I alluded to my wilderness photo kit in my vlog up above, Wilderness Camping Part 1 (in Gros Morne National Park). In the vlog I share an up close look at prepping and packing essential items for a 5 day backcountry trip. I decided to share my photo gear list here on the blog. Like with commercial and editorial photo shoots, pre-planning is absolutely critical for success. A backcountry trip is no exception. In this case, not only will my personal survival be at stake, so will my overall comfort and ability to document the trip with photos and video. The planning phase will have a significant impact on how the trip unfolds. For better or worse.
The more you know up front about the location, the weather and the scope of the project, the more you will know about which gear will be clutch and which gear will be dead weight. This kind of educated speculation directly informed my decisions while packing my wilderness photo kit.
Just the Essentials
1. Peak Design Leash Camera Strap
2. Fujifilm X-Pro2
3. Fujifilm X-T10
4. Fujinon XF 14mm F/2.8 R
5. Fujinon XF 27mm F/2.8
6. Fujinon XF 1.4X TC WR
7. Fujinon XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R OIS WR
8. Think Tank SD Pixel Pocket Rocket
9. Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 2
10. Tiffen 72mm Circular Polarizer
11. Tiffen 58MM Circular Polarizer
12. Nixxell Battery Charger 12v
13. Lens Cleaning Kit
Okay, you may be thinking to yourself: "Dude, why are you packing 2 cameras and 4 lenses? I thought you were going minimal?" Well, first of all, item #6 is not a lens. It's a tele converter. Secondly, I packed the Fujifilm X-T10 (item #3) as a backup camera because it is so small & light (13.4 oz.) it barely adds any bulk. Just look at how much space it takes up in the cube below. Also, it affords me some worthwhile options as a second camera for time lapses and video.
**Update: Since this original post, Fujifilm has released the X-T20 which has even better specs including the 24mp X-Trans sensor and 4K video! All packed into the same ultralight body.**
My Main Camera
The Fujifilm X-Pro2 (item #2) is an obvious choice as my main camera for this trip because the image quality, size/weight (do you see a pattern here with Fujifilm?) and weather sealed body. These weather sealed points (all 61 of them) proved to be clutch on the first day of the trip when we were hit hard by a storm. We had just arrived at the classic viewpoint of this trail and despite the pouring rain I absolutely needed my camera to perform. It was touch and go, but ultimately the X-Pro2 worked flawlessly with no protection. It was a true test.
Yes, this is a rangefinder which is traditionally used for photojournalism and street photography. However, this camera is so versatile and fun to use it might as well be fused to my hand. That would be totally okay because the buttons are all located on the right-hand side (sorry lefties). It goes without saying, but I'll mention it anyway. The X-Pro2 can hold its own against any of its full frame rivals – at a fraction of the size & weight. That's a whole different blog post but it's the reason why all my Canon gear is collecting dust in a storage unit right now. I digress.
As for the lens choices, the majority of my outdoor photography and video is shot with a wide angle prime (item #4). I absolutely love the XF14mm F/2.8R because of its ultra-wide angle of view (90.8°) and edge-edge sharpness wide open. The XF 50-140mm R LM OIS WR (item #7) is arguably Fujifilm's best zoom lens with a 70-200mm equivalent, weather sealed barrel. The WR means "weather resistant" and that's the designation you want to look for if you're going to be shooting in dicey weather. I debated bringing heavy, telephoto glass along but I'm glad I did because of the wildlife I encountered. Also because of a compressed landscape shot that ended up being one of my favorites from the trip. The XF 27mm F/2.8 is a pancake lens. It gives me a normal focal length option which I most likely won't need, but since it is so light (78g), it really doesn't hurt to have it as a back up.
How do I integrate this essential photography gear into my backpack? Well, I love the modular versatility options we have nowadays with transferring cubes and pouches between various bags. I've chosen to use this Ape Case Cubeze because it has the perfect dimensions to go between my holy trinity of bags. The Dome Satchel Bag, the Lowepro Photo Sport 200 backpack and the Deuter Futura Pro 42 backpack.
My Manfrotto BeFree Compact Tripod simply straps to the outside of my backpack of choice. I brought every single camera battery (only 2 pictured) and SD card that I own (items #8 and #9). Thankfully I didn't run out of power or memory during the 5 days. Thanks in part to the Nixxell battery charger (item #12) which enabled me to "juice up" with my solar panel. The polarizers were not critical but there's no substitute for the dramatic impact they can have on landscape images. Fujifilm has rolled out USB battery charging with it's new X-T2. I'm hoping this will be the new standard for all their cameras going forward. This would have allowed me to leave the battery charger at home.
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