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10-10-2021, 10:42 PM - 7 Likes   #1
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Ideal Day-Hiking 645z Kit

This is my journey with my day-hiking kit. Want to share yours?

My day hiking kit has varied somewhat over the past years. Originally I carried as many lenses as I could muster up for. The main weight of course comes from the range of lenses I wanted to take with on the day-hike.

The main hikes in our area are day hikes between 8 to 20 km. You could stitch them together for longer 50 or even 100km hikes but these are outside of my range. There are a couple of camp sites in the mountains and at secluded beaches frequented by people that want to escape from the city life.

At some point I limited myself to one lens plus a "comfort" lens, for a total two lenses. However the kit still came to 4 to 5 kg, add water and food/snacks, which often totaled to 10kg. For me a substantial load going up and down a series of mountains.

Recently I bought the 645 FA 200mm f/4 lens. The past couple of days we had a tropical storm with strong winds which produced some amazing scenes with waves crashing on rocks. I put the 200m lens through its paces and found it really stood up to the task and is a wonderful lens. Perhaps a tad less sharp than the 80-160mm.

I was surprised to find that adding this simple 200mm lens to my kit enabled me to re-think my whole day-hiking kit. At first I thought to take the 200mm lens plus the 80-160mm or the 45-85mm, but concluded that the 200mm plus the 55mm makes for a perfect combination.

Next was revising the day-bag. I found an old Lowerpro TLZ 2 (Top Load Zoom 2) amongst a bunch of our old bags. It is a small bag but fits the 645z + 200mm and the 50mm in the front pocket. It also first the 80-160mm or 45-85mm in the front pocket, if I really needed those.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/98450-REG/Lowepro_LP01346_PEF_Topload...981&

As a tripod I often migrate towards the small Berlebach that does not need a tripod head. It is light and sturdy and gives enough free movement of the camera for landscapes from a low level. (The tripod comes in two versions with a 1/4inch and 3/8 inch mounting screws. I prefer the 1/4inch version with a simple adapter if I want to add a tripod head).

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1279388-REG/vixen_optics_b50031_berle...981&

Apologies for the long story of how my journey with day-hiking gear developed so far. What is your experience? Want to share?

Picture with 645 FA 200mm f/4 - A compilation of three images combining three wave displays, I think it is called a time-stacking:

-

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10-11-2021, 12:10 AM - 4 Likes   #2
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Wow, very nice. The foreground water is fabulous.

Somehow, I never expected to see the words "ideal", "day-hiking" and "645z" in one sentence together.
10-11-2021, 02:15 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
Wow, very nice. The foreground water is fabulous.

Somehow, I never expected to see the words "ideal", "day-hiking" and "645z" in one sentence together.
Good point.... I have tried with my KP, even though it is quite good, it just cannot compare with the 645z. So I take the hit.

This "cut-down" configuration only weighs +/- 2kg for the camera and two lenses. The small tripod only goes with on the hike if I plan to be at a location in low light conditions and want longer exposures, otherwise everything is hand-held.

The bag is really small and it looks like I am carrying a smallish DSLR.
10-11-2021, 06:44 AM - 1 Like   #4
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My experience is that the "ideal" day hiking kit has more to do with externals than the Z and its lenses itself: time of day, weather, elevation gain, heat, humidity, trail conditions, fitness, distance, whether you have to pack much water, pack used, &etc.

I have hiked for a few miles with a Z, multiple lenses and Leofoto's largest tripod and not broken a sweat. But I was also stopping along the way, setting up, spending time crafting images---so plenty of rest. I've hiked in the mountains with elevation gain at a higher altitude and not really had any problems I wasn't expecting.

The complaints about the gear being heavy have always mystified me. Any backpacker worth their salt knows about weight, how to mitigate it, how to plan the hike/trip, & etc---and about taking your time and planning for that, one of the key lessons from the classic text by Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker. If the weight of a 645Z setup is putting a strain on you in a day hike, maybe you should be evaluating with a doctor what level of intensity your hiking should be?

So, in terms of my kit, it's going to depend on all of those factors plus what I think I'll be shooting. But at minimum I'd have several lenses. If the Leofoto is too much, then I'll use my Feisol travel tripod with an Acratech head---those heads have the best weight to strength ratio IMO, and DPR did a test some years ago that proved it. My pack is a Mindshift 30L ultralight. Great pack. I think it's now discontinued---I bought a spare which resides in my closet for now. But my original is a few years old now and has been a lot of places.


