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05-30-2009, 06:18 PM   #1
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Advice on kit for Himalayas / Everest Base Camp

So I'm planning a trip to Everest Base Camp, and needed some recommendations on what to bring, particularly bag, lenses, and any other accessories. I imagine I want to travel as light as possible, but still avoid "wish I had that lens" moments.

My gear so far:
  • Canon 200DG bag, probably too big for my needs
  • K20D
  • FA 35mm f/2
  • FA 50mm f/1.4
  • Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
  • Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (probably too heavy)
  • Tamron 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 (easy, but optically not great)
  • Decent monopod, maybe 2-3 pounds
  • Crappy aluminum tripod, maybe 3-4 pounds
  • Polarizers (must have)

This is what I'm thinking (willing to purchase):
  • Lowepro Flipside 300
  • K7 (for video, mostly)
  • FA 50mm f/1.4
  • DA* 16-50mm f/2.8
  • DA* 50-135mm f/2.8
  • Carbon fiber tripod

What do you guys think? Is the weather-sealing necessary? The Sigma 70-200mm is probably too heavy, right?

Any advice or tips would be helpful!

05-30-2009, 06:59 PM   #2
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Can`t help you with that, might want to consult pentaxpoke about high altitude stuff..

Cheers. Mike.
05-30-2009, 07:00 PM   #3
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I would go for the DA* weather sealed lenses. Weather in the mountains can be "exciting" at times, even at my altitude (1300 m, 4,000 ft +/-), let alone way up there. I agree with the polarizers, although they will at times be too much for the sky. I would agree with a carbon fibre tripod if you have the money for it. The monopod will be essential. As one runs out of breath, one starts to be less steady. Make sure it's a good one, because you will be leaning on it quite a bit.

Rather than the Sigma, I would go for a TC to fit the DA* 50-135. The AF 1.7X would give you a 230/4.8 equivalent reach. It's a stop and a half less than the Sigma, a bit longer, and a lot lighter. IQ is pretty darned good with the one I have. If you feel comfortable with Manual Focus, the 1.4X-S seems to work well on my DA*, giving me roughly the 70-200 range. You could also get a TC that passes through the AF.

Enjoy the trip! It should be an experience to never forget.
05-30-2009, 08:26 PM   #4
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If your hiking everything in... (dumb question but still)
I would go with the K20D/K7 FA or DA*50/55 F1.4 for your fast lens, then go light and get the new 18-55 and 50-200 sealed lenses. The non sealed lenses are good and you will apperciate the weight loss. I often take my older 16-45 F4 and newer 50-200 (DA) and the 50mm as my "trip-kit" for light weight and fast travel. A 1.4tc wouldnt hurt either.
You dont need 2.8 glass for most of your work, and for the low light stuff bump up the ISO or use the 50mm
If you can get the K7 by than get it, and the grip with the AA batt. tray. AA Batteries can be found almost anywhere and I amsure one of the shops on the hike up to basecamp will have them for when your Li-ion's die.
For a back-up I would recomend a Optio WP (get a lot of extra batteries for it, atleast 4 for the trip so your not worried about charging)
A K200D is another option, though no high ISO, but again it has AA battery support.

I use the DA*'s day in/out for my job, but honestly I love that 50-200mm and the lighter weight again is a major concern. You would be saving probably close to 2lbs
Get a nice Slick-Sprint Pro tripod (veiy light weight and the legs go to almost 90* to the center!) leave the monopod at home (or use your trecking stick/poll and a polerizor wouldnt hurt, but deff UV filters for all the lenses. Not just for protection, but at that altitude you do have little UV blockage

05-30-2009, 08:51 PM   #5
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Yes, I forgot to add the grip. The K-7 grip will take AAs (which I don't think the K20D grip does?) so I would pretty much need it because I won't be near outlets.

This trip won't be for a while, but it's exciting to think about it and plan...

Is there a TC that either takes SDM or is weather-sealed, or even both? I'm not familiar with TCs at all.
05-30-2009, 09:32 PM   #6
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Wow, I'd love to get back to Nepal. My gear at the time was Canon's 17-40/f4L & 70-200/f4L on an Elan 7e loaded with Provia 100F (slide film). I also had a Konica Hexar AF which is an autofocus rangefinder with a 35/2.0 lens and I loaded it with Provia 400F pushed one stop (i.e. ISO 800) and switched to it when indoors (no electricity = dark interiors). I loved the kit.

Attempting to emulate that kit today would result in me taking K20D/K7 with 12-24/4, either 50-135/2.8 or 50-200 (quality vs. weight) and either the DA 35 macro ltd. or DA 40 ltd. Alternatively I might not bring the small prime and instead bring a pocketable digicam such as Panny LX3 or Ricoh GX200 (fills the 24-50 gap, serves as a backup, large DOF even when handheld).

