Glacier in Alaska taken with
Nikon N90s from helicopter
Gear We Use
Like Hiking and Backpacking, Photography is one of my many passions. Whenever possible, I try to combine those hobbies. I own and use a large amount of Photography Equipment, each with a specific use. The equipment used for a car trip is much different than the equipment used on a 5 mile hike or the extreme hike up Half Dome.
Full-size 35mm SLR - Nikon N90S
Mid-size 35mm Rangefinder - Contax G1
Compact APS - Minolta Vectis 300
Fuji Velvia - 50 ASA Slide Film
Fuji Provia / Sensia - 100 ASA Slide Film
Kodak Gold - 100 ASA Print Film
Photography Specific Links
Nikon N90s - Full-size 35mm SLR
My primary camera is a Nikon N90s. I have been using various Nikon camera systems for over 20 years and I have been using the N90s since it was introduced in 1994. While the N90s is not a compact camera by any means (especially with the MB-10 grip attached). It is however, a technically superb camera.
Because of the weight and bulk of this camera, it is used for light hikes (flat trails or trails less than about 8 miles) and car trips. Although I have taken it backpacking I don't recommend it.
|The 3D Matrix Metering is almost always dead-on. The only time it has not been accurate is in severe backlit situations.|
|Accurate Autofocus - Originally I wasn't a big fan of Autofocus. I've since come to appreciate it.|
|Extensive Shutter Speeds - 30 seconds to 1/8000 of a second in 1/3 stop increments.|
|Awesome set of lenses|
|Heavy - Compared to the Nikon F5, this camera is light, but it is still heavy. When combined with the Nikon 28-70 f3.5-4.5 it weighs about 2.75 pounds.|
|Bulky - Even when not using the MB-10 grip, this camera is very bulky.|
I use two lenses with this camera. My primary lens is a Nikon 28-70 f3.5-4.5D AF zoom. The other lens I use is a Nikon 80-200 f2.8D IF-ED AF-S zoom. Both lenses are very sharp, with the fast 80-200 f2.8 possibly being one of the best in it's class (it is also one of the heaviest in it's class).
Lithium AA Batteries - Lighter and longer lasting than Alkalines
MB-10 Grip - Makes camera easier to hold, especially vertically
Nikon N90s Camera Body Specifications:
|Size||6.1"(W) x 4.2"(H) x 2.7"(D)|
|Weight||26.6 oz. + 4 AA batteries|
|Film Advance||4.3 frames per second|
Nikon 28-70 Lens Specifications:
|Minimum Aperture||f3.5 - f4.5|
Nikon 80-200 Lens Specifications:
G1 - Mid-size 35mm Rangefinder
I purchased this camera system in October of 1999 to supplement my Nikon system. The primary reason I purchased this camera was my desire for a small compact camera that was optically equal to my Nikon System. Although I haven't used this system very long, it appears to have exceeded my expectations.
I started with the just the 28mm and 45mm. I liked the system so much, I had to get the 35mm, 90mm, and one of the small flashes.
The primary use for this camera system is for long day hikes and overnight backpack trips. It is almost one pound lighter than my Nikon system (G1 with 28mm and 45mm compared to the N90s with 28-70 f3.5-4.5). Because I like this system so much, I have even started using it for travel photography. Many of my pictures of Egypt were taken with this camera.
|The Lenses - The Carl Zeiss lenses for this camera are truly awesome. The pictures are tack sharp throughout and contrast is excellent.|
|Compact - This camera is very small. I can hardly tell I am carrying it|
|Light - The camera with two lenses (28mm and 45mm) is very light (about 1.75 pounds). The other camera system I was looking at was the Leica M6, which is awesome, extremely durable, but is much heavier. The Contax system gives up nothing in the durability area.|
|Autofocus - The autofocus system is difficult to use. Primarily because it's a hybrid rangefinder-syle camera without really any manual override or confirmation. It takes a while to master, but most are happy with it. The secret is to choose a high contrast object or edge to focus on.|
|Easy to mis-set - It's very easy to change the exposure compensation. I've accidentally set the exposure compensation resulting in unfortunate results.|
|Viewfinder - The viewfinder is smaller and darker than an SLR. This is typical for most rangefinders. When the 90mm is used, the image in the viewfinder is a little dark. Since I primarily use this camera outdoors, the viewfinder brightness doesn't bother me.|
I use four lenses with this camera, all are reasonably fast and razor sharp. For most hiking trips, I bring the 28mm and 45mm. Sometimes I take the 90mm, good for that portrait shot or isolating a particular mountain range. If I'm really strapped for weight or space, I'll just bring the 35mm as a compromise. Either way the lenses are incredibly sharp and very compact and light.
Contax G1 Camera Body Specifications:
|Size||x"(W) x X"(H) x X"(D)|
|Weight||16.2 oz. + 2 CR2 Lithium batteries|
|Film Advance||2 frames per second|
Contax Biogon 28mm Lens Specifications:
Contax Planar 35mm Lens Specifications:
Contax Planar 45mm Lens Specifications:
Contax Sonar 90mm Lens Specifications:
Vectis 300 - Compact APS
This camera is primarily used by Joy. We bought it to use as a very small, compact, automatic camera.
I've used this camera only on extreme trips, to save weight. When we hiked Half Dome, I took this camera long. If you examine the pictures from that trip, you will notice they are optically poor. APS cameras use negatives that are about 25mm, which significantly smaller than 35mm. As a result, the picture quality is inferior. Now that I have purchased the Contax G1 system, I anticipate I will no longer use this camera.
|Compact - This camera is very small. I can hardly tell I am carrying it|
|Light - The camera with two lenses is very light (about 1.75 pounds)|
|Image Quality - Poor when compared to my other two systems, but very good for a point and shoot.|
|Size||3.8"(W) x 2.4"(H) x 2.5"(D)|
|Focal Range||24-70mm (APS format)|
|Minimum Aperture||f5.7 - f9.8|
Velvia - 50 ASA Slide Film
Of all the films available, Fuji Velvia is my favorite film. It yields highly saturated images (rich color) and it is high in contrast. This film is very slow at 50 ASA so it requires proper lighting or a fast lens (such as my Contax lenses). I shoot more Velvia than any other film.
Provia / Sensia - 100 ASA Slide Film
I shoot Provia 100F or Sensia (Provia is the professional version, while Sensia is the consumer version) when conditions do not permit using Velvia. It's an excellent film, but does not yield pictures as saturated as Velvia. The Provia 100F is an incredible film with less grain than Velvia. When you use a loupe, or blow up an image grain is almost non-existent.
Astia - 100 ASA Slide Film
This is another of Fuji's 100 ASA Professional Slide Films. I only use this film for shooting portraits. It does an excellent job of rendering skin tones. Velvia is horrible at rendering skin tones, and Provia is only slightly better.
Gold - 100 ASA Print Film
I rarely shoot print film, but when I do, it's Kodak Gold.
I store my camera equipment in Pelican cases. I use these same cases for transporting my equipment to the trailhead, which often involves a certain amount of off-roading. Pelican cases are durable, waterproof, and provide excellent protection. I store the Nikon system in a 1400 series case and I store the Contax system in a 1200 series case. I also use a 1500 series case to store both systems together.
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