This is my story about how I began capturing images on my adventures including what camera equipment I used and what photography gear I pack today. My intension of this post is not to write a review about what photography gear is best to use for lightweight backpacking but more a record of my progression of photography gear usage over the past four or five years. I am by no means an expert or authority on the subject of photography. I do however appreciate a great picture.
When I first began to record my backpacking adventures I started this blog and I captured a lot of pictures. I have a terrible memory and so the purpose of Brian Outdoors was more for my own benefit really; more of a personal journal if you wish to help me reminisce about my hikes. I am certainly delighted that I did as I have used it precisely for this purpose on countless occasions. For future trip planning it has become a fantastic research base for all my trip planning and other interested backpackers.
Then I started my Flickr account so that I had a location to digitally store all my hiking photos. It is also a reference for all my posts; I can embed the images directly into all my articles. I also wanted to share my images publicly. When I write my blog posts I don’t refer to a journal in a notebook recorded whilst on trail like many folks do. I don’t write any notes while I hike. I shoot several images, load them onto my Flickr site and then I write my “story” from the photos. “A picture tells a thousand words” as the saying goes. I can then remember in reasonable detail most of the events that occurred based on my recorded images.
Apple iPhone 6s
My early photos and videos were all captured with the Apple iPhone 6s. This method suited my multiple usage for gear principles; gear with two uses. This principle is the backbone of lightweight backpacking and is what my site is all about. The iPhone can be used as a mobile phone, a camera and a navigational device just to name three uses. I started uploading videos to my YouTube channel in April 2018. My idea at the time was to use this medium as an additional record or journal for all my hikes only this time it would not be a written one. I continued to use this mobile device for photography purposes until December 2018. The same mobile still accompanies me today on all my adventures but its role has changed.
Joby Griptight One micro stand
When I wanted to record timed images or videos of myself “in action” I used a Joby Griptight One micro stand which weighs 46 grams to support the iPhone. This neat little tripod will collapse into just about nothing and will fit in a pants pocket or a hip belt pocket for easy storage. It is simple and easy to use. With nothing to screw and put together etc. it is fast to deploy.
Using the iPhone had a few downsides. For one, wind noise was an issue and I did receive some comments (complaints 😂) on my YouTube channel concerning this issue. I purchased a microphone from Amazon complete with a mini fur wind shield. However, I thought it to be awkward to use and I did not feel comfortable using this bit of kit. Therefore I didn’t use it much and it quickly disappeared from my packing lists.
When on longer treks for one week or more at a time I had to make sure that I had a large enough power bank that could re-charge my iPhone several times. This is one of the considerations when using only one device like this for multiple uses. I have never run out of power and my iPhone has never failed me but it could of done. I thought about this scenario often.
Data storage should also be given some thought and monitored closely whilst on trail. I never ran out of storage when I used the iPhone for videoing and taking photos. My device has a storage capacity of 64 GB. Yes, it’s an old one from 2014 🤣. I have to admit that I kept a close eye on the length of the video recordings and so on as I also needed enough storage for my trip photos as well. I had a bad feeling that it could all go terribly wrong one day by placing all my eggs in one basket.
Another area that I wanted to improve on was the video and image quality. The iPhone recordings were okay but I wanted to step up my game a little. I wanted to take my photography experience to the next level if you wish.
Canon G7 X Mark II
December 2018 I decided to make a change. Through my research on the Internet I found and read several written reviews and watched some YouTube videos on the subject as well. Based on these reviews and research I then decided on my next piece of hiking gear called the Canon G7 X Mark II camera.
I won’t go into too many technical details (mostly because I can’t as I’m not technical enough 🤣) but here is a short list of the features that were of interest to me:
- captures high-quality images and videos
- Its wide dynamic range helps ensure both bright and dark parts of an image are fully captured – great for dummies like me
- 20.1 Megapixels means photos with enough detail to enjoy on high-resolution monitors and mobile devices
- extremely low-light photos and videos are possible, with minimal image noise – this was important to me as I wanted some night photos of my shelters under star fulled skies
- Storage Media: SD/SDHC/SDXC and UHS-I Memory Cards – no running out of storage
- I have purchased 3 extra battery packs, so no running out of power either
- I can mount it on a tripod
- built-in flash
The camera body including one battery pack, a Micromuff (see info below) and memory card weighs 321 grams. The battery packs weigh 23 grams each. The iPhone weighs 145 grams. So this new kit weighs an additional 176 grams not including extra batteries or extra storage cards. The later weigh only 2 grams each.
The camera has several operating modes but to tell you the truth I use it most of the time in the Auto mode. I just want to “point and shoot” as they say. However, it does have a neat SCN mode where one can shoot starry skies. This mode I do use. I have also experimented a little with long exposures etc. The point is that the Canon G7 X Mark II can do a lot of fancy stuff if you are up to that. I just want to hike and record my travels without all the fuss. The Canon G7 X Mark II fulfils this task well.
Pedco UltraPod Lightweight Camera Tripod
I use a Pedco UltraPod lightweight camera tripod which weighs 52 grams. It has fold-out legs and non-slip vinyl feet. It fits any device with a tripod socket (1/4-20 female thread). It also has a removable D-ring velcro cinch strap which secures the tripod to posts and tree limbs etc.
I can either store it in one of my hip belt pockets or strap it to one of my trekking poles like I have below.
If I still wish to capture a photo using my iPhone and require the use of a tripod then I can mount a GorillaPod 5.5″ iPhone holder weighing 19 grams on top of the Pedco UltraPod.
One of the downsides of the Canon G7 X Mark II is that it lacks a microphone input jack. I have solved this problem by mounting a Micromuff skinny microphone windshield or muff. I ordered it from eBay straight from the people who make them in the UK. It was not an expensive item. I’ve used it a fair bit now and I have to say that it works reasonably well 👍.
Product(s) discussed in this article were purchased by myself from a retailer or manufacturer. I do not accept compensation or donated product in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage without clearly denoting such coverage as an “ADVERTISEMENT” or “SPONSORED CONTENT.”