Hiking and photography equipment you need to know
I started my first hiking trip in 2012. There is a characteristic about hiking: people who like it can't stop, people who don't like it hate it. Luckily, I belong to the previous one.
Personally I found the scenery in high altitude area most attractive. Most of the photographers I met in my journey there do not carry too much camera gear with them. Although we use the extra help of horses or mules to carry the tent, food and sleeping bag directly to the camp, the camera, lenses and water however are always carried by ourselves. In most of the time I use Canon 5D Mark4 and sometimes SONY A7 Mark3 with a 24-70mm lens, a tripod, a remote shutter control, and a set of filters. I do not bring telescope lens in mountain hiking, even though I want to, my physical and weight-bearing abilities does not allow me to do that. (But I might change this decision since Sony mirrorless camera is much lighter in weight and they have a very attractive 100-400mm G Master lens.)
I am not a professional landscape photographer. Developing and manufacturing products with practical design is my life time pursuit. Photography and hiking are my hobbies. Fortunately, my career just gives me the chance to study and enjoy my hobbies.
If anyone asks me which equipment I enjoy researching the most for photography, my answer will neither be the camera nor be the filter, but the tripod and ball head. They are like 2 solid friends of mine in the whole trip. No matter for long exposure, bracketing exposure, panorama photo merge or time lapse, the tripod and ball head are always the most important support for the creation.
For hiking I always choose tripod over monopod so that I can make long exposure for the running water and starry sky. I only use carbon fiber material because when the altitude is above 4000m and you must walk 10 -20 kilometer every day, the difference in weight between aluminum and carbon fiber can mean if you are still able to finish your trip or not. Also I use the tripod without center column, because it offers me the best combination between height and balance and takes the least space in my back pack.
For tripod heads, there are many other options besides the ball head, such as hydraulic / fluid head, panorama boom head, and five-dimensional head, but most of them are very expensive, big and heavy. For the same reason as tripod, I prefer a compact and fast ball head with stable performance.
About L-bracket (quick release plate). It is not a must have because most of the landscape photos are taken in horizontal direction. But personally I like l-shaped quick release plate very much and highly recommend it, it gives me the freedom to put my camera in any angle on the ball head. And it is light weight and compact, you won't feel it when it is mounted on the camera.
Another good thing is it not only protects my camera from falling down when it is mounted on the tripod at a non-horizontal position , but also protects my camera when I walk through the rocks.
Last thing I want to talk is about the budget. The first time I choose my photography equipment for hiking, I decided that I shall buy something cheap and useful, and later I can sell the old and upgrade to new. That's how I chose my camera, my lens, my tripod and my bag. After that I did upgrade to better equipment. But I only get half of my money back by selling the old gears. If I bought the right equipment at the first time, I could save half of those money and gain much better experience from those high quality equipment. So for landscape photography, which puts very high requirement on the gear to survive harsh environment, extreme weather, and changing light, I would suggest to make the maximum tolerance in budget and spend them on the most important equipment. Do not buy those things cheap because it is not saving money but wasting them. For the rest part such as lens hood, remote shutter, battery, I think low price options are fine and still make pretty good effect.
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