Quality FX lens options for Hiking?

Joined
Nov 15, 2007
Messages
286
Location
Seattle
This may be more suited for the FX equipment forum but thought I would post here since I am looking to capture the fantastic scenery I have in my backyard in Washington and the unbelievable hikes available to me.

I recently retired, at least for now, and have been doing a lot of hiking recently. As a goal oriented individual, a former high school football teammate of mine has invited me and some fellow former teammates on a hike up Chief Mountain in Montana. He has been asking me for years to do this hike but work and life has gotten in the way. Even though he is a Husky, not shy to show off his Rose bowl ring, and I am a Cougar, we have stayed in touch all these years.

My friend is a Blackfoot Indian, Grammy award winning artist and one heck of a guy. As a Blackfoot, this is a spiritual hike for him and the Blackfoot and I’m sure will be for me.

I had a total hip replacement 9 months ago and this hike has been a great way to get motivated as I prepare for the hike.

My concern is all my Pro Level gear is a bit on the heavy side and weight is not your friend on strenuous hikes. I can take the battery pack off my D850, maybe put a lighter strap on, but at a minimum would prefer to take my 14-24 f2.8 with me. I’m also tempted to take my 70-200, also a hefty lens.

Add 3 liters of water, food, and the suggested layering and 10 essential items and I will have a heavy load to pack.

I am not excited to buy more lenses but with the new hip, I am advised not to run for fitness anymore so hiking and biking are my new options.

I have the full line of pro zooms and the top macro lenses but nothing that would be considered light save the 60 macro. What options might I consider that will retain the quality I am accustomed to while saving a bit of weight?

I have a training hike up Granite Mountain this Thursday and will take at least the D850 and 14-24 with me to see how my body handles it. 8.1 miles with just under 4000 feet in elevation gain. 1000 feet a mile. My legs and hip should feel this but Chief Mountain will be tougher and at a much higher elevation.

Just taking my iPhone as I did for this image last week is an option as well. I'm second from the right, a kind lady took the picture with my phone.
Sunrise_2969_72pi.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Thanks.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 12, 2018
Messages
377
Location
Puget Sound
Real Name
Ken
Sounds like an amazing hike/climb you have planned, even if it is with a Husky! ;) I understand your desire to lighten your load, but there will be some compromise involved, and a lot of that will depend on what you are willing to give up to gain a weight/size reduction. If you are set on only changing out your lenses, you consider slower lenses like the AF-P 70-300 or 70-200 f/4 instead of the the 70-200. Still reasonably sharp, just not as fast. You could also reduce your focal length range and that might lighten the load as well. If you are willing to look at an alternate format like an m4/3rd's body, you could bring down the weight considerably, and could still use nice glass, but your sensor size is going to be your compromise. I shoot with Nikon and Olympus gear, and mostly travel with the latter when I am not traveling by car. I am at a bit of a loss with low light situations and fast moving subjects, but the IQ from the E-M1 bodies is great, and the glass selection is very good (and light). You could rent gear for this one trip if you do not find an acceptable solution in Nikon lenses, as buying a separate system is certainly not cheap.

Good luck (and safe travels),

--Ken
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2019
Messages
146
Location
SF Bay Area, California, USA
This is similar to my goal of a travel kit, small and light.
I bit the bullet and went m4/3 for a significant size and 43% weight reduction over my D7200 + 18-140.

As you said, weight is your enemy.
Like my travel kit, you will have to compromise for weight reduction; either body or lens, or both.
If you want your 14-24/2.8, I would get a lighter decent/good quality longer lens. I understand that the 70-300 AFP is supposed to have good IQ. But that leaves a rather large gap from 24 to 70mm. Maybe a 50/1.8 will plug the gap.

If you are going to do more hiking, I suggest you rethink your system, to NOT carry the heavy D850, and have a light hiking kit. Maybe with a D750 + the smaller lighter zooms. Or a second system, like m4/3.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2005
Messages
351
Location
MN, USA
I'll second most of what Ken says above. The 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E AF-P VR may be 'consumer' but most everyone who uses it is pleased with the IQ.

But you should take a look at the Z6 (or Z7 if you want maintain the 850's resolution). I'm betting that once you carry a Z with the 24-70 f4S, you won't go back to the D850 for hiking. There's the added bonus that all you Nikon G lenses will work as well. Rent a Z for the weekend and you'll see.

The other option is to pick up a Sony RX100 vii - Now that's saving weight.
 
