On my most recent trip, I had a quite different set of video and photography equipment from what I had been discussing previously. So I thought, I would post an update about my video and photography gear, and how I see it evolving in the future.
If you check the gear list for my trip to the Kevo canyon in Finnish Lapland, you can see that I carried the following equipment:
- RX100 II pocket camera
- GoPro 9 action camera and three batteries
- DJI Mavic Mini drone and two batteries
In total, this equipment weighted 1271g. Compare this to 813g for the RX10 only, or 1135g for Olympus E-M1 Mark II and the 12-100mm, it weighs a little more than the cameras I was carrying before, but provide a huge deal more versatility.
I will discuss my experiences with each piece of equipment, and conclude with where I might go with each category in the future
Photography: RX100 II pocket camera
The RX100 II is available quite cheap nowadays, and in many ways it’s a perfect travel / hiking camera. It’s light, packs in a pocket and the battery life is excellent.
The way I operate the RX100 II is: I always carry it in my hands, and when I see something worth photographing, I turn it on, take a photograph and then shut it down. This way, the battery life seems to be infinite. I never missed a photo because of the startup time.
I had a four day hike with 320 photographs/videos (after light culling of shaken photos) and the battery has barely gone down from full. For my type of shooting, I could easily go for a week’s hike with the battery, maybe two. But the camera is USB chargeable, and for longer trips I would bring a battery bank in any case.
Regarding the optics, I found I missed more range in both the wide and tele end. This was a minor niggle, however. Some of the newer RX100 models provide a wider zoom range (a 24-200mm 35mm equivalent range, comparing to 28-100mm equiv. for RX100 II) but at the cost of maximum aperture of 2.8 comparing to 1.8 for RX100 II. I prefer to have the ability to shoot in low light. And the low price, of course.
I feel that I probably missed a couple of photos in the tele end, and some of the photos could have worked better with a 24mm equivalent wide end, but in most cases, the limited range probably made me focus on good composition, yielding better photography.
Conclusions: I am absolutely delighted with the camera and intend to continue with it for light/ultralight trips.
Video and Time Lapse: GoPro 9
GoPro is a new addition to my gear and although capable as a photographic tool, the main purpose for me is video. I do not do vlog type videos (at least yet), so it’s mainly walking and landscape video at the moment, with some action type videos in the mix.
Most of the trip in Kevo, I had GoPro in one hand and RX100 II in the other. This proved to be no trouble even with some somewhat technical sections of hiking. Benefits of having a light pack.
I was quite happy with the GoPro in Kevo. The major complaint was that, at times the GoPro gave an error about the memory card and created invalid videos. Ok, it may have been the memory card, but it’s a new card and purchased with the GoPro. But 90% of the time, it worked great. The extra batteries are small and it’s easy to operate, which I love.
I did try some time lapses with some success, and will surely increase their use in the future.
Conclusions: As with the RX100 II, I am absolutely delighted with the GoPro and intend to continue with it for light/ultralight trips.
Areal video and photos: Mavic Mini
The Mavic Mini is a complicated beast. It’s extremely light, so it’s easy to pack along. But because of the weight saving, it also feels fragile. In the city, I’ve also had quite a lot of issues with signal interference. This is due to the Mavic Mini using a wifi based protocol for controlling the drone.
None of these proved to be an issue once I was out in the woods. Mavic Mini survived in perfect working condition being stuffed into an extremely full backpack. There was no signal interference. I could fly farther than what would be allowed by law (which states you or your spotter have to see the drone).
What could be an issue out in the arctic wilderness, is the susceptibility to get caught in high winds. The small drone is far less able to fight the winds than it’s larger brethren.
Of course 4K would be nice to have, and Mavic Mini II has that. Better sensor for photography would also be nice. The Mavic 2 Pro (at 907g vs. Mavic Mini at 249g) has that. There is also a huge difference in the volume it takes in the backpack. And of course price.
Conclusions: I am really starting to repeat myself, but I am absolutely delighted with the Mavic Mini and intend to continue with it for light/ultralight trips.
Equipment addict is never happy with what he has. There has to always be a plan for upgrading something, anything. My photography equipment is not any exception.
However, for light/ultralight hikes, the equipment will in all likelihood stay as is. For the lightest hike, only RX100 II could be used. But upgrading any of the equipment is not possible without significantly more weight and volume.
So upgrades are necessary focused on heavier backpack weights.
First would be replacing the pocket size equipment with the E-M1 Mark II I wrote about. I no longer have the Olympus 12-100 f4. A kit I might carry with the E-M1 Mark II would instead be:
- E-M1 Mark II, 574g
- Olympus 7-14mm f2.8, 534g
- Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 + MC-14 extender 880g
For a total of 1988g. Plus weight of extra batteries. Plus carrying case for the off-camera lens.
This would require a slower, longer trip with more time to focus on photography. And a larger backpack.
If I had time and larger backpack, I would love to photograph with the Mavic 2 Pro (907g) or the Mavic Air 2S (595g). I won’t splurge for one of those on my own anytime soon, but if I ever decide to extend my business to drones, then carrying one on hikes would be an option.
Carrying a microphone with a proper windscreen along with my E-M1 Mark II would already allow me an improvement in video quality and enable me to focus on single camera. But the GoPro is such a compact package that for a non-ultralight trip, carrying it just for the rare dip-in-to-the-river footage or to schedule a time-lapse for sunset or sunrise may make sense in any case.
Current state of Micro Four Thirds camera bodies is such that I might consider a more video focused body (GH5, GH5 II, GH6 or G9) but more likely will wait until we get some “next gen” bodies over the several year old ones we have at the moment.
I have a nice lightweight video/photography kit in place. Upgrades are available but at a significant increase in weight. I will keep you posted about upgrades.