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08-03-2007, 12:24 PM   #1
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Going camping. Should I bring my AF-360fgz? Macro lens? What should I bring?

EDIT: Got back on Sunday! I lightened my load a bit by leaving behind my film camera and I accidentally left my 50-200mm sitting on my desk... You guys were right though. I brought way too much stuff! I ended up using my FA 50mm for most of the trip!

Camping in Crater Lake National Park

Camping near Mount Shasta


This is the first time that I'll have an SLR camera on a camping trip, so I'm trying to figure out what to pack. I find myself mostly taking landscapes and candids of my family and friends.

I just got a new AF-360fgz Flash, so I'm dying to use it, but I don't really see any reason to bring it camping. Would it help with take pictures around the campfire? I'm afraid of breaking it.

What about a macro lens? I have an F 50mm f/2.8. I don't use it too often though because it doesn't give me much working distance. I can't imagine myself setting up a tripod just to take a picture of some flowers or bugs.


So far, I have this packed up:
Digital
K100D
DA 18-55mm (my widest non-fisheye lens for digital)
DA 50-200mm

Film
Pentax ZX-5n
Promaster 19-35mm (hoping to use this for ultra wide angle)

Shared
FA 50mm f/1.4
A 1.4x-S teleconverter
Zenitar 16mm
Vivitar TX 400mm (just bought this one locally today for a song)

It might seem like a lot, but most of the lenses are small and pack up really easily (DA lenses, FA 50, 1.4x, Zenitar) into a small camera bag that I have. The larger stuff can go into my day pack backpack along with water bottles.


Last edited by igowerf; 08-17-2007 at 10:05 AM.
08-03-2007, 01:08 PM   #2
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In my experience, family camping trips don't have a lot of time for dedicated photography. I'd stick with your basic equipment - 18-55, 50-200, and maybe 50mm. I've often packed far more then I need for trips like that.

In fact, my most recent trip to British Columbia resulted in no photography at all. I didn't even remove my bag from the car. I was more interested in participating than documenting.
08-03-2007, 01:16 PM   #3
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Are you going backpacking or car camping? Obviously, if you are carrying everything for miles, I'd pare down the list of stuff. Otherwise you can load it all up and leave it in the car when you don't need it, or want to dayhike with it.

The flash can be useful in wooded areas, or basically anywhere to open up things in shadow (faces, flowers, etc.) I don't know that I'd use it around the campfire (fires usually give off light, so why negate that?). I'd consider taking the macro, because you don't have to use it to take macro photos 100% of the time. f/2.8 gives you a little more working time at dusk (and around the campfire.)
08-03-2007, 02:12 PM   #4
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Take one camera you can work by touch alone.

Take one lens whose characteristics you understand best.

Take the flash with an agreement to yourself that it works best in _________(fill-in-blank)______ mode. The mode you best understand.

Take a small 12-36 inch reflector-one that 'springs' open and possibly has multiple surfaces.

Take extra batteries and memory cards.

Leave all that other stuff at home.

Take excessive amounts of H2O, sunscreen/block and bug repellent.


QuoteOriginally posted by igowerf Quote
This is the first time that I'll have an SLR camera on a camping trip, so I'm trying to figure out what to pack. I find myself mostly taking landscapes and candids of my family and friends.

I just got a new AF-360fgz Flash, so I'm dying to use it, but I don't really see any reason to bring it camping. Would it help with take pictures around the campfire? I'm afraid of breaking it.

What about a macro lens? I have an F 50mm f/2.8. I don't use it too often though because it doesn't give me much working distance. I can't imagine myself setting up a tripod just to take a picture of some flowers or bugs.


So far, I have this packed up:
Digital
K100D
DA 18-55mm (my widest non-fisheye lens for digital)
DA 50-200mm

Film
Pentax ZX-5n
Promaster 19-35mm (hoping to use this for ultra wide angle)

Shared
FA 50mm f/1.4
A 1.4x-S teleconverter
Zenitar 16mm
Vivitar TX 400mm (just bought this one locally today for a song)

It might seem like a lot, but most of the lenses are small and pack up really easily (DA lenses, FA 50, 1.4x, Zenitar) into a small camera bag that I have. The larger stuff can go into my day pack backpack along with water bottles.


08-03-2007, 02:17 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by igowerf Quote
I just got a new AF-360fgz Flash, so I'm dying to use it, but I don't really see any reason to bring it camping. Would it help with take pictures around the campfire? I'm afraid of breaking it.
If you popped a big ol' flash at me while I was sitting around in the dark, with pupils dilated, I would not be a happy camper. So to speak.
08-03-2007, 09:02 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by igowerf Quote
This is the first time that I'll have an SLR camera on a camping trip, so I'm trying to figure out what to pack. I find myself mostly taking landscapes and candids of my family and friends.