Joined
May 27, 2005
Messages
8,614
Location
Clearwater, Florida
I've done a fair amount of hiking and have grappled with the same concerns. Over the past 5 years I've whittled my hiking kit down to manageable size and weight. For long hikes I now just bring my D800E with a 24-120mm, f4 . My wife and I hiked through the Alps for 7 days and I only brought the 24-120mm and a 20mm, f1.8 with me. My version is sharp and gives me enough range to satisfy 95% of my needs without carrying too much gear. For shorter hikes I will still bring my Nikon 14-24mm if I think i need to go wide and don't mind the weight.

The 24-120mm just works.

It is sharp when you want to include people in your photo.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


It also works well for landscapes and holds up nicely for large prints. I've done both of these at 30 x 40.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

NCV

Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Messages
71
Location
Italy
Real Name
Nigel
Second the 24-120 option, it covers almost everything on a hike.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


An EM5ii and a 12-100 is another good hiking option
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
Messages
4,473
Location
Redwood City, CA
I too limit the weight I carry with my D810. I use the 24-85VR, 20/1.8 and 70-200/4 or 70-300VR. I had doubts about the 24-85, but got a refurb for cheap and really love it. Not for low light, but the 20/1.8 makes up for it on the wide end.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 12, 2018
Messages
377
Location
Puget Sound
Real Name
Ken
The 12-100 is not a light lens. GOOD IQ, but not light.
I would take the Panasonic-Lumix 12-60 (equiv to a 24-120 on a FX camera), or the longer/heavier 14-140/150.
This is true, but again it is a trade-off. If you only want one lens and find 12-100 acceptable, then it is not a bad choice. If you want more FL or a faster zoom, then the 12-60, 12-35 or 12-40 are good choices, and then you have to decide about a longer zoom. I almost bought a 12-100 for a big trip abroad, but went with the 12-40 and the compact 35-100. If I could have squeezed it in, I would have carried the 40-150 Pro (which is an amazing lens that for the most part has not disappointed me). But if I had to go with one lens and wanted a bit of reach, the 12-100 would probably be my first choice.

--Ken
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2019
Messages
146
Location
SF Bay Area, California, USA
This is true, but again it is a trade-off. If you only want one lens and find 12-100 acceptable, then it is not a bad choice. If you want more FL or a faster zoom, then the 12-60, 12-35 or 12-40 are good choices, and then you have to decide about a longer zoom. I almost bought a 12-100 for a big trip abroad, but went with the 12-40 and the compact 35-100. If I could have squeezed it in, I would have carried the 40-150 Pro (which is an amazing lens that for the most part has not disappointed me). But if I had to go with one lens and wanted a bit of reach, the 12-100 would probably be my first choice.

--Ken
FYI, the 12-100 is a power sucker.

Some speculate that as soon as you turn on the camera, the IS gyros in the lens spins up. And I can hear the humming comming from the lens. So the lens is drawing power all the time that the camera is on.

My EM1-mk1 'continuous ON' battery life went down from 4 hours with the Pana-12-60 and IBIS, to 2-1/2 hours with the 12-100 and Sync IS. That becomes a serious battery logistical issue when traveling. I figure 5 or 6 batteries a day, then charging all the batteries each night. No thanks.
With the P 12-60, I used 3 batteries a day, every day. Battery #3 was almost empty, so I later got a 4th battery, to give me a buffer. Each night I charged 2 batteries at a time, in 2 shifts.

I contacted Olympus support, concerned about the short run time with the 12-100. The tech said that the short run time was expected with that lens and the EM1-mk1. For run time, the better cameras for the 12-100 are the EM1-mk2 and EM1X with their larger capacity battery.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,058
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
My thoughts.

For hiking and FX, my first thought is to bring my Df and a wife is prime like a 24mm or 28mm and the older Nikon 80-200/4.5-5.6D. I figure, if it worked for Galen Rowell it is good enough for me.

If you want to take the D850, if adopt a similar approach and go a small, wide prime and look at the 70-300 AF-P or the Nikon 300/4 AF-P

I shot Yellowstone one year with a Tokina 11-16/2.8 and the Nikon 300/4 +TC-14E III on the D500.

