well behind me. Add the benefit of bright OLED displays and Wifi capabilities on the Samsung NX30 and Samsung NX300, allowing me to use my phone as a trigger or high res monitor as well, and there's really no reason left to go back.
Adapt or die…or, at the very best, adapt or suffer through a bad back…orrrrr better yet…suffer through that bad back by packing an extra 4 pounds of jerky!