Our group travelled too fast to bother with a tripod. After the first day I gave the tripod to the porters and I only saw it in the evenings at camp. I got good at keeping my wrists in my trekking poles' wrist straps, spreading out the feet of the poles and using those like two legs of a tripod to steady my hands while handholding. The tops of the poles were crossed and I was pulling down(for tension to steady me) on the wrist straps with my hands below the crossing (use your imagination). Worked real well.

Also I was glad to have my camera bag hanging from the chest straps of my backpack. There would have been no time to dig around in a backpack to find gear. I used a Kinesis E530 attached to the backpack straps with Kinesis Y303 straps.

If I were doing a trip with a small group of photographers where the agenda and hiking were focussed on photography I'd obviously do things differently, but if not, consider the group dynamics and plan accordingly.

Happy trails!
05-30-2009, 09:50 PM   #7
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So it seems like opinions weather-sealing is mixed. I guess I'm considering sealing just so I can have extra peace of mind (stuff can still happen when changing lenses of course).

Is 16 mm wide enough on APS-C? Or something wider should be considered?
06-01-2009, 04:30 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by krypticide Quote
So it seems like opinions weather-sealing is mixed. I guess I'm considering sealing just so I can have extra peace of mind (stuff can still happen when changing lenses of course).
The weather sealing can help the camera to have condensation/frost on the outside only. A consideration only.
QuoteQuote:

Is 16 mm wide enough on APS-C? Or something wider should be considered?
16mm has the field of view of 24mm lens on 35mm, and may be too narrow in the mountains. I live in them, and the 12-24 gets used quite a bit.

06-02-2009, 07:03 PM   #9
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Thanks for continuing to chime in. I found a Nikon forum discussing a user of a D3 and something like a 24-85mm lens on the Everest hike. The D3 is sealed but not the lens. Eventually, the focusing gave out on the lens and it wasn't fixable after he returned and sent it to Nikon. The main issue seemed to have been granite dust or something, rather than condensation.

The DA 12-24mm f/4 seems like a great recommendation, though it's a shame there's no weather-sealed wide-angle equivalent. I'll have to keep thinking about this...
06-02-2009, 07:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
Can`t help you with that, might want to consult pentaxpoke about high altitude stuff..

Cheers. Mike.

Is basecamp "high altitude"?

I believe it's sub 20,000ft. Closer to 15 than 20 actually. I definitely wouldn't consider 15k high altitude.

BTW, everest from the trade routes never interested me, nor does base camp, but lucky bastard heading into the Himalaya. Ama Dablam is the mountain I'd most like the climb, just a little 20k ft mountain but IMO, one of the most beautiful on the world.
06-02-2009, 07:57 PM   #11
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keep it light, get something wide (if you are a wide shooter), you could go cheap and get something like the compact, light and sturdy zenitar instead of the (excellent) 12-24, but keep in mind the zenitar is the sort of beast you need to get used to. maybe consider some solar powered solution to recharge the li-ion's, if you will be there long enough, and pack some spares in any case. polarizers are light and small, so you can take them, but i doubt you will have any use for them at such altitude.

i am stubborn and always bring my tripod on my hikes (never hiked with a light pack, wonder how that must feel..), but i don't usually go in the vicinity of 8k m ), never considered a monopod, interesting point.

stepping back a little, i might start by thinking what i want to shoot, before deciding what to bring (only landscape at base camp? how about vilages on the way and people there? etc), you might find that you do want that 50/1.4, or a longer lens for non-intrussive portraits. i tend to use longer lenses for landscape too, so for me leaving the tele at home would be pretty much out of the question anyway.

do not underestimate what 1kg more/less means when oxygen is hard to come by...

good luck, and be sure to show us what you get

nanok, walking away green with envy

edit: you might want to consider a light, all mechanical, k-mount film body, depending on how compatible your chosen lenses will be (meaning, if they have an aperture ring), and a few rolls of film. you never know, it might save the day

Last edited by nanok; 06-02-2009 at 08:05 PM.
06-03-2009, 05:55 AM   #12
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There are always solar battery chargers, even for our l-ion batteries.

Check out Solar Battery Chargers for Pentax

Mike

p.s. add me to the "green with envy over your trip" camp. Have fun and be careful.
06-07-2009, 08:56 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I think I'll try the DA* 16-50mm and DA* 50-135mm to avoid any weather issues and cover both landscapes and people. The DA 12-24mm would be icing on the cake, but I wouldn't normally use it otherwise so perhaps I could make do using the 16-50mm to make panoramas...

Oh, and maybe the 50mm f/1.4 since it's so small and fast. Might make for some cool videos..
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