Camera Weight

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by paul_garland, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. Recently I have been reading several books by Galen Rowell and also one by his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell.
    One of the things that hits me square in the face is that the Nikon 35mm camera/lens combination that Galen usually carried with him on his wilderness travels weighed much less than my D300, which has the MB-D10 second battery. I find that many times when I am going out hiking in the wilds I leave the D300 at home and bring along the D40 with a prime lens mounted on it. There are many things that the D40 won't do quite as well as the D300, including using a GPS, but the D40 is so much lighter that I really do notice the difference.
    The Op/Tech camera strap I recently added helps greatly on the D300, but with a good lens mounted on it the combination is still really heavy. I have several old Nikon 35mm film SLRs that I could use, but I vastly prefer digital (RAW) primarily because of its immediacy and the vast range of opportunities that you get through good software like Photoshop and Capture NX. It is just too bad that all the really good cameras, which approach the resolution and color depth of 35mm film, are so darn HEAVY!

  2. Usually I carry a D40x+35/2 in a side bag all day with no problems. That should be around 750gr... If I take my Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 then, at the end of day, I can feel it. I wonder how It could be with a D300+17-55 or a D700+24-70, I guess that is not specifically designed for walk around shooters!


    I am just curious, which were those cameras+objectives that Galen Rowell carried? Just to see how material is changing with time.
  3. How about a NIkon 5000D with Tamron 17-50mm f2.8? That would be a very light combo with the D300 sensor in it. When I need to cut weight, I've started using my older D80 plus Nikons 18-55mm VR & 55-200mm VR. The reduction in weight is noticeable while the reduction in image quality is not.
    Kent in SD
  4. Paul: what's a pound or two, against your overall body weight? The key isn't the weight of the camera/lenses, but the rig you're using to carry them. All of that weight being on one shoulder, or on your neck... ouch. D40 or D3.

    In doing some of my dog stuff, I'll be out for ten hours straight, walking miles up and down hills - and I ain't my 25-year-old self anymore. I carry a D300 with grip, a 70-200/2.8, a 10-20 ultrawide, a TC17, a strobe, a 30/1.4 prime, a monopod, batteries, phone, 2-way radio, water, etc.

    It (and more) all goes into a Think Tank Speed Racer, which I sometimes use as a shoulder bag, and sometimes as a hip bag. When the weight is on your hips, you hardly notice it. When I'm in a more complex situation - typically less in the field, and more in a venue - then I hang other Think Tank modular bags on the belt system for fast lens changes and whatnot.

    Wearing it on my hips allows me to just have my usual chip on my shoulder (and that always hurts!).
  5. Agree with Matt. Get a back pack or better carry. A waist belt attached to a shoulder bag is an immense help you will not believe until you try it.
    It also keeps the bag from flopping around so your walk is more natural and thus less tiring.
  6. Well, a waist belt is a must for a backpack bag if you intend to carry a bit of weight, no matter what are you going to put inside (photo equipment or a tent with a sleeping sack and a pot :) ).
  7. Anyway, if you are looking for certain results, photo gear weight is not an issue at all. A bag full of photo gear, digital or not is not heavier than a climber`s bag, with ropes, carabiners, climbing shoes, etc. My heaviest set-up near my limit is 13kg. on a Lowepro backpack including tripod, LF camera, film holders and several lenses. A serious DSLR photographer could be served with a D300 size camera, two or even three lenses and other stuff with a total weight under five kilos. Think that three old film primes weight is closer to one current pro zoom, and only two of them are heavier than a consumer zoom.
    From the point of view of a snapshooter, digital gear is certainly heavy. This is one of the reasons I like to use a D700 + 50mm prime!
  8. Why do you need the MB-D10 in the wilderness?
    Maybe pick up a D90 or a D5000 for extreme hikes. Mr. Rowell used F4's and F100's, but he also liked the N80 and took the lighter body along when he wanted to minimize weight.
    The bigger problem today is the massive size of pro-quality zoom lenses. Compare the weigth of three f/2.8 zooms to a handful of fast primes. VR adds additional weight, too.
    Hopefully, you're not one of those folks who hikes with a laptop.
  9. Hike with a laptop? So you can check your email at the end of the trial? :p I rather hike with a camera than a laptop anytime!

