I mentioned in an earlier post that my main reason for investing in the Fuji X-T1 was related to an upcoming trip I was taking. Well, I’m back from that trip and thought it might be interesting to review what went right and wrong, along with thoughts for better planning for the next trip.
The task was to allow me to do some photography during a 5-day canoe/camping trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (located on the border between Minnesota and Canada). We were to be paddling on several lakes and portaging between them. A rough total of 30 miles. When you have to haul your gear / food / boats up a 1/4 mile long, 600 foot rise (one of the portages) you look for conservation of weight and space. The kit also has to handle getting getting wet (up to and including immersion).
Faced with this task, my Canon gear was not going to make this trip — this is how my gear travelled:
Two items: the MeFOTO tripod (and other support items) and a dry bag with the cameras, etc. (the boards are 5.5 inches apart if you want a size reference). The tripod and whatnot weighed in at 4.6 lbs, and the camera gear topped the scales at 9 lbs. even, a total of 13.6 lbs.
The first level unpacking of the dry bag is here:
l-r: dry bag, 14 watt solar power and storage, GoPro Hero 3, X100S, 10-24mm lens, 18-55mm lens, X-T1, LowePro utility bag, lens bag, iPhone (not shown).
The Brunton SolarRoll-14 comes in a tube. I think the newer models have more of a fold-out book form factor. I took advantage of this setup to the fullest. You’ll note on the outside of the tube was several feet of gaffer’s tape, which always comes in handy. And the hollow center of the tube was stuffed to the gills…
Inside the tube was a busy place too: 14 watt solar array, 55-200mm lens, cables, Watson AC/DC charger for the X-T1 batteries, 2 polarizing filters, spare batteries and SD cards, lens cloths:
The Watson charger can charge the X-T1’s W126 batteries and has a USB port so it can be used to charge the GoPro and iPhone. I opted to carry a spare battery for the X100S instead of trying to find/bring a separate charger. This turned out well as the X100S sips power compared to the X-T1 (especially if you keep EVF use to a minimum) and after a week of use I barely touched the first battery’s capacity.
The tripod bag was fully utilized as well:
MeFOTO tripod, Ultrapod 2 tripod, GoPro head mount.
The result was a compact, relatively lightweight kit that was suitable for travel, landscape and limited wildlife photography:
So, how did it all perform. Generally speaking, very well. Everything that needed to stay dry, stayed dry – despite some rather hazardous conditions. No malfunctions. Given my relative inexperience working completely cut off from the world, I felt that the kit could have worked for a month or more before I would have exhausted the cards (I had 4x32GB SD cards for the Fuji cameras, plus 32GB in the GoPro.) Adding additional cards really doesn’t cost much in terms of space or weight, so it’s a budget and planning issue only to stay “off the grid”.
That said, I learned a lot on the trip which will make future trips of this type much better. It should be noted that this was not a photography trip. This was a paddling and camping trip on which I brought my cameras. The other people in my group were not photographers and, quite frankly, taking photographs came second to safely and successfully completing the trip. (If you’d like to read about the trip itself, and see the photographs I did manage to take, I wrote a travelogue on my “personal” blog. Click here.)
Thoughts/tips for future trips:
Well, that about sums it up. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know and I’ll do my best to reply to them.