Backpacking with a Camera

Recently I read a couple blog posts about the pros and cons of bringing a camera into the wilderness on hiking or backpacking trips. A few years ago I wrote about the enjoyment of not taking a camera (when I found the battery was dead at the trail head).

Now some people will pontificate about their spiritual immersion or connectiveness while in the wilderness and how a camera cuts them off from the wilderness. But then they build a fire at night, which cuts them off from the wilderness. Other people extol the virtues of a camera to enhance and record their experience. There is nothing wrong with taking a camera, I bring one sometimes. Just beware that a camera becomes another task to deal with; a real black hole for losing time. Also you might start view the world around your via a small tunnel, sort of like hiking with blinders and not seeing your whole world.

On some trips I take a camera to share the trip with my kids. But mostly I leave it at home. And when I do take a camera it is a light point and shoot camera. Because it a fairly simple and small pixel gathering camera, it takes time to compose the picture to capture the essence of the subject. And taking the time to do this is a pain in the butt. Plus I am not one to take dozens of pictures of the same thing. If I see something I want to capture digitally, I just take a single shot.

In the 1960’s and 70’s my camera was a Yashika D twin lense reflex. From the 80’s until 2003 it was a Pentax K1000 single lense reflex. Both are heavy, bulky, and require film that needs to be developed and pictures then printed. I had my own dark room equipment and often processed my own film and prints.

Above: Pentax K1000 SLR Camera Kit. Weight is 3 lbs, 3 ounces!

Most of the time, though, I just took the film and had it professionally processed.

I have no pictures of my hiking and backpacking trips prior to 2003, because

  • the gear was too heavy
  • the gear took up too much room in my pack
  • there was no one I was going to share pictures with
  • it took too much time and/or money to develop and process the film
  • I could remember what I saw and felt on each trip

But this changed when my kids grew up and left home for college. Using a digital point and shoot camera allowed me to share my trips with them with little weight penalty.

Shown: Canon SD1200 IS Camera. 4.8 ounces.

As mentioned earlier, taking the time to position and compose a picture just sucks up too much time with the two digital cameras I own. Larger sensors and better quality lenses allows one to “point and shoot” and then crop without worrying about degrading the image. So Santa has promised to give me a Sony RX100 camera for Christmas.


The Sony RX100 Digital Camera Review – The best pocket digital compact of the year…actually…EVER!

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