    I guess with still photography you can take 2 or 3 primes and a small body and carry on with some croping. You get to the place and think: "wide, normal or tele?", measure light... blah, blah.
    Zoom are more handy on fast situations where you can't change lens fast.
  10. <p>

    <p>I agree pro zooms are certainly massive, but not much heavier in comparison. I have already checked it: a 24/2.8, 50/1.4 and a 85/1.8 in AF versions are near 890grs. A 24-70 is 900grs. Looks like Rowell liked to have permanently a 24, 35 and 55 on his bag, total weight 770grs. He also liked to have a 80-400VR. <br>
  11. I have the same concern, Paul. In fact, I seldom carry my D2H anymore. Back and neck pain (residue of a car wreck several years ago) have severely impacted my photography this year. At this point, I'm not just counting pounds, I'm counting ounces of additional weight. The last time I used the D2H seriously was in January to cover a local industrial fire. After a few hours of lugging the D2H, midrange zoom, 300/4.5 AI and a fast prime in a Domke F6, I spent the next day in bed alternating between ice and heat on the back and neck, and another two days in a cyclobenzaprine daze.
    I hadn't intended to ever sell the D2H but I'm seriously considering swapping just about everything for a D5000 or D90 and just keeping one or two small, fast lenses.
    The alternative is the Olympus E-420, which is an incredible bargain at the moment. I'm also considering the new Olympus E-P1, tho' I'll want to test drive it first. I'm looking for an equivalent to my old Oly 35 RC rangefinder, and an update to my slowpoke C-3040Z digicam.
    Tough choice but something has to go. I'm not getting much use from the D2H this year anyway. I've already removed the motor drives from my FM2N and F3HP to lighten that load.
  12. Lex, it might be rude to say this on a Nikon site, but I've owned several Olympus 35mm SLRs and also several digtials including two Olympus DSLRs.
    My brother in law is travelling in China right now, and rather than bring along his D80 or D40X he opted for an Olympus point and shoot which fits in his shirt pocket. He has been emailing back the pics each day and they don't look at all bad.
    Sorry about your back and neck Lex!
  13. I used to carry 2-3 Nikons, five lenses, flashes batteries and film. One day Ernst Haas came to a nearby university and gave a talk. At the time he was at the peak of his powers. During the Q&A session, he remarked that when working for LIFE on a particular assignment, he carried 2 Leica Ms and 3 lenses, one mounted on one body, everything else in his small rucksack, wrapped in spare socks, t-shirts and undies. He thought one's pictures improved when their load was lightened. For me, it was a revelation. I began downsizing wherever I could and have been ever since.
    David Alan Harvey shot many NG assignments with 2 Ms a 28/2.8, and a 35/1.4. Galen Rowell owned and used an Olympus XA, too.
  14. bmm


    Reading the above I have a smile on my face because I learned the hard way; spending most of my early months in this hobby thinking I couldn't leave home without every last bit of kit in some crazy bag, and ending up hating walking hours around cities or in the wilderness with many kilos on my back and shoulders. Plus, with all my gear in tow, I had this strange urge to use it all and found myself fiddling around, adjusting things, changing lenses etc rather than seeking nice images.
    Now its all about my D80 with 35/2 or 24/2.8 (not both) mounted and 85/1.4 loose in a small satchel. At the very most, if I'm going into the wild rather than in the city I add my 180/2.8 to this. Even when I pick one of my other lenses, I substitute for one of these 'starters' so that - whether I am going out just for a few hours or for weeks on the other side of the world - I never have more than 2 or 3 chosen lenses with me. It is SO much more fun and SO much more liberating, and I'm now really enjoying my photography.
  15. I found out the hard way that for strenuous hiking in tropical heat, a backpack is better than a shoulder bag. I was in Costa Rica in May, had a guide, and we were climbing about 10 kms. of trails to get some good shots in the Pacific coastal areas. I had D80 and lenses in a shoulder bag, and quite simply, was running out of gas. The guide says trade his backpack for my shoulder bag - the shoulder bag was putting stress on the chest area. We switched - a world of difference in the 35 degree Celsius heat and humidity. Back to cameras - the D80/16-85 combo served as a great trail set up. I also have the Olympus E420 mentioned by Lex above. Slightly lighter than the D80, advantage is that the 14-54 lens is 2.8-3.5, faster than the Nikon. Disadvantage - in overcast and/or poor light, the Olympus returns (for me) slightly muddy images. I took the Nikon to Costa Rica, left the Olympus behind. If I were going to go strenuous hiking/traveling again, I might switch. What I've noticed is that weight is a cumulative effect - for any given moment, differences are insignificant, but over a few hours time, every ounce counts. At one time I dreamed of a D700 for back country travel, after my Costa Rica experience, no more. I used to travel with just FE2 and two primes, may start doing that with the D80.
  16. i just sold my D3's and have gone back to small mechanical film cameras. i use these in a hybrid workflow, scanning the film and putting it into the digital domain, where i have all the advantages of photoshop, although i rarely need to touch the images. Paul, i see that you have a zoom lens on your camera. try taking off the battery grip and getting a prime lens or two. you will not only have a smaller, lighter unit, but better image quality as well.
  17. I find my F100 much lighter than even my D300. I have a friend with a D300 who is seriously considering going to a Leica rangefinder. Small and compact. I'm planning to shoot some slide film this summer, and go without digital for a while. I may even sell off my Nikon digital SLR, who knows.
  18. Leica rangefinders aren't significantly lighter than SLR cameras - an M6 weighs about the same as a FE2; they are smaller though. Lenses are of course smaller too - but I was amazed how heavy a bag with M5/M6 and 35/2, 90/2 and 135/2.8 is. DSLRs are also not necessarily heavier than an SLR - a D300 with MB-D10 weighs about the same as an F4 with the small MB-20 battery grip. Of course, on can save about one pound by substituting a D90 for the D300/MB-D10 combo - a similar saving in weight as when replacing the F4 with a N80. Carrying a D200/MB-D200, and 12-24, 24-85, 70-180 and 50/1.8 all day in a shoulder bag became so uncomfortable that I purchased a backpack on the spot (access isn't that easy but carrying is much more comfortable). For a recent trip, I had to use a shoulder bag again - 2 D200 bodies (without battery grips), 12-24, 24-85, 10.5 and 50/1.8 were OK to carry along all day.
  19. I recently walked 285 miles across northern Italy with two D40x bodies clipped to the front straps of my backpack. One had a 18-70 zoom, and the other a 55-200 zoom. My 4000+ images were fantastic, and I never noticed the weight.
    How you carry the cameras makes as much difference as the actual weight. Experiment, and find out what works for you. Unless I am walking around town, I never carry a camera over my shoulder unless I am using the no-slip Up-Strap. When hiking, I clip the cameras to the front of my pack straps using very small carabiners (you must get good ones). You look like a geek, but they are easy on, easy off, always accessible, and the weight goes with the pack.
    For long walks today, I would take a matched pair of D90s with 16-85 zooms. Until you have had a lens or body fail 1000 miles from home, you will not appreciate the importance of redundancy.
    I have a D700/24-70 combo that I use a great deal. The negative issue is not so much that it is huge and heavy (it is), but rather that it is huge and conspicuous. Nevertheless, the image quality and durability make it worth the effort in most circumstances.
    Keep in mind that two huge, heavy bodies and telephoto lenses weigh less than the excess body fat the average American carries everywhere.
  20. bmm


    James - without wanting to be argumentative there is another point of view for anyone who is not a pro (ie who is doing photography for enjoyment rather than as a paid work activity where they have a duty to take the images to certain specifications).
    That point of view is that redundancy is largely unimportant. We go on travels, and seek out beautiful places and great experiences because we want to live life. Not only because we want to capture those things on some 24x35mm microchip.
    I'd hate to ever be a person who found myself bummed out in an awesome destination just because my camera has failed. I sincerely hope I'd spend a minute checking it out, shrug my shoulders, put my head up, and keep right on enjoying the wonder around me and the fortunate nature of my life. At most, I'd have a little pocket P&S so that I could still have a few 'happy snaps' in my album despite my main rig failing on me.
    I don't know, each to their own and I know my views might be sacriligeous given this is a photography site. But wandering around with 2 cameras carabinered to my front and some big backpack with every bit of glass I can muster on my back is just a bit much for me to contemplate when, at the end of the day, I'm just an average joe enjoying the world and trying to take a few good pictures of it along the way.
    And yes I want a good camera in my hand and a couple of good lenses so that I can enjoy this hobby and improve in it. But going to ridiculous extremes of weight and cost to cover that <1% chance that something might fail on me and I might not get a few days worth of pictures... really?... it just ain't my take on life.
  21. I understand with Bernard, if a camera breaks I don't really care althou I would be dissapointed. But my priority is being there than taking a photo.
    I went to Malaysia and it was so hot for me when my home country was in winter at a max of 24 degrees in summer or at the moment it is 12 degrees. I took a Lowepro Photo Runner - shoulder or a belt bag - belt bag are great. Backpack sweat too much. Heck in that weather with just a shirt without a singlet I still sweat. I took a D70 + Sigma 10-20 and a Nikon 18-200. Next time I may buy a Nikon D40 or D40x and a Sigma 10-20 and a Nikon 18-55 (non VR).

    In that hot weather I decided to go out early for sunrise but in cities it is seldom great cos the buildings turn the lights off at night. Sunset is great thou. I tended to take my tripod only out at night. Other times I walk without it.
    I have a Nikon 18-70 but I prefer the 18-55.
  22. Let's face it, this trend -heavier & bulkier- started long ago. Do you remember the film body F5?
    When I climb, ski or run, my main target is being successful at the route and coming back safe. The photo gear is just for my memories and MUST be easy to use and unobstrusive. What fills these requirements largely varies from one person to anoter, but I've never seen people skiing steep slopes carrying 3 pro zooms...
    Today's digital P&S are much more capable than the old film P&S, but not that easy to use, specially if you have to rely on LCD screen in the snow. And regarding DSLRs, each one has its own preferences, but I've yet to find anything that matches the capabilities in a compact size of a Nikon FE + 20 mm + 50 1.4.
    That said, I mostly use a DSLR in the mountain, unless I go running. And even if I miss having a compact package "in the wide side", I enjoy the new life that my 35-105 has now on DX.
  23. This is actually something I have been thinking about lately as I mostly go cycling and hill walking and take the camera rather than going out just on a photo expedition. At the moment I have a d80, sigma 10-20mm, 17-55mm and sigma 30mm. The only feasible outfit really is the d80 and the 10-20 stuffed in my rucksack, though for cycle touring on road I have taken the 17-55 instead.
    I am giving serious consideration to changing to a Pentax k20d (sorry!) as Pentax have such a nice range of very small and light crop primes. Either that or maybe keep the d80, sell all my lenses and get the Nikon 12-24, 35dx and either a 50 or the 60 micro. The 16-85 vr is an ideal range in many ways but the slowness of the lens puts me off.
  24. Digital cameras are heavier than (most) film cameras - bigger batteries being a big offender. But a F5 isn't exactly lightweight either. So yeah, a lighter kit may sometimes be nicer. At that point, making the choice between a plain D40 or a D300 with grip is a bit a weird one, for me, though. First off, keeping the grip on the D300 - Why? Batterylife without the grip is not exactly bad, 6 fps is quite decent and a D300 without grip still balances quite well with heavy lenses (at least, for me).
    I agree with those who say it's all in the bag. I use a lowepro backpack with a lenscase attached on the side. I measured it this week, and it is a healthy 10,4 kilos for the full kit. After 4 to 5 hours, it gets a bit too much, but less than that and I'm fine. My back isn't exactly in pristine shape, but a good backpack evens out the load reasonably.
    For me the point is, if I go hiking, I want to make nature shots. For me, wandering around and taking photos is one of the same relaxation things I like. So the full backpack comes - I want my D300, and large telelenses on such trips. No compromising that fun.
    I have a second smaller bag, which is more for city trips and such, where the big telelenses are not really necessary, but where I still want good image quality. It gets little use, since I make little trips like this, but I refuse to sell it off.
    For most short trips, it's a simple Ixus 70. On these trips, I just want some snaps. It does the job; it's not as fun and not as good as a DSLR, but it's extremely portable.
    So: 1. Get a good bag, and 2: horses for courses. Do you go to take pictures, or do you go and are photos a nice added bonus? In the first case, no compromise to IQ and photographic fun, in the second case, a P&S. Maybe the Nikon P6000 to replace the D40? It's got the GPS and IQ with decent light is quite allright.
  25. Start a weight training program to increase your strength, a cardio program to increase your stamina and do yoga everyday to work out all the kinks.
  26. weight is also a concern for me (bad back) and that is why I opted for the Nikon D90 instead of the D300-I have to say that I am very happy with the D90. cb
  27. They could make a stripped-down D40 / D90 - without flash and the bulky grip - ending up with something like the Nikon EM / FE, but then everyone is going to complain about "ergonomics" and of course the "night shots"...
  28. A year or two ago I was reading reviews of the latest Nikon DSLR. I don't remember the model, but one professional photographer praised the camera for being so light and small. The very next review was from an amateur shooter who complained about how big and heavy the same camera was. So it's all a matter of perspective. I'm no muscleman but have yet to see a 35mm SLR or DSLR I consider too big or too heavy. I was brought up in the era of a Nikon F2 with motor drive and battery pack and a bag full of primes, so that's my idea of normal and anything less is lightweight. On the other hand, I was friends with a newspaper photographer who had to have back surgery because 30 years of carrying 30 pounds of gear over his shoulder had taken its toll. Wouter's "horses for courses" remark is on the money -- what I would take to a wedding or commercial job where I can load up the back of the SUV and park it 100 feet away is different than what I'd take on a hike in the Grand Canyon.