Brought the Nikon 18-140, but used it rarely.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
11,754
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
For hiking and FX, my first thought is to bring my Df and a wife is prime
Completely agreed! Though I've never used a Df, my wife is always indispensable on hikes because she helps me change lenses without having to remove my back pack. You seem to imply that having a choice of wives is ideal though I have the luxury of just one. :ROFLMAO:
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,058
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
Completely agreed! Though I've never used a Df, my wife is always indispensable on hikes because she helps me change lenses without having to remove my back pack. You seem to imply that having a choice of wives is ideal though I have the luxury of just one. :ROFLMAO:
Lol, while that truly was an auto correct fail on my part, there is some truth to it. My wife and I joke that she is the "pack mule" of our hiking group. She always send to get the overflow!! 😉😂
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2007
Messages
3,565
Location
Potomac Falls, VA
I agree with most of the above, but also add replace the 14-24 with 16-35 if you are keeping with Nikon DSLR. You get lighter weight and use of standard filters. There is some barrel distortion that is correctable, but you will get great panoramic shots. Are you taking a tripod too? Extra batteries? Sounds like a great time and hope to see your images.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2007
Messages
286
Location
Seattle
I completed a training hike up Granite Mountain Thursday but after adding the D850 and 14-24 to my pack, decided the extra weight would be too much based on what I was already carrying and the trip reports I was reading. Coming from a very poor fitness level a couple months ago and 9 months removed from a hip replacement, I am getting back in shape and would bring it next time but it was a challenging training hike.

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/granite-mountain?fbclid=IwAR2g1daeN1yIsw6AwejtJSpKnIFqeFkIAcTC2FE1UUvi8f07XC8MgWCcRBA

Gorgeous views though and I did regret not bringing the camera but my legs thanked me.

My wife wouldn’t be my Sherpa, likely the other way around and taking the D850 and heavier lenses when hiking with her wouldn’t be an issue, it is when hiking with my buddies and their brisk pace and more challenging hikes it becomes an issue. There will be no tripod on this hike. Our host still hasn't made our starting point clear but Chief mountain can be as long as an 11 hour round trip with some steep scrambling though I think/hope we will take a little shorter path.

A smaller mirrorless kit may be in my future but I will try some lighter FX lenses for the D850 first. I had a 24-120 decades ago and got rid of it. Seems the new f4 version is improved. A prime lens or two also makes sense.

Thanks for all the input everyone.

A couple iPhone snapshots from yesterday.

Granite_Mt_2991_72pi.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Granite_Mt_2995_72pi.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
1,115
Location
Phoenixville, PA / Bethany, DE
I carry my 24-120 f/4.0 mounted on my D750 as my walkaround. It works wonderfully during hikes. Here are some shots during a 9.1-mile hike on Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
6,011
Location
N Idaho
I usually take my D850 and 24-70 with a CPL. I haven't used my 14-24 enough to understand it - it was the first lens I bought for my D800 many years back - and the filters for it are a PIA. Looking thru the images here, maybe the 24-120 is a good idea - just read Randy's comment in another thread that the 16-80 is better than the 24-120. That'd work on my D500.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
3,558
Location
Massachusetts
Real Name
David
The f/4 24-120 is vastly improved.

But I'm not sure that would really be truly that much of a change.

Personally I look at 3 general options.

1. Nikon Z - a Z6 or Z7 with the 14-30 / 24-70 / F-mount 70-300P - This combo is just a little heavier than the D850 and 12-24. The Z6 and 14-30 are half the weight of the D850 combo.

2. Nikon DX - D7500 / D5600 with 10-20 / 16-80 / DX 70-300 - Depending on the body these are again a little under or a little over the D850 and 12-24 combo. The D5600 and 10-20 weighs less than either the D850 or 12-24 by them selves.

3. Other mirrorless. I'd pick the Olympus E-M1 markII and Olympus 12-100. I'd add the truly tiny and fun f/8 body cap fisheye and defish to cover the wide end or just stitch a panorama. A sealed system that's a little more than half the weight of the D850 and 12-24 that covers 24-200mm field of view.
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2019
Messages
146
Location
SF Bay Area, California, USA
The f/4 24-120 is vastly improved.

But I'm not sure that would really be truly that much of a change.

Personally I look at 3 general options.

1. Nikon Z - a Z6 or Z7 with the 14-30 / 24-70 / F-mount 70-300P - This combo is just a little heavier than the D850 and 12-24. The Z6 and 14-30 are half the weight of the D850 combo.

2. Nikon DX - D7500 / D5600 with 10-20 / 16-80 / DX 70-300 - Depending on the body these are again a little under or a little over the D850 and 12-24 combo. The D5600 and 10-20 weighs less than either the D850 or 12-24 by them selves.

3. Other mirrorless. I'd pick the Olympus E-M1 markII and Olympus 12-100. I'd add the truly tiny and fun f/8 body cap fisheye and defish to cover the wide end or just stitch a panorama. A sealed system that's a little more than half the weight of the D850 and 12-24 that covers 24-200mm field of view.
If you are OK with stitching a panorama, I would skip the ultra-wide and instead stitch a few shots from the wide end of your standard lens. That will save you a few/lot of ounces, and space in your pack.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well the current software stitches images, compared to what I used before.
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2005-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom