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SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Camera equipment and technique for taking photos.
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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby hatidua » Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:49 pm

Either a Gitzo or Manfrotto/Bogen CF tripod will be fairly light for what they are. Manfrotto's have a slightly more user-friendly leg adjustment, Gitzo CF legs should be kept out of the water unless you seriously enjoy disassembly on a regular basis (sadly, I've been there and done that - it's not fun).

However.....a popular tripod among those that shoot photos for a living in the boonies and want to really shave ounces is the Slik CF613. It has a nifty feature in which you can push a button and 95% of the center-post is removed (center-posts are evil, should never be used, and sadly were initially invented - got a blurry photo? did you raise the center-post for a bit of extra height? -yep, you got blur!). The CF613 is very light and thus requires fairly competent technique to get the best out of it (self-timer or cable release, no high wind, weight hung from tripod helps, etc.) but if lightweight is what you are after, there are a fair number of pro's with CF613's in their gear closets. (I just did a search and have learned that the 613 has been discontinued - grab one if you can find it, but that is apparently not on the roster of most venders anymore)

If weight is a factor, skip the "quick-release" feature that many ball heads offer as an option. The lightest Bogen QR plate is 40g all by itself, and quick on/off of the camera in the mountains is rarely needed if a bit of preplanning went into your shot.

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby climbing_rob » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:43 pm

tcumatt wrote:does anyone have suggestions on a good lightweight tripod? I have a Canon xSi, and I love getting great shots but not a fan of a bunch of heavy equipment. :)
I also have an xSi. For my "tripod", I use ISO 400-1600 or so, brace the camera lens up against a tree, rock wall, top of a trekking pole, whatever it takes and let the image stabilization do its thing. Here's a good article. Glad I read it. I used to carry a silly tripod.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/digital-killed-my-tripod.htm

Taken to the extreme: I took pictures of the recent lunar eclipse, 300mm lens (equiv to about 500mm on film format), 1/25th of a second at ISO 1600 and sometimes 3200. Mostly crisp, sharp shots HAND-HELD, laying on my back, looking up.

You don't need a tripod. Stay fast and light and mobile, and still take great pictures; use your new technology.

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby pw » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:02 pm

DKELLY wrote:I'm in the market for a fairly simple SLR Camera that is good for shooting on 14er trips. I'm sure there's a thread on this already but I couldn't find one. What kind of equipment would you suggest? I appreciate your input!


I use a Canon XSi, I like it, it's light, image quality seems good, not too expensive, the 18-55 mm kit lens is pretty good, I lugged it up quite a few mountains last summer without too much strain. Canon has introduced two further models, a T1i (introduced right after I bought mine naturally) and a T2i, they are similar to mine but add video and a few megapixels. My sister has a Nikon D5000, I fooled around with it a bit, feels solid, a little heavier than my Canon, about on a par with an XSi feature-wise. I think these all run from $600-800. You can see some of what came out of my camera at the flickr link below (ignore the top 3, that was a Canon P&S).

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby pw » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:10 pm

climbing_rob wrote:I also have an xSi. For my "tripod", I use ISO 400-1600 or so, brace the camera lens up against a tree, rock wall, top of a trekking pole, whatever it takes and let the image stabilization do its thing. Here's a good article. Glad I read it. I used to carry a silly tripod.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/digital-killed-my-tripod.htm

Taken to the extreme: I took pictures of the recent lunar eclipse, 300mm lens (equiv to about 500mm on film format), 1/25th of a second at ISO 1600 and sometimes 3200. Mostly crisp, sharp shots HAND-HELD, laying on my back, looking up.

You don't need a tripod. Stay fast and light and mobile, and still take great pictures; use your new technology.


How do you get an ISO of 3200? My XSi, stops at 1600. Plus I start to see a little noise around 800. Interesting article, I don't feel I need a tripod for my smaller lens, but my longer lens definitely produces some blurry stuff at times without a tripod, even with IS.

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby asbochav » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:27 pm

Hmmm. Rockwell's photos in the article were shot at 12, 24, 16 and 12 mm focal lengths. ISO was 1600, 1400, 1600 and 200. It's relatively easy to shoot hand held with a wide angle lens - and all these focal lengths would be considered wide angle. But at longer focal lengths good luck to you. And not many cameras can give decent results at the ISOs he's using.

Anyone else notice those photoshopped moons in the 2nd and 3rd images?
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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby livetothemax96 » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:43 pm

Hi there, I currently use the older model of the Canon EOS Rebel XSi. It is an amazing camera...simple enough that you can produce great photos easily, yet it comes with enough functions that you can produce stunning images besides. It has a range of ISO 100 to 1600, good exposure settings (bulb function+ 30 seconds to 1/4000 of a second). I use it rock and ice climbing as well as mountaineering. I also use it for astrophotography, sports photography etc (not sure if you are interested in that at all). It has also proved to be very durable (to a four foot drop onto solid ground without any damage) and pretty compact for it's type. It works very well for every aspect and type of photography, Canon also offers good customer service and has a wide variety of other products for this camera. Plus the new model shoots High def video as well.
hope this helped

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby climbing_rob » Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:02 am

pw wrote:How do you get an ISO of 3200? My XSi, stops at 1600. Plus I start to see a little noise around 800. Interesting article, I don't feel I need a tripod for my smaller lens, but my longer lens definitely produces some blurry stuff at times without a tripod, even with IS.

woops, I feel like an idiot; mine is a T1i; I almost bought the xSi, then the t1i came out.

In any case, my shots are nearly noise-free at ISO800, acceptable at ISO1600 with a tad of PS noise reduction. I did some testing out in the mountains, hand-held vs mounted, normal light conditions, blah-blah-blah, bottom line, no more silly tripod. Also, BTW, that little 18-55mm el-cheapo lens was just as sharp as the stupid-heavy 17-40 Canon L lens.

One mistake older folks (like me) make is to use too little of an aperture with these reduced size sensors (1.6X crop factor on these canons). My testing backs up what Rockwell says; f8 or maybe f11 is the smallest you should go, then difraction kicks in. I shoot at f6.3 to f8 95% of the time; that seems to be the sharpest range. And at f6.3, ISO1600, you can shoot in some pretty dim conditions even with a 300mm lens hand-held. I can easily get down to 1/60th second with that IS lens, sharp as a tack, usually down to 1/30th.

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby pw » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:04 am

climbing_rob wrote:
In any case, my shots are nearly noise-free at ISO800, acceptable at ISO1600 with a tad of PS noise reduction. I did some testing out in the mountains, hand-held vs mounted, normal light conditions, blah-blah-blah, bottom line, no more silly tripod. Also, BTW, that little 18-55mm el-cheapo lens was just as sharp as the stupid-heavy 17-40 Canon L lens.

One mistake older folks (like me) make is to use too little of an aperture with these reduced size sensors (1.6X crop factor on these canons). My testing backs up what Rockwell says; f8 or maybe f11 is the smallest you should go, then difraction kicks in. I shoot at f6.3 to f8 95% of the time; that seems to be the sharpest range. And at f6.3, ISO1600, you can shoot in some pretty dim conditions even with a 300mm lens hand-held. I can easily get down to 1/60th second with that IS lens, sharp as a tack, usually down to 1/30th.


Funny about the lens, I've been thinking of upgrading from the 18-55, but I will probably rent the prospective new lens first to make sure it is better. I do get pretty decent shots with the kit lens.

Some guy with an expensive Nikon ($6,000 maybe?) on top of Independence Pass last summer saw my camera and told me to keep the aperture on the wider side too, figured he knew what he was talking about, so I've been shooting more with aperture priority so I can keep it at around f8-f11.

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby Jon Frohlich » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:18 am

pw wrote:Funny about the lens, I've been thinking of upgrading from the 18-55, but I will probably rent the prospective new lens first to make sure it is better. I do get pretty decent shots with the kit lens.

Some guy with an expensive Nikon ($6,000 maybe?) on top of Independence Pass last summer saw my camera and told me to keep the aperture on the wider side too, figured he knew what he was talking about, so I've been shooting more with aperture priority so I can keep it at around f8-f11.


I have the 17-55 F2.8. I bought it a few years ago as an upgrade from the 18-55. I think the new 18-55 IS is somewhat better than the older version I got with my Rebel XT. My 18-55 is definitely not sharp. I think with these lower end lenses there can be a fair amount of variation in sharpness as well.

The 17-55 is a very expensive (and heavy) lens but the quality is fantastic. You could look into some of the Sigma and Tokina options as replacements that would be cheaper. Not sure if any of those have IS or not.

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:17 am

jason.wichman wrote:
globreal wrote:
hatidua wrote:How much $ do you want to spend?


Dunno. Haven't researched it yet. Probably less than $400.


i'd recommend buying a higher end P&S then on a small budget. When you consider SLR's, you need to consider lens purchases too. On 400, you'd be very hard pressed to get into an entry level SLR.


I went thru this last fall. If considering a P&S, then this is a good thread:

http://www.14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=27038&start=24

As you can see, I went with the Sony HX5V/B, which has built in GPS (sweep mode is sweet!), but there were some other super recommendations from others as well.
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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby Jeff in Oregon » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:32 pm

At your price point, consider an Olympus PEN series, like this one -

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/674721-REG/Olympus_262856_PEN_E_PL1_Digital_Camera.html

Image quality holds up well up to 13x19 prints, which is about all most people need.
This is a much better solution than a typical P&S from an image quality standpoint, and it's more compact, lighter, and cheaper than a DSLR.
This type of lens also takes external filters, unlike most P&S's, which allows use of a polaraizer for instance.
The 4/3 sytems lenses are interchangable, like a DSLR, and you can add a 28-300 equivalent lens that weights less than 10oz's.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/674725-REG/Olympus_261504_M_Zuiko_Digital_ED_14_150mm.html

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Re: SLR Camera....Suggestions?

Postby kimo » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:47 pm

DKELLY wrote:I'm in the market for a fairly simple SLR Camera that is good for shooting on 14er trips. I'm sure there's a thread on this already but I couldn't find one. What kind of equipment would you suggest? I appreciate your input!


I'd carry this rig with a smile. Add a couple lenses like the 200mm VR tele and the AF-S 35mm 1.8 prime and you have a solid but lightweight kit for ~1K$ that serves as a great introduction to the art of photography.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/730210-REG/Nikon_25472_D3100_Digital_SLR_Camera.html

tcumatt wrote:does anyone have suggestions on a good lightweight tripod? I have a Canon xSi, and I love getting great shots but not a fan of a bunch of heavy equipment. :)


A few weeks ago I bought this $55 ballhead tripod from B&H. It's distributed by Tiffen.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/667187-REG/Davis_Sanford_VOYAGERLTB_Voyager_Lite_with_BHQ8.html

It weighs 3 lb, collapses nicely, and comes with a well-built carrying case which I'll probably never use but if it is important to you it's included in the cost. Suprising for the price-point, all parts of the tripod are made of metal except for the flip-lock levers on the legs. The legs are independently adjustable to 3 different angles. The ball head is remarkably smooth and solid for the price. It showed no creep with my Nikon D90 and variety of lenses, the heaviest being a Sigma 10-20mm at 18.3 oz and the longest being a Nikon 55-200mm VR. A review on B&H claims the ballhead is not replaceable. That is not true. The ballhead is mounted to a 3/8ths stud.

So I carried this thing across Maui for the last few weeks - wind, rain, sand, sun, desert, rock. The ballhead still rotates smoothly. Some chunks are missing from the neoprene sleeves on the legs but it otherwise performed well beyond my expectations for an inexpensive tripod. I found the independently adjustable legs and removable center post are absolutely indespensible for getting just the right angle on the smallest of things. It's lightly built and as a user I'm aware of those limitations, but for 55 bucks I'm confident this thing will survive a year of good use. That's all I ask.

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