Last edited by texandrews; 10-11-2021 at 06:52 AM.
10-11-2021, 07:33 AM   #5
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Good call on your z hiking kit. I don't hike much with my z and I usually feel I need more lenses than are comfortable to carry. The 55 IMHO never gets enough love and I have to say that the 200 is a light and very useful lens. Recently I've added the 45-85 to my gear and have been very impressed in the niche that it fills. Regardless, your post gets me thinking that I could live with just the 55 and 200 but I'd want something wider and the FA 645 35mm would fill that bill. I'll have to give it a try the next hike. Thanks for the thoughts here.
10-11-2021, 09:37 AM   #6
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Interesting post, Theuns, and a phenomenal photo!
10-11-2021, 11:41 AM   #7
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90, 55, 35, the rest is the k-1 plus 180, 300, 50 or 100 macro, godox flash, diffuser. i can never seem to leave the house without 28lbs of gear. once in a while i'll just have the k-1 and sigma 180, and the z with the 90.

10-11-2021, 11:48 AM   #8
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This is a great question and It is helping me think through my setup.

My experience: I frequently walk on the beach or on sidewalks or roads near the beach with my 645Z in a peak design sling bag (their 1st gen 6L bag), a tripod, and often a K3 or K1 clipped to the strap of the sling bag using the peak design capture clip. This works okay if I only want one lens for the 645z and a compact lens for the other camera. When I want multiple lenses for the 645z I have an old shoulder bag that is great for strolling but lousy for any hike over a couple of miles. I’ve tried various backpacks but have not found one that provides easy enough access to the camera without setting it down, which I don’t do in the sand.

Last week I carried the 645Z with a nice wide neck strap and the camera mounted on a monopod, an old very sturdy one that extends to well over the height I need. With the monopod collapsed it made walking with the camera and shooting much more comfortable, shifting the weight from my neck/shoulder when walking and allowing a comfortable and stable shooting experience. And with the leg extended I could hold the camera as I normally do for manual focusing or zooming but without the holding the full weight of the camera.

Now to find a backpack or sling bag that provides easy access for the camera,, a long lens, another lens, and one of the small sturdy tripods like the Berlebach mentioned above.
10-11-2021, 12:06 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Hello Theuns. Just last week, I set out with the 645Z plus the 645 A 55 mm f/2.8 and 645 FA 150-300 mm f/5.6 zoom. I always carry a tripod for safety. I ended up with these 2 images taken from the western tip of Isle d'Orleans, east of Quebec City.

A 55 mm f/2.8 + CPL

FA 150-300 mm f/5.6

Both were taken from the same exact position, on tripod, so not far from the car. I found the results with the FA zoom so vastly superior (sharpness, contrast and color rendering) to the ones obtained with the A 55 mm that I ordered a DFA 55 mm f/2.8 on eBay the same day. Infinity focus shows very little detail of the City on the older A lens.

When I finally get both a DFA 55 mm and an FA 150-300 mm, I think this will be "THE KIT", you can't do much better than that but you need a solid support.

Another possibility would be a DFA 55 mm f/2.8, an FA 80-160 mm f/4.5 zoom and an FA* 300 mm f/4 but that takes a mule to carry ... lol !


Best Regards

Last edited by RICHARD L.; 10-11-2021 at 12:11 PM.
10-11-2021, 06:05 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Maybe it's just me, but I don't see taking the weight penalty of a heavy camera and bunch of lenses along on a day hike with all the other things one should carry like food, water, first aid kit, extra clothing, etc., unless one knows and has researched beforehand something amazing is there to photograph on the hike, and knows specifically what equipment one will need, or one knows they may never have a chance to return to an amazing area (like in a national park). Most importantly, enjoy the hike. But, as is often said, "Hike your own hike."

I do a lot of day hiking and normally only take an old, light weight Kodak bridge camera. Chances are if I find something interesting that would make a great photograph the weather conditions or time of day will not be the best. To me it's a day hike first with an included photographic scouting trip. A shot with the old Kodak will give all the information I need about what camera and lens would be ideal, and GPS tagging on my phone allows me to calculate the best time to be there. I'll return packing the equipment I need when the conditions are best.

Last edited by DWS1; 10-11-2021 at 06:13 PM.
10-14-2021, 02:03 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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Today I toured Isle d'Orleans with a DFA 55 mm f/2.8 and an FA 200 mm f/4 + 645Z.

You can't bring a lighter kit than this one : DFA 55 mm f/2.8 + FA 200 mm f/4.
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10-14-2021, 02:38 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RICHARD L. Quote
You can't bring a lighter kit than this one : DFA 55 mm f/2.8 + FA 200 mm f/4.
I agree it does make a nice lightweight combo and covers most of the essential focal range.

I went on a hike this morning and only took the 55mm because I needed less weight. The 55 covered most of what I needed, the 200 would have added a little 'soul comfort'.

Will post some pictures tomorrow, I'm too knackered to edit anything now.
10-15-2021, 08:51 AM - 5 Likes   #13
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Let me call my response to this thread A Tale of Two Hikes.