I just got a new AF-360fgz Flash, so I'm dying to use it, but I don't really see any reason to bring it camping. Would it help with take pictures around the campfire? I'm afraid of breaking it.
I can't tell you what to take. That of course depends on what kinds of photos you want to take, and how much equipment you can stand to take with you, etc. My default advice for myself is to leave home as much as I can.

When I went to Colorado back in June, I flew from Dallas to Denver, rented a car in Denver, drove to Estes Park, and we stayed in a cabin in Estes Park. No camping. I knew that I'd be able to carry my LowePro slingshot bag on the plane, and that after we landed, there would be no problem having as much equipment with me as I wanted. So the big questions were, How much do I want to take on the plane? What do I really think I'm going to be shooting in Colorado? and, How risky did I think it was to take that much stuff? I ended up taking a number of lenses, including: Tamron 18-200; Tamron 70-300; Tamron 28-75. I think I also took the Pentax 16-45 but for some reason I didn't use it much. I left the Pentax 50mm f/1.4 at home, as I just couldn't see that I would use it. I did a fair bit of hiking in the mountains and when I hiked, I took only one or two lenses in my pack and left the rest in the cabin. Generally I took the 28-75 and the 70-300, or sometimes just one or the other.

I might note also that the majority of my vacation photos are of landscapes and wildlife, not of my family -- a fact that occasionally annoys my wife. I do spend the time to try to take good photos when I can, which means that I sometimes go off on my own, or that I prevail upon my wife's patience. (She's pretty used to it now.) But that's just me. My brother in law takes wonderful landscape shots, but in order to do his work at his own pace, he travels by himself. His wife doesn't want to hang around for an hour while he sets up his shot and waits for the sun to come up.

In November, I'll be hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camping for two nights. I expect that for that trip, I will take only two lenses: Sigma 10-20 and the newer Tamron 18-250 (taking the place of the old 18-200 AND the 70-300), plus my 1.4x teleconverter. Just don't want to have to lug any more stuff than I really need. I could probably get by with just the Tamron 18-250, but gosh, for the Grand Canyon, having that 10-20 will be worth it, so I'll suffer a little for art's sake. I will also take 3 fully charged batteries, about 10 GB worth of SD cards. I doubt that I'll carry my Epson P2000. Its battery doesn't work terribly well and I would rather avoid carrying that weight. SD cards are light.

I didn't take my flash to Colorado and won't bother taking it to Grand Canyon, either. I might be useful for close-up photography, say, around a campfire, or for fill flash or whatever. But it's just not going to be useful enough to justify its weight. If I need a flash, I'll make do with the built-in flash.

Will
08-04-2007, 02:20 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by igowerf Quote
What about a macro lens? I have an F 50mm f/2.8. I don't use it too often though because it doesn't give me much working distance. I can't imagine myself setting up a tripod just to take a picture of some flowers or bugs.
Generally you don't need a tripod for flowers and they're not exactly easily scared too so you don't need much working distance either. If you love macro photography and have a habit keeping your eyes open for small things (literally) then you may discover many nice subjects you'll never encounter in your back yard or city park.
08-04-2007, 04:20 AM   #8
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If you do take the flash, use it in curtain sync mode. That way, you'll get some of the ambient light for the scene and the flash will freeze the people around the campfire.

08-12-2007, 07:25 AM   #9
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Don't forget to practice on your remote / timer shots so you will be in the pictures with the family ;-) So yes , a tripod is needed !

Have fun !
08-12-2007, 04:18 PM   #10
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I agree, bring a tripod. You need 1 for pictures of the fire.

Bring both your kit lens and the Vivitar TX 400mm. You'll curse yourself if you leave the big boy at home since you'll see a beautiful deer or bird just out of range if you do.

No flash for fire shots, but for the best results you'll have to use manual settings and play around with the exposure a little. Sorry I can't get you a starting point, since every fire is different depending upon size, and lighting.

Small dim fires are a little tough, where a bright fire is easy.

Just relax and enjoy yourself while your there.
08-13-2007, 10:28 AM   #11
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Wow...waaaaay too much gear, imho. I went backpacking for a three day trip last fall and took my minolta 7D and a 100-200/4.5 and an extra CF card and battery...that was it. I captured some of my best shots (ever!) on that trip. It was great because ALL of my camera gear was hanging around my neck at the ready the whole time, I never thought twice about shooting or setting up.

I'm wondering about getting a super-zoom in the future though...not sure a DSLR is the best for backpacking...
08-17-2007, 07:48 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the advice guys! You're right d.bradley. I brought WAY too much stuff. I ended up using my FA 50mm for most of the shots.

I didn't bring my film camera and I ended up forgetting my 50-200mm... However, I found that for most of the trip, I stuck with my FA 50mm only using my Zenitar and kit lens whenever I needed wide angle.

Camping in Crater Lake National Park

Camping near Mount Shasta
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