  29. Paul... In keeping with your thread topic I have always taken a good quality point/shoot on backpacking trips and my SLR on day hikes. However, on our last outing for four days I took a D80 body and a 50mm prime and it was great (although for the tight quarters on trails I recommend a 24mm to 35mm prime).
    Now, for a personal question. Can you please provide a model number or source for the Op/Tech strap shown in your picture? I've looked for a strap with the quick release metal clips and can't find one. Most straps have the web connections that are a pain to remove, or they'll have the plastic quick disconnects and I just don't trust those (plus they leave about 6" of strap on each side of the camera). When I view all the Op/Tech straps, all of them that have the metal clips like yours are "bag" straps. I'm not stuck on semantics and would use one of those but don't want to order one and have the clip too large for the camera loops.
    Anyway, I'd appreciate your (or anyone else's) help... Mike
  30. I shoot the D300, with a MB-D10 Grip, and usually a 17-55mm f2.8 Its a heavy rig, but it is what it is.... I think its as simple as you either want to carry and use it, or not...... I have carried it all day with my 80-200mm f2.8 also. I will pay the price of weight to be able to use it....
  31. Weight = horrrible when you need to carry misc heavy metals ranging from wide angle to a long wildlife lens plus TCs and flash gadgets, batteries, filters, tripod.... That's why I try to get a light weight backpack and won't mind it if the cameras and lenses are made of plastic. ;)
  32. I have been reviewing nikon archives and I think some numbers may be interesting
    F100=785gr (1.73lb. no batteries)
    D300=825gr (1.82lb. no batteries)
    So, F100 and D300 are almost the same weight. With the 12-24 f/4 it seems that you can get similar performance as the old AIS wide angles. This zoom gets some critics in 12 but, stoped down it seems to improve. So compared to the 18-35:
    18-35 = 370gr.
    12-24 f/4= 465gr.
    Then add this zoom telephotos that aren't much heier than 10 years ago and I think you can replicate a quite light weight set up based on the dx format. The point is, number doen' show much heavier equipment on shelf. If you want to travel light nothing stops you to do so with the current cameras and offerings. And for landscape photography usually you want to use a tripod and and a high f/ number so, super fast lenses aren't that important.
    I think it really depends more on what you want to take and the compromises you want to make.
  33. In Rowell's book "Mountain Light" he provides the extensive tech, compositional, and other detail for each picture. Good book, kind of like a mini-workshop. This book includes most of his best known images, and is from his primarily manual focus & Kodachrome days.
    Anyway, when doing the mountain thing, (during that time) he normally used the first Nikkormat bodies, then for years the FM/FM2 bodies. Wide primes, an 85mm or so, and the 75-150mm E series zoom.
  34. Yes Jay "Mountain Light" is my favorite of all his books. In it Galen Rowell gives a lot of good suggestions. Such as when photographing mountains and landscapes depth of field is normally important, so an f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens is generally not required. Also, whenever you can always use a tripod.
    Most of the problems that he encountered back in the bad old days of emulsion and chemicals are the exact same things that digital photographers have to deal with. Quality of light, the much wider tonal range of the human eye than film (and even more so with a CCD or a CMOS), compositon, etc.
  35. Paul,
    I understand your concern. I did not mind the weight when using a D300, MB-D10 and the 18-70, but when I got my new Sigma 50-150, I really started to feel the camera rig. Actually, I have lately started to bring my P&S with me on family travels, which I think makes me less grumpy and better travel companion for my family ;) ;)
  36. I agree Per-Christian. Many times I just slip my P&S in my front pocket, just in case. It takes surprisingly good pictures too.
  37. Yeah, digital is large and heavy. I'm still waiting for a full frame digital the weight of an F80 (550 gr/1.21 lbs body with battery). Or a full frame digital the size and weight of a 35mm compact like Minolta Hi-Matic F (360 gr/0.79 lbs with lens).
    Nikon's lightest full frame body with a battery (D700) is 1075 gr/2.37 lbs.
  38. Paul.
    I also got the OP-Tech camera strap for my D700/24-70 and it helped a lot not using the the Nikon strap, but after getting another set of straps, also OP-Tech, attached to my backpack, so I can put/switch the load to that, my camera becomes almost weightless.
  39. About weight, I love to use my F4, but only for taking pictures in a winter morning or a summer afternoon. When traveilng, "minimum weight" is the key of the game. My actual travel kit is a Zeiss-Ikon rangefinder, a 50mm Sumicron and a 21mm Voigtländer. I reckon the total weight is about 1 kg. When you're at 35 degrees C day after day (I've just arrived from the french Provence) every gram saved is a Godsend.

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