I was in Alaska again in September, and participated in two longish hikes while I was there. The first hike started at sea level and climbed to the top of Sadie Knob, across the Ketchemak Bay from Homer (I was staying on the other side of the knob on Sadie Cove, which really should be called Sadie Fjord). Elevation gain was about 3000 feet. The bottom half of the hike was in very tall brush that was soaking wet, and that made us soaking wet. Everything got sunny and dried off when we got over the tree line (which is only at about 2200 feet above sea level in those latitudes). Distance was a little over nine miles for the whole hike, with lots of required careful foot placement due to rocks and roots hiding under the brush. (At least the bear that had left very fresh prints and scat on the trail didn't bother us).

For that hike, I took the 645z with the 55 attached to it, mostly because I was unsure of the wetness conditions and wanted something water-resistant. That was correct thinking, even though my 28-45 is also weather-resistant--I just didn't want to carry that much weight. (I was hiking with the daughter of our friends and a couple of her friends, who were worried I wouldn't be able to keep up. Ha!) I took that plus a water bottle, a sandwich, and a hiking stick that doubles as a (too light) monopod. I found (again) that the camera hanging on a neck strap becomes a problem, not because of the weight, but because of the swinging. I ended up carrying the camera in my hands, and because of the wetness and tall brush, I had to hold the camera at shoulder height for much of the hike. Switching back and forth between arms managed elbow soreness. No real complaint but it was not optimal. My inadequate lightweight hiking shoes were attacking a couple of toenails and that had my attention far more than the weight of the camera.

Sure, there were times I wished for both a shorter and a longer lens during that hike, but you make the photos that the lens you have in your hands will make.

Later that week, I hiked to Crow Pass from the Girdwood end of the Crow Pass trail--about 7.5 miles round trip and maybe 2500 feet of elevation gain. This trail is part of the historical Iditarod route that is near Anchorage. This time, I wore my camera daypack--a Think-tank Streetwalker--but took out most of the camera stuff and put in water and lunch. I brought the 28-45 (!), the 55, and the 200. For that hike, I hung the camera the way I should have done going to Sadie Knob. My strap has steel clips that connect 8" pig-tails to the neck strap--those pig-tails connect to the strap eyelets on the camera. When wearing that pack, I remove the neck strap and attach those clips to D-rings on the shoulder straps of the pack. With that rig, the camera is high enough not to swing and the weight is not on the back of my neck. I never noticed the weight of what I was carrying (but I am reasonably fit). I never felt like I didn't have the lens I needed during that hike. I was wearing my good mid-weight day-hike boots that day and my feet were thanking me.

During my last trip to Alaska, I hiked from Kennecott to the Root Glacier and back--a fairly flat 5-miles round trip--and carried very light daypack (with lunch) plus a waist pack with my lens choices--35, 45-85, and 200. To my waist-belt, I added the lens case for my 400 and put a water bottle in it. That trip was during an extended weight-loss period (I had lost 50 of the 80 pounds down that I am now), with only moderate fitness. Since then, I'm post-cancer and my fitness, while not where it was during my endurance sports days, is reasonable for an old guy. That probably contributes more to enjoying day hikes with a big camera than anything.

With the 200:


With the 35:


My wife made this photo on her Nikon:


There have been many more hikes, and I think the only repeating pattern is 1.) hanging the camera from the pack's shoulder straps when possible, and 2.) always bring the 200/4, which is too tiny to leave at home.

Rick "still working on the images from the recent trip" Denney

Last edited by rdenney; 10-15-2021 at 08:58 AM.
10-15-2021, 12:48 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
Wow, very nice. The foreground water is fabulous.

Somehow, I never expected to see the words "ideal", "day-hiking" and "645z" in one sentence together.
I find I take the lens for the job.

I am in the Ordesa Y Monte Perdido national park - and two walks I've done I've rightsized the bag for the kit.

45-85 for the Valle de Ordesa
28-45 for the Estos valley.

It's a bit sore on the shoulders taking a 645 with a 28-45 attached on a 800m ascent but the IQ is worth it. The 45-85 seems lighter but for some shots you need wide angle.

I'm really enjoying the 80-160 - a lot my shots aren't far from the car and the bulk are under 3hrs hike/walk from the car - but it's not a system designed for portability. Most who buy this camera know this, or like me find out the hard way.

I've got the 200 F4 but not that sold on it - the other 3 lenses I have seem a bit better.

I tend to know the shots I take in advance and take just the lens for the job. I carry it in a LowePro Flipside 500 - as the body is so big and deep there aren't a huge number of bags that are comfortable for a 645z

Last edited by SFTphotography; 10-15-2021 at 12:53 PM.
10-18-2021, 05:44 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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My hiking kit consists of the 645z, 25mm f4, 35mm 3.5, 55 2.8, and the 200 f4. I always carry a tripod on my hikes. I carry my equipment in a Think Tank Streetwalker backpack. This coming December we are heading back to Utah for more hiking...
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